El Orbits Bingo Happy HourContinental Club, January 20

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El Orbits Bingo Happy Hour

Continental Club, January 20

"Okay ladies and gentlemen, has anyone seen the bingo clock? It's missing, and that's not good." These first words to the talkative crowd from El Orbits frontman David Beebe explained why the happy hour entertainment was behind schedule. Typically, happy hour ironically connotes dank, sunless drinking holes where barflies pray to their bottled gods at reduced prices. Not at the Continental Club, however, which offers a week's worth of early live entertainment to help shake off the workaday mind-bind. Thursdays find swanky-loungey classics mixed with bingo from Houston's El Orbits. Not the hardcore bingo of the housecoat set, but rather informal gaming where everyone cheers and snickers when "O-69" is called. The equipment is indicative: Durahide Leatherette bingo cards from the Ft. Worth Elks Club older than most of the young middle-agers half-filling the South Congress club. Opener "Fool's Paradise" found drummer Beebe's strong voice phrased like Randy Newman's. Joined by piano, bass, and guitar, El Orbits formed an ideal combo for simple, classic tunes like the Fifties-esque ballad "Just a Moment of Your Time" or swinger standard "Old Devil Moon." Sandwiched between songs was Beebe's banter about the joys of RC Cola and taking the Greyhound from Houston for the gig, plus ongoing bingo games with names like "The High H" and the "Orbiting L." Lucky winners enjoyed prizes such as a Styrofoam flying glider and a build-your-own wooden scorpion kit. In a Goodwill rack suit and thick glasses, Beebe (also frontman of the dork-jam-rock outfit Banana Blender Surprise) personified the Dorian Gray version of Buddy Holly doing a song-n-schtick routine in a smoky piano bar. Which must make good copy, because adding an unnatural component to the first hour was a roving, in-your-face News 8 video cam. It wasn't all Beebe's show, though; dazzlin' ivory-tinkler Pete Gray conjuring up the spirit of boogie-woogie with "The Best Things in Life Are Free." And after Beebe did a respectable Sinatra on Rat Pack favorite "Under My Skin," Gray sang the tear-in-your-beer, hard-luck blues "Houston." Which begs the question: How many Houston bands would travel to Austin for a weekly happy hour gig? Maybe it was the multiple cans of warm RC Cola, but the band genuinely seemed to have as good a time as the laid-back audience. Cheap drinks, loungey tunes, and slacker bingo. Happy hour indeed.

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