Willie Power

by Erin Gromen

This July 4 in Luckenbach, you can get Kinky, start Waylon, and fall Asleep at Willie Nelson’s annual picnic—.

When he first sang “Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas, with Waylon and Willie and the boys” almost twenty years ago, Waylon Jennings forever linked himself and Willie Nelson to the legendary Hill Country hamlet. As it happens, the hit song was written by a couple of guys from Nashville who, like Waylon, had never set so much as a toe within the city limits, such as they are. When performing live, Waylon has even been known to change the lyrics of the song to the effect that he won’t ever go there and, quite frankly, is sick of singing about the place. But it seems the old outlaw is changing his tune, because this month Waylon, Willie, and the boys will be in Luckenbach for Willie’s Fourth of July Picnic, joining more than thirty acts such as Ray Price, the Reverend Horton Heat, Kinky Friedman, and Asleep at the Wheel. So why has the Littlefield native kept his distance all these years? Did they not offer him enough money? Was he just being ornery? “He probably couldn’t find it,” says Luckenbach mayor VelAnne Howle. The town’s road sign is a frequent target of souvenir hunters, and “I’ll bet someone stole it the day he tried to come out,” she says.


Only in America

by Chester Rosson

Create fireworks of your own at celebrations all over Texas.

Once a year I find it surprisingly easy to put aside my usual distaste for crowds when our family joins thousands of others for the Austin Symphony’s free Fourth of July concert and fireworks extravaganza on the shores of Town Lake. We always arrive early to secure our favorite spot, bearing all the simple necessities: the picnic quilt, the soda-filled cooler, and of course, the pizza. Soon the sultry heat is displaced by a late-afternoon breeze, and the familiar music begins. As the sunset starts its rosy fade, the orchestra winds up for the fireworks finale with the 1812 Overture, incorporating the cathartic blasts of real howitzers. And, I swear, the fireworks just get better each year. To the delight of Fourth fans, much the same scene will unfold across the state as the Corpus Christi Symphony performs on the flight deck of the USS Lexington and the Symphony of Southeast Texas plays on a barge in Beaumont’s harbor, the Houston Symphony tunes up at the Miller Outdoor Theatre and the Fort Worth Symphony Pops visits the Botanic Garden, the San Angelo Symphony celebrates on the city’s beautiful RiverStage (July 3) and the Irving Symphony lights up the sky at Las Colinas. Three cheers for the red, white, and blue.


Strokes of Genius

by Quita McMath

Making a good Impression (San Antonio).

“The Impressionists never painted subjects that were ugly, confrontational, stark,” says Douglas Hyland, the director of the San Antonio Museum of Art. Take Shinnecock Landscape With Figures, by William Merritt Chase. “It’s full of light and sunshine and innocence and happiness,” he says. The 1895 work is one of almost ninety painted between 1870 and 1930 that Hyland has assembled for “The Age of Innocence: American Impressionism and Its Influence,” which opens on June 29. No fewer than 26 paintings on loan from San Antonians Hugh and Marie Halff make up the heart of the show (at right is The Morning Paper, by William McGregor Paxton, 1913), which includes an equal number of works from other local collections as well. The remainder of the exhibit is drawn from public and private holdings across the state. “Texas has extraordinary resources,” says Hyland. “It’s our duty to share them with the people of Texas.” Artists ranging from Childe Hassam to Edward Hopper, along with many who are less well known, are represented by luminous landscapes and intimate interiors, lush still lifes, and portraits that include a Vanderbilt heiress by John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt’s pastel of an infant’s head, innocence itself. “Impressionism is like eating Godiva chocolates or listening to a Haydn concerto,” says Hyland. “It’s thoroughly pleasing.”


Shake and Bake

by Anne Dingus

Playing around with Shakespeare (Winedale).

Bard-in-a-barn is the summer specialty of the Winedale Historical Center, the University of Texas’ rural retreat midway between Houston and Austin. Since 1970, UT students have been staging Shakespearean drama in a century-old hay barn on the property, an idea first proposed by the legendary Texas benefactress Ima Hogg (who donated all 215 of Winedale’s well-kept acres). This year’s plays are comedies: Much Ado About Nothing, a battle-of-the-sexes frolic, and The Tempest, a man-versus-nature parable rich in sea imagery. Both are breezy enough to help audiences forgive the barn’s lack of air conditioning. The third offering is a rare non-Shakespearean performance, Francis Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle, a satire about seventeenth-century Londoners’ provincialism. Playgoers can also stroll a one-mile nature trail; picnic under giant pecans; tour the restored nineteenth-century kitchen, school, and houses; and on Saturday nights, partake of the traditional Winedale feast of hunter’s stew. In nearby Round Top and Carmine, there’s antiques shopping to boot.