Houston's Top 10 Rock Bars

As our sister blog Eating...Our Words does, from time to time Rocks Off will be giving your our picks for the top taverns in various Houston-area neighborhoods. Of course, the lines can be porous, but here anything with a TABC license that cannot reasonably be considered either a restaurant, coffeehouse or live-music venue is fair game.

Veteran rock jocks like Outlaw Dave should know a thing or two about how to open a killer bar, and luckily the radio god doesn't let us down. Outlaw Dave's WWHQ on Wash Ave is an awesome place to rock out with your...beer out, so you get over your fear of bros and go sometime. Not only is the bar home to Kiki's Sordid Sideshow -- a titillating circus-themed burlesque troupe -- but it's also where you'll find Dave himself and assorted guests broadcasting his KPRC 950 AM radio show 5-8 p.m. weekdays (plus 7-9 p.m. Saturdays), since it's equipped with a studio. Beer, grub, rock, and Outlaw Dave. It's like your '90s wet-dream is coming to fruition, right?

6502 Washington, 713-862-3283, outlawnation.us

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Other States Sure Have Hilarious Taste In Music

See that map above? It knows things.

It knows if most of your entire state is sporting permed ponytails and jamming out to horrible '90s rock, like in North Dakota. But it also knows when your state is a bunch of bearded hipsters with collective "outsider" tastes, like Pennsylvania.

It even knows that Texas, as a collective, has awesome taste in music. George Strait, anyone?

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Texas Guitar God Johnny Winter Is Forever True to the Blues

Michael Weintraub/Sony
The quintessential Texas bluesman: Johnny Winter
A December 1968 edition of Rolling Stone featured Texas musicians who were at the time making inroads into the magazine's home city of San Francisco. Featuring a cover photo of cowboy-hatted Doug Sahm (balancing toddler son Shawn on his knee), it mentioned players and singers both known (Janis Joplin, Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs) and others familiar only to hardcore fans.

But it was a mention of a shit-hot blues player, Johnny Winter, that seemed to generate the most buzz. Soon, the Beaumont native found himself in demand. The article described "A cross-eyed albino with long, fleecy hair, who plays some of the gutsiest, fluid blues you ever heard."

A guest appearance with Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper at the Fillmore East gave a major audience their first real look at this mythical figure. Columbia Records execs were in the audience, and it led to a then-unheard of advance for an unknown act -- a reported $600,000 -- resulting in Winter's 1969 self-titled debut.

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Lone Star Scorecard: What Do Chris Rea, Webb Pierce and the Flamin' Groovies Know About Texas?


There are a million songs in the naked [Lone Star] state. Some - okay, most - are boastful, some are introspective and some are merely stupid, as the Austin Lounge Lizards once noted. Whatever the case, all must be subjected to the rigorours scrutiny of the Lone Star Scorecard in order to make sure no one is spreading falsehoods, which would besmirch the honor of the brave settlers who revolted against the Mexican government so they could continue owning slaves.

Chris Rea, "Texas"

Man, England must be really going down the tubes if the Rea family is considering coming to Texas to escape rising tensions at home. Or maybe they just want to move someplace where they can shoot people on their neighbors' property.

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Lone Star Scorecard: All Robert Earl Keen Edition

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There are a lot of songs about Texas out there, and Rocks Off wouldn't be doing our duty if we sent you off into the world without properly informing you about their veracity. That's what the Lone Star Scorecard is for, and if it keeps even one of you from making an embarrassing Texas-based faux pas at a party/wedding reception/embassy dinner, then we've done our job.

Occasionally we devote an entire edition to one artist, and this week it's Houston's own (well, sort of) Robert Earl Keen, who helps his hometown ring in the New Year at House of Blues December 28.

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Lone Star Scorecard: Puzzling Over Jimmie Rodgers' "T for Texas" and Those Poor Aggies


It's time for another edition of Lone Star Scorecard, where we perform the valuable service of shining the harsh spotlight of anal retention on classic (and less so) songs about our beloved state. You're welcome.

Jimmie Rodgers, "Blue Yodel #1 (T for Texas)"

We're a little confused...you're apparently fond of Texas and Tennessee, hence the shout outs in the chorus, but you want to shoot Thelma, to whom you also refer. And why do you also have to buy a shotgun? Isn't the pistol you're going to shoot Thelma with equal to the task of killing the "rounder" who stole her away? Maybe he has unnaturally thick skin. Or maybe America's gun laws are too lax.

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Lone Star Scorecard: Texans Never Cry, Except the Ones on the Football Field


You know the drill by now: each week we sift through the literally thousands of songs about Texas (if not necessarily by Texans) and - through weeks of rigorous analysis using supercomputers owned by the five richest kings of Europe - determine how accurately they represent our great state. The result is the Lone Star Scorecard.

Gene Autry, "Texans Never Cry": Gene obviously mean to apply this song to residents of the state as a whole, but we don't have to go back further than last weekend to find a whole group of crying Texans. Namely, the ones who let Maurice Jones-Drew light them up for 119 yards and three TDs. If the Raiders win next Sunday, we may never be able to play the song again with a straight face.

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Lone Star Scorecard: Homesick Texas Songs


Admit it, you miss Texas. Lubbock may not have a lot of - okay, any - scenery, Dallas may take a little too much pride in the fact that they shot a TV show there, and Houston might not have the best climate/air quality/traffic, but it's home, dammit. Spend much time in other parts of the country and you'll likely find yourself pining for the state's many intangibles, like Shiner Bock, lack of state income tax, and abusive TABC agents. Most Texas songwriters have a song or three that discuss this phenomenon. Here's a sample:

Don Edwards, "Goin' Back to Texas": We could've done several entries on Edwards, whose distinctive Western style seems out of another time. Seeing as he released his first album a whopping 45 years ago, that sentiment's not too far off the mark.

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Lone Star Scorecard #5

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Lone Star Scorecard #5 - "Stoned," "Songs About Texas," and "Dallas"

Everything's bigger in Texas. It's a saying that holds true whether you're talking about our hats, our freeways, or the number of songs written to satisfy our sense of self-importance. Now, there's nothing wrong with having thousands of songs gushing praise over you like Spindletop, just make sure you get the details right. Because as we'll see below, that doesn't always happen.

"Stoned" -- The Old 97s

We're big fans of the Old 97s, especially the old stuff. That said, this cut off their first album brings up a seemingly obvious question: if you're hitchhiking to Rhome solely for the purpose of catching a Greyhound to Frederickburg (presumably because there's no bus terminal in your present location), wouldn't it be easier to find someone driving to Fredericksburg and hitch a ride with them?

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Lone Star Scorecard: All Tanya Tucker Edition

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The history of country music - or any music until recent years, for that matter - is largely represented by men, with female artists popping up more and more frequently as time passed and concert/record promoters realized there was a market for women in the business. In country, you started with pioneers like Kitty Wells, who were followed by the next wave (Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee) and then the Big Three (Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette) before female artists became relatively commonplace.

Tanya Tucker represented a new direction for women in country. For better or worse, she brought a more overt sexuality than the relatively chaste Parton or Barbara Mandrell, and branched off into rock and roll for a time, making her - at least temporarily - a pariah among the C&W faithful (and it should be noted that Tucker still hasn't been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame).

This edition of Lone Star Scorecard is therefore dedicated to Tucker, the pride and joy of Seminole, TX. She's performed a number of songs about her home state. We'll be the judge of how accurate they really are.

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