Houston Concert Watch 7/3: Sarah McLachlan, AJR and More

Sarah McLachlan will celebrate the 30th anniversary of her album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy on Saturday at the Smart Financial Centre.  Shows from the South Austin Moonlighters, Shake Russell, and AJR are also on tap this week.
Sarah McLachlan will celebrate the 30th anniversary of her album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy on Saturday at the Smart Financial Centre. Shows from the South Austin Moonlighters, Shake Russell, and AJR are also on tap this week. Screenshot
As regular visitors to this space may know, Richard “Kinky” “Big Dick” Friedman shuffled off this mortal coil last week. He was, as he would say in Kinky-ese, “bugled to Jesus.” Or he “stepped on a rainbow.” Take your pick.

In an online essay, musician and former Texas Jewboy Michael Simmons called Friedman an “authentic and peculiar genius.” Can’t argue with that one. I was fortunate enough to interview Friedman on the radio many times during the ‘90s and aughts, and he was always a welcome guest. Sure, he had a schtick, which some found to be, well, a bit much. However, after he rattled off his latest series of one-liners (re: smoking Cuban cigars, “I’m not supporting their economy, I’m burning their fields!”), Friedman would relax a bit and discuss Sherlock Holmes, Mark Twain, Nelson Mandella, Mozart and (believe it or not) show tunes.

Underneath it all, Friedman was much deeper and more intelligent than his public persona might indicate. Not to mention compassionate and generous. For many years, Friedman and his relatives operated the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch in central Texas, providing homes as long as needed for dogs, cats, llamas, emus, etc. who were waiting to be adopted.

Rest easy, Kinkster. “We shall not see his like again.”

Ticket Watch
What’s new, pussycat? Whoa-oh, whoa-oh, Tom Jones will be performing at the Smart Financial Centre on Monday, September 23. He just turned 84, but the leather-lunged Welshman is still in fighting trim and eschews any talk of retirement. Also headed for the Smart Centre is R&B legend Gladys Knight (“Midnight Train to Georgia”) who has a gig scheduled for Wednesday, October 30. Tickets for both shows are on sale now.

Flamethrowing guitarist Eric Gales will play the Heights Theater on Tuesday, August 27, continuing the career renaissance that began following the resolution of substance issues a few years ago. Also coming to the Heights is a show from the alt-country act (or, as they like to call it, “loud folk”) the Old 97’s. As a bonus, Austin’s Fastball (“Out of My Head”) will open. Catch them live on Sunday, November 10, at the Heights.

Concerts This Week
Folks from South Austin attach importance to the fact that they hang out south of the Colorado River, and they view it as a particular point of pride. Such is the case with the South Austin Moonlighters, a band that came together as a collective side project for a group of musicians who secured a residency at the Saxon Pub. If you’re in the mood for some big fun, check them out on Friday at the Mucky Duck.
Also at the Duck this week is singer-songwriter Shake Russell. Since the ‘70s, Russell has been entertaining Houston music lovers, many of whom will remember his 1978 release with Dana Cooper, Songs on the Radio, which garnered some airplay and found a place in many local record collections. Since then, Russell has continued to release a steady stream of albums, and his songs have been covered by artists like Waylon Jennings, Ricky Skaggs, Clint Black and Miranda Lambert. Russell plays an early show on Saturday at the Mucky Duck.
Sarah McLachlan’s impact was felt strongly during the ‘90s, not only as a major recording artist but also as the founder of the Lilith Fair, a traveling music festival that featured female performers like Fiona Apple, Tracy Chapman and Shawn Colvin. These days, McLachlan is on the road, celebrating the 30th (more or less) anniversary of her groundbreaking album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. McLachlan will perform on Saturday at the Smart Financial Centre, with fellow Canadian singer-songwriter Feist opening.
“Indie-pop” band AJR – that is to say, brothers Adam, Jack and Ryan Met – will perform on Tuesday at Toyota Center in support of their most recent album, The Maybe Man. These guys are sharp. In addition to maintaining a successful recording career since 2012, they have been busy on the academic front: Adam has a PhD in International Human Rights Law, and Ryan and Jack both studied film at Columbia University. Not too shabby for a bunch of musicians!
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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