The Five Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Aretha Franklin, Cory Branan, Lyle Lovett, etc.

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Photo Marc Brubaker
Aretha Franklin
Arena Theatre, September 9

Through no fault of her own, Aretha Franklin stumbled into 2014's more improbable headlines in July, when the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer (class of '87) stopped off to grab a post-concert burger at a Niagara Falls-area Johnny Rockets and was told her chosen table was reserved for dine-in customers only. This, the woman who has been a towering presence in the pop, gospel and soul spheres since the '60s, establishing a standard on signature songs like "Think," "Chain of Fools" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" that other singers have been trying to live up to ever since.

Most recently feted last year by Rhino's plush 97-song collection The Queen of Soul, Franklin is a national treasure -- as confirmed by her 1994 Kennedy Center award -- who should be allowed to eat her takeout wherever she damn well pleases. CHRIS GRAY

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The 20 Best Local Concerts Before Halloween

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Photo courtesy of CSMDP
Come See My Dead Person
Rudyard's, September 5

Arguably one of Texas' most interesting and eclectic acts, Come See My Dead Person are well-known for a gypsy-punk party that melds multiple musical styles with an insane amount of energy. If you can't make tonight's Rudz show, good news: they're playing Galveston's Cowboy's Cajun Kitchen the following evening. SELENA DIERINGER

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Local Acts We'd Put Up For Texans Tailgate Parties

Categories: Only In Houston

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All photos courtesy of Tisha Sendejas
Time to tailgate!
The kids are back in school, St. Arnold's Oktoberfest is being consumed in mass quantities again and many of us are waking in the dead of night, in a cold sweat, with the numbers "2-14" flashing in our subconscious brains like a bad dream. It's football season again!

The best time of the year kicks off at noon Sunday when our hometown heroes, the Houston Texans, take on the Washington Those Guys at Reliant NRG Stadium. My prediction? A score of "0." That's how many live bands I expect to see playing on the Reliant NRG Stadium lot during tailgate festivities this weekend.


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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: NEEDTOBREATHE, A Danseparc Wedding, etc.

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Photo by Sully Sullivan/Atlantic Records
NEEDTOBREATHE
Bayou Music Center, September 5

Without a whole lot of fanfare, South Carolina's NEEDTOBREATHE is probably the first band since Switchfoot to fully cross over from contemporary Christian music into the mainstream; beyond even that, they've become one of the biggest rock groups of the 21st century, period. Since their debut, 2006's Daylight, the group steered by brothers Bear and Bryant Rinehart have watched the audience for their acoustic-driven anthems and unapologetically positive messages swell, winning accolades aplenty and courting secular fans by touring with the likes of Collective Soul and even Taylor Swift.

Released this past April, fifth studio LP Rivers In the Wasteland became NEEDTOBREATHE's second album in a row to top Billboard's Rock Albums chart, and reached as high as No. 3 on the Billboard 200. With the Oh Hellos. CHRIS GRAY

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Trudy Lynn Has America's No. 1 Blues Album This Week

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Photo by Marco Torres
Trudy Lynn at last month's HPMA ceremony
Trudy Lynn's Royal Oak Blues Cafe is entering its second week in the No 1 spot on Billboard's Top Blues Albums chart this week. She's pretty happy about it.

"Oh my God. Isn't that wonderful?", Lynn said by phone Wednesday morning. "I'm just floored. I don't know how I feel about it. I'm elated, I'm happy. Finally my ship has sailed in."

Royal Oak has had a relatively long climb to the top for the longtime Houston blues singer. It was originally released locally last November on Connor Ray, the label run by Lynn's collaborator Steve Krase, who receives under-the-title credit on the album. It has been climbing Billboard's chart since getting picked up by MDI Distribution earlier this summer. It became available on iTunes in July and first appeared on Billboard's blues chart the week of August 2, where it debuted at No. 11 as the "Hot Shot Debut."


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Houston in the '60s Was a Happening Place

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Photos courtesy of Vicki Welch Ayo
The Larry Kane Show
One day, in the distant future, hopefully there will be a Vicki Welch Ayo to document Houston's present-day music scene. If so, that person must now be a dedicated and adventurous showgoer, someone who is enthusiastic about the current acts and venues, and who cares about local music enough to one day look back at it with unabashed love and respect.

That's what Ayo did for the 1960s Houston rock scene in her book, Boys From Houston. Released just over a year ago and weighing in at more than 400 pages, it's a glance back at the players who sowed the seeds for today's Houston music landscape.


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The 10 Biggest Reasons Houston Is Turnt Up

Categories: Only In Houston

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Photo by Marco Torres
...because B L A C K I E has a new release out, and it's a doozy. Entitled Imagine Your Self In a Free and Natural World, it's subdivided between two tracks that last more than 16 minutes apiece, "Wings Blocking Out the Sun" and "Forest of Ex-Lovers," and a six-minute coda, "Cry, Pig!" Forest is an apt metaphor too, because you'll find a virtual Grimm's fairy tale full of spooky sounds and monsters of the mind within these three tracks.

Listen for globs of synthesizers like the opening of The Shining, wheezing saxophones combining in a dissonant chorale, bass-guitar notes marking time like the secondhand on an armageddon clock, an ominous Doors-like repeating guitar pattern, and an abundance of its creator's primal-scream therapy. Depending on your temperament, Imagine Your Self... could be a tough listen anywhere outside a 2 a.m. drive through industrial wastelands, but this explosion of nervy energy is surely best experienced live -- where the always-riveting B L A C K I E is in his element.


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The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Ray Wylie Hubbard, Omotai, Sucre, etc.

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Photo by Jason Wolter
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Main Street Crossing, September 3

Ray Wylie Hubbard likes to live by words he eventually set to music in the song "Mother Blues" from his 2012 album The Grifters' Hymnal: "The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, well, I have really good days." The 67-year-old iconoclastic singer-songwriter is a holdover from Texas' progressive-country scare of the '70s, and pocketed plenty of mailbox money from writing Jerry Jeff Walker's Viva Terlingua! hit "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother."

But starting with his mid-'90s albums Lost Train of Thought and Loco Gringo's Lament, Hubbard began releasing music at a steady clip that has yielded ten more albums and improbably endeared Hubbard to both the good-timin' Texas Country scene (where he's something of a kindly uncle figure) and Americana aesthetes who can't stand that crowd. CHRIS GRAY

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The 30 Best Concerts In Houston Before Halloween

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Photo by Christian Faustus/High Voltage PR
Islands
Walters, September 6

Given the recent excitement of the Unicorns' first shows in a decade, opening some recent Arcade Fire dates, the good news that their Canadian indie successors Islands are headed back to town for the first time in a while should make a few townies happy. The show should be a burner, too. JIM BRICKER

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The Best Concerts in Houston This Week: August Alsina, Better Than Ezra, KISS, etc.

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Photo by H. Matthews/Def Jam
August Alsina
Warehouse Live, August 29

This show has already sold out, so time to hit up the "secondary market." But August Alsina is that hot, no thanks to rumors that he's now dating Nicki Minaj. She's definitely a fan of the New Orleans-bred singer's "No Love" single, because she appears on the now-viral remix. That's nothing new for Alsina, 21 years old and part of the YouTube generation of artists whose record deals are a direct result of their homemade videos; or at least the number of views those videos have accrued.

After two well-received volumes of his The Product mixtape, Alsina is now on the Def Jam roster and in April released his full-length LP, Testimony, leading with his hit duet with rapper Trinidad James, "I Luv This Shit."

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