All Shook Up
At this year’s South by Southwest Music Festival, the one-man Austin band Shakey Graves, a.k.a Alejandro Rose-Garcia, received some high praise. Terry Lickona, a longtime producer of the PBS hit the television show “Austin City Limits,” introduced him as one of his new favorite acts.
Not that long ago, Rose-Garcia was playing a lifeguard (known as the Swede) on Friday Night Lights. Now he is kicking his bass drum, finger-picking his resonator guitar, and conjuring the blues for national audiences, on the strength of one full-length album, Roll the Bones. And he has landed a gig singing the jingle for the Don’t Mess With Texas anti-litter campaign that stars singing trash cans.
In anticipation of his sophomore album early next year, Shakey Graves is playing Blues on the Green, the free summer concert series in Zilker Park. The Gourds, the national band of Austin and the subjects of a new documentary, All the Labor, will join him on the bill. This will be an increasingly rare showing of the Gourds, in part because members of the group have been concentrating more on their side projects.
Zilker Park, July 24, 7:30 p.m., kgsr.com
The theme of the 1956 John Ford movie The Searchers is timeless, and a staple of westerns from Lonesome Dove to Django Unchained: Bad guy takes good guy’s girl; good guy finds girl; good guy takes out bad guy.
In the film, which is set during the Texas-Indian wars, the good guy (though he isn’t really that nice) is John Wayne, playing a Civil War veteran who thinks he is too good for the Texas Rangers, and the bad guy (though only in terms of the attitudes of almost sixty years ago) is the “savage” Comanche.
Many herald the film as Wayne’s best performance—Buddy Holly’s song “That’ll Be the Day” was inspired by a classic Wayne line from the film—and in 2008 the American Film Institute ranked it the best American western of all time. The historic Texas Theatre, where Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended, will screen this classic in 35 millimeter, and Glenn Frankel, the director of the school of journalism at the University of Texas and the author of The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend, will be there for a Q&A with Chris Vognar, the movie critic of the Dallas Morning News.
The Texas Theater, July 21, 4:30 p.m., thetexastheatre.com
Cows probably outnumber people in and around Friona, a Panhandle town with a population of about 4,000. Some contend that there are more cattle on feed within a fifty-mile radius of Friona than anywhere else in the world.
That makes Friona a natural choice as the Cheeseburger Capital of Texas, and the Texas Legislature has so decreed. The town’s Texas Cheeseburger Festival, with accompanying motorcycle and car show, is a must for people who like to cruise with some Grade A in one hand and the steering wheel in the other.
Twenty teams of local and visiting cooks, each of whom is expected to grill enough to serve 200 people, will prepare the one-third-pound burgers. That may sound like a lot to us, but not to the cheeseburger-eating contestants.
Friona City Park, July 20, 11:30 a.m., frionachamber.com
Art From the Heart
The San Anto Murals are artworks of the people, by the people and for the people.
These 44 large-scale pieces, which light up San Antonio’s streets with vibrant colors and epic narratives, are reflective of the local community. They were conceived and executed with the direct involvement of schools and arts organizations in the area, coordinated by San Anto Cultural Arts, an inner-city development group that was formed almost twenty years ago.
Art and history buffs looking for exercise can join the San Anto Murals Bike Tour, regularly scheduled excursions that involve visiting about a half-dozen murals in an effort to learn more about the characters in the paintings, real-life San Antonioans who have made an impact on these very streets.
San Anto Cultural Arts, July 20, 9 a.m., sananto.org
My Dear Watson
Last month, the Austin musician Dale Watson appeared on Late Show With David Letterman, and while that was a great platform for raising awareness of his newly minted Ameripolitan genre, which emphasizes honky-tonk, hillbilly, rockabilly, outlaw, and western swing, the Saturday show at Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas, is the ideal place for Texans to see him play.
Gruene Hall, July 20, 9 p.m., dalewatson.com
Summer music festivals in Texas are often tests of physical endurance, with music fans forced to brave furnacelike temperatures, but audiences at the Viva Big Bend Festival can devote their stamina exclusively to jamming out to the more than fifty bands that will play Alpine, Fort Davis, Marfa, and Marathon, where the average highs this time of year are only in the upper eighties.
Various locations, July 25-28, vivabigbend.com