Young and old swing together at Texas Natural and Western Swing Festival, which comes back for the 18th time Saturday on the Hays County Courthouse lawn.
By HAP MANSFIELD
Saturday is International Migratory Bird Day, when we celebrate the diversity of birds flying back home though our neck of the woods. It’s also the day of the Texas Natural and Western Swing Festival on the downtown San Marcos square.
It’s hard telling where the influence of Bob Wills stops in music. We’re talking about a guy who once rode 50 miles on horseback to see Bessie Smith sing. A fella that took the blues, ragtime, big band, bluegrass and country and scrunched it all together and gave it a dance tempo. He wasn’t the only one who did it, but he was sure one of the first. Music has never been the same since he invented Western Swing. He influenced every genre of music with his lilting pastiche of styles.
The Western Swing Hall of Fame events taking place here this weekend are mighty important because they keep that bouncy, swingin’ Bob Wills style alive so that others can live to appreciate it. It’s a legacy of American music that deserves all the fuss you can make over it.
We wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find out the birds start migrating to make it up here in time for the festival.
Friday, May 14
The Callous Taoboys start the weekend’s music at Triple Crown (206 North Edward Gary) at 6 p.m. It bears repeating that Triple Crown has featured live music each and every day for 13 years. That’s quite a record. Its setting is modest, but its heart for music is enormous.
Nothing cheers a person up quite like getting together with some folks on a rainy day and playing a few games. If you have lost your polyhedral dice, or do not feel like being the Dungeon Master this evening, why not head over to the Wimberley VFW (Veterans Park on Jacobs Well Road) for a rousing game of bingo? The action starts up at 7 p.m. and you don’t have to count on mom to remember to buy the Ho-Ho’s and Cheetos for the game. The fine women of the Ladies Auxiliary sell mighty tasty snacks there. You won’t run into any Knell Monsters or Spell Jammers there, either.
At 7:30 p.m., the Price Seniors Center (222 West San Antonio Street) will host 20th Century Celebration, a musical ramble through the last century’s music. The first part of the show is a decade by decade tribute to the music and runs the varied gamut from “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to “Stompin’ at the Savoy” to “Good Golly, Miss Molly” to “U Can’t Touch This.”
The second part of the show highlights America’s love affair with the Broadway musical, featuring duets and ensembles from Annie Get Your Gun, Gigi, Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma!, Hello Dolly, Pajama Game, and The Sound of Music. An extra feature of the program is the ancillary merchandise concocted by Karen Stern’s marketing class at Texas State. Among the items on display at the performance are student-designed magnets, tote bags, bumper stickers, and pens for one of the show’s sponsors, the San Marcos Performing Arts Association.
At 9 p.m., get comfy at Riley’s Tavern (8894 FM 1102) and listen to the honky tonky country blues of the Joel Hoffman band. The band often crosses into the roadhouse territory of rockabilly, and Hoffman’s voice is perfect for the telecaster-backed coolness.
Cody Lawson and Paul Eason will playing their thoughtful country rock tunes at the Cheatham Street Warehouse (119 Cheatham Street) tonight, starting a 9:30 p.m. It’s almost redundant to say the words “Texas musician,” but these guys both are and we think that gives them more than just a small edge in the genre.
Evan Styles’ vocals are a perfect blend for the bluesy rock jams of Dead Phonetics, appearing tonight at the Gray Horse Saloon (1904 RR 12). They’ve got a nice groove, and you can feel it yourself tonight at 10 p.m.
Triple Crown features the talents of Foot Patrol, Pong and Chief Fuzzer. Foot Patrol is a multicultural fusion of funk, Pong is more of a techno take on funk and Chief Fuzzer brings the psychedelia to the party. Movin’ and groovin’ will be done.
Saturday, May 15
You might not have been aware that today is International Migratory Bird Day, the signature program of the non-profit Environment for the Americas. It’s a day to celebrate the migration of nearly 350 species of migratory birds between nesting habitats in North America and non-breeding grounds in Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. What does this mean? Well, don’t be mean to birds who are travelin’ through on their way home, and put out a little food for the travelers if you can. We’d go with sunflower seeds and niger.
Of course, you could always just hike with fellow birders and bird appreciators at Schulle Canyon with the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance at 9 a.m. today. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes, bring a bottle of water and wear a hat and sunscreen. Don’t forget your camera. You never know when you’ll happen upon a yellow-bellied Flycatcher or a gorgeous Painted Bunting.
At 10 a.m., the Wimberley Garden Club will have its annual garden tour. You’ll see some mighty beautiful gardens. Tickets are $10 at the Wimberley Visitor Center (14100 RR 12). Children ten or younger are admitted free. Tickets also are available at the garden locations.
The Texas Natural and Western Swing Festival today starts on the courthouse square in downtown San Marcos at 10 a.m. Hopefully, the weather will be dry enough to enjoy the dozens of planned booths and activities taking place from the Buffalo Soldier encampment to the fabulous music that will serenade the event. It’s a day to celebrate all of the state’s natural beauty and products, and, of course, one of those beauties is music.
