Congratulations to the owner of Shakespeare Pub for the place's spruced-up digs. Now patrons can enjoy acts like the James Reese Band and Little Terry Rogers in plusher surroundings, not to mention sliding all night to zydeco.
Of the nervous sort when it comes to public dancing? Not to worry: the lights are low and the drink prices are lower; you won't have to worry about your William Hung dance moves popping up on YouTube the next day. A slight caveat, however, if you can call it that. This place attracts an older crowd, so if that's not your thing, try some of the other venues listed.
Also, Saturday nights are unbearably packed -- good for the business, bad for mousy types who fancy quiet blues and brews. All in all, however, The Shakespeare Pub doth fare quite well amongst ye olde blues clubs. 14128 Memorial Dr., 281-497-4625, www.shakespearepub.net.
How do you top a great blues place? Add a steak night to the rotation! The Hideaway on Dunvale has received praise for its Tuesday Steak Nights, an evening where, along with getting to see the amazing Rick Lee and his band, the venue offers a ridiculously juicy 16 oz. steak for $12 - complete with two sides. It's almost hard to remember that this place is also a blues venue, as the menu is so yummy: crawfish, lobster, tilapia, etc. You can eat on the patio outside or at the sleek long bar inside, or, if you want to, play a game of pool. With music, meals and merriment, this place has it all. It's like Funplex for adults. 3122 Dunvale Rd., 713-977-3515, www.hideawayondunvale.com.
Dan Electro's embodies everything the blues is all about - dark and small, ripe for the type of intimacy that sangin' 'bout love and pain evokes. Dan's is BYOE -- Bring Your Own Everything --- as patrons are allowed to bring their own beverages apart from beer and wine and musicians (talented or not) are allowed to get up onstage. You won't find yourself stuck in a blues rut here, though.
Rock and alternative musicians, such as the upcoming Queen Caveat and JAyBoY HeNdriX, pack the house just as easily. (One tip: If you forget your beverage, try the Royal Clown beer. You won't regret it.) 1031 E. 24th St., 713-862-8707, Facebook page.
What a delightfully inaccurate and yet, equally perfect name for this place. Big? It's not the hugest place in the world, but there is a dance floor in the middle, perfect for Dancing With the Stars hopefuls. Easy? Certainly not on the eyes; if you're looking for an endorsement from the Houston Decorative Center in favor of this place's frou-frou interior, for the love of cheese, look elsewhere.
But for Social and Pleasure, this place is tops. The Big Easy boasts a weekly lineup of local favorites, including The James Reese Band on Tuesdays, Luther and the Healers on Thursdays and Alan Haynes the last Saturday of every month. Like Dan Electro's, musicians and non-musicians alike can hop onstage Wednesday nights for a go at a few minutes of local fame. The last Thursday of each month, the Houston Blues Society hosts a fete. And Sundays are reserved for the ear-squelching sounds of zydeco.
All in all, would the latter end of the club's name be an appropriate description? Absolutely. 5731 Kirby Dr., 713-523-9999, www.thebigeasyblues.com.
1. MR. GINO'S Best of Houston Winner, 2012: They don't make 'em like Mr. Gino's anymore. They probably didn't make 'em like Mr. Gino's in 1973, when the ramshackle but well-kept bar near 610 south and Cullen Boulevard opened. With Christmas lights on the walls, plywood partitioning and a small stage in the corner, Gino's feels more like a juke joint in rural Mississippi or East Texas than a bar in the fourth-largest city in America. (Its lack of a Web site should give you a small hint about its authenticity.)
Gino's is a neighborhood bar all the time, but its real draw is the Sunday-night open jams -- full of blues, R&B and soul that sticks to your ribs -- that have been welcoming loyal regulars and curious onlookers alike since it opened. Although local legend I.J. Gosey had to step down from hosting duties a couple of years ago, others, like Rockin' Douglas, The Lady D and Pee Wee & Pops, have kept the tradition going strong, and Geno himself (Chevis) is still serving setups and sodas behind the bar.
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Provided you can find the place -- look for the used-furniture store next door with the handwritten signs in the windows -- it's probably the best $5 you'll spend all week. 7306 Cullen, 713-738-0555.