Houston Concert Watch 7/20: Kendrick Lamar, P-Funk, and More

George Clinton, the "Emperor of Intergalactic Funk," brings Parliament Funakdelic to the House of Blues tonight, on what is billed as a "Farewell Tour."
George Clinton, the "Emperor of Intergalactic Funk," brings Parliament Funakdelic to the House of Blues tonight, on what is billed as a "Farewell Tour." Photo by Joe Van/ Creative Commons
Now we’re cooking with gas! After a slight mid-summer lull, the concert calendar is full this week, with plenty of shows and something for just about everyone. Fans of heavy metal polka may be disappointed, but there is funk, rock, rap, and country on tap, providing diverse options for shaking it.
It has long been established that we want the funk. In fact, we’ve got to have the funk! Fortunately, relief is at hand, with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic bringing their One Nation Under a Groove tour to the House of Blues tonight. Though Clinton is now 80 years old and billing this swing as a “Farewell Tour,” it’s hard to imagine that we have seen the last of the self-proclaimed “Emperor of Intergalactic Funk.” For insight into his legendary career, consult Clinton’s autobiography Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?
San Francisco’s Train – a band whose sound has been termed “affable” — will play Thursday at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Train’s latest album is called AM Gold, named in honor of those Time-Life top-40 compilations (“As Seen on TV!”) where Paul Revere and the Raiders, Aretha Franklin, and the Grass Roots coexisted peacefully on the same disc. The variety contained on Train’s latest makes the title an apt one, as the band showcases power pop, alt-rock, and acoustic sounds, all with big sing-along choruses. And speaking of singing along, fellow late ‘90s / early ‘00s chart toppers Jewel and Blues Traveler will open the show, so start vocalizing now. And try not to screw up the lyrics, OK?
Rapper Kendrick Lamar is back after a four-year hiatus, touring in support of his latest album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, with a stop at Toyota Center on Friday. Since the release of his album Overly Dedicated, Lamar has produced a series of innovative works, incorporating jazz, funk, soul, and spoken word into his compositions, along with socially conscious lyrics. Respected by fans and critics alike, he has notched 14 Grammy Awards and 11 MTV Music Video Awards. Perhaps more significantly (depending on your point of view), Lamar was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for DAMN in 2018, the first time the award was given to a non-classical, non-jazz album.
Also on Friday, you can catch progressive country (or whatever you want to call it) icon Gary P. Nunn and the Lost Gonzo Band at the Heights Theater. In an interview with Gladys Fuentes, Nunn described his brand of Cosmic Cowboy music as “a mix of country, rock, and folk that seemed to fit our Texas culture.” Though Jerry Jeff Walker had the hit with “London Homesick Blues” (aka “I Want to Go Home with the Armadillo”), Nunn is the one who wrote the song, during a period when the Lost Gonzo Band was backing Walker. Here’s some (as Kinky Friedman would say) spiritual trivia for you: “London Homesick Blues” served as the theme song for "Austin City Limits" for 28 years, 1977 – 2004.
The CWMP will host another package show on Sunday, one which includes sets from REO Speedwagon, Styx, and Loverboy. If you are a fan of one of these bands, odds are that you also like at least one of the other acts, as they all cashed in on that whole “melodic rock” thing during the ‘80s. Lest you think that it will be an evening of neutered adult contemporary music, let’s keep in mind that REO gave us “Ridin' the Storm Out” and Styx served up “Suite Madame Blue” before the ballads took over. For more on this triple bill, check out Bob Ruggiero’s interviews with Bruce Hall, bassist for REO, and Ricky Phillips, who holds down the bottom end for Styx.
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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