Willie and Merle
As far as Willie Nelson’s musical collaborations go, his duet with Jimmy Kimmel last Friday during SXSW—a comical ode to Austin set to Nelson’s hit ballad with Julio Iglesias, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”—was about as good as it gets. But in an interview prior to the performance, Nelson talked about a more serious and enduring collaborator: Merle Haggard. He and Haggard, who teamed up for the classic 1983 album Pancho & Lefty, will release an album later this spring called Django & Jimmie. The title is a reference to Django Reinhardt, whose tone Nelson likes to conjure on Trigger, and Jimmie Rodgers, for whom Haggard recorded the Same Train, a Different Time tribute album in 1969. Preview some of Nelson and Haggard’s new songs this weekend during the last two nights of their sold-out three-night run at Whitewater Amphitheater—the only Texas shows on the tour. You’ll likely have to pay top dollar on Craigslist for tickets, but think about this: you’ll be among the first to hear “It’s All Gone to Pot,” the first single, set for release on April 20 (or 4/20). A sampling of the lyrics: “It’s all going to pot / Whether we like it or not / As far as I can tell / The world’s gone to hell / And we’re sure gonna miss it a lot.”
Whitewater Amphitheater, March 27 and 28, 7 p.m., whitewaterrocks.com
A Suitcase Full of Money
It’s 1938 in Austin and Ivy Wire has fallen into the underworld, a cavelike arena with fiery lakes and tormented souls. While she’s down there, Ivy reunites with her father, whose murder six months earlier had been precipitated by gambling debts. He had a wicker suitcase full of money to settle his score, but The Big Boss, the head honcho in the underworld, has confiscated it. Ivy is on a quest to get the suitcase back, or else. This is not reality but instead the premise of Ivy and the Wicker Suitcase, a book-record combo—or an “illustrated earmovie musical”—that has been adapted for the stage and concludes its tour on Saturday afternoon with a hometown show. Brian Beattie, a music producer and member of the cult Austin band Glass Eye, and his wife, Valerie Fowler, an illustrator, conceived of the project, initially casting musicians with ties to the capital city, including Glass Eye bandmate Kathy McCarty, country crooner James Hand, folk-rock singer-songwriter Bill Callahan, and Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff, with indie-rock icon Daniel Johnston playing the role of The Big Boss. Though these folks haven’t participated in recent shows, surprise special guests are being teased for this weekend. Even so, it’s hard to imagine their presence would command a bigger wow from the audience than Fowler’s immaculately detailed drawings, packaged in thirty-foot-long scrolls that she unspools using a hand-crank during the show to complement the musical narrative.
Strange Brew Lounge Side, March 28, 4:30 p.m., ivyandthewickersuitcase.com
New York, Oregon, and Texas have made a name for themselves as burgeoning wine regions, but California is still the mecca in the United States. The nonprofit In Pursuit of Balance hosts programs to educate armchair sommeliers about two of the Golden State’s most popular varietals, pinot noir and chardonnay. On Monday the group will host its first ever event outside of San Francisco and New York. The daylong affair will culminate in a tasting, featuring selections from more than thirty California wineries and food from nine fancy Texas restaurants. Two seminars will precede the drinking: “California’s Next Move,” about the state’s shift away from robust cabernet sauvignons, and “To Stem or Not to Stem?,” about whole-cluster fermentation, the practice of leaving the grapes on the stems. Attendees will not only learn more about which wines to drink but also how to speak intelligently about them.
The Parador, March 30, 10 a.m., inpursuitofbalance.com
Storytellers, like oil prospectors, are risk-takers who always insist that their speculation will amount to something big. That makes the Wildcatter Exchange, an annual gathering of written-word enthusiasts, a very apropos name. Last year’s inaugural get-together led to Fort Worth Weekly bestowing the Wildcatter Exchange with its Critic’s Choice award for Best Art Collective 2014. That sets the stage for this year’s event—dubbed “Three Days of Rhythm & Rhymes Truth & Lies”—to strike black gold. Among other literary superstars, catch Dallas breakout novelist Merritt Tierce on her debut, Love Me Back; the East Texas sci-fi and mystery author Joe Lansdale on converting his stories to the screen; and Jacqueline Hogan Towery, niece to the golfer Ben Hogan, on her book The Brothers Hogan.
Various locations, March 27–29, wildcatterexchange.org
Honk If You Honk
New Orleans is so close yet so far from Central Texas, so if you’re in need of a quick second line fix, there is the fifth annual Honk TX!, a three-day brass attack featuring 26 community street bands—both local and far-flung—playing a range of styles, with names like Yes Ma’am! Brass Band, LoveBomb Go-Go Marching Band, and Environmental Encroachment.
Various locations, March 27–29, honktx.org
As Texas moves farther from the frontier and becomes more and more contemporary, pieces of the Old West have grown increasingly rare. But the feel of that famed period will be in abundance at the fourteenth annual Night of Artists Art Sale and Exhibition, hosted by the Briscoe Western Art Museum—named for the rancher and former Texas governor Dolph Briscoe—with more than sixty painters and sculptors pushing timeless scenes such as horse-bound, gun-slinging cowboys in medias res.
The Briscoe Western Art Museum, March 27 to April 6, briscoemuseum.org