New venue in Galveston/Holiday concert lures few to Backyard at the Beach
By RICK MITCHELL. Staff
At 10 Saturday night, Interstate 45 at Beltway 8 was transformed into a virtual parking lot by cars returning from Galveston.
But whatever those Memorial Day weekend revelers were doing on the island, not many of them bothered to check out the grand opening of The Backyard at the Beach, where Los Lobos played with Storyville, Joe "King" Carrasco and the Killer Bees.
The bill seemed promising enough. Los Lobos has been one of the best rock bands in the country for the past decade, while the others are proven regional favorites.
But for most of the afternoon, there were so few people in front of the stage that they could just as well have put the gig in my back yard , so long as everyone agreed not to trample on my wife's garden.
The Backyard at the Beach is located near Stewart Beach in Galveston, where Broadway runs into Seawall. The venue is a joint operation put together by the successful Backyard in Austin and the recently-reopened Blisters nightclub in Galveston.
A temporary stage has been set up on a fenced-off section of the beach adjacent to the club. The upstairs part of the bar serves as an air-conditioned VIP lounge, although you can't hear the live music unless you go outside on the deck.
"We're trying to bring the concept of The Backyard in Austin to the beach," said Backyard owner Tim O'Connor. "It's something we've been talking about for a couple of years. We thought having Los Lobos on Memorial Day weekend might work."
In Austin, it probably would have. But as O'Connor is learning, Houston isn't Austin, and Galveston isn't Houston.
One problem might have been that people simply didn't hear about the concert, which was lightly advertised. Another might be that the bands on the bill tend to draw an older, club-going crowd rather than the high-school and college students who head for the beach on holidays.
The Backyard at the Beach will try it again on June 16 with Willie Nelson & Friends. Tickets are available by phone (800) 966-SHOW.
Although Los Lobos must have been disheartened by the light turnout, which peaked at about 200-300 in the late afternoon, the band seemed to gain a charge from the enthusiasm of those who were there.
The set focused on material from Los Lobos ' latest album, ""Colossal Head." This ranges from the laid-back East L.A. funk of ""Revolutionand Can't Stop The Rain" to salsa (Maricela), ""avant-garage" rock (Manny's Bones, Colossal Head) and fierce Latin rock (Mas Y Mas).
Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo share the lead vocals, supported by longtime members Conrad Lozano on bass, Louie Perez on drums and guitar and Steve Berlin on sax and keyboards. Hidalgo, an unassumingly virtuosic rock guitarist, also strapped on his accordion to play a few conjunto-polka standards.
Throw in the blues and country-flavored material from their earlier albums and you have the most versatile rock band in America, if not one of the best ever. If Galveston doesn't want 'em back, they can play in my back yard anytime.
Storyville's set previewed material from the forthcoming album, ""A Piece of Your Soul." The Austin-based band consists of vocalist Malford Milligan, guitarists David Grissom (ex-Joe Ely, John Mellencamp) and David Holt (ex-Mavericks) and the old Double Trouble rhythm section of Tommy Shannon on bass and Chris Layton on drums.
The working parts are all in place. The only thing standing between this band and a national following is a few great songs.