“Direct Directive” — Fulfilled 

ZZ Top played its first concert since the passing of bassist Dusty Hill — just two days after his death. That’s something Hill would have wanted.

During the concert, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, July 30, lead guitarist Billy Gibbons only touched on mentioning the death of Hill. Throughout the course of the show, however, Gibbons talked about the late bassist’s desire for the band to continue on even after he died.

The band announced July 28 that Hill had died in his sleep at age 72. With a dense run of tour dates underway, it canceled a show planned that night in Simpsonville, South Carolina. By Thursday morning, however, the next few venues in the run had advised fans they expected their shows to proceed, beginning in Tuscaloosa.

“We’re gonna have a good time in here tonight,” Gibbons said to the crowd at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater after the group played “Got Me Under Pressure,” the opening song. “Got a new guy up here, as you know. Dusty gave me the directive. My friend, your pal, Elwood Francis is gonna hold it down behind me.” The band’s 30-year guitar tech, Francis sported ZZ Top–appropriate wild white hair, head to chest, and, like Gibbons, never doffed his dark suit or sunglasses.

For a number of weeks, Francis has been filling in for Hill after he was out of action while dealing with a hip issue. “I think everybody was relieved we had a little bit of time to regroup and think things through. But at the same time, everybody was ready, standing on point,” Gibbons said.

Asked by Variety how he felt about continuing with Francis filling in, Gibbons said, “Well, it was a direct directive from Mr. Dusty Hill. When he grabbed my arm and said, ‘I think I’m due to go visit the physician to see if I can bounce back. In the meantime, I want you to grab our guitar technician — Mr. Elwood — and take him out of that tech station, strap him up with my guitar, and make him carry on with every single note.’ And I said, ‘Well, if that’s your wishes, I’ll respect that.’”

ZZ Top kicked off its latest tour two weeks ago in Manchester, Iowa. Dubbed A Celebration with ZZ Top, the tour will continue through August with dates in the South, Midwest and Far West.

[Photo above by Gary Crosby Jr./Tuscaloosa News]


Courtesy Sony Legacy Columbia

Pearl Jam

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of Janis Joplin’s 1971 album Pearl, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland hosted a Janis Joplin Fan Weekend from Aug. 6 to 8.

Joplin’s handwritten lyrics, clothing and a collection of rare photographs by Barry Feinstein — the photographer, filmmaker and art director responsible for creating some of the most iconic and enduring pop culture imagery of the mid-20th century — are now part of the hall’s newly expanded Legends of Rock exhibit. (Feinstein created artwork for more than 500 albums, including Pearl.)

Fans were also able to view Joplin footage from the hall’s vault, including highlights from her 1995 induction and the 2009 Annual Music Masters tribute concert, and attend the Pearl album spotlight lecture.

Throughout the weekend, Joplin’s iconic music and lyrics were heard inside the Rock Hall and played on the hall’s Rock Boxes. In addition, the hall’s Long Live Rock art installation will honor Joplin, providing fans with a photo opportunity.

The Museum is also hosting two virtual events honoring Joplin’s legacy. The first, which took place Aug. 6, featured Melissa Etheridge, who inducted Joplin in 1995. Etheridge’s induction speech premiered on the hall’s Induction Vault podcast on iHeart Radio prior to the event. Then, on Aug. 25, writer Holly George-Warren will discuss her book, Janis: Her Life and Music.

New Joplin-themed merchandise will debut in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame store, and a Janis Joplin Legends of Rock Virtual Exhibit will appear online in September.


TikTok @lizzo

Diving In

No, Lizzo didn’t kill a fan by diving off the stage during one of her shows.

The “Truth Hurts” singer took to TikTok July 28 to dispel a wild rumor that she crushed a fan at one of her concerts by leaping into the crowd. It’s unclear where the rumor originated. “I’ve seen a lot of annoying things about me on the Internet, but the thing that bothers me the most is this rumor that I stage-dived at a concert and killed somebody,” she said. “That rumor… it’s a lie! First of all, I’ve never stage-dived in my life.”

