The Felice Brothers at Fitzgerald's, 9/25/2014

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Photos by Jim Bricker
The Felice Brothers
Fitzgerald's
September 25, 2014

Without a doubt, the best shows to come through town are those that basically go unnoticed. Whether they don't get enough advertising or another big-name event or two in town is taking the crowds away, there is nothing better than a non-packed show at a smaller venue such as Fitzgerald's downstairs.

The Felice Brothers played said venue last night, and with so many things going on around town Thursday night, such as FPH's Sammy Awards and the mega-Tom Petty gig at Toyota Center, attendance at this show seemed much lighter than it could have been.

Which is not a bad thing -- for the fans, at least. It's already tough enough sweating through a show in the storied venue when it's half full, but the lack of the extra bodies in the room only brought a light dew on the brow rather than the full-on back sweat it sometimes does. Well, until the dancing began. Fitz, please fix your air conditioner.


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Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at Toyota Center, 9/25/2014

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Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Steve Winwood
Toyota Center
September 25, 2014

Anyone curious what might motivate Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers to continue making records could do worse than starting with "Shadow People," a song from the band's new album Hypnotic Eye. Like its neighbor "American Dream Plan B," the song itself carries a vague political charge, exactly the sort of curmudgeonly tone a 63-year-old man might adopt, shaking his head as he mutters under his breath. These kids today.

In some ways Petty is like Hank Hill, the exasperated but fundamentally decent hero of Mike Judge's late, great animated Fox series King of the Hill. Petty appeared in the show as Lucky, the good-ole-boy love interest of Hank's niece Luanne, but in the Heartbreakers he is the man whose dismay at society's general direction is tempered by his deep bond with the people dear to him. Even among his closest peers, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp, Petty comes off more regular guy than man of the people.


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Taylor Momsen, Rock's Smartest Wild Child

Categories: Inquiring Minds

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Photos by Justin Campbell/Courtesy of Razor & Tie
Taylor Momsen can name her rock and roll heroes with a disarming amount of speed. Her father's record collection instilled in her a love of loud guitars and thunderous drums from childhood, says the 21-year-old former Gossip Girl actress, who then rattles off the greats like her band The Pretty Reckless attacking one of the songs on its second album, Going to Hell.

"Since the day I was born, it was the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, AC/DC," she says in short order. "Once you go through each track you can't go back. It's just always been a part of who I am, I guess. When I got older I really got into the '90s stuff, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains."

Going to Hell, the follow-up to the band's 2010 debut Light Me Up, throws all those bands and then some into a blender and spits it back out with plenty of leather-and-tattoo attitude, helping it become arguably 2014's most successful rock album. Hit single "Heaven Knows" has already conquered the Rock (14 weeks on top) and Alternative charts and has even been making inroads on Top 40 lately.

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Guess the Fake Death-Metal Band Names!

Categories: Metalocalypse

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Well, it's just about that time of year again: the time when it turns dark and cold and everything that's good and green and living in Houston begins to wither and decay. Not due to the weather, obviously -- we ain't got but one season in this town. No, that creeping rot that you can smell faintly in the air comes not from autumn, but from the impending, annual arrival of Building Temples From Death Fest, the sickest, reeking death-metal congress yet known to our state.

These aren't "melodic" death metal bands, folks. There will be no deathcore. Building Temples From Death Fest (which would be, uh, BTFDF) plays host only to the truest of the true believers. Headlined by the brutal old-schoolers Internal Bleeding, this will be a day's worth of the metal that you still have to hide from your mom -- especially if you're an adult. The evil practitioners on display from noon 'til close at Fitz on Saturday still relish the genre's power to offend, pumping out ear-shattering thunder dripping with gruesome art and obscene lyrics.


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10 Houston Acts to See Before You Can't

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Photo by Mark Britain
Little Joe Washington
The passing of Texas Johnny Brown last year hit me and a bunch of people pretty hard, so the September 12 death of Crusaders pianist Joe Sample was another slap in the face that many of Houston's musical heroes are closer to the end than the beginning. The latest bad news is that bluesmen I.J. Gosey and Little Joe Washington, as well as monumental drummer, educator and community leader Bubbha Thomas, have been in poor health, although Little Joe's prognosis is looking pretty good if he maintains his dialysis schedule.

