Anyone familiar with Houston's live-music scene over the last few decades has likely heard of Bubba McNeely. He's been in the biz for nearly his whole life, having gotten his start in gospel music at the age of 12.
McNeely's star rose during Houston's heyday in the '80s, and he gigged around L.A. and Vegas before returning to H-Town nearly 20 years ago. "The thing that makes me different is I do '70s and '80s R&B, jazz and disco, which no one else does," says the lively crooner, noting he still inflects everything with a tinge of gospel. "You know, 'play that funky music white boy,' 'turn the beat around,' all that stuff."
His fan base is strong — and widespread, thanks to his range of gigs. McNeely plays monthly at Napoli's Wine Cafe on Washington, Hearsay in Galveston, Cat Scratch Kitchen in Kemah and Casa Do Brasil near the Galleria, and twice a month at Saks Fifth Avenue's 51fifteen gospel brunch. "The gigs are coming back," McNeely says, reflecting on the past year. "It was a devastating three or four months when things first shut down." His livestream shows were popular; folks would tip virtually via Venmo or PayPal, offering much-needed encouragement and motivation during a trying time.
"Music is my life, honey. I've done it since I was 12, and I'm so grateful to be where I am."