Concert review: Chris Isaak at House of Blues Houston

We don’t go to many concerts these days.

Actually, that’s not completely true. We see many, many live bands. In fact, as a live band, we even played our first wedding concert last month.


However, we don’t go to many big concerts with famous artists.  A combo of the loud music, late nights, expensive drinks, and crowded venues keeps us away.

There are very few that I would pay to see. Then there’s Chris Isaak.

I saw him a decade ago at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, and it was an absolutely amazing show. When I heard he was coming to House of Blues, and I might get to see him in a much smaller, more personal venue, I was quite excited and pitched the idea to Mary.

Her response was, “I don’t think I know who that is.”

She was not excited. Her only reference to Chris Isaak and the Silvertones was the fact that I cover Wicked Game … but only when we’re jamming with the “Dock Boys.” I’ve heard it murdered way too many times by way too many cover bands to ever perform it at an actual show. (#nevertrustthefalsetto)   Pleeeeease don’t let the band name “Dock Boys” catch on. 


I put the show out of my mind and went on with my life. That is, until Ticketmaster announced a huge settlement, and I discovered I had many, many discount coupon codes in my Ticketmaster account since they essentially scammed concert-goers with exorbitant “handing fees” and “UPS fees” all through the 90s and 00s.

I decided to check back into the Chris Isaak concert and found there were a few front row tickets still available. I once again pitched the show to Mary and this time she reluctantly agreed. I can’t believe I almost didn’t!  I normally hate concerts.  

We were standing in line along the third floor balcony outside the House of Blues waiting for the doors to open when a guy in sunglasses and a polo shirt holding a white dog came walking down the line kind of whispering to everyone. He was saying things like, “I heard this guy puts on a great show.” and “Oh, I heard it’s going to be a really good show tonight.”

He was already halfway down the line before I realized it was Chris Isaak. He turned around, waved at everybody and went inside. He looks so different off stage, like a normal person.  Not all dreamy like he looks while he’s playing.

I really wasn’t sure if we had front row seating as claimed on the Ticketmaster seating chart or if the entire downstairs of the venue would be standing. Once inside, I was excited to see that we did indeed have front row seats. There would be no tall people standing in front of Mary blocking her view all night. Whenever people start to stand up at a concert I might as well be at home listening to the radio. I can’t see anything. 


The band came out strong and played a few songs before Chris stopped to introduce everyone in the band and thank the fans for supporting live music. He jokingly promised a “semi-professional state fair quality show.” Then he grabbed a wireless mic and left the stage to sing the next two songs as he strolled through the audience, pausing to sit down with people, so they could take selfies with him as he sang.


After making his way up through the balcony and back down through the audience, he climbed on the stage, made a few more jokes, and went back to playing guitar.


I know most of his songs, but Mary only knew one or two. However, I think we both enjoyed the music. The sound was clear and balanced, and his voice was phenomenal. Not only does he hit all the high notes live, he actually went even higher in some songs than he does on the records, and his sustain is unbelievable. The man can hold a note for 12 measures with not so much as a waver in the tone.


We had made the mistake of ordering a couple of Bud Lights before the show started thinking that they’d be cheaper than the really overpriced craft beer. What we actually got served were $11 Bud Light 40 oz. cans, so Mary had to make a run to the bathroom mid concert. Unfortunately she decided to go right before they played Wicked Game, the one song she new, so about the second verse she came running back.

For what I guess you’d call the second set of the night, the stagehands quickly moved a drum and stool to the front of the stage as one song was ending, and as the next song began, the band transitioned seamlessly to sitting along the front edge as they played some softer, bluesier numbers. Then, when Scotty, the keyboardist pulled out an accordion, they even did a Tejano number in Spanish.


Fun fact, Kenny Dale Johnson, the drummer, grew up in Borger, Texas and went to high school with my mom and two of my aunts. I think he’s probably the most famous person to come out of Borger.

Chris made a point to recognize this week’s passing of Scotty Moore, Elvis’s original guitarist and a great rock pioneer. The band then covered a couple Elvis songs and Jerry Lee Lewis’s Great Balls of Fire before returning to their own material.

They left the stage to the sound of a standing ovation and when Chris returned to start the encore, he was wearing his one-of-a-kind mirrored tuxedo.


You know, to make this a “legit” review, I should have kept a list of the songs they played, but I didn’t. I was way too into the show. In fact, I wasn’t even going to snap any photos except that a House of Blues employee came by passing out flyers encouraging us to snap photos and post them to Instagram with #HOBIsaak.


The energy stayed high and everyone was out of their seats the entire encore.


To end the show, Kenny once again came up to the front of the stage to sing some fantastic harmonies on one of the new songs from the First Comes the Night album.


