If the tour log on www.neutralmilkhotel.net is to be trusted, the closest Jeff Mangum ever came to performing in Houston with his influential band was Austin back in 1998, which was shortly before Mangum pulled the plug on Neutral Milk Hotel and dropped out of sight for a decade or so. Suffice it to say, there’s a palpable excitement that Mangum has set up a tour this year and that Houston is included on the itinerary.
Presumably, the set will lean heavily on NMH’s two albums — the under-lauded “On Avery Island” and the monumental “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” But since Mangum has gone 14 years without putting out a new album, who knows? There could be something new in the bag. With Tall Firs. When: 7 p.m. Monday; Where: Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas; Tickets: $25-$28.
The Houston Arts Alliance’s Folklife + Traditional Arts Program will present its third annual Voices of the Spirit concert series, which is designed to present music representing some of Houston’s immigrant communities. This year will feature carnatic ragas from South India, Nigerian praise music, Sufi songs, Sikh kirtans and choral music from Vietnam. The shows also will initiate a six-month series of workshops and programs. When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday; Where: Brown Foundation Performing Arts Theater, Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore; Tickets: free, but reservations are required; email email@example.com.
Pride Houston Logo Unveiling
The parade and festival aren’t until June, but Pride Houston is already prepping for the celebrations. This year’s theme and logo, designed by a student at the Art Institute of Houston, will be revealed. We’ll also get a peek at the nominees for grand marshals. And best of all, there will be music from Pride Superstar 2009 winner AJ Cabrera; 2010 finalist and karaoke queen Nina Lombardo; and Lauren Miller, 2011 runner-up and popular burlesque performer who has amassed a solid online following. When: 7 p.m. Thursday; Where: Meteor, 2306 Genesee; Tickets: Free.
The rest of the week
Daniel Bachman: Here is an extraordinarily gifted young guitarist (just 22) who creates music that he calls “psychedelic Appalachia.” He should appeal to guitar nerds whose tastes run closer to Fahey than to Clapton. His “Seven Pines” is the kind of album you can get lost in for days. When: 7 p.m. Thursday; Where: Avant Garden, 411 Westheimer; Tickets: $4 at the door.
Cloudeater: Atlanta has been turning out some great independent rock bands recently, and Cloudeater is among the best. The band’s songs unfold patiently with enough buzz from its guitars and keys to keep from drifting toward the ambient. It’s a sound that’s long on mood yet still very much something you’d classify as rock. Their “Sun & Sidearm” is a charmer, and a new record is due this year. When: 8 p.m. Thursday; Where: Mango’s, 403 Westheimer.
The English Beat: The two-tone ska and pop band scored a smattering of U.S. dance hits in the late ’70s and early ’80s, most notably “Hands Off ... She’s Mine” and “I Confess.” Overseas success was bigger and better, though there have been many incarnations, breakups and one-offs. In its heyday, the Beat toured with the likes of David Bowie, the Clash, the Police, the Pretenders, R.E.M. and the Specials. They’ve since enjoyed a faithful stateside fanbase, who have snapped up compilations and rarities.
“Helen Alone”: What’s the next-best thing to starring in a movie? Deciding its fate. Thriller “Helen Alone” is in the final stage of post-production, and the filmmakers want viewer input to wrap things up. The film, shot in Houston, focuses on a “sheltered and naïve teenager” who “finds herself suddenly abandoned by family, friends and an odd cast of characters, all battling to control her fate. It stars Daniel Baldwin and Priscilla Barnes (“Three’s Company”). Only 130 people will get access to a private screening, so show up early. No one younger than 17 will be admitted. When: 6:15 p.m. Friday; Where: Houston Community College, 1010 West Sam Houston Pkwy N.; Tickets: Free.
Le Petit Mort: Sexual taboos are explored in this group show, which includes music, paintings and “naughty” 16mm films from the ’40s and ’50s. (The French name translates to “The Little Death.”) No work has been censored, and the audience is strictly ages 18 and older. Judging by the flier, Bettie Page is somehow involved, which seems fitting. When: 6 p.m. Friday; Where: East End Studio Gallery, 708 Telephone; Tickets: Free.
