Loose Notes -- July 2016 -- Andy EngJul 07, 2016 02:39AM ● By SCENE MAGAZINE STAFF
NEW STOP ON THE BEAT - The SCENE has a new stop on the beat which would be Aspens Bar & Grill in Clear Lake Shores. One cool thing about this place is that on Friday nights, you can catch a live band (we heard Tomz Katz from Galveston for the first time), watch the Astros (and likely some Olympics soon) on the tube, relax and enjoy great service with the super friendly Aspens’ staff, and see the Kemah fireworks all from one seat! Don’t let all the golf carts in the parking lot run you off as there’s plenty of parking. Aspens has great a/c and comfortable seating which is very important this time of year and makes me wonder who goes to the food truck court this time of year?
BACK ON THE BEAT - And that would be The Tree House where we stopped in for the 25th Anniversary festive gathering. A little refresher: Back when Ike blew into town, The Tree House served as the 'round-the-clock gathering spot for the first responders never losing power the entire time, making this a cool solid designated hangout. Word is also that The Tree House was a favorite of my predecessor, the late Jim Shortt who had sooooo many places to chose from. The patrons here are truly neighborly, spanning the entire 25 years and came for the celebration the entire day. A fantastic BBQ spread and musical entertainment was provided through the entire day. Hopefully, we can skip the hurricanes this year, but stop by The Tree House and hang out awhile anyway. Congrats to all at The Tree House!
PUNKSTAR FULL THROTTLE UPDATE - After May’s family evening, the June show went waaaay to the other corner with a slant on death punk, alternative and black metal. The skill set amongst the three groups there that night was widespread ranging from world touring members forming up Wulfskol, the 18 month old experimental Frank Zappa Metal by Sift Through the Ashes -- a young group that put on a show of mic eating. Also that night was a local concoction of Astoryia - described as the Five Thieves of musicians wanting to “play something different.” We weren’t able to stick around for their midnight stage time and will follow up with them again later. My scorecard? Wulfskol came this evening showing all they definitely could play and once they finish their projects in work with Mike BBQ, should be good to go on the Opening Act call list. Remember bands, if you get an invitation to come play at the Punkstar Full Throttle Radio, you’ll have some mic time with an international audience, so make it good!
OLYMPIC TRAINING - With the Olympics coming up in Brazil, local festive fans may wish to consider a training routine that includes Rock the Dock, the annual summer tradition on the Boardwalk. In June, we dropped in to catch a full courtyard and Rat Ranch on the stage. This is an ideal event for the hardiest of people in the area - The tall construction that blocks native natural breezes combined with the high content of brick and cement which holds heat great in the winter makes for awesome sound and festive atmosphere - Think upcoming Brazilian Olympic street parties!!!
Not every band in the area is suited for this type of venue, but not to worry, Rat Ranch is a perfect band for this event, and they were in full command of the music the entire evening. Also in command were Rat Ranch fans that filled the courtyard. These fans are perhaps some of the hardiest people on this planet. Catching my muse, I spotted a few young people in the audience of the intermediate school age (our future replacements) wearing Rat Ranch merchandise – a favorable sign the music connected with those that matter, providing hope that rock will truly live on. Viva!
