Chuck Negron: The Oldies Circuit's Sober Companion

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Photo courtesy of Stafford Centre
Chuck Negron
A little over a year ago, former Three Dog Night vocalist Chuck Negron stood onstage at the Stafford Centre at the finale of the "Happy Together" tour stop, belting out numbers while shoulder to shoulder with The Turtles, Gary Lewis, Gary Puckett and former Paul Revere and the Raiders vocalist Mark Lindsay.

Nearly three hours long, the show was an all-killer-no-filler time travel through well-known radio and chart hits of the '60s and '70s. Negron proffered signature hits like "Joy to the World," "One," "Just An Old Fashioned Love Song," and "Celebrate" to the gray-haired audience whose years melted away from their faces as they sang familiar choruses.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the "Happy Together" tour returns to the Stafford Centre tonight with Negron, the Turtles, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and new additions Mitch Ryder the Detroit Wheels and former Grand Funk Railroad singer/guitarist Mark Farner.


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Bands: Texas Is Good Enough For Your Limited Tour

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Alien8 Recordings
Unicorns
This article isn't a gripe about the local music scene, which has actually been looking up for a while now, nor is it even about Houston specifically. Instead, it's about all those wonderful reunion tours that continue to pop up, only to avoid certain areas of the United States entirely.

A few weeks ago, my hopes were ignited when I read a headline about the Unicorns reuniting. In that instant, I wanted to do any and everything it took to catch at least one of the dates on their tour.

First, if the Unicorns' name doesn't sound familiar, their music probably would. For anyone who has ever been to a concert at Walters, it's highly likely you've heard the Montreal trio being played as the house music between sets. Additionally, Nick Thorburn went on to form Mister Heavenly with Man Man's Honus Honus and Arrested Development's Michael Cera, as well as Islands with Unicorns bandmate Jamie Thompson; at least the latter will be at Walters Downtown on Sept. 6.


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Even at 80, British Blues Legend John Mayall Is "Always On Tour"

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Photo by Jeff Fasano/Mark Pucci Media
John Mayall today
At 80 years old, the "Godfather of British Blues" has certainly earned the opportunity to relax. Or slow down. Or stop performing all over the world at all. But when asked as to what his plans are after his current tour, John Mayall seems perplexed, as if it signals the end of one thing and the conscious start of something different.

"Which tour? I tour year-round. I am always on tour," the singer/guitarist/harmonica player says matter-of-factly. "Always on tour. You've got to communicate and make the audience part of what you're doing. Then you know you've succeeded."

And Mayall is making no concessions to age in terms of how he approaches each show, be it a huge festival, small theater or intimate barn. His current jaunt finds him promoting his latest record, A Special Life (Sony/RED), 11 tracks of Mayall originals, a catalogue re-recording, a tune from his band, and covers of songs by Jimmy Rogers, Albert King, Sonny Landreth and Eddie Taylor.


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Lowrider Band Drummer Harold Brown: "Houston Has a Special Soul"

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lowriderband.com
The core of the Lowrider Band: Harold Brown, Lee Oskar, B.B. Dickerson, and Howard Scott.
Last summer, the Miller Outdoor Theatre presented a multi-racial '70s band who performed such recognizable FM radio classics as "Spill the Wine," "Why Can't We Be Friends?" "The Cisco Kid," "All Day Music," and -- of course -- "Low Rider."

This summer, Miller presents another multi-racial '70s band who will perform all those same hits. But with a different name, though this group has four times as many members who actually played on those records.

Confused? Welcome to the 2014 strange saga of two groups: War and the Lowrider Band.


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L.A. Rockers 7Horse Have a Thing For H-Town

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Photos courtesy of 7Horse
Joie Calio and Phil Leavitt waiting to explain what "flying high with no ID" means to the TSA in Dallas.
For two battle-hardened rock and roll road dogs who spent two decades touring the world as the rhythm section for dada (1992 MTV hit "Dizz Knee Land"), Joie Calio and Phil Leavitt of emerging power duo 7Horse could not be happier with the results and reach of their first album, Let the 7Horse Run. The pair got tired of waiting for action on the dada front and decided to record an album, do a tour and see what stuck.

And stick the album did. Not long after its release, scratchy blues-rocker "Meth Lab Zoso Sticker" was selected for Martin Scorcese's wildly successful movie, The Wolf of Wall Street. The tune not only made the movie soundtrack, it was also used in the film's trailer.