She even belly-flopped onto her bed in the clip to prove that such a jump would have less-than-lethal force. “Y’all really gon’ put that on my motherf***ing name? Like, I know I’m big, but  bitch, I’m not that f***ing big.” She captioned the video, “STOP THE LIES.”

The 33-year-old “Good as Hell” singer has never been shy about her body, often promoting body positivity and posing nude on her social media channels. “I started talking to my belly, blowing her kisses and showering her with praises,” she said earlier this year, adding, “I used to want to cut my stomach off, I hated it so much. But it’s literally ME.”

Meanwhile, Lizzo also recently addressed COVID protocols on her Instagram. “I don’t care who you are. You could be the nicest person. You could be vaccinated. You could be quadruple vaccinated. If you see me, please give me 6 feet. This s**t is coming back. COVID. And people being real sloppy with personal space,” she said.

“Because it’s not you. It’s me,” she added, “I’m not trying to catch nothing. I don’t even want to catch feelings, bitch. You think I’m trying to catch COVID?”


Leap of Faith

Curtis Grimes had a quite a head start prior to releasing his new self-titled full-length July 30: five songs from the album hit No. 1 on the Texas Regional Radio Report.

“Honestly, nothing is guaranteed. Just because you have one No. 1 song or a Top 10 song, it doesn’t mean radio will play the next one,” the East Texas native says. “So I put out songs I like, and hope radio keeps playing them. When you start rolling out No. 1’s, you set the standard high — I don’t take it for granted when one does make it.”

The five No. 1 songs — “River Road Dream,” “Steel,” “Little Bit,” “Still a Little Country Left” and, most recently, “Friends” — have appeared on the chart in 2020 and 2021, no doubt buoying  the album, which was No. 1 on the iTunes country albums chart the day of its release.

During his career, Grimes, a 2011 contestant on The Voice, has amassed more than 50 million digital streams and has sold more than 100,000 albums. What makes his recent success noteworthy is that while he remains true to classic country, he’s also adding more faith-based lyrics to the mix.

“The songs are more positive, good stuff that will lift people up, not something that will send them down a path that will be detrimental,” Grimes, who was named 2020 Christian Country Artist of the Year by the Texas Country Music Awards, says. “There aren’t a lot of people doing that. I have a clean, family-friendly show. Regardless of where we play, I share my testimony and point them to Jesus and maximize my potential more than just personal gain.”

Grimes founded his own Ten Finger Ministry in 2017 named in honor of his grandfather. Through this ministry, Grimes distributes Bibles at all of his live performances. He’ll be shooting a segment for The 700 Club, on the Christian Broadcasting Network, later this year.


Courtesy Don’t Mess with Texas

Cleaning Up

Four-time Grammy nominees the Black Pumas are taking their place among the lineup of Texas legends and celebrities who’ve partnered with Don’t Mess With Texas to remind Texans to clean up their act when it comes to roadside litter.

The Austin-based band, led by singer-songwriter Eric Burton and guitarist-producer Adrian Quesada, appear in a new television commercial and radio PSA for Don’t Mess With Texas that began airing on TV networks, cable channels, radio stations and digital platforms July 7.

“We’re excited to add Black Pumas to the lineup of Texas music icons lending their unique voice to the Don’t Mess With Texas campaign,” said Becky Ozuna, administrator for the campaign. “The group’s obvious passion for Texas and its people makes them a perfect partner to amplify the reach of our litter-free message.”

In teaming up with Don’t Mess With Texas, Black Pumas join a host of other Texas celebrities who’ve lent their support to the campaign throughout the years, including Willie Nelson, George Strait, Eva Longoria, Erykah Badu, the Randy Rogers Band, Las Fenix, Grupo Fantasma and Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey.


Photo by Zachery Michael

St. Vincent Live (Streamed)

St. Vincent went virtual Aug. 4, presenting Down And Out Downtown, the Grammy-award winning artist’s full-length, live-streamed concert debut. Airing exclusively via the premium digital live platform Moment House, Down And Out Downtown showcased the live premiers of several new tracks from St. Vincent’s acclaimed album, Daddy’s Home, released in May, in addition to new arrangements of hits and deep cuts from her illustrious catalogue — all performed alongside her Down And Out Downtown Band.

