25 More Legendary Houston Music Venues
Photo by Mark C. Austin The Black Keys at Meridian, September 2008
The Meridian seemed doomed from the start. The cavernous upstairs venue in Chinatown just down the street from Warehouse Live was awkwardly divided into a small room and a big room -- not unlike Warehouse, but with only one entrance and up a flight of stairs. But, it was still one of the coolest venues in town to see a band, thanks especially to the window view of the skyline that made it feel like you were hanging at some cool bar in New York.
To this day, one of the coolest and shortest sets of music I've ever seen was delivered from the Meridian's stage by the late Chris Whitley. He was deep into his battle with cancer when he appeared at a benefit and only managed to perform for a minute or two before exhaustion overcame him, but they were two of the most brilliant moments of heartfelt musicianship I've ever seen. Like Whitley, the Meridian left us all too soon. JEFF BALKE
Photo by Jody Perry Indian Jewelry at the Mink, February 2010
This Main Street bar next door to Shoeshine Charlie's Big Top enjoyed a brief run as a beloved, anything-goes music venue that booked a host of metal, punk, hip-hop and indie acts in addition to regular standup comedy and DJ nights. Cheap drinks and live music made it a hipster haven, attracting a motley assortment of tattoos and facial hair that spent as much time smoking and socializing on its Spartan-but-cozy back patio as they did upstairs listening to music.
The place always seemed to be struggling to stay afloat, and after a couple of ownership changes in 2011-12, quietly closed its doors without much fanfare. Mango's on Westheimer has picked up some of the booking slack, but it lacks the dirty, sexy darkness of the Mink's heyday. NATHAN SMITH
Of Our Own
OOO morphed out of the second Catacombs location. Local alternative press had been steadily criticizing the Ames people as capitalists and as people who didn't truly support the local scene. The Ames machine turned the criticism on its head by forming the Houston Community Assistance Project and setting OOO up as a non-profit. I saw Bruiser Barton and the Dry Heaves (now Beans Barton and the Bipeds) and Ry Cooder open for Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band there winter of 1970. Shortly after, the club folded. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Pig & Whistle
Long-since demolished, this ramshackle house on the corner of Alabama and Greenbriar was a snaky labyrinth of connected spaces which obscured site lines and made any heavily attended show there something of an effort. Herschel Berry, Southern Backtones, and a mish-mash of rockers and roots acts made the Pig a venue to check before you left home for a musical evening. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Ozone City Outrage
A long-gone cousin of Numbers, Power Tools is still a sacred name (not to mention a powerful memory) among Houston's industrial/goth/EBM crowd, with the downtown subterranean space now occupied by hip-hop/EDM-heavy Kryptonite. Like a few of its kin, Power Tools is practically un-Google-able, but one flyer we did find (again via Ozone City Outrage) offers a powerful whiff: Butthole Surfers. Mid-August. All ages. CHRIS GRAY
Just a block from Fitzgerald's, the Reddi Room played host to every significant Houston blues act with virtually zero fanfare. Milton Hopkins may not have had the lease in his pocket, but he owned this joint, playing there weekly for what seemed like a decade at least. The Room also brought out eclectic crowds of hipsters, River Oaks socialites, and Third Ward heroes. If Houston had a blues trail, there'd be a monument in front of the old Reddi Room. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Townes van Zandt heckled Steve Earle in this tiny lower Richmond venue. Along with the Jester, ground-zero for the Texas singer-songwriter movement, hosting Townes, Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Jerry Jeff Walker, Eric Taylor, etc. Another spot where a monument should be erected. Drug and alcohol free...sure. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
The quintessential pre-douchification Washington Avenue rock dive, Shimmy Shack predated even Mary Jane's/Fat Cat's in its long march toward becoming, um, Pearl Bar, hosting prime '90s acts like Jawbox, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Ed Hall and Supersuckers along the way. CHRIS GRAY
List continues on the next page.