Sarah McLachlan Brings the Love to Jones Hall

Photos by Jack Gorman
Sarah McLachlan
Jones Hall
March 1, 2015

Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan is probably just as well-known these days for her animal-rights activism and the founding of Lilith Fair as she is for her music, which doesn't seem right, somehow. After all, her lush arrangements and marked contrast in her vocal registers helped distinguish her from many of her '90s contemporaries, while her deeply personal lyrics wouldn't have been out of place decades earlier. In an era of nu-metal and Pearl Jam clones, she definitely stood out on the radio.

Note to Millennials: a "radio" is that thing with the buttons in your car you never use.

McLachlan has just released Shine On, her first album in four years, and her fans are as devoted as they were in the pre-Y2K days. This devotion inspired a more intimate approach for this tour, with fans invited onstage, selected questions pulled from a hat, and everyone basking in the transitory illusion that each of us are loved and welcome.

Too bleak?

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Spirited Buddy Holly Revival Overplays Texas Accent

Photo by Peter Cox/Buddy Worldwide Ltd.
Reenactment of Buddy Holly recording his first hits in Norman Petty's studio in Clovis, N.M.
While the well-heeled, mostly gray-to-graying crowd was quite happy with Society of Performing Arts' presentation of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Jones Hall Friday night, one nagging issue hampered the performance. The problem with any play or film about a Texas musical/cultural icon like Buddy Holly is one of authenticity. At Friday night's performance, authenticity was indeed the biggest problem for the audience to overcome.

With 31-year-old New Yorker Todd Meredith playing the part of Holly (who died at 22), the dialogue was a bit hokey in the sense that it was so over-the-top with the Texas accents -- or what cast members perceived and attempted as Texas accents. While parts of the play are supposed to be funny and gently poke fun at some of our cornpone-ish Texas hillbilly traits, the fake accents were a detraction and distraction for some.

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Downtown Houston: A Love Story Set to Music

Photos by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
There is literally music in the streets of downtown Houston.
Late last year, my day job moved its offices from Woodway to Downtown Houston. Even though it meant a 60-mile round-trip commute (no, I never get to work on time), I was excited to be leaving the sleepy boredom of Tanglewood for the thrill of life downtown.

I couldn't have been better matched if Tinder had hooked me up with these sometimes pensive and sometimes wild streets, dressed in their long, sexy shadows. OK Cupid couldn't have connected me quicker to these sauntering Houstonians and the rushing crowds of urban professionals they share the sidewalks with.

I'm smitten. And because any romance I've ever embarked upon that's been worth a damn has included music, I've begun to notice just how much courses through downtown's two square miles.

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Dear #Texans: Please Let Kam Franklin Sing the National Anthem

Photo by Mark C. Austin/Courtesy of the Convoy Group
Kam Franklin warms up at a Houston Rockets game...could NRG Stadium be next?
In accord with the time-honored tradition, before every Houston Texans football contest at NRG Stadium, someone is trotted onto the field to perform the national anthem.

In a nod to fans, something the hometown football team truly excels at, it is "auditioning" talent to perform the song before the team's December 28 home game. It's part of a contest the Texans have done previously, inviting fans to load their video auditions to the team's Facebook or Twitter accounts and use the hashtag #TexansFanthem.

When that game arrives, it'll be a merciless beatdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars. And, my hopes are that sweet victory will be preceded by a stirring rendition of the anthem performed by Kam Franklin of The Suffers.

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Planning That Perfectly Disaster-Free Summer Tour

Photo by Daniel Torres
The Grizzly Band
It's summer. No 7 a.m. classes. You've saved your money. You've hoarded your vacation and sick days because you need those perks now.

You've made all these sacrifices and more to be able to team with your kindred spirits and take your band on the road. You've planned to go forth and conquer with all the precision and foresight of Alexander the Great. But before you can start weeping over no other worlds to conquer, are you ready for the battles you'll face on this particular roadie?

Two bands, one local getting ready to tour and the other just passing through, recently shared their best advice on this musical rite of passage.

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MC Chris Is in Town; Maybe He'll Come Over

Photos courtesy of MC Chris
Rapper MC Chris has a significant and sometimes intensely personal relationship with his fans.

How personal? He's been known to crash fans' house parties or just stop by to play video games. He includes them in T-shirt design and remix competitions on his Web site. He reaches out to them to help fund research against a debilitating disease. They've been his lifeblood over a nearly ten-year music career.

Houston fans have two chances to catch him this week. He's hosting a screening of How To Train Your Dragon 2 tonight at Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park and tomorrow he'll be one of dozens of acts braving the heat at Houston's Vans Warped Tour stop.

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Dolly Parton's 10 Best Songs of All Time

We really couldn't adore Dolly more. As a songwriter, performer and even an actor, she's proven herself worthy time and again. She holds a number of career milestones -- 25 gold, platinum, and multiplatinum awards, 41 career Top 10 country albums, and eight Grammys, just to name a few -- but more than that, she holds the hearts of country-music lovers everywhere.

So with so many accolades, it would be unjust to make Dolly share a Throwback Thursday list with other artists. She just kills the competition, so we compiled a list of her hits all her own to salute to the country-music legend.

After all, in Dolly's own words, "Its hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world." And we'd just hate to hurt anyone's feelings.

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Battle of the Beach Music: 1984 vs. 2014

Categories: Joyful Noise

IMDb photo
Yes, the beach looked like this in 1984
I've never been a fan of the beach. My family is about it, though, so sometime this summer I'll be sitting someplace that smells worse than a Red Lobster Dumpster introducing new grains of sand to my ass crack.

My parents were from Galveston, but they hated the beach. We never went as kids. So I never cultivated a youthful, healthy perspective by building sandcastles or finding seashells like some of you.

By the time I got there, I was old enough to drink beer and buy my own music; those were the things that made a beach day more bearable for me. In honor of my first true beach outing 30 years ago, and to steel myself for an imminent trip, I thought I'd see if I'll fare at least as well music-wise this summer as I did in 1984.

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What If Stevie Had Been a One-Hit Wonder?

Categories: Joyful Noise

If hit songs were eggs, flour and frosting, Stevie Wonder would be a Cake Boss.

He'd be able to bake one of those huge, rectangular monstrosities they roll out at corporate functions, and it would taste damn good. Down deep, there'd be the belly-filling substance of songs like "Front Line" and "Higher Ground." Up top, there's the sweet stuff, like "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" and "I Just Called to Say I Love You."

Today is Wonder's 64th birthday, good reason to celebrate all he's served up in a career that's spanned more than a half-century. It's easy to take someone like that for granted. Listen to his songs today, knowing there's so much of his music to enjoy. Then, try imagining a world where he's a one-hit Wonder.

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Old Testament Tales That Fit Today's Musicians

In April 2014, one of the hottest figures in Hollywood is an old-timer called God. He's the subject of Noah and God's Not Dead, two films that have somewhat surprisingly charted multimillion-dollar grosses this Easter season.

Whether the actors and producers are true believers isn't the point. Their personal salvation might not be assured, but it seems their bottom lines have been saved by bringing The Big Guy to the big screen. But in secular music entertainment, God's archrival gets all the run.

Whether the Stones are sympathizing with him or Jay-Z is illuminating on him, Satan rules, and folks like Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne have ridden Old Scratch's coattails all the way to the bank. The only time music artists ever mention God is when they're receiving a trophy at some awards show, right before they head off to a drug-laden orgy.

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