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March truthfully murdered my Madness bracket and thankfully on the flip side, was a mercifully massive monster month on the live music SCENE. - We partook of the live music (and eats and drinks) at eight locations last month and on every front, were beyond delighted with the new tunes and great sound coming from our local live musicians. How did we choose our spots to check out? We found them in The Scene Magazine of course! Let's run down some of what went down in March...

SONGWRITERS NIGHT - Jeanette and the good people at The Cock & Bull has really been a great place to decompress and enjoy an evening of fine eats, great suds & spirits, and live music (they've a pretty good Sunday Brunch too!) This month, we spotted something new at The Cock & Bull, a Songwriters Night and dropped in to check it out. On stage that evening were Myrna Sanders, Sherita Perez & Wendy Elizabeth Jones song swapping the evening away much to the appreciation of the cozy audience. The way it should be! Also in March, the Cock & Bull hosted a night of comedy which we everybody definitely needs, myself included. Cock & Bull, a regular stop on our beat - Make it a part of yours too!

HIT AFTER HIT AFTER HIT - So what's a band to do when their playlist is completely filled with the hits fans like? Madigan figured that one out - Keep adding more hits to the list! We stopped in to catch the Madigan show at Sherlock's (who provides the longest bar front per patron I believe) to hear the band serve out new hit after new hit, an utmost pleasant outing indeed. With keyboard player Michael McColloch and bass Wildman Jeremy Walton firmly in the groove with Melissa, Dave & Todd, Madigan still deals out the rock anthems we love and pulled out knockout punch after knockout punch that were new to these ears. Several things struck out including how these new songs explored new and refreshing genres, the range suited Melissa's voice perfectly *and* allowed the band to demonstrate four part harmonies(!!!), how were performed with perfectly precise and sizzling syncopation, and throughout were tonally pleasing (perhaps even more so than by the original artist), likely due in part to sound man, Dale, arguably the best in the business. Amongst the local acts, this band packs a show on the audio, visual and rock your butt off fun categories. Folks, I honestly got fully recharged at the Madigan show last month and if it's been awhile since you've caught them, make it a point to do so soon - Trust me!

KATIE'S - We've been reporting the cool intimate music friendly setup at Katie's for awhile and was curious how the play would fare with a packed stage. And so when we spotted Funksion on the calendar at our favorite Bacliff Music Hall, we dropped in to check it out. Packed house - Check, Packed stage, - Check, Packed dance floor - Check, Great service, sound & fun - Check, Check check.... The music was on top, crisp and sharp all night long with Freddie and the boys tightly in the groove. Mike Laurent was high flying, waving in the ripping turnarounds and breaks with authority. Funksion is clearly hitting on all cylinders and ready for the 2014 party season. Book 'em!

BACK ON THE BEAT - Which would be down in the Lighthouse District and which would be Zone 504, where every year we get older & wiser, the folks at Zone 504 stay forever young and fun. The great 504 staff took care of the thirsty crowds as always and this evening, we caught up with Gaby Veray's band along with a newcomer to the music scene, Myrna Garibay opening the night. I asked Myrna if she was related to the other local musical forces by the name of Garibay and there were none that we could report. A musician all her life and thanks to the encouragement of the local musical community, Myrna has taken the step out into the public having only performed live for six months and should be interesting to keep up with over the years. Readers will recall prior write-ups by SCENE writer Rhonda Meredith on Gaby Veray - Perhaps the only thing I can add to her mention is how well the group sounds on stage live which I reckon due to their opening jam, a great time to get the board dialed in just right. Cameo appearances later in the evening by Matt Cash & Marc Borde further qualified the evening - Zone 504.... A great place to be! Also in the Lighthouse District, we dropped in to catch a Pee Wee Bowen set at T-Bone Tom's. I think I've figured out why T-Bone's is always so crowded and that's because with their food, service, craft beer and live music lineup, nobody leaves! <vbgrin>

BACK ON THE BEAT PART II - Which would be Pirate Radio with the return of Erik Garza which was at Dempsey's in March. With a voice well rested and as strong as ever, Erik and the entire band sounded even more solid as I've ever heard them if that's possible. This is going to spoil lots of live music lovers out there and enjoy it next time you can...