All of this brought on some surveying of the local landscape and wondering how much longer some of our oldest artists have, and in turn the following list of artists that you need to get out and see while you still can. Nothing morbid here, just the cold, hard facts of time marching on. As Houston's Mike Stinson sings in one of his new songs, "Time is a relentless marching whore." Believe me, I'm on the front lines.


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Jethro Tull Was a Great Band Before Aqualung

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The cover of Jethro Tull's 1969 album Stand Up
The classic-rock world lost another of its members last month with the passing of Jethro Tull's original bass player, Glen Cornick. They, alongside Deep Purple and Judas Priest, are one of what I consider the last three bands unjustly omitted from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

For those familiar with early Tull images, Cornick was the animated member. He could be found on album covers and press photos with his glasses, long black hair and usually sporting a headband or a stylish derby. Known as a partier, he was asked to leave shortly before the recording of 1971's Aqualung album -- not necessarily as a result of his behavior, but because those ways didn't fit the with the other members' more subdued personalities.


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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Mary Sarah, David Gray, Marc Anthony, etc.

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Photo by Russ Harrington/Courtesy of Shore Fire Media
Mary Sarah
Firehouse Saloon, September 26

On her remarkable album Bridges, 18-year-old Houston singer Mary Sarah goes well beyond holding her own against some of the greatest talents in country-music history, from Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson on down. This is no stunt record. Just about anyone who has been to a karaoke bar knows how easy it can be to screw up a song like Nelson's "Crazy," but Sarah delivers that tune, and others even more difficult to sing, with real musicianship that matches that of her elders.

Less surprisingly, she also gives several tunes a pronounced youthful zip that redeems some pretty dated material. This is Sarah's first Houston gig since the summer release of Bridges, which has rightly drawn a fair amount of national attention. With Cameran Nelson. CHRIS GRAY

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Houston's Best Music Photographers: Trish Badger

Back in June Rocks Off brought you Houston's ten best music photographers, as selected by a small panel of insiders and professionals. Now we'd like you readers to choose the best. Before voting opens, though, here's a little more about our finalists, in alphabetical order -- and a lot more of their spectacular photography. Best of luck to all ten.

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Photos courtesy of Trish Badger
Rocks Off: Tell us a little more about yourself.
Trish Badger:
I'm a native Houstonian and I've been a full-time photographer for four years. I absolutely love it and I can't imagine doing anything else. I have a deep passion for people and music, so that's the focus of my photography. I also love traveling, dancing and encouraging others to pursue their dreams.

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The War on Drugs' Adam Granduciel Pulls It Together

Categories: Inquiring Minds

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Photos by Dusdin Condrin/Courtesy of Secretly Canadian
On a rare day off, War On Drugs front man Adam Granduciel speaks to me from his Philadelphia home. In the background, clinking kitchen noise can be heard as he prepares his morning coffee ("French Press"). The 35-year-old songwriter hardly needs the caffeine; he's excitedly loquacious as he speaks, a slight northeastern inflection in his java-fired delivery.

Since its release this past March, the band's sensational third album, Lost In the Dream, has delivered a next-level breakthrough for the psych-rock collective, of which Kurt Vile was once a member. Their tour visits Houston this weekend.


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The Five Greatest Duos in Houston Rap History

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Z-Ro and Slim Thug in the "Summertime" video
This past Saturday, Slim Thug decided to break plenty of hearts among Houston rap fans.

He announced on Instagram that his King & a Boss album, that long-awaited disc between he and enemy-turned-BFF Z-Ro, wasn't coming out. Thanks to timing, the proposed project had lost a bit of its luster from when it was originally announced on the heels of recent collaborations "Summertime" and "Lovin' You."

They still paired off together perfectly; imposing figures on two fronts. You weren't going to duck around a Slim Thug verse without Z-Ro punching you in the throat via a chorus or verse of his own.


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