Tour Diary – Houston, TX (June 15, 2010)

The late night in the French Quarter pushed back the morning drive considerably. My first visit to Texas was met with traffic and lane closures astraffic inched into downtown Houston. The House of Blues sits in the heart of downtown in what felt like a newer shopping plaza still searching for tenants in a recession. It was my first visit to one of these venues and it was even more branded than I expected. The cool artwork on the walls loses some luster when you see it plastered on t-shirts and coffee mugs for sale. Above the stage, big screens showed commercials (novelty drum sticks on sale!) until the band took the stage and someone put the Lakers game on every TV. The upside of all the merchandising and $8 cans of beers is the high end P.A. hanging from the stage.

The punch of the vocals in the mix and the rich set list gave Margo license to let loose. There was a swagger to her performance tonight and she swayed her arms as if possessed by the music. On ‘Hunted’, Pete dropped the gas on the groove and the entire song came apart at the seams (in the best way) as Jeff wailed through an extended solo. Before anybody could catch their breath, ‘Lost My Driving Wheel’ built into a lonely lament with Pete’s kick drum beating quickly and lightly under the chorus like a nervous heart stranded somewhere in Texas.

In the morning, I weaved through a neighborhood and found a house made of beer cans tucked between newer town homes. Local artist Coley gave me the insider’s tour of the property. In 1968, an unassuming upholsterer spent his retired days inlaying marble, wood, and metal into a concrete landscape. Once the yard was complete, he began siding the house in beer cans, about 50,000 of them when it was all done. His wife and him lived out there remaining years happily in the beer can house. Just another five room love story.

World Cup Fever has infected the tour and I pulled over in La Grange, TX to catch the second half of the Uruguay game and grab a bite. I found a tiny Mexican restaurant where the cooks were huddled around a Spanish broadcast of the game in an unused dining room. I joined the festivities and ate the best Mexican meal of my life for $5.95. The language barrier notwithstanding, we all seemed to agree the red card on the South African goalie was a bit much. La vida es muy buena.

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7 Responses to “Tour Diary – Houston, TX (June 15, 2010)”

  1. Floyd Henderson Says:

    June 19th, 2010 at 5:24 am

    Mike, I heard you guys last night in Austin, I was at your second show, and couldn’t help but feel bad for you all. You must have been exhausted by the long night and the Texas heat. I’ve played in bands on and off for years and now how exhausting a show can be, and two back to back must have wiped you out. Despite that you put on a fantastic show. You’ve been one of, if not favorite band for years.

    Margo’s voice puts so much beauty into the pain and desperation of life that it makes that pain and desperation bearable. Your soaring and rumbling guitar solos take me on an emotional Magic Mountain ride that Walt Disney, in his wildest acid dreams couldn’t compete with.

    Tell Margo that she is approaching 50 with all of the grace and beauty imaginable, her voice as gorgeous as it was the first time I heard it decades ago. Your guitar has grown with each new recording, and never ceases to fill me with joy and hope, as odd as that might sound. I play guitar, too, not in your league, but would love to know how you get the sound you come up with.

    Tell Margo that 50 is nothing, it’s 60 that catches you by surprise. It’s when you realize the difference between “middle age” and “old age”. I try to keep my state of mind as fresh as I can, but so many years of living and so many things done have left me with a case of PTSD, and concommitent depression. You’d think that your music would make that worse, but on the contrary, it brings me renewal.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your beauty and art. Though you don’t know it, you’ve saved my life more than once, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

    Peace (as always),

    PS, While I’m sure she hears this a lot, she is as beautiful today as she was 20 years ago, maybe more so. Please play on.

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