HOURGLASS UNPLUGGED - What better way to kick back and enjoy an evening would be than to catch an unplugged Hourglass show at the Cockeyed Seagull. A special treat this evening was getting to catch a few numbers by perhaps the smoothest voice happening in the area, Scooter Tyra. Radio personality, Lee Jolly (who has an award winning voice of his own) described a recent bar scene with the roughest of crowds only to become a tranquil easy listening setting with Scooter on stage. Pretty powerful is the pleasant voice & pretty cool, eh? Heads up, the annual Hourglass 60's party is coming up soon. As a black light lit event, this has been a photographer's nightmare but always still a heck of a lot of fun. Keep an eye for this one...

The REVOLVER HOTTEST CHICKS IN HARD ROCK TOUR - Okay... I'm a guy and I'll fess, with a banner like that, how could I resist. Featuring SICK PUPPIES, LACUNA COIL, Eyes Set to Kill, Cilver, & Vanilla Sugar, Tour Stop Clear Lake (aka Scout Bar) has clearly taken it up a level coupling the area's premiere lighting and sound system with their newly remodeled indoor layout conducive not only to up close and personal packed in front of the stage yet with space to decompress, enjoy a craft brew, and mingle with friends. Used to be, we would say why bother heading all the way up to the Woodlands. Now, we can say "why bother going downtown?" The show you ask? I'm of the belief that it takes the larger internationally touring bands a couple songs to acclimate to the up close & personal experience at Scout Bar (and probably why they keep coming back). I've witnessed time and time again how after perhaps three songs, touring bands bond with the up close audience's appreciation and energy before suddenly trancing into a frenzy and taking off, the likes they hadn't experience since their days before big time fame and body surfers arriving on stage. Makes sense? The show cooked... Tour Stop Clear Lake, Scout Bar, get close...

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN - for me on the scene is a bit blurred but Top Water Grill was prevalent and the place where Gene Rutt plugged me into "the SCENE" with the likes of the Cow Blues Brothers, Andy & The Dreamsicles, Hart Fest... The place got clobbered during Ike as the rest of the area and with utmost respect and appreciation, watched Robert and his team rebuild the Top Water Grill into what it was on St. Patrick's Day weekend, a place for folks to hang out, enjoy good food & spirits *and* host a couple hot live music bands. The first one was totally new for me and call themselves Hardcastle Deluxe. Folks, this little band had been one well kept secret in the world of hot garage bands and actually shocked I haven't heard them before. Able to pull off the plate of SRV and Hendricks with fluidic ease and tasteful interpretation, I can say Hardcastle Deluxe is SCENE Party Ready. Book 'em!!! The second band that day wasn't a surprise to us but a match that was meant to happen with the Southbound duo of Steve & Jimmy appearing at Top Water for the first time. Judging at the packed crowd having fun and hearing the sound properly tuned for the huge palapa covered party floor, one would think that this band has been playing at Top Water for some time. Let's keep our fingers crossed... It was great to get back to the Top Water Grill in full party mode with live music. Kudo's to Robert and his staff for hosting this blowout event and cheers to all who came out for the fun!

IT'S A WRAP - Okay, I'll fess.... My March Madness Bracket has me sitting down toward the bottom, the Astros has me thinking about retaking up my golf game, the Texan's first draft pick should be traded (IMO) for two top picks next year. Winter has lingered waaaaay too long and crawfish are costing too much BUT it delights me to no end to report that local live music, no matter the genre, no matter the venue, is better than it's ever been in quality, clarity, energy and smiles.... New material is popping up everywhere and the performances by the bands are playing out stronger and as confident than ever which in no small part due to the appreciation I'm seeing by the audience (you folks) having a good time with friends & family, being yourselves, being alive, and being a part of The SCENE - Happy April & we'll see you out there!
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