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Spring shapes up with terrific tours
by Marty Racine
Houston Chronicle; Houston, Tex.; Apr 16, 1987

THE PUNK-ROCK explosion of the late-'70s didn't exactly shake pop/rock to its foundation, but the aftershocks are now being felt throughout an increasingly viable, independent underground network that includes post-punk, roots music and burgeoning regional acts.

While the U2s and the Journeys, and their industrygroomed opening acts, continue to market successfully in the large arenas, providing unrealistic goals for thousands of hopefuls, the independents and midlevel acts, some of which are destined to be signed by major labels, are proving that rock 'n' roll or rhythm and blues is not a bad life if one is content to sell records in the tens, not the hundreds, of thousands, and ``tour'' nightclubs and small theaters.

The sun is out today, and I'm feeling optimistic. Never in my experience has Houston been blessed with such terrific tours as it has this spring. March, April and May, as it's shaping up, have conspired to bring us scores of important names, from rare items out of the past such as Richard Thompson and Steve Forbert, to great newcomers such as Kristi Rose & The Midnight Walkers and the Wagoneers. (Kristi, by the way, just mesmerized me last weekend at Chelsea's 804 with a voice that could melt iron. They'll be back, so don't miss 'em.) They share a reluctance to cultivate a show-biz or rock-star image, or to rush headlong into fancy record contracts that often swarm with hidden costs.

Keep abreast of your calendars, ladies and germs. Tonight's entry is Husker Du at the Maceba Theater, yet another Minneapolis band that got its start in the fertile Twin Cities' punk scene and that now, after seven years, has outlasted virtually every band of its genre, including its true contemporaries, the Minutemen and Black Flag. The group did so in part by keeping ``success'' in perspective, prefering a modest buildup of momentum rather than a mercurial rise to the top, which is often accompanied by burnout. And ``voila!'', Husker Du wound up signing with major-major Warner Bros., which came hat in hand to ``them''. Their new Warner album, ``Warehouse: Songs and Stories'', is a volatile mix of revved-up post-punk noise, Midwestern folk romanticism and neo-psychedelic sound-making.

Tonight's show begins at 9 with new band Christmas, from Cambridge, Mass., where the season must run long. Special late added attraction (at 10) will be Cargo Cult from Austin, featuring ``Biscuit,'' once of those legendary Texas punkers, the Big Boys.

Oh yeah, ``Husker Du'' is Danish for ``do you remember?'' A properly ambiguous term.

Also this weekend, the Wild Seeds are at Chelsea's 804 Friday. The Seeds are another band quite happy, thank you, to stick with a modest game plan. Read all about it in Friday's Houston section. And Steve Forbert (Zest, April 12) is on for Saturday at Fitzgerald's. The sleeper, however, could be Forbert's opening act, David Halley, Lubbock singer/songwriter/guitarist who wrote one of Joe Ely's mainstays, ``I Wish Hard Livin' Didn't Come so Easy to Me''.


Jerry Lightfoot & the Essential Blues Band are gigging with new member Kenny Hall on keyboards. They're at Fitzgerald's and are loaded for bear.

Johnny J & the Hitmen, Louisiana rhythm and blues band out with a new record, are at Private Property.

Four Hams on Rye play Chelsea's 804, and although I don't enjoy perpetuating the ``hometown'' syndrome, you can also catch them the next two Thursdays, same location.


Whadda night! Besides the Wild Seeds, the Wagoneers, one of my new favorites, are at Private Property. If you can't catch them this busy weekend, they're scheduled virtually every week for the next month in Houston at various venues.

Kings X will rattle the walls at Blythe Spirits, where there's always a downstairs for respite.

The Natives and Alamo Choir make for a fine Houston-Austin rock-out combination at Fitzgerald's. Former Native Jimmy Jones is (temporarily?) back with the group and toting a fresh supply of inspiration, while...

... the man who replaced Jones in the Natives, before Jones replaced ``him'', Kenny Cordray, leads his band at the Ale House. Nothing but favorable reports on this crew.

Tough Town played a hot brand of rocking, danceable avant-funk last time I caught 'em. They're at the Pig & Whistle, which is gradually getting involved in live music.

The Dishes are still looking for label-affiliation for their new - so new it hasn't been out yet for half a year - ``Midnight Pizza Party'' album. At Wunsche Bros.


XOX, Houston's top hard/metal-rock band, returns to the Ale House.

The Bedbugs, led by Cadillac Johnson, are back after a year in the mattress, at Blythe Spirits. Boogie-chillen rhythms.

Four Hams on Rye move out to Bourbon Street, while the Essential Blues Band heads down to Local Charm.

POP NOTES: You might as well add a good reason for going out to have fun. Sunday, Commandos club, 5020 FM 1960 West, hosts a benefit for the Vietnam Veterans of Houston. All ages are welcome (17 and younger must be with parent or guardian) to a classic-rock/ heavy metal show featuring Houston's Odd Brothers, Sire and Saint Kelly. The latter two, I'm told, are stocked with good original material. Doors open at 7 p.m., show begins at 8:15. Admission is $5, with all proceeds going to the Houston Foundation for Vietnam Veterans. Special guest appearance will be by Bobby Rock, Houston drummer who has gone on to play with the Vinnie Vincent Invasion...

KLOL's fourth annual Rock and Roll Auction will be held Saturday at the Hard Rock Cafe. All manner of stars are expected to partake in auction duties, including Joe Walsh, Vince Neil, Earl Slick, Joe Lynn Turner, Rob Junglass and MTV's Mark Goodman. It's an opportunity to come away with some rock memorabilia for - who knows? - good deals. Only a few items will go for hundreds of bucks. Actual bidding begins at 1 p.m. Personal checks, cash, Master Charge and VISA will be accepted. Admission is free. It's all-ages. The 24-hour KLOL Auction Hotline number is 526-2283. Last year's event raised $13,000 for the Ronnie Lane Foundation... Jamaica's annual Sunsplash reggae festival has spawned little cousins, including this weekend's, er, Sunsplash Festival in Galves-ton at Yaga's at 2307 The Strand. The fest starts at 9 p.m. today and concludes 6 p.m. Sunday and features popular local/regional reagge groups Wazobia, Musa & The Mela-tones and the Killer Bees. For more information, call Yaga's at (409) 762-6676...



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