By Andy Eng
Let’s see, where do we begin… School has returned, cooler weather is on its way, our Astros are still having fun winning – which will catch on with the Texans – patio season is back, and ah, yes, live music! Greetings good people! Hope everybody has had a fantastic summer! We enjoyed a very quality month with many of you out and about on the live music SCENE. Like, you, we mostly cheated the heat and kept it inside at several of our great cool hang-outs in the area. Smart move… The month blew by fast, so let’s run through what all went down….
THROW DOWN – Michael Shanks (former frontman for the Misfit Toys) is the kind of musician to put together a band to play live some evening with performers who have never played together and get it to work. I’ve followed Danny D (former lead, rhythm, bass, vocalist for more bands than I can count) for years and know he is capable of the same. So, when I heard these two would be together on stage at the Cock-eyed Seagull, I knew I had to check it out. The Seagull is one of the area’s best-kept secrets with one of the best air conditioning systems happening, and it was the perfect place to take in the duo. Along with Michael and Danny that evening was Fred Linton (Funksion) on sax, Shabarekh (Loud Love) on the kit and new-comer Tati Raines from Brazil. Since arriving, Ms. Raines has been appearing on the Clear Lake area music SCENE. She carries a solid set of pipes and has a stage poise I’m sure many of you will be catching soon down the road. I plan to bring you good folks a review of her demo CD in the near future…
PARTY WITH A PURPOSE – In ever-classy Parrot Head tradition, this flock of friendly frolickers wrapped up their Annual Riddles in the Sand with a doozie of a check presentation celebration. What I like about this bunch is how they have fun raising money with a major emphasis on HAVING FUN. It’s just another way of saying they Party with a Purpose! Sharing this year’s generous pot were the Wounded Warrior Project and the Lighthouse Charity Team – two extremely noble and deserving causes with proceeds staying within in our area and not to some farfetched expensive national headquarters building outside the Texas border.
This year’s presentation was held at Aspen’s in the heart of the new Clear Lake Shores Cultural District. No Parrot Head gathering is complete without fun tropical live music, this time with Dennis Davis and JR on the Aspen’s stage. Aside from having fun, an underlying theme relevant to all Parrot Heads, present day and future members is a rebellious streak with origins to those seeking an escape from the rat race to the serenity found on the sea and sands. If the rat race is starting to find its way into your cellar, wise up before it’s too late and join with the Galveston Bay Parrot Heads Club (www.gbphc.com). On a side note, we were able to catch up with Southbound USA’s Steve Johnson, on the mend under strict doctor’s orders after getting his Achilles reattached and along with you all out there, I am wishing Steve the best of recoveries ahead.
MUSIC APPRECIATION – We were at the Fab 5’s first show at Jackie’s Brickhouse and thought a follow up was in order. I remember at their first show there, the audience wasn’t sure whether to sit and be appreciative of the well-done Beatles presentation, or to have fun as if there wouldn’t be another tomorrow. Eventually, they wised up and did both – which is what audiences have been doing ever since. One cool thing I’ve noticed about this gig is how the Fab 5 has developed a following of regulars at the Brickhouse right up there with Madigan, Mambo Jazz Kings, Hamilton Loomis, and the Velcro Pygmies. Musically, these guys technically nail it, but moreover, they provide a persona and projection of fun happy times for all, which arguably goes further. Cheers!
ASSORTED AFTER-DINNER LED ZEPPELIN DANCE TUNES – Which is what we found at T-Bone Tom’s in August with OGRE (Old Guys Rock Excessively) on stage. And in true Smucker’s fashion, with a name like OGRE, you’ve gotta be good. Aside from the endless stream of Led Zeppelin and other feisty dance songs, this band brings along a seasoned fan club, regularly places in the upper rankings at Houston’s Battle of the Bands (not too shabby), and practices a rare stage technique of getting folks to listen closer by simply playing quieter – People want to listen… They’re that good.
