Texas®

Recently, we couldn’t help but notice that everyone around us seemed to be wearing cozy long-sleeve t shirts that bore the name of some race that the person wearing the shirt had presumably run. Honestly, we got a little jealous. Heck, we even ran a 5k in Irving a couple of weeks ago. Good fun. The shirt was horribly ugly though, which was a bummer, to say the least.

For those of you who may have also recently caught yourself feeling a slight ping of jealousy over someone else’s racing shirt, there are tons of options available to you. Perhaps you might want to give one of  these upcoming runs a look and see if your up for running, even of the shirt turns put to be hideously unwearable …..

- The Undy Run (White Rock Lake – Dallas): This Saturday, run in your boxers and support the search for a cure for Colon Cancer.

- The Hill Country Pumpkin Run (Kerville): Another run on this busy 5k weekend.

- Cowboys and Kids 5k (Mesquite): Help the teachers out by running a couple of miles, why don’t ‘ya?

- The San Antonio Rock & Roll Half Marathon: Get a serious run in while you seriously rock out. this is one of the bigger running events in the state, these days.

It’s been a while since we mentioned the psychedelic honky-tonkers from Austin, The Lonesome Heroes. They wow’d us with their inventive take on standard old-school country and they have been touring like crazy for the last couple of years as they’ve been developing material for a new album. Daydream Western is the name for the new record, and it’s yet another wonderful spin on Cosmic Americana.

Thanks to the key duo, Landry McMeans and Rich Russell, we have a couple of songs to share with you. These tunes have been road-tested as much as songs can be, thanks to the group’s relentless touring of the country. Trust us, you do not want to skip the chance to give these tunes a listen and to catch them live when they come through your part of the state, which is always a distinct possibility, given their penchant for life on the road.

Visions Of Yesterday by The Lonesome Heroes

Aspens by The Lonesome Heroes

There’s a legit case to be made for why just about any season is great when it comes to seasonal brews. For this dude, however, Fall is about as good as it gets. The summer ales are great, and the winter warmers are perfect for those icy nights where the city seems to be shut down, but dang it if the ingredients that are fall staples don’t make a mean stein of lager.

For this north-Texas dweller, Fall beer season officially begins with the opening of Addison’s Oktoberfest. Even if I don’t actually go and partake of the admittedly limited marzen-flavored offerings, it’s just a good time-marker to leave the lighter pils and ales on the shelf and start spending some quality time with brews that get a tad darker and typically don’t require a lemon or lime to accompany it. Perhaps the various Oktoberfest brews and fall seasonals are the long-sleeve T-shirt that bridges the gap between summer tanks and swim trunks and the sweaters that enrobe us all in the winter months.

As you might’ve guessed by now; I haven’t exactly begun my Oktoberfest drinking season by hitting the Import section of the local beer depot. I’ve begun my seasonal celebration on the “Made in Texas” end of the aisle. Of course, we all know about Shiner Bock’s dependable ability to produce quality seasonal brews that often eclipse the greatness of the original style that made it’s name. While their Oktoberfest is surely a worthy one to grab, it’s not the best of the Texas lot, and by now, Shiner has become such a big deal in so many parts of the country, outside of the state, that it might be more of a stretch than any of us ever imagined to simply call Shiner a “Texas Beer”. Don’t get me wrong, of course it’s still an icon of Texas pop-culture and still very much a Texas creation, but it’s not just ours anymore, you know?

While I’m certainly leaving some out, there are three Texas-brewed Oktoberfests that are pretty available for just about any Lone Star resident that can help any beer lover ring in the season of Baseball playoffs, NFL regular season and raking leaves off of the lawn, once they’ve fallen from their trees.

St. Arnold Oktoberfest (Houston) – Perhaps the richest in flavor of the ones we’ll discuss, it’s a full bodied brew that has a heavier mouth feel than the others as well. I wouldn’t call it refreshing, but I would call it a great beer to sit and enjoy casually when you have the time to actually give some thought to what’s in your stein during that first slight, sub-75 degree “chill” in the air.

Rahr & Sons Oktoberfest (Ft. Worth) – The resilient brewer has certainly made a major comeback from the winter storm that collapsed their roof and crippled their operation during the icy weather of last winter. While not as rich as St. Arnold’s, it has a cleaner finish with every bit of flavor in it’s Marzen-styled, deep amber glory as its counterpart from Houston.

Real Ale Brewing Oktoberfest (Blanco) – With the cleanest finish of these three choices, it also might be the one that casual beer drinkers might prefer, thanks to a less aggressive overall flavor. It’s a good beer, and will still rank higher than your Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest’s and other larger breweries versions, but it isn’t likely to pass the test when pitted against the brewers who want to really make a strong point with perhaps the most famous of all seasonal styles. But, hey, it’s still good.

For those (like me) who also like to give a number of brews a try, give this list from the recently-defunct D/FW QUICK a try. It’s from last year, but it gave me a wonderful tour of beers that fit perfectly into the season.

