FESTIVALS

ROOT CAUSE Modern music would likely sound very different if not for song collectors. Consider John A. Lomax. In the early 1900's, the American granddaddy of field recorders trekked 200,000 miles around the U.S. to document folk music, ignoring the advice of his University of Texas professors who said that ballad studies was an unworthy pursuit. For his trouble, Lomax was able to make known worlds and people that might have otherwise been forgotten, most famous among them Huddie Ledbetter, a.k.a. Leadbelly. On March 20, Lomax's hometown of Meridian celebrates his legacy with the John A. Lomax Music Festival and Bosque County Chuckwagon Cookoff. But if that's too far a drive, scratch your old music itch elsewhere. Belton hosts the Texas Western Swing Fiddling Showcase, featuring acts that include Randy Elmore and the Boys in the Band, on March 20. Irving presents the Texas Steel Guitar Association Jamboree March 11-14, culminating with a dance to the sounds of Tom Morrell and the TimeWarp Tophands. And in Alice, youngsters compete for trophies such as best vocalist and best trumpet section at the Día del Mariachi Competition and Festival March 27. Anyone sick of slick radio or the music industry need only do what Lomax did: Get in the car and find a live-music antidote. (See Dallas: Music ; and Elsewhere: Other Events .)

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