Texas®

OK, you’re right. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are so not from Texas. There might be some sort of ties to the Lone Star state, but I’m not familiar with them if there are any, to be truthful.

But, on August 30th, they’ll be all over the state. I mean all over it. In fact, they’ll soon invade our state’s (along with other states) movie theaters. To celebrate the release of their upcoming and hotly anticipated album, I’m With You, the band will debut the album in its entirety, live in concert and beam it to movie screens everywhere. Pretty sweet, right?

Check out the trailer for the film above and also give a look to see which theater the show will run near you. Regardless of where you live in Texas, you shouldn’t be too far from a Red Hot Chili Screen.

5k’s and 10k’s are great. Marathons are downright scary. The Tough Mudder, though, is what the Iron Man wants to be when it grows up and can have a few drinks.

Billing itself as “probably the toughest event on the planet,” the event which takes place all over the world year-round is certainly one of the craziest events on the planet. Which, by the way, makes it pretty darn cool in our book. Created by a British counter-terrorism specialist, this is far more than a muddy obstacle course for weekend warriors.

In each city the Mudder takes place in, a 10-12 mile course filled with mud-soaked obstacles that will test stamina, overall toughness and according to the event’s site, “mental grit”.

Over the course of the next 8 months, three Tough Mudders will take place in our great state, actually. Coming up really soon, Central Texas will host a Mudder in Paige, nestled in Bastrop Country. That event will take place on October 8 and 9. Soon after that one, the Gulf Coastal region will get a taste of mud and sweat in January of 2012. then, in the Spring of 2012, North Texas will see a Mudder come their way when Dallas will be covered in Mud for a weekend.

Crazy costumes, boisterous after-parties and what has to be a serious sense of accomplishment are to be enjoyed by all when it comes to the Mudders. As it turns out, this writer is planning on mudding it up himself (along with his brother), so you can be sure I’ll have a few stories of training gone wrong and a recap of how things all go down when my body becomes one with pain and mud.

Even though it’s only been open for a few months, The Texas Music Theater in San Marcos has become one of the prime venues in the state for catching a show. Ever since the venue hosted this year’s Lone Star music Awards, it’s booked great acts and has garnered rave reviews.

Recent shows from Kasey Chambers, Micky & The Motorcars, among others have given the dancehall a high-profile, to be sure.

The history of the venue is an interesting one, also. The theater’s official website states that “the theater was built in 1941 and opened as the Plaza Theater. The building was remodeled in 1958 as a movie theater with two screens and renamed Holiday Theater. Most recently, it was a venue called Gordo’s that featured live music from new acts such as Blue October. Over the years, thousands of area residents and students at Southwest Texas State (now Texas State University-San Marcos) have ventured through its doors to be entertained.”

So, next time you and a bunch of your friends are making a road-trip to or through the Hill Country, give the calendar to the Texas Music Theater a good look!

We are getting a rare treat, here in Texas. Australian musical super-heroine Kasey Chambers makes her return and she is packing a new album that’s every bit as great as we’ve seen from her in the past. There are some fans out there that weren’t as impressed with Carnival, her third album, and Little Bird, the new one, should win them back. That is, if the splendid 2008 roots album she recorded with her husband, Rattlin’ Bones, didn’t win them over.

The new disc seems to offer a sampling of everything Chambers does well. Gritty country-rock, smokey, bluesy numbers, and especially, acoustic, rootsy shuffles. her trademark vocals are as precious as they’ve always been and seem to have a slight edge about them that has likely come with simply growing more experienced as a woman, wife and mother.

After a small amount of stops in 2008 (on of which included a visit to the Cactus Cafe in Austin), we haven’t had the pleasure of hosting her since. This week, Chambers makes a number of stops in Texas, beginning in Austin at Momo’s on Thursday (don’t forget the free in-store performance at Waterloo Records at 5pm), then The Texas Theatre in Sam Marcos on Friday before hitting the Granada Theater in Dallas on Saturday.

In fact, while you get ready for these shows, check out the video to Chambers latest single, “Beautiful Mess” below!

You know, so many wait until Thursday or Friday to get their weekend plans in order. We thought we’d just go ahead and help you out with that now, though.