There’s really not much to say or add to what you see below. If you’re not famililar with the site Daytrotter.Com, then you’ve been missing out n some serious (and free) music by some of the biggest names (Death Cab for Cutie, Social D, Bon Iver) and brightest up and comers (Yuck, Portugal the Man, Dawes) that the musical universe has to offer. Big time. But, there’s good news: It doesn’t really matter if you havent clicked onto the site ever before, as there is gold beyond measure awaiting you from years of not visiting it before.

What’s even better is that many Texas-based acts have visited the Daytrotter studios in Rock Island, Ill and laid down tracks to be listened to and downloaded from the site. There’s always a great write-up and whimsical artwork to go along with the 4-5 songs as well.

Well, let’s get to it. Below are but a sampling of Texans that have Daytrotted before. You’d be crazy to not dig deeper, OK??

Matt the Electrician | Fresh Millions | Dale Watson | Dignan | Doug Burr | Old 97′s | Ben Kweller | Black Angels | Centro-matic | Jesse Dayton | Meat Puppets | Asleep at the Wheel | Monahans | Seryn | Robert Ellis

 

There are precious few things that Texans hold more dear than a beautiful, perfectly smoked, juicy brisket. It’s safe to say, however, that helping fellow Texans in dire need is certainly one of the things that easily charts higher on that list.

For Hill Country dwellers, both lending a helping hand and carrying away some free BBQ can be done at the same time on Thursday at Rudy’s “Country Store” & Bar-B-Q in New Braunfels.

The Cans for Q Benefit looks to obtain donations of clothing, blankets, canned goods, bottled water and other vital items that will go a long way in assisting the victims of the recent wildfires in Bastrop County. In return for your generosity, you’ll walk away with a free quarter-pound of Rudy’s Brisket. A better deal for some great BBQ will be impossible to find.

Helping make it all happen for those who’s lives were devastated, and possibly destroyed, by the recent wildfires in Bastrop County is none other than the host of the excellent meat-and-Tex-centric PBS show Daytripper; Chet Garner.

The whole process couldn’t be easier, and the benefits of free food and being a galvanizing force in a community that’s hurting are certainly too much to pass up, right?

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What: Cans for Q Benefit

When: Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011 6:00pm – 9:00 pm

Where:Rudy’s “Country Store” & Bar-B-Q (936 Loop 337 New Braunfels, TX)

How:Bring any of the following items and receive a free quarter-pound of brisket, courtesy of Rudy’s Bar-B-Q ~ Non-perishible canned goods, toiletries, shampoo, soap, bottled water by-the-case, blankets, towels, diapers, clothing and shoes for either gender.

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A couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to tell you all about Austin’s Jester King craft brewery and their insanely delicious Black Metal Russian Imperial Stout. Knowing how great that big ol’ bottle of finely crafted brew had tasted, it was an easy decision to head back to the Plano Mister G’s and grab another of the 750 ml Jester King selections they might have.

It would’ve been quite the dissappointment had another one not been available. Wait, I take that back: I would’ve just grabbed another wine bottle-sized Black Metal, now that I think about it.

As fate had it, another Jester King beer was indeed available and – get ready for this – it was an amazing beer experience, well worth the $10 or $11 it takes to acquire the bottle.

Which one did I purchase and then devour, you ask? Drink’in the Sunbelt.

Aside from this being a fantastic summer beer, thanks to it’s hop-intensive, bright bite, it’s made more special by it’s concept. This hoppy, wheat beer is the result of a collaboration between Jester King and Mikkeller, a so-called “gypsy brewer” out of Denmark. According to Jester King, this is the first of two planned collaborations between the brewers. Needless to say, I can not wait for the second partnering.

Look, I’m not a beer expert, nor a beer snob. Yes, I love quality beer that isn’t uncontrollably mass-produced and isn’t usually capable of sponsoring entire major sports leagues. Having stated that, however, I’m just a dude that knows what he likes and enjoys being a tad adventurous with his beer selections from time to time.

The fact is: this beer is worth a shot. I know that’s not very professional sounding, and not something you would hear from my friend The Hophead, but hey, what more do I need to say than: it’s some really delicious alcohol, man.

Texas, among being the capital of so many other things, simply has to be the King of the Easily-Traveled-To Weekend. Awkward title perhaps, but still, it’s actually kind of tough to keep up with all of the cool, resorty, artsy-craftsy, types of places where the culture, food, drink and music collide with practical every day happenings within that city.

While a weekend in touring Fredericksburg, hitting the clubs of Austin or strolling through the malls of Dallas are well-known and oft-occurring, keep Bandera in mind you’re thinking about a fun weekend away from home. While so many associate Cowboys with Bandera, I’ve always looked at it as the past homes of Charlie and Bruce Robison, and even Robert Earl Keen. You know, some of our greatest troubadours. Perhaps that’s just me, though.

