ISHILA is in Houston for the first time. The city is gray. A smooth and uneventful plane flight (Paul L prevents crashes by purchasing Vanity Fair at the airport, a ritual that’s worked for years), unsettling but ultimately useful directions from Mapquest through empty freeways and vast wild urban green space, and we’ve arrived at our Interstate-side Comfort Inn. The motel faces the I-10. Behind us is a major railway line. The noises cancel each other out. The airconditioner is broken, which might not be that bad. If it was was August we’d be dead.
Show details: We saw more of the Katy access road than we’d cared to as we looked for a 10 East entrance, passing a huge Bud Light factory and an odd assortment of tiny old woodframe houses, high grass filled empty lots with fugitive cats, and warehouses that have got a good jump on decay and collapse. Houston’s got soul. There’s no zoning here—you can build anything next to anything else. The results are not pretty, but it makes for fascinating wandering if you’re lost. But Paul Marshall’s solid navigator skills (as opposed to Paul L’s more flashy but erratic style) got us to Sig’s Lagoon, a very hip little record store right on Main Street somewhere in the shadows of the proud Houston skyline. Main Street boasts more laissez faire urban decay, but also a super modern rail car passing often on the center rails.
The Sig’s folks are kind to the point of confusion for the L.A. thrashed Hawks. Thomas offers us a Shiner beer as soon as we walk in the door, and we meet some fascinating Houstonians as we wait for the masses to arrive for our instore concert: a Houston attorney whose five years in Marin County, CA were a respite in paradise, who describes how pumping water into declining oil wells is a huge re-boom for Houston, but that the oily water that floats into the aquifer might not be such a good thing for future generations; a British geologist here for the re-boom; and Eva, a country rock aficionado and movie costumer we knew in L.A. now carving out the good life in Houston with her very hip husband and kids.The masses hit the critical mass of about 15, and we did a short acoustic set, very warm response from our new friends, and we headed next door to the Continental Club while the ultra kind (and lead singer, in about three cool sounding bands) Thomas got us some big league spring rolls from Mai’s Vietnamese restaurant around the corner.
The Continental Club is sprawling, old, dimly lit, and serious. You know good music is played here all the time. The Wednesday night house band fronted by Miss Leslie in chffon dress was a country classic, solid musicians and a quirky virtuoso pedal steel player.We used the house gear, which was a fine bass rig and a 1969 Fender Super Reverb, minus the Reverb but a punchy and ringing guitar sound. We played a regular type set, but to our pleasant surprise the crowd was really enthused—A Dog Can Break Your Heart Too was a big favorite–and we played about six more songs, hung out with the fans afterwards and continued rounds of Jim Beam with owner and life enthusiast Trey. We’re off to a damn good start in Texas. We rolled out of the Continental Club around 1:30 a.m., satisfied, and hungry.
Mai’s Vietnamese food saved our ass. Vermicelli with grilled pork and egg roll. Wonton soup. Jasmine tea. Tofu and Snow Pea Leaf. Chicken, chicken, chicken. Open until 4 am. Busty strippers in low cut shirts hugging Armenian boyfriends over hot noodle soups. .