Obviously, Texas is blesssed with many a worthy destination for a day-trip or weekend excursion. Some of those destinations, however, are locales that seem to be slow on some weekends, and crammed on others. One hot-spot that is always sizzling with activity, almopst regardless of when one chooses to go is Fredericksburg.

The lovely, German, hilly town has more than it’s fair share of calling cards – hello, Beds and Brekafasts – but we’re not here to talk about that. We’re not here to send you there when one of th large wine festivals or city-wide celebrations are taking place. Anyone can do that. We’re just going to look at this coming weekend specifically and point you into the direction of a few understated, but cool, events and a few of the key attractions that makes this place a choice destination almost any weekend on the calendar…

  • Friday 6/24: Thomas Michael Riley at Hondo’s on Main ~ The tree-covered, outdoor patio stage and dining area is pretty much the definition of the Hill Country music expecrience. Cold Beer, entrees that involve salty corn chips and chili, and stars lighting the gazebo stage from which the bands play. Shoot, whether it’s before TMR’s set or after, head across the street to The Auslander for some schnitzel and live tunes in a real-deal biergarten.

 

  • Saturday 6/25: Get All you Need or Get Rid of It! ~ On Saturday, at the Holy Ghost Lutheran Fellowship Hall, you can learn more about green living. It’s like a free community garage sale. Whether you’re looking to discard or acquire an item, this is the place to do it! Even if you don’t have something to give, come by and find items you can use.

 

  • Saturday 6/25: Roots Music Night Series - Americana Rock ~ In the evening, pre-order a chicken-fried steak and graba  couple of lawn chairs to enjoy this well-produced concert series on the lawn of the Pioneer Museum. Each edition has a theme, ranging from Zydeco to Blues. Celebrating the hard-to-define Americana sound, music fans will be able to enjoy a 7pm performance from buzzed-about girl band, the Trishas.

 

  • Anytime, Any Weekend: Becker Vinyards ~ We typically arent fond of wines that are too sweet, but darn it if the last time we enjoyed a few glasses of vino from the patio of the beautiful, lavender-scented Becker environs wasnt their too-good-to-be-true Reisling. They often have special events, but that’s a bit misleading, really. To paraphrase a line from the Merlot-hating flick, Sideways, every trip to Becker is a special occasion.

 

  • Anytime, Any Weekend: National Museum of the Pacific War ~ Basically attached to the impressive Admiral Nimitz Museum, this relatively new, multi-media gem is a gripping and often-times goosebump-inducing trip through a memory lane filled with incomprehensible pain, agony and triumph. This is still a hidden gem, and is a historical center not to be missed when traveling through the area.

 

  • Anytime, Any Weekend: Lincoln Street ~ We ahd to go back to wine, right? This cozy wine bar is just about the prefect place to sink into a glass of wine, nibble on a cheese plate and maybe even enjoy a cigar. Lincoln Street manages to feel like a neighborhood joint in the middle of a throbbing tourist mecca.

Every few years, Texas Monthly Magazine crowns their favorite BBQ joints throughout the state. The usual suspects typically make the list, sure, but many new names from unknown outposts also find their way onto the list, thanks to the diligent and smoke-scented magazine staff.

Each year, Texas Monthly hosts a party in Austin to honor and showcase the best BBQ our state has to offer, and we’re all invited! On October 30, at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, The Texas Monthly BBQ Festival will take place and fill our souls with mesquite fumes and some of Austin’s best tunes.

Last year, along with the smoking stars of the day, BBQ lovers were treated to sets by two of the Hill Country’s finest songwriters: Ray Wylie Hubbard and Amy Cook. This year’s musical line-up hasn’t been announced just yet, though.

The reason we mention this so early? Last year’s fest sold-out in a very short time. So, get on it, or you’ll be very sorry. And hungry.

What: Texas Monthly BBQ Festival

Where: Austin, TX

When: 10/30/2011 12pm – 5pm

Website: http://www.texasmonthly.com/bbqfestival/

 Ah, summer in Texas. Rangers’ baseball, 100+ heat, (and this year), Dallas Mavericks playoff basketball, and tubing the rivers of the Hill Country.

