Texas Music

Take a Trip Through Legendary Big Bend With Orchestral Rockers Montopolis

Big Bend National Park turns 75 this year.
Big Bend National Park turns 75 this year. Film still by David Barrow
Big Bend National Park celebrates 75 years in 2019, but we all know it took much longer than that for the massive canyons to form. There's much to inspire anybody lucky enough to visit the 1,100 square mile park: a clear night sky unpolluted by light, the Texas sun setting over The Window, the desert exploding into bloom each spring and the wild but navigable Rio Grande.

Austin-based orchestral rockers Montopolis also have been inspired by the nature of west Texas. Their album The Legend of Big Bend includes appropriately named titles: "Terlingua," "Chisos," "Santa Elena," "Marathon" and "Big Bend Overture," among others.

click to enlarge For those who missed Montopolis' sold-out stop at MFAH this past April, here's another chance. - PHOTO BY SUNDAY BALLEW
For those who missed Montopolis' sold-out stop at MFAH this past April, here's another chance.
Photo by Sunday Ballew

The indie group — Justin Sherburn (keyboards), Andy Beaudoin (drums), Michael St. Clair (bass and horns), Gary Newcomb (guitars), Leigh Mahoney (violin), Blake Turner (viola) and Sara Nelson (cello) — turn their performances into a multimedia experience, weaving together science, history, poetry and storytelling against the backdrop of breathtaking video that truly captures the wonder of this vast desert wilderness.

E pluribus unum, and the Montopolis musicians include members of the Austin Symphony, Okkervil River, The Polyphonic Spree and the Tosca String Quartet.

Metropolis is headed to Discovery Green® in September with The Legend of Big Bend, bringing a free multimedia concert that will have us all itching to head west. Bring your blankets, picnics and lawn chairs; make plans to buy food, beer and wine from the Lake House Café; and decide whether it's your time to become a Forever Green park member with access to VIP seating.

Contributing writer Gladys Fuentes checked in with Sherburn earlier this year, in advance of their sold-out show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Dig deeper in her write-up below to learn Sherburn's origins story about how he wanted to focus on Texas landmarks and natural landscapes, while also drawing attention to the power and importance of nature.

The Legend of Big Bend is presented with support from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.

A performance of The Legend of Big Bend is scheduled for September 21 from 8-9:30 p.m. Saturday at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, visit discoverygreen.com or facebook.com/events/730436124057616. Free.

And mark your calendars for October 11 when Sul Ross State University in Alpine pulls out all the stops for the park's 75th Anniversary Birthday Party. Learn more at sulross.edu.
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney