By HAP MANSFIELD
What can equal the exquisite happiness of an extra long weekend in January, just when you needed it most? Admittedly not much, but there are plenty of activities that can augment that happiness this weekend, and you don’t even have to be a football fan.
Friday, January 16
The Triple Crown (206 N Edward Gary) pulls an all-star double header tonight. Drop in after work to hear the tuneful power pop rhythms of Bill Jerram, former front man for the critically acclaimed Danglers. Listening to his clear, sure voice is a great way to usher in the weekend. He’ll play the early set at 6 p.m. Then, stay on to hear the smoky, rootsy grit of the much praised Mark Jungers, whose numerous awards can hardly do justice to his spirited style.
Walt Wilkins may have invented a new musical genre, the self-described “hippie-tonk,” possibly because he sounds a little like the love child of the Eagles and the Dixie Chicks. He and his band, The Mystiqueros, will certainly leave you feeling like boot-scootin’ through the daisies with their solid harmonies. You can see him tonight at the Cheatham Street Warehouse (119 Cheatham St.) at 9 p.m.
Riley’s (8894 FM1102) will host the talents of Bo Porter, whose music is an exhilarating take on genuine Texas Honk Tonk with a spritz of rock and roll. Wear your dancing shoes. You’ll need them.
You could just kick off your shoes, pop some corn, curl up on the couch, turn to the FX channel and watch Meryl Streep single-handedly deliver The Devil Wears Prada from being complete and utter treacle. Or, turn to Ovation and watch Colin Firth and Annette Benning caper in costume in the “dangerous liaisons” drama of 1780’s France, Valmont. Both films are chick-flicks with attitude.
Saturday, January 17
You don’t have to get up too early in the morning (9:30 a.m.) to join the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance in a winter hike through the 250 acres of Spring Lake Preserve. The trails are often rugged, and the grasses are long, so wear close-toed hiking shoes and long pants. As usual, it’s recommended to wear a hat, bring some water, wear your sunscreen and bring your camera. Call (512) 754-9321 for directions and further info.
If you don’t want to take a hike, you can drive to 430 Riverside Drive and tour the living library of native plant species that is the San Marcos Nature Center. You can sign up for seminars and nature walks or enroll your kids in one of the fun environmental education programs. The center opens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
Tantra (217 W. Hopkins), the coffeehouse with the great coffee and the mellowest of vibes, features the talents of the McMercy Family Band and those manic mariachis, Wino Vino.
Thrash-punk meisters Newlywed are throwing a CD release throw-down celebrating their latest effort, Fear Country, at the Triple Crown. Newlywed is joined by Clubs, Earth Eater and Cactus Peach. Bring earplugs, unless you want tinnitus through both the Eagles/Cardinals and the Ravens/Steelers games the next day.
Brandon Rhyder is a gifted singer and a consummate songwriter. He crafts tunes that tell tales with refreshing honesty. You can see him at the Cheatham Street Warehouse at 9 p.m.
Sunday, January 18
Today might be a great time to go out to Wimberley Glass Works (6469 RR 12, between Wimberley and San Marcos) and watch the artists blow glass into beautiful works of art for the home. Their sculptures and art glass are just a couple of examples why they are Hill Country Chihulys. They are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, and the glass blowing demonstrations are free.
Brett Crenshaw is not only famous for rockin’ Alt-Country grooves and charted singles, but the band is giving their new album “Another Late Night” away for free on their website brettcrenshaw.com. It’s a pretty smart move, because once you’ve heard it, you’ll want to see them live. They’ll be at the Cheatham Street Warehouse tonight along with Cody Lawson. The show starts at 9 p.m.
According to inaugurationday2009.com, tonight HBO will broadcast an “open feed” of the We Are One inaugural celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. You shouldn’t need to subscribe to HBO to watch this event, because the network says it is free to all cable customers. It starts at 7 p.m. and features Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Bono, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, John Mellencamp, Usher Raymond IV, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, will.i.am, and Stevie Wonder. Among those reading historical passages will be Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington. The Rt. Reverend V. Gene Robinson will give the invocation.
It is also officially “Pooh Day,” as in Winnie the Pooh. Rather than contemplate why Disney has made a fortune on Pooh, it might be wiser to ignore the fact that they merchandise Pooh underwear and just concentrate on keeping your head out of the honey pot, you silly old bear.