The Suffers' Path to Letterman Tonight, In Pictures

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photos by Marco Torres
The Suffers pose for a photo at the 2014 Houston Press Music Awards Ceremony
Tonight is a special night for Houston music: one of our own hometown bands will hit the stage of The Late Show with David Letterman at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City. But this isn't the first time a Houston musician has been on the show lately -- Nick Gaitan of the Umbrella Man played the show alongside Billy Joe Shaver and Willie Nelson back in December 2014 -- but for the ten-piece, three-year-old Suffers, it's quite the accomplishment.

The band members have gone "all in", quitting their day jobs to go on tour and pursue this dream of all dreams. We congratulate them on their success and will be watching the broadcast at MKT Bar tonight alongside their other fans. In the meantime, enjoy these photos from the last three years:


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Bands Rally to Save Their Beloved Mango's

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Photos by Francisco Montes
The scene outside Mango's Saturday night.
Last Saturday night in Montrose, reports our photographer Francisco Montes, "everyone was there to squeeze as much life out of Mango's as possible. Every band rallied people to the front and poured their energy onto that stage one last time.

"The night was over way too soon, and it was evident that by 2 a.m. some people weren't ready to say goodbye just yet."


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The Houston Music Bucket List

Categories: Houston Music

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Photo by HP Staff
Well, you have to go here...
I've never been terribly impressed with anybody's "bucket list." First of all, they're awfully morbid and judgmental; like, "do this before you die...or else." Besides, I'm of the mind that if you want to do something, you should just do it and not sit around making up lists about it; that goes double for reading other people's bucket lists on the Internet.

So last week when I saw that our music-blog counterpart up in Dallas, DC-9 at Night, had put together a "Texas Music Bucket List," my first thought was, "that's nice." Reading it over, it's got what you'd probably expect -- Willie's picnic, SXSW, Austin City Limits, Billy Bob's, Marfa, the Selena statue -- but I was a little impressed so many things from the Houston area made it. (I heard the writer, Jamie-Paul Falcon, is from around here, so in that context it makes more sense.) Of course Beyonce and RodeoHouston are on there, but so is the New Year's Day Townes Van Zandt wake at Galveston's Old Quarter; Super Happy Fun Land, Notsuoh and Fitzgerald's; and Free Press Summer Fest, which Falcon calls "the best festival in the state."

Right on. But Texas is a big state, and it's easy to come up with 50 things music lovers in this part of the world can do to amuse themselves between Beaumont and El Paso, or McAllen and Amarillo. It struck me as a little unrealistic, too -- cool as all of them are, checking off everything on that list would be mighty time-consuming, not to mention expensive. Not long after, I thought, "I bet I can come up with that many things to do in Houston."


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Locals Weigh In On Kendrick Lamar's Modern Classic

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The audacity of dope: Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly
The weekend before last, Stevie Wonder touched down in Houston to perform Songs In the Key of Life in its entirety. About the same time, many of us were hearing Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly for the first time. It doesn't feel like a stretch to imagine a day in the distant future where an elder Lamar returns to perform this album in a similar celebratory fashion.

Everything about Butterfly feels classic, beginning with the very first of thousands of sounds on the album, the scratchiness of a worn vinyl record. Its themes; the way it's stitched together via interludes and spoken-word bridges that begs for it to be heard from start to finish for a full appreciation; the samples that are heavy on the soul and jazz of a long-ago era -- all of it has the feel of something that can be comfortably nestled between Wonder's Innervisions and Prince'sSign O' the Times on the record shelf.

The album has been universally acclaimed. But recognizing I might be hearing the hype instead of the music, I reached out to a couple of folks whose opinions I value for some perspective.


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An Ultra Music Fest Newb Loses His Virginity

Note: One of the biggest dance-music festivals in the U.S., Miami's Ultra Music Festival, took place in South Florida this weekend. Ryan Pfeffer of our sister paper in Broward/Palm Beach, Fla., filed this report.

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Photos by Marta Xochilt Perez
One man's quest to fit in at Ultra.
Downtown Miami's 32-acre Bayfront Park is swarming with some 60,000 glistening, glittered bodies. The lights on Ultra Music Festival's Main Stage make the Vegas strip look like the ass of a dying lightning bug. The minimally dressed millennials are dancing like they're mad at the ground, and Snapchating every second of it.

And then there's you: The poor Ultra virgin, glued to the wall, nervously hiding a semi-erection that you can't really explain. The bass is making your face itch, and you don't understand why no one seems to find this orgy of sound and vision quite as bizarre as you do. They all seem to be so comfortable. But you? You're about as comfortable as a sleeping bag made of sandpaper.

But fear not, Ultra virgin. You are not alone. I, too, am an Ultra virgin. Or, at least, was an Ultra virgin.


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The Five Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Mike Stinson, Big Business, Kiesza, etc.

