Houston Music

UPDATED: Houston's Top 25 Closed Music Venues

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Mary Jane's/Fat Cat's This small dive on Washington (in the space now occupied by Salt Bar) was once one of the top places in town to catch punk, alternative and hardcore acts swinging through town on tour. Why did it have two names? I'm not sure there was ever a good explanation for that. I think it was Mary Jane's for a while before it was bought by Washington Ave maven Pam Robinson, who decided to alter the name, but the old one stuck. Not knowing was part of the place's strange appeal. NATHAN SMITH

Music Hall I always associated the Sam Houston Coliseum with Paul Boesch and Houston Wrestling, so I never saw many music shows there. But I did mourn the closing and subsequent destruction of the Houston Music Hall, the Coliseum's baby brother. The art-deco venue was on the same Bagby property as the bigger hall, and watching a show here felt like sitting in the high-school auditorium for the class talent show. Except everyone in this talent show was a rock god or goddess.

My personal favorite nights there were Joe Jackson touring on "Body and Soul," a great show where Joe bitched at the hall's security team for making a fan stop dancing; and, sitting about 10 rows away from Cyndi Lauper, whose big voice didn't fit her teeny-tininess, as she belted out songs on her "True Colors" tour. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Old Quarter There should be a monument at this downtown joint where Townes held court and frequently did damage to himself and others. Owners Rex Bell and Dale Soffar "got it," and they opened their stage to a veritable who's who of folkies and bluesmen who made the Houston scene one of the most legit of the mid-Seventies. Townes recorded Live at the Old Quarter, considered by many to be one of the top singer-songwriter recordings of all time, there; Bell operates a similar operation in Galveston these days. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

Proletariat Buzzworthy indie-rock, hip-hop and electronica acts come through Houston venues every week these days -- and pack them -- but this lower Richmond room, which moved into the Blue Iguana's quarters in 2002, saw Houston's more discerning (or faddish) music fans through some pretty lean times. By the time "the Prolo" closed in early 2008, it had planted many seeds for our current hipster boom. CHRIS GRAY

Pik N Pak Pik N Pak was a Montrose icehouse across the street from Rudyard's that played host to grizzled regulars and a work-week happy hour crowd by day and put on wild punk and alternative rock freakouts at night. Perhaps surprisingly (or perhaps not), both crowds tolerated each other. Local legends like deadhorse, the Mike Gunn, Sprawl and many more played some of their first (and best) shows at the rickety old joint before it was torn down in 1993. NATHAN SMITH

The Rhythm Room This underrated hallway of a music venue on Washington Avenue had one of the best sound systems in town and was the perfect size for local bands and regional touring acts. JEFF BALKE

Rockefeller's I miss seeing Rockefeller's stage from the glass doors as you approached from Washington, everything inside red and black, black and white portraits of Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King and others who'd played there on the walls. I miss thinking every time I entered, "Holy shit, this used to be a bank!" and looking over my shoulder to see what the Houston Post's Bob Claypool might be writing about the show. I miss sitting in the balcony, bobbing my head to Kirk Whalum's sax. I miss that local comic who opened a lot of the shows with his stand-up act, the guy with the funny face and biting, observant, hilarious bits. What was his name? Oh, yeah -- Bill Hicks.

I'll never forget sitting rapt in my wooden chair at a too-small table, fewer than 20 feet away from Ray Freaking Charles. Or one night, when my wife and I saw The Dirty Dozen Brass Band there. Only a dozen people braved a stormy Friday night to attend the show. The band's trumpet player looked down at us from the stage and said, "Where the fuck is everyone at?! Doesn't Houston like to party on Friday night?!" We just shrugged our shoulders. He shrugged his back and he and the band launched into a 90-minute, almost private concert for us. Classic. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

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