Madonna to rock Toyota Center
Rumors of Madonna’s irrelevance have been greatly exaggerated. They started almost three decades ago, when her second album was supposed to be a flop. It was “Like a Virgin,” and we all know how that turned out. Rumblings resurface every few years. She’s too old to be doing that. Too weirdly muscular. Too slow. Too silly. Nevermind that Madonna is the only pop star of an elite ’80s group who has remained a true commercial force. (Prince, Cyndi Lauper, even fallen idols Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were abandoned by radio years ago.) “MDNA,” the tour and the album, flies, twirls and snaps in the face of all those accusations.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday and Oct. 25
Where: Toyota Center, 1510 Polk; Tickets: $45-$355; 866-446-8849 or houstontoyotacenter.com.
Cassandra Wilson finds new inspiration
Cassandra Wilson is one of the great American vocalists. Her smoky voice is a subtly dynamic thing that exudes both the earthy blues of her native Mississippi and the nighttime cool of New York.
She’s been recording for nearly a quarter century, though she’s been on a remarkable run since 1993’s “Blue Light Til Dawn.” Her latest is the sublime “Another Country,” which features some inspired collaborations with Italian guitarist Fabrizio Sotti.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas; Tickets: $40-$70
RHCP still alive and kickin'
It’s strange, even after almost three decades, to think of Red Hot Chili Peppers as elder statesmen of rock music. The band released its 10th studio album, “I’m With You,” last year and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year by Chris Rock. (Several RHCP albums are ranked among the greatest rock records of all time.)
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Toyota Center, 1510 Polk; Tickets: $39.50-$59.50
Corset for a Cure: Gia Montalto started Corsets for a Cure (alongside Romana Santana) in honor of her mother’s successful battle with breast cancer. The second annual event features an art show, silent auction and salsa/samba dance performances. Proceeds go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Nox, 4071 Nett; Tickets: $10; 713-715-1754.
Lauren Miller: Though she’s racked up attention locally for her burlesque performances, Miller is first and foremost a singer. Her voice has a husky quality that still manages to sound sweet, and her collection of YouTube covers has racked up tens of thousands of views. Look them up. She easily outshines Madonna, Katy Perry and Miranda Lambert on their own songs. She’ll entertain folks with a nighttime set of reimagined classics and current hits. And maybe a shimmy or two.
When: 9 p.m. Thursday
Where: Cullen’s Live, 11500 Space Center Blvd.; Tickets: Free
Dutch improviser Ab Baars has been to Houston twice over the past few years, having led his trio and also with the larger ICP Orchestra. This time through, Baars will play saxophone, clarinet and shakuhachi (which Google reveals to be a Japanese bamboo flute) in a duo setting with Ig Henneman on viola. The Netherlands has been producing some of the most interesting and daring jazz (for lack of a better word) of the past couple of decades, so this show should be a rare treat. Their program is called “Autumn Songs,” taking its inspiration from poems concerned with the titular season.
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Studio 101 at Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring; Tickets are $13 or $10 with student ID. Younger than 18 free
The Houston International Festival is still half a year away, but iFest is hosting a fundraiser in the form of Mega Baile con Bombon, a pan-Latin-music dance party featuring DJs Gracie Chavez, OG Bobby Trill, Navo and Panchitron.