Categories: Playbill

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Photo courtesy of South Central Music
John Egan
The Big Easy, March 30

Give John Egan credit for taking chances. The longtime solo Houston bluesman's 2014 album, Amulet, is in some respects the polar opposite of its 2012 predecessor, Phantoms. Besides bringing in a few side musicians and respected Americana producer R.S. Field (Billy Joe Shaver, Webb Wilder), Egan has expanded his songwriting reach to include Latin-tinged jazz and melancholy pop, showing he's less reliant on his Resonator guitar's unforgiving tone but comfortable keeping the instrument as his anchor. The end result is a softer mood than Phantoms, whose songs sometimes showed visibly bared teeth, but Amulet's overall disquieting feel suggests Egan has done little to ward off the same tormentors who were after him last time.

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The Departed Start Over Again With Hippielovepunk

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Photo by Karen Connell/Courtesy of T. Cannon Media
Cody Canada can almost see Oklahoma from here.
North or south of the Red River, pedigrees don't come any purer than Cody Canada & the Departed. Not so long ago, Cody Canada and Jeremy Plato were part of Cross Canadian Ragweed, the rangy Oklahoma rockers whose small-town spin on Steve Earle-style diesel-country was all the rage in Stillwater by the end of the millennium. For the next decade CCR's music spread like a brush fire, with songs like "17" and "Sick and Tired" helping them become one of the top-drawing acts in the Southwest and leading to several albums on Universal South, with 2006's Soul Gravy the arguable pick of the litter.

The band was an essential part of a scene that was growing so fast it soon had its own nickname: Texas country -- or, because CCR's fellow Okies like Stoney LaRue, Jason Boland and the Turnpike Troubadors were making just as much noise as Texans such as Pat Green, Kevin Fowler and Reckless Kelly -- Red Dirt music. But when CCR split in 2010, Canada and Plato wasted no time in forming the Departed, adding respected Austin blues-rock guitarist Seth James to the lineup and debuting with 2011's This Is Indian Land, a collection of covers by Oklahoma songwriters from J.J. Cale and Leon Russell to Kevin Welch. James stepped to the fore on the next year's Adventus (Latin for "arrival"), writing most of the songs the album, but decided to leave the Departed amicably about a year later.


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Runaway Sun Showcase "Bad Bad Man" With Short Film

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Photo courtesy of Runaway Sun
Nearly a decade removed from the release of their debut album, Houston's own Delta-rock blues group Runaway Sun is still enjoy performing their earlier cuts. So much so, in fact, that the band recorded a music video for "Bad Bad Man," one of the tracks from their eponymous release, which they will be premiering this weekend at Buffalo Bayou Brewery.

"There are a lot of people out there who have never heard our music before," says vocalist Andrew Karnavas of choosing to make a music video for what could be considered one of the band's classics. "So if 'Bad Bad Man' came out five years ago or five minutes ago, it doesn't seem to matter."

For the video, which was shot at Dean's Downtown and Bird House Productions Studio, the Bayou City-born four-piece teamed up with Rivet Production and Lynn Birdwell, who directed, produced and assisted in the creative direction of the short film.


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The Foreign Exchange (and Soul) Ride Again at Club Tequila Urban

Categories: Concerts

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Photos by Brandon Caldwell
The Foreign Exchange, Dwele
Club Tequila Urban
March 27, 2015

Forgive me, but the last time I ever stepped foot inside Club Tequila was when it was a food market. Or at least had all the makings of a food market. Now the venue space had expanded to incorporate lounge-like seating areas, a wide stage with a huge screen and plenty of drinking space.

It also allowed enough space for the Foreign Exchange to let a bit more people into the groove on Thursday night. Less than a full year had passed since the band, led by Phonte Coleman and Nicolay had come together inside of Fitzgerald's. I wrote then that the venue felt like a sweatbox on a Friday night, a juke joint where dirty things are whispered and somebody is off giggling about their latest sexual conquest out in the open.

Thursday night was a bit cooler than their date here last June. Coleman, noticeably slimmer hawking a Jordan T-shirt and jeans, found multiple times to throw on those cool R&B-dude Ray-Ban sunglasses and riff in a fun interplay with background singers Carmen Rogers and. The main draw of a Foreign Exchange show isn't the set list, which could touch anything from 2013's Love In Flying Colors album or their 2004 debut Connected, but how much fun you would have in the building.


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How Shinyribs Became Texas's Hottest Band

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Photo by Jason Wolter
Winfield Cheek (l) funking it up behind Kevin Russell (r).
Winfield Cheek is just happy to be here. Now into his eighth year as funky keyboardist with Shinyribs, one of the fastest-moving bands in the Texas scene right now, Cheek seems content with his place in the band and the universe.

"Man, it took awhile but this band has really taken off," says Cheek from his home in Austin as he rests up after a long tour to Florida. "There've been times when I had my doubts if the project would even stay together, but it sure seems like we've cleared some major hurdles the past 18 months or so."

While the band has always had a strong base in Houston, where Kevin Russell put together what was at first just a side project outside his main band, the Gourds, Cheek notes that suddenly Austin seemed to catch on when the band did a Tuesday-night residency at Ray Benson's club The Rattle Inn.


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