As the lights came back on, Mary, who really had no idea who Chris Isaak was at the beginning of the night, said, “I think this is the best concert I’ve ever seen.”

I really loved the show.  The jokes were really funny, the outfits were great.  The guitar and bass player kept doing hilarious little dances, and you could just tell everyone was having fun on stage. It really felt like a show, not just a concert. There were a lot of quiet romantic moments as well that really made this a nice night out just the two of us.  

That’s a pretty good review.

What’s Mary been up to?

I love a good project, but recently I’ve had a project forced on me that was a bit overwhelming to say the least.  It’s pretty much been consuming my whole life.  Back at the end of April my father passed away suddenly of pneumonia.  He was only 54.  I’d like to share with you guys what me and my two sisters have been up to since then.

So my dad was single, 54, he didn’t have a lot, but he did leave us his beautiful home. This house has been in our family for 3 generations now, and is conveniently located across the street from my mom’s family homestead.  It’s a beautiful home, with a beautiful location.  It needs a lot of work though, and it was in no state to rent or sell when we got it.

The views from this house are amazing.  Overlooking “The” river..the mighty Mississippi. Hoping to improve them with some tree trimming.

So my father was a “fixer”; I know you all have one of those in your life.  He has bits and pieces of things he’s in the middle of repairing scattered about.  He also had a bad habit of collecting anything he thought was neat, and then there were other items he just collected randomly: computers, eye glasses, lighters etc.  Well when you compile that over the 45+ years that he’s lived in that house…there was quite a bit of stuff.  Pictures really can’t describe. I’m responsible for that amazing clothes pile.  This is the correct way to move things down a spiral staircase.

We hauled many many loads of trash to the dump, as well as 4 loads of scrap metal, and 3 loads of clothes to charity.  We all worked 10+ hour days on our feet until we could no longer walk.  My mom and her husband John were the biggest troopers of them all.  They worked with me, they worked with Julie and Mel, and they worked on the in between weeks while no one was there to help.


PSA: For the sake of your children get rid of your stuff today!  Well after two weeks of work from all three of us we had the house ready for an estate sale. Not pictured: 3 boats, 2 motorcycles, 2 cars 1 truck, whole garage full of stuff.


My dad’s house has two parts: woods and field.  This is what the field part looks like:

The “field” area has rows of grape vines, a large blackberry patch, and several fruit trees.

While we worked I stayed over across the street with my mom and just walked back and forth on that long driveway with my dad’s dog buddy. My mom and John just got done renovating their beautiful farm house, so they were probably looking for more work anyway.

Although this was a really difficult and unexpected task we got it all done!  Even had time for a few side projects:



Well this whole thing is far from over, but I’m really proud of the way my family has come together to make it all happen so far. I’m also really grateful for the time I got to spend at home with my family.

If anyone has any brilliant ideas for how to turn this property into passive income, so we can afford to keep it I’d love to hear!  So far I’ve ruled out: solar farm, wind farm, fish farm, actual farm, tiny house village.

Big thanks to everyone in my hometown who helped!



Dress like the best with a Gimme Shelter crew shirt


We’re doing a limited run of Gimme Shelter shirts. Show everyone your love of sailing, freedom, music and booty with one of your own. The sale is open for 15 days, and they’re only $15. Order one now before they’re gone.

Kemah Friday Night Fireworks are Back

This year the Kemah Boardwalk is putting on an incredible fireworks display every Friday evening in June and July, as well as Monday, July 4. I took a break from playing guitar on the dock to snap a few photos this week.

The show starts at 9:30 p.m. and is visible from almost everywhere in the Clear Lake area. From Watergate Marina we get a nice view over Clear Lake Shores.

Remaining 2016 dates for fireworks are June 24, July 1, 4, 8,15,22 and 29.

Hopefully we’ll get to anchor out in the bay to watch them soon.

It might be time to replace those orange PFDs

The torrential rains of Texas cleared just long enough for me to take a few friends out on Galveston Bay to celebrate Memorial Day. I even fixed the flag halyard, so we could hoist Old Glory to commemorate the occasion.


Mary has been in Illinois for what seems like months, but thankfully there were a few people around willing to celebrate with me.


The wind started slow but picked up throughout the day, and we got some nice speed on our way to Redfish Island — as documented by TJ up on the bow.


Cloud cover kept the heat from getting unbearable.


I made sure to keep Mary posted regarding the extraordinary level of fun we were having without her.


And for the first time this year, we finally got in the water for some swimming and kayaking.


While we have some nice harness and belt PFDs, we don’t actually want to get those wet and have them inflate. Therefore, when it comes to floating in the water and splashing around, we have to resort to the old orange PFDs.

I mean, I look good in them, but perhaps it’s time to upgrade to at least the cheap West Marine life jackets.