Directed by Bill Benz (Portlandia), who also directed the forthcoming film The Nowhere Inn, co-written by and starring St. Vincent, Down And Out Downtown is a sepia-toned tour de force of gritty grooves, hungover glamour and captivating musicality. From rollicking full-band rave-ups to delicate acoustic interludes, Down And Out Downtown brings the ’70s-inspired sensibilities of Daddys Home to life in a celebration of compelling songs and top-notch musicianship.



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A post shared by Miranda Lambert (@mirandalambert)

Lambert’s Loss

Miranda Lambert’s senior dog, Jessi, has died after 13 1/2 years of companionship. The singer shared a tribute to her pet on social media July 29, along with a slideshow of pictures of Jessi and the dog’s brother, Waylon, who died in October 2020.

Lambert found the two pups on the side of the road in Oklahoma back in 2008 during a sleet storm. The singer explained that she and her mom — who were driving together when they encountered the siblings — were listening to Jessi Colter’s I’m Jessi Colter album at the time, which is how the two puppies got their names. Colter was married to fellow country star Waylon Jennings from 1969 until his death in 2002.

Lambert went on to say that Jessi and her brother were inseparable their whole lives, up until his death last year. “The truth is they belong together. They always have,” she wrote. “I know she missed him terribly, and we are so thankful to have had extra time. Today they are reunited at the rainbow bridge.”

Waylon and Jessi were two of the many dogs and other animals that call Lambert’s farm home. The singer and her mom also established their MuttNation Foundation in 2009 in support of shelter pets. “I can’t put into words what a dog’s love does to your heart. But if you have one, you already know,” Lambert said in concluding her tribute post. “It’s so hard to let them go, but the love is worth it.”


Courtesy Saustex Records

Garage Band

Tex-Mex punk purveyors Piñata Protest aren’t strangers to media exposure. Even so, the band’s pretty geared up for a forthcoming appearance on the resurrected cable hot rod show Monster Garage.

On July 22, the San Antonio–based group performed its song “Vato Perron” for inclusion in an upcoming episode of the Discovery Channel series.

Monster Garage, which had a successful 2002-2006 run, centers around celebrity gearhead Jesse James and friends transforming regular vehicles into “monster machines.” And occasionally, a little live music gets thrown in for good measure.

“We’ve been on TV shows before, but this one definitely has the biggest reach,” says Alvaro Del Norte, the band’s singer and accordionist. “It’s watched all over the world.”

The episode is part of a relaunch for the program and will feature James and other experts building a custom ride that can exceed 200 miles per hour. It’s unclear when the installment will air, however, since the pandemic has thrown a wrench into the show’s schedule.

Monster Garage producer James Barcenas said the inclusion of Piñata Protest in the new season came at the behest of Jesse James himself. After Barcenas showed him an Instagram clip of the band, the host said he was familiar with their work and thought they’d make an ideal fit.

“Jesse loved their energy,” he said. “He felt they were very Monster Garage-esque.”


Queen Bey

Rolling Stone’s ranking of The 100 Greatest Music Videos, published July 30, includes a number of Texas acts, most notably Beyoncé, who not only holds down the top spot with “Formation,” but is featured in three additional videos: her own “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” at No. 12; “Apeshit,” her collaboration with Jay-Z as the Carters, at No. 29;  and “Telephone,” Lady Gaga’s hit featuring Beyoncé, at No. 66.

ZZ Top is at No. 35 with “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” Megan Thee Stallion joins Cardi B in “WAP,” at No. 93; and the Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl” is at No. 95.

Of the top-ranked “Formation,” the magazine noted, “In under five minutes, Beyoncé moves from a plantation-style house where the black denizens are the masters not the slaves to the top of a sinking police car. Notably, she released the video in the first week of Black History Month 2016. … Days later, she would perform the song at the Super Bowl.”