A Little Night Music

Every Texan knows that, in August, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun. But as a cool wind picks up in the evening, who can resist joining friends around the gazebo or band shell for some free music alfresco? Since 1928 Galvestonians have gathered on Tuesday evenings for Summer Band Concerts of show tunes, Dixieland, and Sousa marches, which for ten years have been held at the Sealy Gazebo. On Sunday nights at El Paso’s Chamizal National Memorial Amphitheater, the Music Under the Stars has a Latin beat that builds to a crescendo at the end of the month with the El Paso Symphony. In Austin, Blues on the Green presents local jazz and blues musicians at the Arboretum on alternate Wednesdays. The setting for San Antonio’s Summer in the City concerts is the Rivercenter lagoon, where cool jazz, breezy country, and hot tejano spice the sultry air on Wednesdays and Thursdays. But the biggest show of all is in Houston, where it seems that everyone abandons the air conditioning on Thursdays to hear the likes of Foghat and Marcia Ball at the Party on the Plaza. You can’t get much cooler than that. Chester Rosson


A Sense of Place

In the tradition of the Taos Society of Artists and the Dallas Nine—local groups formed in, respectively, 1915 and the thirties by Southwestern artists who wanted to carve out regional artistic identities—the Border Artists are painters, sculptors, and photographers who live along the Rio Grande in New Mexico and Texas and exhibit their work there as well as in Mexico. “The Border Artists are dedicated to the concept that the border region is not a cultural desert,” says Virginia Ness of Los Paisanos Gallery, located in El Paso’s Chamizal National Memorial. “Their visions reflect what they have experienced in the borderlands.” The seventeen-member group’s latest exhibition, “Along the Rio Grande: A Tribute to Regional Diversity,” with works ranging from Suzanne Kane’s abstract ceramic sculptures to Jean Abbott’s photographs of the Rio Grande and Carolyn Bunch’s scenes of border life (above, her 1998 pastel Spring Sunshine), is on view at Los Paisanos through August 23. The location is appropriate, as the Chamizal complex commemorates the peaceful settlement of a U.S.-Mexico border dispute. Says Bunch, the group’s copresident: “It is a significant meeting point of the cultures along the Rio Grande.” Katy Vine


Outside Art

You might think that a tour of local outdoor murals, a popular mode of expression for self-taught painters, would be a no-brainer for the folks at the Orange Show Foundation, those documentarians of extraordinary works by “ordinary” people. Not so, says Marks Hinton of the foundation’s Eyeopeners tours, which showcase folk art environments in Houston and beyond. Hinton and his wife, Barbara, will be leading the first Eyeopeners mural excursion on August 9. “We’ve done outdoor sculpture tours, but never a mural tour,” he says. The omnipresence of the art form poses a problem; choosing a manageable number of works can be an arduous task. “You never realize how many murals surround you until you start looking for them,” Hinton says. “That’s how we came up with the title of the tour: ‘They’re Everywhere: The Outdoor Murals of Houston.’” In the cool comfort of an air-conditioned bus, participants can expect to see more than forty murals, some commercial (a bounty of produce on the side of Treebeard’s restaurant, above, or an Aztec-inspired scene on a Fiesta Mart) and others personal (the paintings in the East End dedicated to young men killed in gang warfare). Soft drinks and fruit—including oranges, of course—will be provided. Don’t miss the bus. Erin Gromen


Squeeze Play

Two Central Texas events pump up the argument that August should be declared Accordion Month in Texas and the squeeze-box designated our state musical instrument. At the Fourteenth Annual Accordion Festival in San Antonio August 8 and 9, ten conjunto acts will take the outdoor stage daily, including the genre’s two best showmen, Mingo Saldivar (watch out when he plays his box behind his back) and Nick Villarreal, the author of such catchy Spanglish anthems as “Not to Worry,” and new generation hotshot Eddie Gonzales. Name your preference at the Accordion Kings Camp and Festival in Round Rock August 15 and 16—piano keyboard, one-row button, or three-row button—and there’ll be a maestro not only playing it but also showing you how to work the bellows yourself. Teaching and/or performing will be conjunto aces Santiago Jimenez, Jr., and Johnny Degollado (a.k.a. the Montopolis Kid), Cajun pro Walter Mouton (the leader of the renowned Scott Playboys), Czech standard-bearer John Ondrusek (above) of the Dancehall Boys, Creole musicians Ed and Danny Poullard, Cajun and Tex-Mex stylist Bradley Williams, utility all-star Ponty Bone, and the hard-core polkaholics of the Majek Orchestra. Joe Nick Patoski



The birthday of Lyndon Baines Johnson is still celebrated by both his family and the people of Johnson City, where he spent his boyhood. This year’s festivities promise to match the specialness of the anniversary—LBJ would have turned ninety this month. Since his death in 1973, the family has honored his birth date, August 27, with a wreath-laying ceremony, which is open to the public, at the family cemetery at the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall. The family has invited humorist and radio personality Cactus Pryor, a friend of LBJ’s, to speak at the ceremony. On August 29 Johnson City remembers the former president with a birthday party at his boyhood home, complete with cakes baked by townspeople, hand-cranked ice cream, lemonade, domino games, washer pitching, and an all-female barbershop quartet. Patterned after a twenties-era social, reminiscent of what Johnson himself (in front of the car) may have experienced growing up in Johnson City, the event brings together old friends, neighbors, and political contemporaries of LBJ’s, who in years past have marked the occasion by sharing their memories of one of Texas’ most renowned native sons. Jane Dure