In this agricultural town just east of McAllen, the Alamo Flea Marke offers a weekend’s worth of norteño, the northern Mexico accordion music—similar to Tex-Mex conjunto—that’s taking over the Rio Grande Valley. Visit the market on Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., or Sunday from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., when admission to the cinder-block-and-tin-roof dance hall is free. During the day you’ll see up-and-coming local acts such as Los Forasteros de San Luis, while evenings are headlined by touring Mexican stars like Los Cadetes de Linares and Carlos y José (northeast corner of Cesar Chavez and U.S. 83, 956-781-1911).
Even after the demise early this year of the venerable Cabaret Cafe and Dance Hall, this Hill Country resort town remains cowboy central. Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar Saloon is a sawdust-on-the-floor joint where Arkey Blue and the Blue Cowboys wail classic honky-tonk Fridays and Saturdays for a $5 cover, with more-expensive names like balladeer Johnny Bush booked on holiday weekends (308 Main, 830-796-8826). On Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the 11th Street Cowboy Bar (307 Eleventh, 830-796-4849) features Cajun bands and country singers like T. C. Taylor in an outdoor pavilion, while the barn-wood Bandera Saloon (402 Main, 830-796-3699) offers country (such as the Drugstore Cowboys) and rockabilly (Sean Castillo and the Hubcaps) on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; both venues are free. There’s more (but less regularly scheduled) music at other local watering holes and nearby guest ranches.
Housed in an old wood-frame building that once contained an African American cafe, pool hall, and barber shop—and watched over by a statue of patron saint Lightnin’ Hopkins across the street—the bare-bones Camp Street Café and Store is one of the state’s homiest listening rooms. From kids to grandparents, the audiences in this Piney Woods town seem open to just about anything. So when owners Guy and Pipp Gillette aren’t providing their own eclectic brand of bedrock American roots music, they’re bringing in purveyors of every other kind of acoustic fare, from East Texas bluesman Frank Robinson and Lone Star troubadours Eric Taylor and Michael Fracasso