Live: Roy Head, Houston

Roy Head, left, with George Kovacik of 30 Days Out.

Lunch time in Houston, Texas. It’s called “Blues and Burgers” and they have it every Wednesday at this park in downtown Houston, Discovery Green. People stagger out of their skyscrapers for lunch, and local musicians perform for about 90 minutes.

Lately the Blues and Burgers shows have been spotlighting music from local record label Duke/Peacock, which was operated by entrepreneur Don Robey in the 1950s and 1960s. And today we were privileged to see a true local legend: Roy Head.

People swarmed Roy Head (in black, back to camera) as soon as he left the stage.

Head had a monster hit in 1965, “Treat Her Right,” which went all the way to No. 2 on the pop charts. Produced by equally legendary Huey P. Meaux at Houston’s Gold Star studios, the song appeared on the Back Beat label, which Robey launched to appeal to the pop music audience.

The 69-year-old Head played that tune as the climax of his sweaty (yeah, it’s hot in October) four-song set on Wednesday. The man is still a dynamite performer: he leered, he growled, he drop-kicked his mic and caught it in the air. He’s certainly a live wire, and once he came off the stage he was rushed by well-wishers, hand-shakers and people who were just in awe. Like us.

The Blues and Burgers shows are presented by the hard-working folks at the Houston Blues Museum, which seeks to preserve the Houston blues heritage. Some of the blues’ best practitioners were born and/or produced their best work here: Lightnin’ Hopkins, Joe “Guitar” Hughes, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Billy Gibbons and Bobby “Blue” Bland, just to name a few.

They are currently fundraising for a real blues museum in Houston – they want to start with a virtual museum then eventually graduate to a brick-and-mortar one, we suppose. Click here to donate; the first 1,000 donors will get a special certificate of appreciation.

We can’t think of a better, more worthy place for a blues museum than Houston. That city down the road in central Texas may get all the attention when it comes to music, but H-Town is a great American music city, too. Just ask Beyonce, that little ol’ band from Texas and the Geto Boys. And while you’re at it, don’t forget the great Roy Head.

By the way – in the span of three weeks, and within a few hundred yards of each other, we will hear the song that kept “Treat Her Right” out of the No. 1 spot way back in 1965, performed live by its writer and singer. That would be “Yesterday,” which will most certainly be performed by Paul McCartney at Minute Maid Park on Nov. 14. Take that, Austin!

YouTube: “Treat Her Right” by Roy Head (1965, “Shindig”)

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