The Musical Cream of This Fall's County-Fair Crop
If you've been lucky enough to see the so-called "supermoon" the past couple of nights, you know good things are coming: not only cooler temperatures but fairgrounds full of carnival midways, fried foods, beauty pageants, golf tournaments, parades, cookoffs, livestock auctions and top-notch country music. In other words, small-town Texas in all its harvest-season splendor.
Although this season is somewhat overshadowed by that big shootin' match that takes place next to the Dome (which is now just six months away), almost every county that touches Harris is having some sort of officially sanctioned celebration between this weekend and late October; lest we forget, so is Harris County's second-largest city. To salute them, Rocks Off picked out a dozen acts that are worth the short drive outside the Loop to see while eating Frito Pie and drinking light beer from a plastic cup or aluminum bottle. Don't forget those boots, because they might even make you want to dance.
Remind Me Who That Is? Hank Sr. disciple who perfected adulterous country in the '70s on songs such as "It Was Always So Easy to Find an Unhappy Woman (Until I Started Looking For Mine)," as well as lighter fare like "Here I Am Drunk Again." Where & When: Fort Bend County Fair, October 5 Bonus: "Singing Brakeman" and country-blues immortal Jimmie Rodgers once worked for Bandy's dad in a Meridian, Miss., trainyard. Schedule/More Info: fortbendcountyfair.com
Remind Me Who That Is? Corpus-born big-time outdoorsman, a little reminiscent of Robert Earl Keen and not afraid to mix in a little Stax-style soul. Released raucous new EP Road Show in July. Where & When: Pasadena Rodeo, September 20 Bonus: Creager peforms on Military Night, featuring both bull riding and bull fighting. Schedule/More Info: pasadenarodeo.com
Two Tons of Steel
ELEVEN HUNDRED SPRINGS/TEJAS BROTHERS/TWO TONS OF STEEL
Remind Me Who That Is? Tremendous triple bill of tradition-minded honky-tonkers who can play their asses off, two from DFW and one from the Alamo City. Where & When: Washington County Fair, September 18 Bonus: Meet Seamore the Robot while he roams the fairgrounds at 10:15 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Schedule/More Info: washingtoncofair.com
Remind Me Who That Is? You know, the "Beer, Bait and Ammo" guy. Big galoot who likes beer? Also performs September 26 at the Fort Bend County Fair. Where and When: Texas Gatorfest, Anahuac, 10:30 p.m. Saturday Bonus: Live alligator displays at various locations around the park, courtesy of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Schedule/More Info: texasgatorfest.com
Photo by Jim Bricker
Remind Me Who That Is? Seriously? Get out of here; some indie-rock band must need your attention. Where & When: Brazoria County Fair, October 11 Bonus: Merle's youngest son Ben Haggard, who is a lightning rod of a lead guitar player. Schedule/More Info: brazoriacountyfair.com
Remind Me Who That Is? So traditional you can practically hear the starch in his Wranglers when he sings, Huntsville's Johnson is bounding up the Texas country pecking order this year behind his album Cowboy Like Me and its current No. 1 single, "Me and My Kind." Where & When: Waller County Fair, September 27 Bonus: Little Mr. & Miss Waller County will be announced at 6:05 p.m. Schedule/More Info: wallercountyfair.org
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Remind Me Who That Is? One of America's leading Elvis impersonators who we're lucky enough to count as a Houston-area resident. Most recently King won Grand Champion at the 2013 EP Expo in Memphis. (Where else?) Where & When: Fort Bend County Fair, September 27 Bonus: Headlining that night is Granger Smith, the former member of Texas A&M's Corps of Cadets whose single "If Money Didn't Matter" is No. 2 on the Texas Music Chart this week, behind only Cody Johnson. Schedule/More Info: fortbendcountyfair.com
Remind Me Who That Is? Cucumber-cool Missouri native in the Dierks Bentley mold landed Nashville bigwig and Houston native Frank Liddell to co-produce new album I'm a Fire. Little Big Town appears on "When They're Gone (Lyle County)" and Lee Ann Womack (Liddell's husband) on "Galveston" -- yes, the Glen Campbell classic. Where & When: Pasadena Rodeo, Saturday Bonus: Calf scramble! Schedule/More Info: pasadenarodeo.com
Remind Me Who That Is? Now age 20, Baytown native RaeLynn came in third on Team Blake on Season 2 of The Voice; now she comes home (almost) to Pasadena. Sweet as can be on new single "God Made Girls." Where & When: Pasadena Rodeo, September 18 (with Jon Pardi and Love & Theft) Bonus: Come early for the livestock auction, which starts at 1 p.m. Schedule/More Info: pasadenarodeo.com
RANDY ROGERS BAND
Remind Me Who That Is? Landlords of the Texas country fiefdom for coming up on 15 years now, Rogers and crew are still going strong on last year's soulful set Trouble. Where & When: Washington County Fair, 11 p.m. September 20 Bonus: Opening is "London Homesick Blues" Texas country godfather Gary P. Nunn. Schedule/More Info: washingtoncofair.com
Remind Me Who That Is? Hardly a household name, this stone-cold traditionalist has arguably the finest honky-tonk singing voice in the entire Lone Star State. Bet the ranch on it. Where & When: Trinity Valley Exposition Fair & Rodeo, October 11 Bonus: Midway is handled by Talley Amusments, Inc., whose major rides include Monkey Maze, Mega Drop and Starship 2000. Schedule/More Info: tvefair.com
Remind Me Who That Is? Shaggy Tyler dudes who even The Wall Street Journal thinks might be a latter-day Skynyrd. The Journal might need new earbuds, but the band's 2014 LP Early Morning Shakes is pretty damn good, especially if you like that first Kings of Leon album. Also play the Brazoria County Fair October 10. Where & When: Texas Gatorfest, Anahuac, 8:30 p.m. Saturday Bonus: More than $4,500 in cash prizes will be awarded in the "Great Alligator Round-Up." Schedule/More Info: texasgatorfest.com
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