PALAPA COUNTRY - In June, we stopped in at T-Bone Tom’s catching The Slags and Sheila Marshall on the Landshark stage. The Slags have been often mentioned here in the SCENE and were putting on their usual high-octane show. Sheila has changed considerably, since we last covered her prior to her Nashville venture, shedding her high pitch young country singing for a deeper powerful Melissa Etheridge vocal style. Lyrically, we’ll do a follow up to see if the content has also matured this Nashville transformation. To be continued…
FRENCH RODEO & 128th NOTES - This year, we missed catching up with Chad Ware at the annual Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. He usually serenades the wine-drinking crowds. We first caught this talented singer songwriter and guitar player at the first GBAMA IkeFest where he was handling lead guitar duties for headliner, Perfect Stranger and enjoyed follow-ups over the years. When we saw him in June at Katie’s (the area’s place to enjoy great local live music up close and personal), he was matter of factly playing what I believe were 1/128th notes, not in the machine gunning way metal shredders do, but with melodic arpeggio accuracy, which -- my friends -- is rare to hear live. We got to hear his original “She Likes The Way My Guitar Sounds” live for the first time, mentioned in the Valentine's issue of The SCENE a couple years ago, which in my humble opinion, has the hooks to make it onto Billboard. Chad is one of those crazy gifted musicians. He started playing guitar at age 10, and by his early 20s was making a name for himself in the Houston area as a lead guitar player. Aside from playing the clubs, he’s played with Rick Trevino, opened for Ronnie Milsap, had a live KPFT broadcast and plays Christmas music at Moody Gardens Festival of Lights. Oh, and as to why we missed Chad at the HLSR? Chad and the band have been busy recently playing at the Equiblues Rodeo/Festival in Saint Agrève France which probably one of the coolest reasons I could imagine. (chadwaremusic.com iTunes & Reverbnation)
NOS - Is an abbreviation for New Old Stock, a term often used by guitar players on their relentless search for vintage tubes still in their original packaging, installed into modern day amplifiers, to achieve the ultimate nirvana known as “Tone.” Still in their original packaging, the Hourglass Trio of Kevin Fenton, Claudia Hammond & Greg Stephens have embarked on a mission to reacquire the Tone of yesteryear amidst what is known as vocal harmonies – the stuff that makes your spine tingle... At the Cock-eyed Seagull in June, we got to check out the progress on their mission and are pleased to report good progress on a wide variety of classic covers, rejuvenated and returning to life heard live. No doubt, this will be a continued work in progress, and I’m looking forward to hearing more of this down the road. Check out the annual The Hourglass Band’s Monster Birthday Bash with Mark Fenton on Saturday, July 16 at the Seagull!
THE LONGEST DAY - It’s no secret I’m fond of benefit/memorial-type gatherings, where the music often drifts into magical territory, and in June, I had that privilege again. There were a couple of Dreamsicles fans who used to come hear Andy and The Dreamsicles at La Brisa, Patsy and Carl. They heard the band all the time and loved them. Patsy, died of Alzheimer's last January. Her daughter Michelle and husband Brent hired the band to play a concert for anybody who wanted to go and have a good time in her memory with proceeds donated to the Alzheimer's society. As for the concert, the courtyard venue was perfect with tall hard walls and a bricked terrace creating a sonic heaven that music craves - A natural large ambience with clarity on the order of Red Rocks. This evening, The Dreamsicles along with the Kick Ass Brass sported a six-piece vocal line, instruments out the wazoo, musical spectrum spanning five decades and even pulled off Beach Boys crisply, something you don’t often hear live.
Over the years, the Dreamsicles have evolved their playing almost sort of like how Pink Floyd did after Syd Barrett with David Gilmour, structured and solid. The Dreamsicles are always adding songs to the play list that are sophisticated, legitimate, familiar, fun and rarely heard live these days. With the Olympics coming soon, a familiar term comes to mind of the concert - Tens across the board….
CATCHING UP - When Crazy Alan opened up his Swamp Shack, one of the first musicians hired to play there was David Schwope. In June, a follow up visit was in order. The last time we covered a David Schwope show was at his 60th birthday party. Despite being eligible to retire, Schwope hasn’t rested on his laurels including opening for Jerry Lee Lewis and Rusty Weir along with gigs of yesteryear at the Balinese Ballroom. Rather instead, he opts to keep busy with his remodeling business and a steady calendar of gigs – wise man… One gig that David mentions is sitting in with the Mike Stevens Band in what he describes as The Wizards of Aaaahs (cool name). This is one I’ve put on my watch list. Recently, Schwope has livened up his show with the addition of a Taylor T5 12-String from Danny’s Guitar Hacienda which is one of the cooler models in recent history – and the only one I’ve ever seen gigging these days. If it’s been awhile since you’ve caught a David Schwope act, you can find his full schedule and more about his music at his website. Oh, the food at the Swamp Shack? May I suggest one of their mixed boils? Great stuff! (www.davidschwope.com)
FOLLOW UPS - A few months ago The SCENE covered two groups that left such a favorable impression, follow-ups were warranted. And so in June, when the schedule at Jackie’s Brickhouse included The Klocks and Nightbird, we knew we had to stop by. First up were The Klocks, a killer cover band from the San Antonio/Boerne region. This band has been playing for over 18 years, which seems to create a solid fan base wherever they play, and a well-rounded list of music including today’s current hits all the way through to the ’70s, plus rap, country, Latin and more. Speaking of more, The Klocks clearly reinvest back into the band, packing along one super killer stage light system, state-of-the-art P.A. system and video, making their shows a complete road ready package. Aside from their spiffy visual presentation, the pure Gibb Brothers’ vocal quality of front man Brent Fields provides an entertainment experience like none in the area.
ON TO NIGHTBIRD - Jackie’s Brickhouse is an interesting place to bring tribute bands as not all of the great bands over the decades were exclusively for dancing but also fed intellect. Over the years, Jackie’s has hosted tribute bands for Heart, The Beatles, The Eagles and in June for the first time in our area, a Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac tribute group, Nightbird – a blend of dance and intellect appeal from the pop era of Fleetwood Mac. Members of Nightbird include: Brooke Alyson (who works with Jill Focke, Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac's wardrobe manager) as “Stevie Nicks.” Paul Hatton (Local chiropractor at Rasa Yoga who understands placing oneself in other dimensions) as “Lindsey” - Guitar/Vocals. Wolff DeLong - Bass/Vocals/Percussion Kelli Thompson (uber talented musician/teacher that we need to hire down in our local school district) as “Christine” - Keyboards/Vocals/Percussion/Acoustic Guitar Danny Shudra - Drums. Special mentions are Wolff and Danny for holding down a rock solid foundation while Brooke, Paul and Kelli take the music way out there. The Nightbird show presented an impressive reflection of the Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac experience. In one moment, the band would have the entire house modern-rocking along in a primal frenzy, then in the next, freeze the entire audience dead in their tracks to simply stop, watch, listen and enjoy. Which, if you think about it, is quite a feat. Roaming through the crowds, you could tell Nightbird picked up many new fans. Hopefully they’ll be back!
TOUR STOP CLEAR LAKE - It’s at Scout Bar, where loud and powerful are the norm. Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Robby Krieger is on stage and one could almost hear a pin drop… I’ve NEVER seen a Scout Bar audience this way before, but then again, Scout Bar patrons always knew their music. Krieger, on his 2016 North American Tour, rolled into town traveling with his son Waylon fronting the part of Jim Morrison and a road crew appearing bona-fide from the ’60s. The entire evening, Krieger graciously shared up close and personal displays of his playing skills, rarely carrying the melody of the song, rather interweaving with the other band mates into a collective rhythm and tone that was the song. Readers and fans of The Doors likely have been to Krieger’s website and already read their more eloquent description, “We just combined the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The Dionysian side is the blues, and the Apollonian side is classical music. The proper artist combines Apollonian rigor and correctness with Dionysian frenzy, passion and excitement. You blend those two together, and you have the complete, whole artist.” Opening this evening was Rainchild, with Dustin Condon setting the crowd into proper mood. With solid shows year in and year out, Rainchild was the perfect band for this opening appearance. Krieger and his band played an honest ten-song set plus an encore run of four, that pretty well covered everybody’s favorite.
IT’S A WRAP - Hope everybody has/had a safe and fun 4th of July taking time with friends and family to enjoy and appreciate the great country we live in. The All-Star Game and Olympics are around the corner, and we will be hanging out around the SCENE rooting for our team. On the schedule for sure is the July 16 South Side Roller Derby’s Golden SK8 Championship at the Pasadena Convention Center which should be a burner. Hang tight as election season looms ahead and remember above all, we are Americans, brothers and sisters. Dog days of summer lie ahead so take care and keep a cool head, after all, we’ve got the water and some of the coolest live music hangouts around town in a place we call The SCENE… See you out there!
- Andy Eng