Music on the square today features 2010 Western Swing Hall of Fame inductee Billy Mata and the Texas Tradition, Sweet Bunch of Daisy’s, Still Swinging, Jerry Lightsey and the Pick-up Band and the always fun to see Al Dressen’s Super Swing Review with Dixie Reel. At 12:30 p.m., the Playboy Reunion band will take the stage downtown with Bob Wills alum “drummer boy” Johnny Cuviello, Casey Dicken, Louise Rowe, Gene Niven, Danny Mathis, Bill Dessens, Billy McBay, Charlie McBay, Jim Gough, Dayna Wills, Gene Gimble and Tom Holmes.
At 3 p.m., while you’re still downtown, head over to the Price Seniors Center for the 20th Century Celebration matinee show, a musical salute to the music of the century. Tickets are $15 at the door. The benefit for the Price Seniors Center is sponsored by the San Marcos Performing Arts Association, The Greater San Marcos Area Seniors Association and the Grains of Sand Creative Arts Association. The music is not Western Swing, but it does swing, none the less.
San Marcos Plaza Park (205 South C. M. Allen Parkway) is the place to get your fill of catfish at the pre-Western Swing show all-you-can-eat catfish dinner. Purchase your ticket in advance at Main Street San Marcos Office (202 East Hopkins) or call (512) 393-8430. We’ve always figured the reason God made catfish is so you wouldn’t feel bad about eatin’ something living, since they are so mean and homely. They eat real tasty, though.
At 7:30 p.m., the Western Swing Hall of Fame show will feature the Hall of Fame band with bandleader/vocalist Al Dressen, Mary Ann Price, Janet Lynn, singer Dayna Wills (she’s Bob’s niece), Haley Harris, Paul Glasse, master of the steel guitar Herb Remington, Rick McRae, fiddle player and 2010 inductee Jason Roberts, Billy Curtis, piano/keyboard whiz Floyd Domino, Phoebe Hunt, Mark Kazanoff, drummer Neal Clausnitzer and Brent Wilson.
Billy Mata and the Texas Tradition will take the Plaza Park stage after that and show you why they are this year’s Texas Swing Hall of Fame band inductees. Tickets for the show tonight are $20 for limited reserved seating, but you can bring a lawn chair and hear it for free. If it rains, the alternate location for the Texas Swing Hall of Fame Show is at the San Marcos Activity Center (510 East Hopkins Street.)
If you want to skip the Western Swing and just go for the country rock, then you should head down to Riley’s Tavern to see Tres Womack. Cheatham Street Warehouse features the thoughtful country folk music of Bobby Duncan.
If bluegrass is more to your liking, you can’t do much better than Sasquatch Holler, and you won’t find mandolin fingers much quicker than Nick Wicker’s, unless it’s Bob Kaspar’s on the banjo. The whole band knows its stuff and you’ll be blown away by their bluegrass version of “House of the Rising Sun.” They are joined later by the classic country sounds of Jennie and the Corn Ponies.This is a great don’t miss gig.
The popular Spank and Helix will both be on the bill tonight at Triple Crown. Prepare for a night of freaky jams.
Sunday, May 16
Riley’s Tavern features the first Jason Schnautz Memorial Music Fest with the proceeds to go towards the Captain Paul Peña Memorial Scholarship Fund. Peña, you remember, is the San Marcos Baptist Academy alumnus killed in action in Afghanistan this year.
The day brings a sensational line-up of music. The 11 bands for the benefit include members of the Ace in the Hole Band, The Darren Kozelsky Band, The Joel Hoffman Band, The Rusty Brothers, Rusty Calmbach, Beverly Hensley, Dave Jorgenson, Glenn Allan, Paul Eason, Kyle Park and Vitera.
It’s only an $8 fee for cover and the barbecue dinner, the music will be great and the cause is a good one.
Bimbo and Borderline Band will play danceable country tunes at the Geronimo VFW Post’s (6806 North Highway 123) Sunday afternoon dance. The kitchen opens at 2 p.m., if you’d like a homemade sandwich before you start cutting a rug at the dance at 3 p.m. A $7 donation will get you in at the door and also help out the Ladies Auxiliary’s veterans programs.
Aaron Allen and Friends will be at the Cheatham Street Warehouse today from 4:30-7 p.m. Allen was a regular at the original songwriter’s nights at Cheatham Street. Kent Finlay told us that hearing a train whistle during a gig means good luck for the artist playing, but it’s your good luck to sit in the venue and hear the great music.
The mic is open at the Triple Crown tonight if this weekend of music makes you long for a musical career. You could go to the Gray Horse Saloon and sing a little Karaoke, too.
One of our favorite movies, The Usual Suspects, is on Austin independent KNVA-TV (Channel 12) at 7 p.m. but it’s one of those movies, if you’ve never seen it, to which you have to play close attention. It’s a mystery within a mystery, and you are the one left to solve it. The film adaptation of Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady is on Ovation at 7 p.m. but be warned that the tale is dark and slow. Oscar Winner Jane Campion directed it, John Malkovich is seductively malevolent and Nicole Kidman is almost as beautiful as Garbo.Email | Print