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
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
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 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