Houston's 10 Best Non-Sports Bars to Watch the Super Bowl

Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Sunday at noon, 8th Wonder Brewery opens up its taproom, which has plenty of TVs for you to cheer on the Patriots or Seahawks later in the day. Arrive early for a chance to taste the brewery's inaugural release of its new Brewston Texas Pale Ale and help get the party started. Eatsie Boys will have a food truck on site with plenty to eat, and Feges BBQ will set up a pop-up kitchen. Misc. A Mobile Store, and Urban Izzy will also have trucks on site for your retail shopping needs.

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The 10 Best Concerts In Houston This Weekend: Buxton, Kongos, Rakim & EPMD, etc.

Photo courtesy of New West Records
Buxton come in from the cold Friday at the Mucky Duck.
McGonigel's Mucky Duck, January 30

As entrenched a band as can be found in Houston, Buxton has now notched more than a decade on local stages as their delicate, eerie style of indie-folk has continued to mature and evolve. In early March the band will release Half a Native, their first album since 2012's Nothing Here Seems Strange and second overall on New West Records. Adding a little more rock to their acoustic-based Americana on songs like "Good As Gone" and "Miss Catalina 1992" -- for which they've also created their own brand of coffee(!) -- Native nonetheless retains that core of imperiled innocence that is essential to Buxton's sound. This early set at the Duck is a preview of the album's official launch next month at the Continental. CHRIS GRAY

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Children of Pop Sent Us This Rad Tour Journal

Note: Right now we are very high on Houston chillwave/dream-pop auteur Chase DeMaster, sultan of the #veryjazzed empire, and his merry band of accomplices known as Children of Pop. Recently they headed off to give select East Coast cities a taste of the CoP flavors, hyping the second pressing of their "Pre-Madonna" EP, and we asked them to let us know how it went. They exceeded all expectations.

Photos courtesy of Children of Pop
Chase DeMaster: "That photo was taken in the NYC subway as the artist was between the Titanic theme song and some french fries. 'I'm lovin' it.' Life is chill."
Sunday night Gabe and I boiled down our gear/clothes/merch into two backpacks. 2K15 motto, "Travel. Light." I couldn't sleep so I take some Nyquil (Drank) and jam on my new drone machine. It is a small box with three triangle oscillators (tone generators) with three knobs controlling pitch/frequency.

I show Gabe how it works and he takes it for a spin. We play a game of MTG*. He, my nostalgic sliver deck and I, my new knight deck. Knight deck is very quick and I take the game in 7 hands, 0-12. Fun. My wife Holly wakes us up with her morning-person banter/chants @ 4:30. Uhhhhh.

Gabe and I miss our layover in LaGuardia at the expense of a few slices +. We kicked it for about an hour as they have a shuttle from NYC to Boston every hour or something. We catch up on emails during the "Airplane mode" period. Sitting in an exit row, we are briefed/quizzed on our abilities as quasi-emergency personnel.

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Five Brand-New Houston Acts on Bandcamp Worth Hearing

Anywhere from 250 to 1,000 new songs, mixes, EPs and albums are uploaded to Bandcamp every day. Investigate the tag "Houston" on the site alone, and the numbers are likewise staggering.

With so many musicians from Hustletown attempting to plant their flag in the 713, discerning good from bad becomes increasingly difficult. In the past, listeners too often relied on corporate imprinting, music journalism and word of mouth to declare a band worthy of 30 to 60 minutes of our lives. But today we no longer have to rely on limited resources and self-professed experts to choose what to listen to.

Here is this month's batch of (almost) random selections from Houston artists on the verge of emerging from Bandcamp's virtual black hole.

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Part 1 of Slim Thug's HoggLife Hits the Big Screen Tonight

photos by Marco Torres
Slim Thug (center) walks with his Boss Life Management into Houston City Hall on Slim Thug Day, February 25th, 2014.
Some titles are self-appointed, and some that are earned. In Houston, nobody else has earned the right to be called "The Boss of All Bosses" more than Slim Thug.

"Since '98, I've been straight, started shinin' out the gate, reppin' that Nawf on tape!" he raps on the opening track of 2013's Boss Life. Slim has performed at Free Press Summer Festival multiple times, including last year's monumental "Welcome to Houston" set, and has even been awarded his own "Slim Thug Day" by Mayor Annise Parker. It certainly looks like Mr. Stayve Thomas has survived the recession.

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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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The Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Fred Eaglesmith, Yonatan Gat, Cannibal Corpse, etc.

Photo by Tweten's Photography/Courtesy of Shock Ink PR
Fred Eaglesmith
McGonigel's Mucky Duck, January 27

Being 57 might seem a bit old to be out bouncing around in a bus with a handful of people half your age and staying up all night, but Canadian songster Fred Eaglesmith flips that on its back. "You know, at 35 when you're doing this, you look around at your friends and they're lawyers or they're plumbers and their life is a lot different than yours and you maybe question the path you've taken," he told us last year.

"But then when you get to my age, your plumber friend has back pain all the time and he realizes he spent his whole life repairing toilets or unstopping drains and maybe you realize he envies you your life," added Eaglesmith, whose most recent album is 2013's Tambourine. "We did 230 dates last year, and I still love doing this rock and roll touring thing." WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

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New York City Queens Enjoy Reintroducing Themselves

Categories: Only In Houston

Photo courtesy of New York City Queens
New York City Queens, one of Houston Press Artopia's musical guests at Winter Street Studios Saturday night, make it a point to never make the same album twice.

For the local indie-pop five-piece's upcoming Glass House, front man John Stephens (who works full-time at Houston's Studio713), made liberal use of a 2008 Prophet analog synthesizer and a drum machine, hoping to steer the group away from the guitars and live drums that dominated their first two albums. This time he wanted to explore the less linear musical territory staked out by albums like Radiohead's Kid A and Beach House's Teen Dream. This one should be released in the first half of this year, he reckons.

"We were focused on producing a record that is a true break from our previous releases in terms of tone and production value," Stephens says via email. "It was a purposeful challenge to put down the guitars and drums and focus on picking up new instruments."

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Houston's 10 Best Open Stages

Stephanie Meza
Open-mike happens at Te' House of Tea every Monday from 7:30 to 11 p.m.; some customers come out specifically to watch while others who have ventured out to grab some tea stumble upon it. You will often see some interesting instruments brought in by the participants, like banjos, musical washboards, and ukuleles in addition to the usual acoustic guitars. This is a fun laid-back night with some unusual musical performances and performers. When you come out, be aware that Te' has more than 130 different teas to choose from, and the food menu is vegan and vegetarian friendly; meat lovers don't worry, they have some items for you to enjoy as well.

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Leon's Will Never Shut Down, Vows Building's Owner

Categories: Only In Houston

Photos by Chris Gray
Leon's looks like one of Houston's most historic buildings.
This week's tide of obituaries for Leon's Lounge may have been a little premature. The historic Midtown watering hole may be changing hands with no love lost between its landlord and outgoing tenant, but the owner of the building at 1006 McGowen says she absolutely plans to find a new occupant for the space generally acknowledged as Houston's oldest bar.

"I need to put the word out that Leon's is never going to close; not as long as I'm alive," says Scarlett Yarborough. "I'll put it in my will. I'm never going to let that bar shut down."

Yarborough, daughter of the bar's founder and namesake Leon Yarborough, began managing Leon's after her father died in 1990 and ran it off and on until 2007, when she began leasing it out in order to care for her ailing mother. Rights to use the name Leon's were included in the lease, she says, but revert to her as soon as the term expires.

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