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7 Seconds' Kevin Seconds: "Some Days I Just Want to Scream"

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Photo by David Robert
As heroic elders of the 1980s posicore genre alongside brethren like Uniform Choice and later Insted, 7 Seconds replaced hardcore punk's sheer bellicosity, anti-government sloganeering and stiff ideology with tuneful melodies, deep pockets of personal conscience, and a stalwart sense of hope. Beginning as skinheads forming a community in Reno, known for its steady gambling, easy divorces and arid desert, they soon became stalwarts of a West Coast second-wave insurrection, joining the roster at BYO Records. The band also maintained their own label, Positive Force, which helped launch Youth of Today and Verbal Assault.

7 Seconds' tunes evolved over time from terse, forceful, straight-edge pleas ("Drug Control") to increasingly pop-tinged singalongs steering punks towards unity ("Walk Together, Rock Together"), social and environmental justice ("Regress No Way" and "Satyagraha"), pro-women stances ("Not Just Boys Fun"), racial tolerance ("Colour Blind") and much more. In the late 1980s, as punk often became mired in gang wars and ultraviolence, the group sought softer musical traits but never fled the scene or became sloths.


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Yes: Venerable Prog-Rock Icons Are the Opposite of Fragile

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The 2014 version of Yes: Chris Squire (bass), Alan White (drums), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Steve Howe (guitar), and Jon Davison (vocals).
In his 40-plus years of sitting on the drum stool for classic-rock legends Yes, Alan White has thumped skins in locations all over the world and under all kinds of conditions. But it was a show on the high seas a couple of years back, part of the prog-rock-themed "Cruise to the Edge" that bordered on the absurd.

"The weather was rough, and it was the roughest when we played our set. And the stage was at the front of the boat, which was the roughest place to be!" White laughs today.

"We were playing and hit some bad turbulence, and Chris [Squire, bassist] went to sing in the mike and missed it by a foot. Steve [Howe, guitar] had his steel guitar sliding all over its track, and I was aiming at cymbals just hoping I hit them! And at the end of the show when we went to take a bow together, we hit another wave and all stumbled to the side!"


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Counting Crows Return Behind "Best Record We've Ever Made"

Categories: Inquiring Minds

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Photos by Danny Clinch
21 years after the release of Counting Crows' notable debut August and Everything After, front man Adam Duritz is confident the band's forthcoming seventh album, Somewhere Under Wonderland, is their best work to date.

"Everybody's freaking out about it," Duritz says of the record, due out this fall. "Those who've heard it are through the roof."


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Love Dominique Ready to Crash the Men's Club of Houston R&B

Categories: Inquiring Minds

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Tonight is homecoming night for Love Dominique, but a homecoming in the non-traditional sense.

She's a Missouri City girl born Dominique Henry, the kind who dreamed of big lights and stardom after hearing Brandy records in 5th grade and pestering her mom every single chance she got before, becoming an even bigger Tina Turner fan. She's the Willowridge graduate who stayed close to home and only took a leap of faith to focus on her music solely this year.

She's the woman who thanks to a deal with Altavoz Distribution will be able to release her self-titled debut album, Love Dominique understands that staying completely independent is harder work than running to a label to be coddled.


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A Conversation With Texas Punk Icon Gary Floyd

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This photo by David Ensminger/Others courtesy of Gary Floyd
Gary Floyd today
Gary Floyd is a long-loved underground music icon entangled in fiery black music, queer outrage, punk vendettas, barbed-wire politics, and Eastern spiritual bliss-outs. Whereas the homegrown Texas musical tornadoes the Dicks (later reinvented in San Francisco) were ribald and cantankerous, Sister Double Happiness were rootsy purveyors of sweeping, mesmerizing alt-rock that helped initiate the Nirvana generation.

By the mid-1990s, his Gary Floyd Band buried themselves deep in East Texas saggy porch-howling blues, while Black Kali Ma soon followed by unleashing Shiva as a devouring rock and roll entity. Now, Floyd effortlessly evokes wisdom, transcendence, and transience in his latest guise, Buddha Brothers.

Floyd recently spoke with Rocks Off before heading down for Friday afternoon's meet-and-greet at Cactus Music, his first Houston appearance in the last half-decade. (Note: David Ensminger is also co-author of Floyd's forthcoming autobiography and featured the singer in his book Left of the Dial: Conversations with Punk Icons.)


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