Rodeo Touches Every Corner of Pop Universe, Almost Misses Texas
|Photo by Marco Torres|
|Mary J. Blige at RodeoHouston, March 2010|
In a way, it already has. Pitbull may prove to be one of the smartest bookings the rodeo has ever done. The Miami singer/rapper manages to squeeze pop, hip-hop, Latin music and big-beat EDM into one family-friendly perfect storm, a "long, hot and frenetic dance party," as our own Marco Torres wrote of Mr. Bull's August 2012 Woodlands show. Also, Marco noted, the ladies looooove him. Bruno Mars is likewise brilliant, and may prove to be the most electric rodeo performer since The Jackson 5 all the way back in 1973 and '74. Seriously. He's got a lot of Michael in him.
In fact, the only thing -- only, only, only thing -- the rodeo lineup is short on is somebody from its own backyard, or rather the Texas country/Red Dirt universe. Unlike past years, which have featured Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, Kevin Fowler, Eli Young Band and Miranda Lambert, this year's rodeo is 100 Texan-free, right up until the Sunday-night concert-only performance with George Strait, Randy Rogers Band, and Martina McBride. (The show is an option for rodeo season-ticket holders.)
Photo by Marco Torres Pitbull brings the party wherever he goes.
It would be wrong to read too much into this. No doubt it's a scheduling issue as much as anything else, and three or four of those artists could well be in the 2014 lineup. And The Hideout, the no-cover on-site saloon where the liquor flows and the two-stepping goes, features a string of solid Firehouse Saloon-type favorites such as Max Stalling, Bart Crow Band, Jamie Richards and Ryan Beaver, plus a sweaty set of zydeco from Keith Frank the same night as Blige.
But one thing this year's schedule definitely means, without question, is that Houston really has grown too cosmopolitan and diverse to think it can count on Texas music in the rodeo lineup.
Boy, isn't that a bittersweet thought? I guess it's a good thing the rodeo has Strait looking over its back fence.