I can only hope that this post doesn’t find you residing in a scenario where you have yet to take part in one of the most holy, quintessentially Texan of all traditions. Tubing the Guadalupe, or Comal for that matter, is an experience that few other states can offer.

Simply put: If you haven’t yet. It’s about time to get to it. Below are some resources available to help you in your quest for the spirit of Texas summers…

Gruene Texas - It’s kind of crazy how one small town can have just about everything you need for a fun day of tubing. River outfitters, great restaurants and, in case you haven’t made the connection yet: The legendary Gruene Hall. Texas’ grandest and oldest dance hall. If tunes are blaring from the open widows that line the walls of this hollowed palace, than it’s time to get on in and grab a cold one.

Also, check out the Comal River for tubing good-times…

OK, that’s enough to at least get you started. Believe us, it’s almost a deal where you will have a hard time convincing other Texan’s that you’re a real Texan if you can’t say you’ve tubed the river. It’s kind of like saying you haven’t seen Willie Nelson live in-concert, or paid your respects at the Alamo…wait, you have done those things, right??

    

Obviously, when talking about Memorial Day, we want to remember the real reason for it (check back here on Monday for more of that), but it’s also fair to talk about the fun that can be had, as we all enjoy the freedom that so many brave men and women have sacrficed for over the decades and even centuries our country has been in existence. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, give the below options a look and hit one up…

Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie: On Monday, the beautiful racing park will be turned into an all-purpose fun-time center. Not only will the horses be running, but Harleys will be given away, a chili cook-off will take place and the stakes will be as high as they will be all year for those who are lucky enough.

Fiesta Texas – San Antonio: All kinds of new shows are getting started, including a laser light show. Not to mention the usual family-fun and thrill seeking that’s typically available.

The National Polka Festival – Ennis, TX: For 45 years, this has been the preemminent Polka festival in Texas, if not the entire US. There isnt any way a family could make their way to this party and not find something for everyone.

99.5′s Wolfdance 2011 – Ft. Worth Stockyards: Each year, this Sunday-before Memorial Day party is one of the better showcases for Texas Country music. While we’re scratching our heads on how acts like Casey Donahew and Josh Abbott have somehow earned top-billing over the likes of Wade Bowen, it’s still an all-day affair that gives many of the up-and-coming names (that deserve such a title) a fantastic showcase. In fact, take our advice and get there around 1pm for John David Kent and then catch Rob Baird, John D Hale and Brison Bursey, the leave before you have to hear Johnny Cooper make another lame attempt at working his lame beat-boxing into his set.

On Saturday, the 14th, the city of Plano got straight-up sudsy, thanks to the North Texas Beer Festival, hosted at the Plano Centre. Tons of beer vendors from all over the country sharing samples of their latest and greatest brews.

There were some nagging issues through the course of the afternoon, however. Long lines that ran up and and down the trade-show style rows of beer booths made it impossible to simply grab a cup from a specific brewer that might be in the middle of the aisle. So, rather than being able to easily sample something from Mendocino Brewing, one had to head to the back of a long line that forced you to spend time in-front of vendors and brewers that you may or may not want to get to know better. Also, while there were great craft-brew stars – both regionally and nationally - represented, there weren’t many lesser known breweries there, ready to surprise the throngs that arrived looking for a buzz. Maybe that wasn’t the goal, and perhaps that’s all relative – who knows. Southern Star Brewery, out of Conroe, TX isn’t exactly a household name, but thanks to their stellar Buried Hatchet Stout and Bombshell Blonde, the brewery that makes the finest canned Texas beer is well-known to us around here. In fact, Southern Star’s ProAm Smoked Porter was my favorite brew of the afternoon, with Austin’s Jester King Black Metal Stout ranking a close second.

So, there were a couple of issues, but overall, this was a very cool event and I can only imagine that it went about as well as anyone could expect from a first year’s offering.

As I’ve hinted already, Texas beer lovers were in heaven. St. Arnold had their excellent beers on hand, and Franconia, out of McKinney, wowed with their authentic, German-style lagers. Even Shiner Bock managed to bring something that was surely a surprise to most. Their new Shiner Ruby Redbird blended the classic bock taste with bright hints of ginger and grapefruit to make a refreshing and surprisingly even drink. It was easy to expect something that came off as way too fruity and sweet, but the ginger evened things out pretty well.

