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Southside Johnny on tour again with Jersey sound
by Marty Racine
Houston Chronicle; Houston, Tex.; May 22, 1986

No one has been indicted in connection with the handling of the foundation's funds. The state attorney general has filed a lawsuit accusing Lane and five other ARMS officials of mismanagement of the charity's funds. Correction published 6/6/86.

THE GARDEN State of New Jersey is synonymous with Bruce Springsteen, but those in the know are hep to one of Springsteen's main cronies - Southside Johnny Lyon, who through the 1970s was responsible for honing the Jersey shore rock 'n' soul sound that shook the hand of midlevel commercial success. The music carried an aura of desperation, much like an updated Stax sound with an East Coast edge to it.

It's good to see Southside touring again - Springsteen took the high road, Lyon the often discouraging low road - and his second consecutive show at Rockefeller's tonight is the critic's pick of the week. Lyon, backed by his road-tough and chop-ready eight-piece band, now abbreviated as The Jukes, works a crowd as well as any frontman in the biz. This is not a man to go through the motions, just the emotions. If you've got the fever, these guys have the cure - two shows tonight at 8 and 10:30.

POP NOTES: News flash: Pop comes to the aid of the classics. Jazz-latin group the Gary-Michael Band will be among the entertainers performing at the Best of Houston Party, a charity event benefiting the Houston Symphony Orchestra, which will be held 5:30-9:30 p.m. Friday at the Guest Quarters Hotel, 5353 Westheimer.. . .Houston is one of 10 major markets throughout the nation selected to partake in yet another talent search, the annual Wrangler Music Invitational, which this year receives added visibility with Willie Nelson at the helm. The invitational proceeds along the usual local-regional-national finals competition starting in area nightclubs, with bands competing in the separate categories of pop/rock, rhythm and blues and country. Winner of the national finals, which will be held in Austin in November, receives cash, equipment, a video, etc. Stay tuned for more details. . .Some of Houston's and Austin's finest are turning out for a Ronnie Lane Benefit Sunday at Steamboat Springs in the capital city (403 E. 6th St.) to raise money for the new multiple sclerosis self-help group, the Ronnie Lane Foundation. British rock musician Lane, along with five other officers of Action for Research in Multiple Schlerosis, was indicted (SEE CORRECTION) last week on charges of mismanaging more than $1 million in ARMS funds. Lane, who is afflicted with MS, recently moved to Austin from Houston and will appear Sunday with a band he calls Fear of Ducks, which supposedly consists of Houston guitarist Robert Estep, Houstonians James McCowen (Footnotes) and Tracy Taylor (Brave Nature), Austin saxophonist Joe Sublett, and Doug and Steve Spinks (Dharma Bums). Also playing the benefit will be Dino Lee & The White Trash Revue, True Believers, Wild Seeds, The Kill, Van Wilkes and possibly either Joe Ely or Eric Johnson. Doors open at 7, show starts at 8. . . . Austin's annual Riverfest concert is set for 5 p.m. June 2 (yes, a Monday), with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Los Lobos and Dwight Yoakam. It's definitely a Texas-California Connection. . . Big plans for everybody: Word has it that Let's Active, currently pop's most intriguing band, is to appear at Numbers in June. San Francisco's Translator, another top new'' band, will play Cafe Mode June 13. . .Speaking of June (dig that segue), a rappin' happenin' with L.L. Cool J, Run-DMC and Whodini - a trio of street poet Grandmasters - are scheduled for June 14 at the Summit. . .The annual Budweiser Superfest has set July 6 at the Summit as part of its 15-city 1986 tour. The exact talent lineup shifts from city to city, but the Houston concert will draw from a pool of Kool & The Gang, Freddie Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Frankie Beverly & Maze, New Edition and Ashford & Simpson. The Superfest kicks off June 14 in Washington and concludes Aug. 16 in Cleveland. . . . . .

That's our own Dr. Rockit performing ``Cocaine'' on this week's Ch. 13 news series about the Bolivian marching powder. The performance was shot at Fitzgerald's but polished with studio overdubs. . . . . . Speaking of the good doctor, Dr. Rockit recently cut nine songs in a scant three hours at Heights Sound Studio, which band leader Rock Romano feels represents the best Dr. Rockit sound ever put to tape. He says the project, which he calls a glorified demo,'' will be released to the public probably on cassette only. . . . . . Overseen: Well-known Houston producer and star maker Huey Meaux was in the audience for Lisa Morales' set last Thursday at Fitzgerald's. Draw your own conclusion. . . . . . The cold truth: Rockefeller's has outhustled every club in town the past few months to re-establish itself as the city's only true showcase venue, booking top names and important unknowns. . . . . . The Pik-N-Pak Ice House on Waugh, closed by the city's Health Department for inadequate restroom facilities, has done the requisite remodeling and will reopen this weekend with shows by the Cootie Dolls (8 p.m. Saturday) and Horace Grigsby (6 p.m. Sunday). . . . . . The Texas Music Association-Houston Chapter's monthly meeting Tuesday (7:30 p.m., Allen Park Inn) will feature a panel discussion on Commercial Music: A Developing Industry in Houston,'' concerning ways musicians can market their skills via jingles and film music. Non-members are invited at $2 per person. . . . . . On their second try, Fitzgerald's and the Essential Blues Band lit their blues-and-barbecue party Sunday - a week later than advertised in the club paper, the Fitzherald. Look for the ribs-and-rhythm combination - a nifty summertime deal - to continue Sunday nights through June. And those ribs stay fresh till closing time. . . . . .

WEEKEND REPORT: Youth may be wasted on the young, but an interesting journey through the heart of Saturday night revealed a stark contrast between a fresh new band and the old guard; between, also, a mere cover band and a band that updates old material. We started the evening at Anderson Fair - due to its convenient early starting times - and caught Chicago folk singer Greg Brown, whose finger-picking technique, storytelling ability and terrific vocals mark him as my new favorite in contemporary folk music. OK, deadbeats, check him out next time. The music critic, a rock 'n' roll junkie and connoisseur of loud bands in noisy clubs, nevertheless finds himself returning to folk music for intellectual and emotional relief from the day's mindless rock and pop. At least the troubadours have something to say.

OK, on to Rockefeller's, where that great roadhouse band from D.C., the Nighthawks, turned in a sad, half-hearted set that only cast an exclamation mark on their plans to call it quits - at least temporarily - in July. Yeah, Mark Wenner and Jimmy Thackery, in particular, sounded decent, and dancers filled the floor for a good Saturday night hoedown, but the Nighthawks, who've averaged more than 200 road dates a year for the past decade, sounded stale, their music oddly old-fashioned in a 1970s bar band way. The thrill is gone - time for the members to head for new horizons. What a contrast, then, to the Meat Puppets, a young uppity Arizona hard-core trio who drew 400 to Cafe Mode. While they reprised old rock and blues standards Saturday in addition to original material, the Puppets' attitude carried the night. They thrash, they twang and bang, they do wild feedback, they change songs midstream, they're spontaneous, unpredictable and a whole lot more fun at this juncture than the Nighthawks.

They were also more interesting than Dash Riprock at the Ale House. Riprock also did old cover songs, but with such faithful renditions one wonders what the point was. ``Trash'' those songs, brothers - they're not the national anthem.

 


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