Written by Jim Bille
Oct 18, 2008 at 08:00 PM
ImageThe House of Blues officially opened its doors to Houston on Saturday night to what should go down as the event of the year for music lovers in our city.

Dan Ackroyd and Jim Belushi were on hand to deliver the Blues Brothers Show and Review for an invitation-only crowd at the sparkling new venues grand opening. Appearing as Elwood and Blood Brother Zee, the Blues Brothers show evoked an almost 30 year flashback to the original Blues Brothers skits on Saturday Night Live as well as the misadventures of the boys in the movie of the same name.

The backup band consisted mostly of notable Texas musicians including The Texacali Horns featuring Joe Sublett and Darrell Leonard, Glen Clark on Hammond B-3, Tony Brownigal on drums, Johnny Lee Shell and J.J. Holliday on guitars and Larry Derma on bass.

The show opened with the 1967 instrumental hit “Soulfinger” by The Barkays as the Blues Brothers took the stage instep one behind the other. Belushi’s first back flip of the night finished on the last note of the song and the boys immediately took off with a jumpin’ version of “Sweet Home Chicago”. The show shot straight up from there and didn’t land until the hour and a half set was over. Songs such as the Willie Dixon classic “I’m Ready” and Delbert McClinton’s “B Movie – Box Car Blues” were a couple of the many numbers covered by the band. Blues Brothers standards like “Rubber Biscuit” and “Everybody needs Somebody” were also included for the party. Probably the best-known song performed was Sam and Dave’s ‘Soul Man’. The band dedicated this number to their late great brother Jake.

Audience participation abounded Saturday night, as the blues duo would pull people (mostly women) from the crowd onstage to dance along with the band. Belushi did, however, select a few extra large men for some belly slamming at one point. I must say the dancing women were easier on the eyes.

I’ve always been impressed with Dan Ackroyd’s harmonica playing and Saturday nights show just reconfirmed my opinion. His style of playing imbues the music with a south side Chicago authenticity. With Jim Belushi handling most of the main vocal duties, and gymnastics, the duo had the crowd begging for more by the night’s end. The band obliged the crowd with a few more encore numbers before closing the place down around midnight.

The new club is a fantastic place. The music hall is designed with an up close and a comfortable fitting balcony that offers all an excellent view.  The roomy downstairs was wide open for the floor patrons. You would never guess that about 1500 people could fit in the place… but they did, and they did it comfortably. The sound system was simply the best you’ll hear anywhere. A sampling of some of the food fare was offered and what I tried was excellent. Topped off with expedient and courteous service I think this venue will serve many people as their one-stop shop for a great meal, great music, and a great time!