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Houston Festival Foundation Warehouse, 3603 Clinton; Tickets: $8, $10 at the door
“Shadow of the Bat-Man:” Houston’s Two Star Symphony has teamed up with director Andre Perkowski for “Shadow of the Bat-Man,” an original short film. Two Star Symphony, who scored the film, will perform the soundtrack live and in sync with the visuals. The film started as a series of YouTube shorts, but Perkowski was able to expand the product into an hourlong feature with help from a grant from the Houston Arts Alliance.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney; Tickets: Free
Texas Tease-A-Thon: Houston’s burlesque revival kicks up another leg with the Texas Tease-A-Thon, presented by the Dallas Burlesque Festival and the Ruby Revue. The bump-and-grind-stravaganza features plenty of hip-swiveling royalty, including Russell Bruner, the current king of “boylesque” (yes, that’s a thing); and Angi B Lovely, Ginger Valentine and Coco Lectric, all past queens of the New Orleans Burlesque Festival. Local troupes Houston Burlesque Revue and Dem Damn Dames are also in the mix.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: House of Blues, 1204 Caroline; Tickets: $17.25-$100
Majic 102.1 FM 35th Anniversary Show: Fresh off her Southern-fried role in the Lifetime remake of “Steel Magnolias,” Jill Scott takes the stage with signature R&B hits “Hate on Me,” “Golden” and “A Long Walk.” She’s a smart, sassy performer whose never quite gotten her due. She’ll help Majic 102 celebrate more than three decades of morning shows and quiet storms. With former Gap Band vocalist Charlie Wilson.
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Woodlands Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive.; Tickets: $20-$145
Norah Jones: The University of North Texas graduate is a long way from the Grammy-winning ingenue we first met via 2002’s “Come Away With Me.” The buzz may have subsided, but Jones has kept busy with interesting side projects and albums that have pushed her beyond the jazz genre. This year’s “... Little Broken Hearts” paired her with producer Danger Mouse, who modernized Jones’ sleepy sound a bit while staying true to her original appeal.
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where:Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas; Tickets: $52.50-$63; 713-230-1600
Having settled into its new digs, Black Dog Records is now celebrating the move with a reopening party featuring a performance by Little Joe Washington at 5 p.m. Saturday. Richard the Drifter, the Texas Devils, Black Dog Jammers and Straight Up Sevens also will perform starting at 2 p.m. Doors open at 10 a.m. Where: Black Dog Records, 4900 Bissonnet, Suite 102; free
It’s been a busy year for folkie Jimmy LaFave, what with the centennial of his hero Woody Guthrie and all. But he did find time to put out “Depending on the Distance,” his first new album in five years. Not surprisingly, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan are reference points, both in LaFave’s original songs and his choice of covers, which includes Dylan’s “Red River Shore” and “I’ll Remember You” and Springsteen’s “Land of Hope and Dreams.” Strangely, it also includes John Waite’s ’80s pop standard “Missing You,” which works very well.
When: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk; Tickets: $25-$27
Sean Hayes — not to be confused with the actor — is a grizzled singer-songwriter who sings soulful folk pop in an expressive croak. His “Before We Turn to Dust” is one of the year’s understated charmers. He’s sharing a bill with the buzzy folk duo Birds of Chicago and Austin’s Matt the Electrician, who is no stranger to these parts. 6 p.m. Sunday;
Where: McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk; Tickets: $20-$22
Rodriguez: In the early 1970s, Rodriguez’s music, which was largely unknown in the U.S., greatly influenced a generation of South Africans fighting apartheid. His legend grew as the rumor of his onstage suicide spread. The film “Searching for Sugar Man” examines how two fans from South Africa found a very much alive Rodriguez and brought him to tour their country, where he was bigger than Elvis Presley. No hip-swiveling likely, but he’s bringing that mysterious legacy to Houston.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: House of Blues, Bronze Peacock Room, 1204 Caroline; Tickets: $18-$20
Hot 95.7 Boo Bomb: Pop music is many things to many people. For proof, look no further than the schizophrenic lineup for Hot 95.7 FM’s Halloween(ish)-inspired show. Performers run the gamut from YouTube sensations (Karmin, Austin Mahone, Sammy Adams) to fizzy imports (Olly Murs, the Wonder Girls, Marina & the Diamonds).
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Where: House of Blues, 1204 Caroline; Tickets: $25-$30
Patrick Sweany is an Ohio native who plays a prickly and haunting style of stylistically inclusive blues that has earned him the admiration of such distinguished guitar hotshots as Dan Auerbach and Jorma Kaukonen. Last year, he released “That Old Southern Drag,” which is a great introduction to a great talent under the radar.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Under the Volcano, 2349 Bissonnet; Tickets: $7 at the door