In Willie’s Words
On Friday Willie Nelson will host his forty-first annual Fourth of July Picnic, but for the first time in eighteen years, he will have a batch of new original songs. Nelson, 81, released his sixty-ninth studio album, Band of Brothers, on June 17. On the title track, Nelson sings, “We’re a band of brothers and sisters and whatever / On a mission to break all the rules.” It could be the theme song for Willie’s picnic, which is not about Nelson as much as it is about the other acts on the bill and the camaraderie they have forged in staying true to their brand of country music. This brotherhood includes collaborators of Nelson’s who go back to the sixties, like Johnny Bush, the singer, drummer, and former bandmate who wrote the hit song “Whiskey River,” and Charley Pride, an African-American crooner whom Nelson once kissed onstage in a display of racial integration. This being a family affair, Nelson’s sons, Lukas and Micah, and daughter, Paula, will help round out the lineup.
Billy Bob’s, July 4, 11 a.m., williespicnic.com
A hallmark of a good mystery writer is having a recurring protagonist whom readers just cannot get enough of. For Jeff Abbott, the New York Times best-selling novelist from Austin, that character is Sam Capra, a C.I.A. agent who is implicated by his employer in a terrorist bombing and has to go on the run in pursuit of his pregnant wife, who has mysteriously disappeared. Over the course of three novels and one short story, Capra, a C.I.A. outcast, has broadened his mission and assumed a new life as a secret super-sleuth under the guise of an international bar owner. On Tuesday at BookPeople, Abbott will present his character’s latest adventure, Inside Man. In this book, Capra’s friend is killed outside one of his bars, compelling Capra to solve the murder by infiltrating a rich and powerful family lorded over by a volatile father who may prove too much for him.
BookPeople, July 8, 7 p.m., jeffabbott.com
Texans have many choices when it comes to celebrating the birth of the nation on July 4: there seems to be a fireworks show in every city, town, and municipality. But why stop at just one evening of exalting freedom when the July Fourth Weekend in Fredericksburg offers three days of commemoration? This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, visitors to Fredericksburg—the Hill Country locale recently highlighted by Southern Living magazine as a “Small Town We Love” and included in the Huffington Post’s list of “6 Small Towns to Visit This Summer”—can participate in a variety of events. They can sample bowls of red at the chili cook-off at Becker Vineyards, fly high at the kite festival at Pedernales Cellars, and win big at pari-mutuel horse racing at the Gillespie County Fairgrounds. Of course, they can also see fireworks gloriously exploding in the sky at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park.
Various locations, July 4-6, visitfredericksburgtx.com/july4
Dancing in the Streets
At Bluegrass on Ballard, a street dance and picking party in Wylie’s historic downtown, revelers can hear the music of the Beatles like they have probably never heard it before: with a banjo, fiddle, upright bass, and acoustic guitar. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band takes songs by the Fab Four, like “Here Comes the Sun,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “When I’m Sixty-Four,” and gives them a down-home vibe. Among the five other bands that will perform on Ballard Avenue—as a complement to a chili cook-off and a car show—is Texas & Tennessee, featuring Brad Davis, the Grammy-winning guitarist who has played with Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and David Lee Roth.
Downtown, July 5, 10 a.m., wylietexas.gov
Some people would go to great lengths to witness a conversation between the eccentric Texas musicians Roky Erickson and Daniel Johnston, even travel all the way to remote West Texas for the last day of the Marfa Film Festival for the world premiere of Great Moments in Rock & Roll History (That Never Happened). This four-minute animated short, created by José Luis Gonzalez, the Austin filmmaker, portrays imaginary dialogues between three sets of rock luminaries.
Various locations, July 6, marfafilmfestival.com
Beethoven for Free
The young and promising will take a bow to the old and masterful at the Basically Beethoven Festival, four Sundays of free chamber-music concerts starting with a performance by Juanito Riveros, a harpist who was a recipient of the Texas Commission on the Arts’ 2014 Texas Young Master Award.
Dallas City Performance Hall, July 6, 13, 20, and 27, fineartschamberplayers.org