By Chris Gray
By Corey Deiterman
By Jef With One F
By Chris Gray
By Rocks Off
By Rocks Off
It may be more correct from a musical standpoint than a meteorological one, but in Houston, April is the coolest month. There's something — maybe too much — to do almost every weekend. It's kind of a shame we don't scatter these events across more of the calendar, but March is complicated by Spring Break and the fall months by football. And the rest of the year is either (unarguably) pretty damn hot or (allegedly) too cold.
Anyway, here's a round-up of this month's major shindigs. We will follow up with more detailed looks at many of these shows and artists — we're running this now just so you can start your advance planning/gas rationing/liver preservation now...
Saturday, April 12, offers a study in contrast.
The revitalized Westheimer Block Party features a dizzying array of Inner Loop talent, ranging from Buxton's gentle indie folk to Rusted Shut's pulverizing noise, from the trillcore of the Fucking Transmissions to the maximum C&W of Opie Hendrix. All that and plenty of indie rock, too, ranging from the '70s-tinged sounds of Spain Colored Orange to the '90s-flavored stuff from the Young Mammals (formerly known as the Dimes). And did we mention Sideshow Tramps, Karina Nistal, Thee Armada and Studemont Project will be there too? And literally dozens more? Helluva line-up — outside of our own Houston Press Music Awards showcase, this is the best one-day local music fiesta in town.
Meanwhile, over at the Johnson Space Center, of all places, the Bay Area Rally will be held in conjunction with the inaugural Texas Outlaw Music Festival. Cosmic redneck poet Billy Joe Shaver heads a biker-friendly bill that also includes Texas music/Southern rock/Red Dirt acolytes Back Porch Mary, Jackson Taylor, and No Justice. There will also be a motorcycle rally, and the whole shindig is in honor of Yuri Gagarin, the Russian cosmonaut who was the first man to break the surly bonds of earth. The whole deal is also sponsored by Boeing. Only in Houston could something so mainstream be so odd...
On April 13, the wise Owls at Rice have a day to themselves with the 17th annual KTRU Outdoor Show. Stunning, anthemic Brooklyn indie rockers Parts and Labor headline a bill that begins at noon with children's performer/Rice grad/Shepherd School of Music professor Rachel Buchman, Austin Russian music devotees Flying Balalaika Brothers, Houston indie kids the Balaclavas, local underground rapper/singer Nosaprise and electronica artists Dead PA. Also on the bill are noise rockers KAI/ROS and Social Insects, Rice students who recently won a KTRU battle of the bands. Refreshments will be provided by St. Arnold's.
Things start to get hairy on Friday, April 18, with two festivals firing up at opposite ends of the greater metropolis, each honoring a totemic crawling aquatic critter.
Up in cutesy Old Town Spring, the Texas Crawfish Festival kicks off three days of rock, country and bayou music. East Texas blue-collar prog-rockers Fair to Midland headline the rock stage on the first night, while Band of Heathens and Wade Bowen clean up on the C&W side. (There is also a zydeco stage there; the lineup, at press time, had not been released for any of the dates.)
Meanwhile, at the Beach Bar and Grill down in the aptly named town of Crystal Beach on the rough-and-ready Bolivar Peninsula, Hayes Carll's second annual Stingaree Music Festival starts thrashing its songwriting barbs. The opening night finds Carll, the Sideshow Tramps, Gurf Morlix, Bonnie Bishop, the Magpies, Corb Lund and Darrell Scott on the slate.
If you think that presents a dilemma or two, you'll need a helicopter to hit all the good stuff in the area on April 19 and April 20.
On April 19, Day Two of the Crawfish Fest stars both the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Mike Doughty of Soul Coughing on the rock stage, with Miss Leslie, Max Stalling, Pauline Reese, Honey Browne and Zona Jones twanging it up on the country side.
And then this is also opening day of the Houston International Festival, which will find Bettye LaVette, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Red Stick Ramblers, Buddy Guy, Felipe Galvan y Los Skarnales, Flamin' Hellcats and Grupo Fantasma, among many others, taking various downtown stages.
April 20 is day three for the Crawfish and Stingaree Fests and day two of iFest.
Up in Spring, you can check out Evangeline, Orange Is In and Jeremy McComb on the rock stage. Rick Treviño is sandwiched between two unconfirmed performers on the country stage.
Down on the beach, there's Graham Wilkinson, Travis Linville, the Dedringers, Will Kimbrough, Terry Allen, and the Sideshow Tramps, not to mention a festival wrap party at the must-be-seen-to-be-appreciated beach dive Sharkey's.
Downtown, Trinidad's Major Riley, the Wailers, Haitian Emeline Michel, Louisianans Trombone Shorty, Sonny Landreth and Terrance Semien invade from near and far, while locals on the bill include Cuervo, Yoko Mono, Kyle Turner, Diunna Greenleaf, DJ Sun, Mike Reed and Kelly Dean. All that and cosmic blues-based harmonica ace Charlie Musselwhite, too.