March—People, Places, Events, Attractions
Dennis Quaid returns to Texas, finds true love in Austin, and experiences a career comeback. Coincidence? We think not.
The state’s influence on the silver screen is only too evident this month in the Capital City, which hosts the TEXAS FILM HALL OF FAME AWARDS on March 11. Emcee Ann Richards will honor homegrown talent like Robert Rodriguez and Quaid himself, and the elegant Lauren Bacall will be present to receive an accolade on behalf of the 1956 set-in-Texas melodrama Written on the Wind. Any doubts about Texas’ self-designated title as moviemaking’s Third Coast should be further put to rest with the SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL, which kicks off, also on March 11, with The Wendell Baker Story, a comedy written by Dallas’s own Luke Wilson (brother Andrew co-directs and brother Owen co-stars). And take special note of the documentaries. No fewer than three of them will chronicle the lives of some of our state’s most storied, and ill-fated, singer-songwriters: Roky Erickson, Daniel Johnston, and most memorably, the late Townes Van Zandt, commemorated in Austinite Margaret Brown’s beautiful and mournful Be Here to Love Me. PAMELA COLLOFF
(For directions and more information, see Austin, Other Events)
NATURE CALLS | Adventures in the great outdoors.
Big Bend Country
This spring break, take your family to Big Bend country, one of the most spectacular and otherworldly parts of the American Southwest. The desert—warm and lovely and in full bloom this month—awaits.
A Kid-Friendly Float
Want to enjoy the spectacular volcanic scenery and stay within the attention span of your children? Big Bend River Tours offers a half-day rafting trip on the Rio Grande through the rugged, rocky canyons of Big Bend Ranch State Park. Gently bob downriver as your guides point out interesting desert sights, plants, and geologic formations (800-545-4240, bigbendrivertours.com).
A Night In The Wild
For the slightly more ambitious, Far Flung Outdoor Center offers a March family special: an overnight canoe or raft trip. Navigate through remote canyons, stop to enjoy a prepared lunch, then camp on a sandy beach for the night. This is full-service floating— guides instruct you on paddling basics, lead you on fossil-inspecting hikes, and even provide night-vision monoculars for stargazing. And in the morning? A hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon to lure you from your tent (800-839-7238, farflungoutdoorcenter.com).
Riding the Dead Horse
You don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to take one of Desert Sports’ bike tours through the empty, magnificent backcountry. On the beginner-level two-day ride along Old Ore Road, hugging the western flank of the Dead Horse Mountains, you’ll cycle past ruins of early ranching settlements and the stark Alto Relex cliffs to finish with a soothing soak at Langford Hot Springs. If you like, you can even ride tandem. Where’s Lance when you need him? (888-989-6900, desertsportstx.com.) S. C. GWYNNE
HEY, YOU! | Look who’s coming to Texas.
Roy Hargrove+ Herbie Hancock
In 2001, a year which would have seen the seventy-fifth birthdays of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, the seemingly incongruous triumvirate of versatile pianist Herbie Hancock (who played in Davis’s classic sixties quintet), mainstream tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, and neoclassicist trumpeter and Texas native Roy Hargrove toured as Directions in Music, a historic collaboration that paid tribute to the late jazz icons; the subsequent album, Live at Massey Hall, won two Grammys. Now reunited for a new show, “Our Times,” they play Fort Worth on March 10, San Antonio on March 11, and Houston on March 12. Interview by JOHN MORTHLAND
How did you three get together to begin with?
HANCOCK: Our agent thought that the seventy-fifth birthdays of Davis and Coltrane could be the theme for some sort of supergroup. The hard part was deciding what pieces to play to represent them and what kind of approach to take on those pieces. We agreed that people would be expecting to hear classic arrangements of “So What” and “Impressions” but that that wouldn’t be the appropriate way to honor Davis and Coltrane. They never played the same arrangements when they played somebody else’s songs; they always changed them all around. The great example would be Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things.” His version didn’t sound anything like The Sound of Music’s. We decided to put our vision to their pieces and create new directions. The audiences and critics understood and said, “John Coltrane and Miles Davis were originals. This is an original approach to their music.” And they liked it.
HARGROVE: It’s fun playing with Herbie and Michael. They are icons in music, two artists who’ve definitely crossed over lots of boundaries, so I’m glad to be in their company. The first time we played together, I learned a lot. “Directions in music” is a phrase that appears on Miles Davis’s albums. It’s a means of exploring, of not being satisfied with going the regular way but stretching harmonies, exploring different possibilities in rhythm. “Stella by Starlight,” for example, we just took apart completely—played it backwards, changed the rhythm.
Roy, you’re the trumpet player, but you were only 21 when Miles Davis died. Did you get to see him play much, or meet him?
HARGROVE: I met him once, in Italy, at the Umbria Jazz Festival. I was still in school at Berklee [College of Music], and my roommate, Geoff Keezer, who is a pianist, was being offered a job by Miles. So we went backstage, and he introduced me. We actually ended up opening for him. Me and Geoff, two teenagers, opening for Miles Davis in front of thousands of people. I was scared to death!
How is the music you, Herbie, and Michael make together different from what each of you does with your individual groups?
HARGROVE: It’s different from my music and also an influence. After I played with Herbie and Michael, my own music changed. I could see more possibilities in harmony; I could see lots more notes to play over chord changes, to make the music sound bigger.
Will y’all be playing Miles and Coltrane this tour?
HANCOCK: We’re not going to take up that theme again. But we’re still using the same idea of, whatever we do, we’ll put our own interpretation on it.
HARGROVE: I don’t want to spoil the surprise by talking about what kind of music we might do.