Muck and the Mires : A top-tier garage-rock band, Muck and the Mires create high-energy songs that make for a sweaty show. Last year’s “A Cellar Full of Muck” was an old-school standout. With the Ugly Beats and Mikey and the Drags. When: 9 p.m. Friday; Where: Continental Club, 3700 Main; Tickets: $10.
JuJuBee: The diminutive diva fell short of the crown on both “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and the “All Stars” spin-off. (We’re still bitter.) But she’s emerged as one of the franchise’s breakout stars, thanks to a sassy sense of humor, kitschy glamour and a kind heart. “It rekindled my relationship with drag,” she says. “It’s opened up my mind to just try new things. If it doesn’t work out the first time, try it again. If that doesn’t work out, pick something else.” Looks like it’s working. JuJuBee will sign autographs and pose for photos after her performances. When: 9 p.m. Saturday; Where: South Beach, 810 Pacific; Tickets: Free before 10 p.m., $12 after 10 p.m.
Vince Clarke: Royal titles are slapped all too frequently on music stars. But it would be hard to argue with Clarke’s “King of the Synthesizer” title. He’s a founding member of Depeche Mode, Yaz and Erasure, influential British groups that changed the face of pop and dance music. He’s now going on three decades alongside Andy Bell in Erasure, and the duo released “Tomorrow’s World” in 2011. This solo show is a DJ set. When: 9 p.m. Saturday; Where: Numbers, 300 Westheimer; Tickets: $10-$50 (VIP ticket includes early entry and meet-and-greet).
Stevie & Tara Benefit Show: Houston bands Second Lovers, Satin Hooks and the Valens team up to help UC Berkeley student Stevie Sanko and Army vet Tara Carpenter. Sanko was suffering from kidney failure when Carpenter agreed to donate her own. The show will cover medical costs for both women. Also on deck is R&B misfit You Genious, who promises a 15-minute kissing booth. For charity, of course. When: 10 p.m. Saturday; Where: Walter’s, 1120 Maynor; Tickets: $10.
A Night of Music Benefiting Red Cross & Hurricane Sandy Relief: Houston seems to be in a giving mood this weekend. This benefit show boasts continuous music at two local haunts and a rotating roster that includes Journey Agents, Black Queen Speaks, Grizzly, the Tyburn Jig, Knights of the Fire Kingdom, the Dead Revolt, Co-Pilot, Tim Qualls, Petesimple and more. When: 4 p.m. Saturday; Where: Notsuoh, 314 Main and Dean’s, 316 Main; Tickets: $10-$12.
Janis Joplin’s 70th Birthday Celebration: Rather than a septuagenarian, Joplin is permanently young only with the voice of an old soul. The Port Arthur native was just 27 when her road manager found her dead of a drug overdose at the Landmark Hotel in Los Angeles on Oct. 4, 1970. Her body of work was fairly limited: four studio albums, only two under her own name. But Joplin’s creative and damaged persona and her howling way with the blues reverberated with singers from Stevie Nicks to Florence Welch. Houston’s own Joplin tribute act, Kozmic Pearl, tears through the singer’s revered catalog. When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday; Where: House of Blues, Bronze Peacock Room, 1204 Caroline; Tickets: $10-$12.
Muddy Waters : You have to love any dog named Muddy Waters, particularly one that occasionally attends area shows. Muddy’s 16th birthday is this week, and Anderson Fair is hosting a bash that will benefit the Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward Project as well as KPFT. Mojofromopolis, Shane Walker, Matt the Electrician and an acoustic configuration of Orange Is In will perform. There also will be a raffle that requires a donation of dog or cat food for participation. When: 2 p.m. Sunday; Where: Anderson Fair, 2007 Grant; Tickets: $20 (includes cake) at the door. ...