Yo! While on the subject of T-Bone Tom’s, if you are a member of TropRock.org, be sure to vote for T-Bone’s in the Live Music Venue of the year category. Also, be sure to vote for Jerry Diaz and Hannah’s Reef, nominated in several categories across the ballot.
It’s a fitting tribute that T-Bone Tom’s has been recognized by this national organization beyond what we locals already know the place for – great food, attentive service, lots of local live music, cheap wings and beer! BTW – I’m designating T-Bone Tom’s as one of my designated watch areas should our Astros make it into the playoffs. Consider it, too…
ON PLAYING ON – Like normal people, musicians have a life to live that usually includes family and related interests and with that, Tommie Lee Bradley is no different than many of you, taking time and making time for what’s important. But when this Houston Force of Nature is back behind the mic, hang on! I arrived onto the SCENE a bit later than many, and it wasn’t until post-Hurricane Ike and during the stretch of GBAMA benefits before Ms. Lee and I crossed paths. I was fortunate to catch her in August and was included in Tommie’s entourage with her new band, Big Dawgs, who was opening for the Little River Band at the Ft. Bend’s Women’s Shelter fundraiser held in the Stafford Performing Arts Center. We need a place like that on this side of town. Tommie’s band features a strong line-up with Steve Hitt on lead, Handsome Bob Bridges on Bass, Jerry Chambers on drums, and a totally surprise of a find, Cliff Jackson on acoustic guitar & vocals. The headline act, Little River Band was an interesting show to take in. As one of my favorite bands back in the day, I found it necessary to do some research to fill in what all has happened over the decades which includes 31 former band members and none of the original members, seemingly a bad omen.
However, digging further, it became apparent as the band grew older that the original members would be unable to keep up a touring schedule of typically 85 shows a year better suited for a younger cadre of musicians held together by elder statesman Wayne Nelson at the helm. And with this formula, despite absent original members, fans have the means of partaking and enjoying the spirit of the music perhaps a few clicks above that of cover and tribute level shows. Using this type of formula would probably be too late for the likes of the Beatles or Rolling Stones; however, it does seem viable for many other popular music acts in recent decades. Worked for me…
TOUR STOP CLEAR LAKE – And this month, we stopped in to see The Fear Factory – a crazy powerful metal/industrial band from Los Angeles. In between his clean and shouted vocals with death growls, lead singer and Houston-born Burton C. Bell reconnected with his hometown fanbase giving them an incredible show that evening – and the fans gave back, complete with some good, old-fashioned mosh pit action. Totally absent from the equation that evening were the Folks and Ambient music genres reported as interests on Burton’s website which was fine by us. Maybe some other time, but not tonight. I’m going to guess that national and international acts who have never performed at Scout Bar would consider the notion – the action and the energy the night of Fear Factory was Scout Bar Signature. Looking at the calendar ahead, we’ve got a great Tour Stop Clear Lake ahead of us in the coming month. Grab a copy of the SCENE and keep it handy, you’ll be glad you did!
IT’S A WRAP – The Dog Days of Summer are winding down – meaning it’s safe to come out to the patio. Labor Day weekend is upon us which means 2015 is heading into the easy strokes. Be sure and root for your hometown teams as baseball is winding up and football kicking off. Also, also, also – Do your soul a favor, and go catch a live music gig or a few out there. We have lots of great live music happening in the area including the Fab 40’s presentation of Tommy at Discovery Green on September 26. A quality fund-raising event is also lined up for the Emmanuel Gilligan at 18th St. Pier on October 3. Scheduled to headline this benefit will be Hollywood Steve Rangel’s Second Wind band – A group I haven’t heard in quite some time which should be a dandy. Also, while you’re at it, grab yourself an extra copy of the SCENE, and keep it handy for when your special someone is needing to be in the know of all the cool things happening now and happening here. Got it? They’ll think you’re cool… Take care, and we’ll see you out there on the SCENE!