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First weekend of the new year is active
by Marty Racine
Houston Chronicle; Houston, Tex.; Jan 5, 1989

SO what did I miss during my annual holiday hibernation? Wild parties, great music, lots of action?

Puh-lease. Stop the pop world for a week, I want to get off - like walking the deserted beaches of Galveston on a raw, overcast day between Christmas and New Year's. With the rock 'n' roll army of sunbathers and ``turistas'' away, winter is the best time to visit the Island.

My one night out in clubland was Thursday before New Year's at Club Hey Hey for the venue debut of Jerry Lightfoot & the Essential Band, who never sounded better, thanks to an excellent mix and mike job on the snare drum.

The place was rocking 'til 2. Local comedian Ron Crick, off the road briefly, kept wondering why Lightfoot didn't turn up that guitar. But Ron, I've been telling Jerry that for eight years. I've stopped worrying about it. The show was so good, drummer Michael Powers changed his mind about leaving the band.

Lightfoot and good buddy Bert Wills and his Shames, by the way, helped raise $3,000 Dec. 21 for needy Houston bluesman Big Walter in the benefit concert at Houston Studios in the warehouse district, an untapped resource of brick structures in the heart of the city.

The fog was rolling in, and the old warehouses, like an ``Untouchables'' back lot, stood resolutely against the glass towers of downtown. Is this not New Orleans? San Francisco? Chicago? Is this not Bert Wills in sunglasses at midnight? Good gracious, it's a movie. Call Central Casting, Bert's on the loose.

The Houston Studio building makes a fine do-it-yourself concert location. You can't hurt it, it's party-proofed and acoustically padded. More one-shot events could follow.

My pal Bob Smith, a likely name, you say, but a real-life fellow who works for the cab company when not writing cheapo detective novels, observed his New Year's Eve motto: Avoid all major thoroughfares. I did him one better: Avoid the front door.

From the Heights, Houston rock bands the Missiles and the Kick echoed off the downtown towers. The normal Houston clatter of sirens and gunfire - or were those fireworks? - intensified. Inside, I marked the passage of time by returning to Count Basie, Illinois Jacquet and other old jump and swing on the turntable.

THE CRITIC'S CHOICES: Back to the real world, the first weekend of the last year of the second-to-last decade of the 20th century is rather active for the season. Among the more promising shows:

1. Jesse Taylor & Tornado Alley/Tinsley Ellis, Friday-Saturday at Club Hey Hey - Jesse Taylor, Joe Ely's original guitarist, has become a hit item at Hey Hey with a full-house band including a sizzling horn section. Atlanta's Tinsley Ellis impressed many several months back in his Houston debut. So you double your pleasure on this guitar-driven bill, a ``co-headliner'' that has each doing one long set. Showtime: 10 p.m.

2. Delbert McClinton, Friday-Saturday at Fitzgerald's - McClinton has survived domestic and career turmoil and is back with that kind-of-country, kind-of-bluesy, kind-of-rocking Fort Worth honky tonk. Moments Notice opens at 9:30 Friday, Screamin' Kenny & the Sidewinders 9:30 Saturday. Tickets: $10.75-$14.

3. Ronnie Lane Band, Friday at Rockefeller's - Lane, living in Austin these days, returns with accordionist Randy Banks, a Lubbock resident who's knocked around Austin since 1971 and who last played with Zydeco Ranch; violinist Mary Hattersly, founder with Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker of '70s band Greasy Wheels; mandolinist/guitarist Rich Brotherton, most recently of the Barn Burners; bassist Ronnie Johnson, an Austin native who's played in Private Lives and LA band the Effect; and drummer Darin Hess of Dada Curve and Alamo Choir. Look for Irish folk strains to filter through. Showtime: One show, with Houston rocker Dennis Welch to open about 9 p.m. Tickets: $8.

4. The Neville Brothers, Tuesday-Wednesday at Rockefeller's - Nevilles' new album on A&M, as yet unreleased, could push them over the top commercially. Artistically, it's another matter, but they're on a roll. Two shows each night at 7:30 and 9:30.

5. Ozzy Osbourne/Anthrax, Friday at the Summit - First major show of the year has the Lizard of Oz touring on ``No Rest for the Wicked''. Anthrax is merely in a ``State of Euphoria''. No longer the attention-seeking bat-biter, Ozzy has toned down his act away from stage, but the show must go on. The tour has met with mixed success. At the New Jersey Meadowlands on Dec. 8, it sold out 17,000 seats; at the Omni in Atlanta Dec. 21, only 6,900 of 17,000. Showtime: 8 p.m.

6. Roy Ayers, Friday-Saturday at Chimney Rock Entertainment Center - Local artists Kenny Abair, Howard Harris and Gloria Edwards will back this soul-jazz-pop performer/composer. Sponsored by the Peoples' Workshop. Showtime: Two shows each night at 8 and 11. Tickets: $12.50. Information: 728-0274 or 237-8843.

7. Mannish Boys, Saturday at Bourbon Street - Austin bluesters have developed an excellent, if adopted, sound.

8. Alamo Choir, Saturday at Blythe Spirits - Another Austin favorite treads rock and country.

9. Fab Motion, Saturday at Rockefeller's - Rare local act for this showcase club. If you see a bloke up there playing harmonica, it's only ``Fish,'' husband of Rockefeller's publicist Colleen Fischer, who says the Fab guys have worked up some old blues tunes for the occasion. Houston's the Missiles open after 9. Tickets: $8.

10. (Tie) The Pack, Friday at Waves; Jimmy & the Thin Men, Friday at Zelda's; the Kick, Saturday at Zelda's - Among the best of Houston rock.


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