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ZZ Top back for make-up gigs

ZZ Top back for make-up gigs
ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill (left) and guitarist Billy Gibbons perform on June 9, 2009 in Munich, Germany, during their “ZZ Top European Tour 2009.”

ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill (left) and guitarist Billy Gibbons perform on June 9, 2009 in Munich, Germany, during their “ZZ Top European Tour 2009.”

This will surprise only those who weren’t there.

For two years running at Majestic Theatre — in October 2012 and October 2013 — ZZ Top delivered the best concerts of the year.

Not simply solid. Not just respectable. But rock-your-socks-off great. Guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard firing on all cylinders inside the venerable venue is something to behold.

Last year (if things had gone as planned), ZZ Top would’ve undoubtedly made it three years in a row. But Hill injured his hip when he fell in the band’s tour bus in August. Several concerts were postponed — and then more, including last year’s planned November dates at the Majestic.

The little ol’ band from Texas returns Saturday and Sunday to the Majestic Theatre for the make-up gigs.

True, with ZZ Top there are few surprises after more than 40 years. This is a trio whose legacy is built on one simple fact: The blues. That’s what’s made them as timeless and entertaining as their sharp-dressed vatos’ suits, beards and shades born during the MTV era.

Gibbons agreed.

“I guess it’s fair to say that one of the most important elements is recognizing the fact that the three of us chose to be interpreters of that great American art form, the blues,” said Gibbons, noting that the mutual love of the blues is much of why they stay together.

“We, like so many others, followed in the footsteps of the originators. And I think it’s fair to say that the closest we can get is being interpreters of their art form. That much of it has not changed.”

ZZ Top’s hits — “La Grange,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Francine,” “Tush,” “Legs,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Pearl Necklace,” “Got Me Under Pressure,” “Cheap Sunglasses,” “Tube Snake Boogie,” “Waitin’ for the Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago” and “I Thank You” — are the rock 'n’ roll equivalent of comfort-food enchiladas served up with a tequila chaser.

That’s been true since almost the beginning. The Houston band’s first gig as ZZ Top was at Sam Kinsey’s Teen Canteen on Sept. 13, 1969. The band was paid all of $150.

That connection to their boyhood roots (and joys) is never far away for Gibbons, Hill and Beard. In Gibbons’ case, that often means playing a song on his first electric guitar, a Sunburst 1962 Gibson Melody Maker, a simple, solid-body plank guitar.

This weekend will bring a twist to that tradition. Gibbons is bringing “the guitar that inspired me to pick up the guitar in the first place.”

That would be a red 1961 Gibson Les Paul nicknamed Lil’ Red.

“I was able to track down and acquire the guitar that was being played by the guy down the street who had a band that inspired me to play,” Gibbons said.

Lost to history, the band was called the Van-Tels.

More Information

In concert

Who: ZZ Top’s rescheduled shows

When: 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Where: Majestic Theatre, 224 E. Houston St.

Tickets: $45-$125 ticketmaster (tickets for the original shows will be honored on their respective days)

Dusty’s dust-up

Dusty Hill is back like a banged-up star quarterback “playing hurt” but not playing injured.

The 65-year-old singing bassist required surgery after slipping and breaking his hip in a fall on ZZ Top’s tour bus in late August. The injury forced the postponement of the band’s tour with Jeff Beck and other dates.

Luckily, it didn’t require a hip replacement “but there’s some hardware in there,” said Hill about the “freak accident.”

“I had an accident right in the middle of a tour and the main thing about it is we just don’t cancel,” said Hill. “It just broke my heart to have to cancel the rest of the season last year but I couldn’t stand up.”

Post-surgery, physical rehabilitation has helped. “It’s the same mindset (as playing). I just put my head down and go, 'What do we need to do?’” he said. “I worked at it every day, two hours a day.”

Hill said he had to learn how to get his gait back. “I kinda learned how to walk again. I’m feelin’ good, doin’ good,” he said. “A thing like that hurts you for years, but you know, it’s the old football thing: There’s a difference between playing hurt and playing injured. I don’t mind playing hurt.”

And it won’t stop him from taking in the town, either. Hill has been known to pick up a hat or two at Paris Hatters. “I might slip off and run around the town while we’re there,” he said.

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