Concerts

Houston Concert Watch 6/1: Steely Dan, Jimmie Vaughan, and More

Texas blues luminary Jimmie Vaughan is just one of the perfomers gracing Houston stages this week.
Texas blues luminary Jimmie Vaughan is just one of the perfomers gracing Houston stages this week. Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons
The joints will be jumping this weekend, with concerts by Steely Dan, Jimmy Buffett, Neko Case, and Jimmie Vaughan at venues around Houston. While it may look strange to see Steely Dan and Jimmy Buffett mentioned in the same sentence, let’s not forget that they were both featured on the wildly successful soundtrack to the wildly unsuccessful film FM in 1978.
The Old Crow Medicine Show has, as they say in comic book circles, an “origin story.” The band was busking on the sidewalk outside a drug store in North Carolina in 2000 when bluegrass icon Doc Watson stepped up and said, “Boys, that was some of the most authentic old-time music I've heard in a long while. You almost got me crying.” What was is that appealed to Watson? A deep knowledge of folk, bluegrass, blues, and country, all delivered with punk rock energy and attitude. Since then, the band has won Grammy Awards and been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Their intense brand of Americana will be onstage Wednesday at the Heights Theater.
Though Steely Dan started out as a (somewhat) traditional rock band with a consistent roster of musicians, it soon became more of a concept than an actual group, with founders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen recruiting a long list of session musicians to fill specific roles on their recordings. Becker passed on a few years ago, but Donald Fagen is still taking the Dan out on the road, performing an incredible catalog of songs with some of the best musicians on the planet, landing at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Friday. While Becker is certainly missed, his twisted sensibilities are still felt, in songs like “Kid Charlemagne,” “Black Friday,” and “Hey Nineteen.”
Like the Old Crow Medicine Show, Neko Case started out with an indie / punk approach and applied it to more traditional musical forms. First gaining recognition as a member of the Canadian power pop band the New Pornographers, Case has released an impressive batch of albums featuring her distinctive contralto voice and enigmatic lyrics. On Saturday, Case will perform “Downstairs,” i.e. not on “The Lawn,” at the White Oak Music Center.
Guitarist Jimmie Vaughan has been a luminary of the Texas music scene since he joined the Chessmen during the mid ‘60s. In the following decade, he reignited the national blues landscape as a member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Vaughan flies solo these days, paying a visit to the Heights Theater on Saturday in support of his latest release, The Jimmie Vaughan Story, a career-spanning box set. Vaughan plays with an economical, almost austere style, eschewing the fretboard pyrotechnics favored by many of his peers. With Vaughan, it’s all about the essence, the distillation of the pure blues spirit.
Jimmy Buffett brings his show / travelling party to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Saturday to the delight of Parrotheads in Houston. Despite the fact that Buffett is now a “brand,” with restaurants, beer, casinos, and even a retirement community operating under the Buffett corporate umbrella, the guy has written some great songs. Let’s hope that they don’t get lost in all of the hollering and carrying on that are generally part of his concerts. For the full Parrothead experience, arrive early for some tailgating in the parking lot. And for God’s sake, don’t forget to wear a Hawaiian shirt. And a hat with a fake parrot on top. I mean, you wouldn’t want to look like some kind of weirdo.
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Contributor Tom Richards is a broadcaster, writer, and musician. He has an unseemly fondness for the Rolling Stones and bands of their ilk.
Contact: Tom Richards