Word on the street was The Wild Rooster, the Seventh Street bar that closed down about a year ago, had been reborn, and was once again hosting live music. I always liked going to see shows at this place; it had decent sound and decent food (the Rooster Balls were legendary), and the people there were generally agreeable. So Saturday I decided to see what they’ve done with the place.
When I got there, Maurice Davis Band was already on stage covering Jim Croce’s Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. The band consists of Maurice Davis (guitar, vocals), Ryan Vanderburg (guitar, vocals), Jim Okean (bass) and Justin Troster (drums). Vanderburg, although not officially a member, plays with the band often when not fronting his own band, She Dances.
Davis picked up his rhythm section in New Jersey when he moved there for a label deal. They returned to Texas with him, and they are rock-solid. The band is tight, with an engaging stage presence. Vocals were spot-on and polished. Vanderburg did the heavy lifting on guitar, with some excellent solo guitar work and vocals on some of the covers.
I got a menu at the bar from a charming but busy bartender, and took a seat at a table, where a waitress immediately took my order. The menu is completely different now, having been done by chef Michael Carroll (who was in-house Saturday overseeing the food production). No Rooster Balls anymore, but the street tacos ($2.50 each) were amazing.
On stage, the band was doing a cover of John Mayer’s Gravity, followed by No Diggity (Blackstreet), She Talks to Angels (the Black Crowes), Hit the Road Jack (Ray Charles) and Sex and Candy (Marcy Playground). Davis was open to requests from the audience — to a point. Someone suggested Buckcherry, to which he replied “No. Just no.”
If you got to the Wild Rooster expecting, well, the Wild Rooster, you aren’t going to find much familiarity. The red curtains are gone, the sound booth is gone, the booths along the wall are gone. Essentially, this is a new bar in the old location that kept the name to honor the history of one of the old neighborhood watering holes.
“It’s a heritage property,” general manager Rich Sowers said. “The Wild Rooster is one of the original Seventh Street bars.”
Nobody involved with the old bar has anything to do with this one. The decor is more stripped-down, and more open. It feels more comfortable, and while they are still working out some bugs (the place has been open a little under a month), it’s already got a better overall feel.
The menu is an assortment of small mix-and-match finger foods like the small tacos, sliders, fries and small hot dogs. If you’re looking for a meal, order more than one plate.
The Maurice Davis Band is an original band, and Davis is a talented and accomplished songwriter.
“I’ve been playing music since I was 13,” says Davis. “I taught myself how to play guitar and I was writing songs as soon as I could play and sing at the same time. Typically, I try to get people to think and look at things a little differently. Music helped me when I was a kid; I turned to music for everything. So I feel like I have the same opportunity to do that.”
And while the group did do a few originals, this was booked as a cover gig and the guys played an eclectic mix. Among them: Boogie Shoes (KC and the Sunshine Band), The Joker (Steve Miller Band), Radioactive (Imagine Dragons), Semi-Charmed Life (Third Eye Blind), Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond) and Wonderwall (Oasis). They put their own spin on each of these songs, and if you are going to do covers, this is the way to do them.
Going forward, the Wild Rooster will be booking predominantly Texas country bands, with live-band karaoke Thursdays. While not willing to rule out rock acts completely, Sowers says he sees the lack of a Texas country venue in that area as an opportunity to serve that audience.