Here’s some really cool things that the Cowboy Capital of the World has going for it in the coming weeks…

  • Celebrate Bandera ~ 9/1 – 4: Concerts, Cattle Drives and general revelry will ensue as the town rightfully celebrates itself. Do not miss the Kings of Western Swing concert, by the way.

 

  • Cowboys on Main ~ Every Saturday: See for yourself how the town claimed it’s nickname. Each week, a show takes place in front of the Courthouse from 1pm – 4pm involving gunfights and all sorts of Cowboy-filled good times.

 

 

  • Cajun Festival & Great Jumbo Cook-Off ~ 9/24: This isn’t your typical Texas food festival where the name makes you think you’re in for an authentic experience, only to be submerged with bad red-dirt bands and carnival rides. this is the real deal. Real Cajun bands and real crawfish getting snapped and sucked. Awesome.

For further information on the events and attractions of Bandera, be sure to visit Bandera’s official tourism website.

 

Don’t look now, but yet another annual Texas-based music festival has become quite the dependable attraction. Now in it’s fourth year, the Dia De Los Toadies shin-dig has become perhaps the greatest showcase for Texas rock.

While the line-ups in years past have always focused on Texas talent, the genre lines were crossed with regularity. Previous bills have seen the indie-rock of Ben Kweller mix with the Honky Tonk country of 1100 Springs before the ferocious post-grunge fervor of The Toadies took to the stage. Yeah, a big ol’ mixing bowl of tunes.

That’s great and all, but this year’s line-up is likely it’s strongest and surely the most cohesive of the young festival’s history. Who’s ready to rock out with their Lone Star out?

Joining the Toadies this year are a couple of Austin-based rock kings that we’ve raved about in recent months: Doom metal purveyors The Sword and Psychedelic revivalists The Black Angels. You could stop there wit those three bands and be happy in knowing that you’ve likely been at the best triple Texas rock bill of 2011, but it doesn’t stop there. Joining those three titans are other balls-out bands like Ume, and Ft. Worth’s Whiskey Folk Ramblers.

It all goes down this weekend, Aug 26-27 at the gorgeous White Water Ampitheater in New Braunfels along the Guadalupe. For tickets and further information, just hit the festival’s offical website for the goods.

4th Annual Dia De Los Toadies from Kirtland Records on Vimeo.

I know that the thought of running in the current heat isn’t exactly up the alley of many folks. Thankfully, most decent 5-10k’s, half and full marathons and other assorted races (see last week’s post about the Tough Mudder) take place in either the spring or the fall.

DFW RUNS seems to be a pretty unique marketing organization that hosts all sorts of really cool races throughout not only our state, but throughout the country.  Don’t let the D/FW in their name fool you. Races in Colorado, Minnesota and Utah, among other locales are on the group’s agenda for the next few weeks.

Not only does the group have a flair for variety in terms of race locations, but in the actual type of race as well. Whether it’s you seemingly typical 5k for charity, a Brewery sponsored race where everyone gets a commemorative pint glass to go with the standard t-shirt or an 6 mile, obstacle-filled “Mud Run,” DFW RUNS has a full agenda that should make choosing something for runners of any skill level easy to manage.

Below are some upcoming Texas events, hosted by DFW RUNS:

Austin rock outfit Boy + Kite has come quite a ways from the hot tub they claim to have been formed in back in 2009.

Last week not only did the four-piece – which consists of Guiseppe Ponti, Darvin Jones, Beth Puorro and Chris Mietus – release their excellent, debut album Go Fly, but they were also chosen personally by the Toadies as the winner to a contest that grants them a coveted spot performing along side The Toadies at the band’s annual Dia De Los Toadies festival next weekend in New Braunfels.

Not that the concert slot wouldn’t be prize enough, especially since The Black Angels and The Sword are sharing the same bill. Obviously, this will be perhaps the best showcase of big-league Texas-based rock of the entire year.  Added to the festival appearance, the band will also get to cut three new songs in-studio on The Toadies dime, which is pretty cool. According to the statement that the band released, Toadies lead man, Vaden Lewis has expressed interest in even producing the new tracks himself, which would be even cooler.

After a few listens to Boy + Kite’s Go Fly, it’s clear to see that they like their 1990′s Alt-Rock (the good Pixies kind, not the bad Lit kind), so it would be really cool to hear what kind of edge or grit the Toadies front man would possibly add to it, as he’s a master at making horrible subjects sound so darn great.

Below, give a listen to “Think In Stereo” from the album. This tune give you a great idea as to what to expect from the rest of the record. For those of you that have (like me) enjoyed the surge of young bands mining the fields of 1990′s Alt-Rock (see: the Joy Formidable or Yuck, both from England), this will be right up your alley. I swear, you’ll hit “repeat” on this a few times before you get up from your computer. Promise.

Boy + Kite – Think In Stereo by fanaticpro