For the drinkers looking for out-of-state goodness, there were several options, perhaps most notably was New Belgium Brewery. Offering their brand-new Somersault seasonal (in stores very soon, we were told), Colorado’s hippest brewery is clearly continuing their streak of offering perhaps the country’s best beers for the sunny seasons.

Hey, what else is there to say, but that we’re already looking forward to next year’s fest!

I know that we still might technically be still in the midst of Spring, but the temps are beginning to suggest otherwise. Each year, as our energy bills rise, so to does the list of concerts we all circle on our repsective calendars. Below are a few of the top tours and festivals hitting the state. Some you may know all about by now, and others on this list may be hitting your radar for the first time, perhaps. Regardless, we’re pretty sure you’ll find something for almost any taste in the list below…

Austin Psych Fest (April 29 – May 1) - As much of an oddball grouping as your likely to find all year. This intense, all-weekend bill will be filling the Seaholm Power Plant with all sorts of industrial noise and racous bad/good times. Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez Lopez group, along with A Place to Bury Strangers, No Joy and even Texan-goup This Will Destroy You, lead a sonic assult that will likely leave any attendees few questions as to why their ears are bleeding.

Wilco (Houston May 6, Denton May 7) – Not much to add to the simple fact that Wilco will be hitting a couple of places in our state. Word has it that some sort of release is nearing completion, but even if Jeff Tweedy and crew dont play new tunes, their classics are just that – classic.

Editor’s Pick! Homegrown Festival (Dallas May 14): What began last year as a relatively humble gathering of local bands, some of which had outgrown the city limits a tad, has become a full-fledged destination festival, this year. the name of the all-day shindig rings true, still though. Headliners such as Slobberbone, Neon Indian, Astronautalis, and School of Seven Bells are widely known around the country, but all started here in North Texas. The still-new and beautiful Main St Garden is an ideal location that soon might be too small for this budding festival.

Editor’s Pick! Mogwai (Dallas May 15, Austin May 16, Houston May 17) – Perhaps the band that gave real wings to what so many term as “post-rock”. The Scottish outfit has now been together for over a decade and a half, and after three years, they’ve just released an insanely anthemic studio album album, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, which is their best effort since their debut record, 1997′s Young Team. Similar to a band like Austin’s Explosions in the Sky, who clearly adore Stewart Braithwaite and his crew, Mogwai has always looked to create moving soundscapes that escape simple categorization. The former Matador stars, now working with Sub Pop have had this American tour planned for a while, actually. The Granada Theater in Dallas announced this show back in November, giving fans plenty of time to brush up on their air-guitar and shoegazing skills. A Pitchfork review of the new record, while not glowing, summed up a feeling that has seemed to evident in the band’s recent performances by suggesting, “ On Hardcore, Mogwai sound like they’re enjoying being Mogwai again.” I can only imagine that us Texans will enjoy them just fine.

Editor’s Pick! Twilight Singers (May 30 Dallas, May 31 Austin, June 1 Houston) – Another Sub Pop act that has been around for a while will be making their long-awaited way through Texas. This project is a bit differnt, however. Greg Dulli, formerly the leader of Afghan Wigs, made this his secondary group, therefore output from this act was scarce until his main act disbanded in 2001. After that, releases havent exactly been prolific, but they have at least bore the mark of a real band and not merely a one-off side project. Case in point: Twilight Singers latest album, Dynamite Steps. An all-out alt-rock album that features agressive rock, with agresive melodies and a real sense for drama. Afghan who?

Houston Free Press Summerfest (June 4-5) - Talk about a line-up that doesn’t need much further explanation? The annual festival, held in Eleanor Tinsley Park, has really topped their already impressive acts from previous years. Weezer, Big Boi, Cut Copy, Yeasayer, Jason Isbell, and Beirut headline a line-up that has really strong support from Lower Dens, Hayes Carll, The Black Angels and Those Darlins, among many others.

Adele w/ Wanda Jackson (Austin June 12, Dallas June 15) – Hello, Girl Power! The current darling of the UK and the US album charts pairs herself with the Queen of Rock and Roll? Yes please! That’s a serious amount of soul to put onto one stage in one night.

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