There are scores of great rock bands to lose your mind over during this weekend’s Levitation, the music festival formerly known as Austin Psych Fest. There are the Flaming Lips, who put on a stage spectacle that can’t help but elicit cosmic smiles. Consider the trio of veteran U.K. acts: the Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, and Spiritualized. And don’t forget Austin hometown heroes the Sword and the Black Angels, the latter an organizer of the event. But the group that has a lot of people extremely hyped is the 13th Floor Elevators, the Austin psych-rock pioneers, whose surviving members will reunite onstage for the first time since 1967. The Elevators released only three studio albums: The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966), featuring the hit “You’re Gonna Miss Me”; Easter Everywhere (1967), a cult classic not widely available until it was rereleased as a CD in 1993; and Bull of the Woods (1969), a work largely absent the band’s frontman, Roky Erickson, who had been busted for a joint and sent to an insane asylum. We know how Erickson’s story turned out, mostly thanks to the 2005 documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me: he struggled with mental illness on and off, released some horror-rock solo records, went MIA, and then came out of nowhere in 2010 with the Grammy-winning album True Love Cast Out All Evil. Joining Erickson will be drummer John Ike Walton, bassist Ronnie Leatherman, and electric jug player Tommy Hall. Hall has reportedly been taking psychedelics ever since and might be a little rusty on the Elevators’ hallmark jug—a miked clay whiskey jug that he blows into to create wicked sound effects. But by the time the Elevators play on Sunday the majority of the crowd will likely be on another planet and probably won’t notice anyway.
Carson Creek Ranch, May 8-10, austinpsychfest.com
R.I.P. Kent Finlay
George Strait, the little country singer from Poteet, has retired from performing, but don’t be surprised if he’s one of the unannounced guests who are sure to flood the stage at the Kent Finlay Memorial and Tribute Concert. Finlay, a songwriter, music aficionado, and proprietor of the San Marcos honky-tonk Cheatham Street Warehouse, gave Strait and his Ace in the Hole band their first-ever gig forty years ago this October. Later, he drove Strait to Nashville to record his first demos. Over the decades, Finlay, who beat cancer twice only to die of heart failure on March 2, was a friend, mentor, and host to the likes of Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. His reach was long and tender, and it’ll be reciprocated on Sunday when acts including Marcia Ball and James McMurtry, who cut their teeth at Cheatham Street Warehouse in the seventies and eighties, respectively, pay homage with songs that are bound to go on through the night. Start at the Evans Auditorium, on the campus of Texas State University, for a memorial service and then proceed to the free concert at Cheatham Street, a shack Finlay modeled in spirit after his friend Hondo Crouch’s Luckenbach. “It’s so unique when you’re in the middle of a song and a train comes roaring by,” Strait told Boot.com in the wake of Finlay’s passing. “Since Cheatham Street Warehouse sits right beside a railroad track, that’s what you get. You just start playing louder.”
Texas State University and Cheatham Street Warehouse, May 10, 6:30 p.m., cheathamstreet.com
Cheers to Mama Jean
Jamie Brickhouse is a mama’s boy and he nearly paid the ultimate price for it. In his debut book, Dangerous When Wet: A Memoir, the Beaumont native recounts how Mama Jean, described as “a Texan Elizabeth Taylor with the split personality of Auntie Mame and Mama Rose,” introduced him to the fast-lane at an early age. By the time he was a teenager, she had already whetted his appetite for adult beverages and indulged him with lavish trips to New York City. Mama set her boy on a path to attain this jet-setting lifestyle for himself as a grown-up. Brickhouse, who lived for her approval, made it in the Big Apple as a successful publicist in the publishing business. But eventually it all came crashing down: drug use, alcohol abuse, and HIV. A suicide attempt made his mom transform from enabler to, well, his mother, caring for him and ultimately inspiring him, through her own death, to get clean. Brickhouse will return to his hometown for a reading and signing of his book, which comes with high praise from the writers Mary Karr, Wally Lamb, and Paul Rudnick. His national touring schedule also includes subsequent Texas dates in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.
Art Museum of Southeast Texas, May 11, 5:30 p.m., jamiebrickhouse.com
USA Today’s acknowledgement of the Texas Crab Festival has set the stage for this weekend’s thirtieth annual affair to be bigger and better than ever. Last year, the national paper asked Anthony Anderson, star of the Food Network show Eating America with Anthony Anderson and TV comedy Black-ish, to weigh in for a listicle entitled “10 Best Food Festivals to Dive Into.” He cited the Crystal Beach festival for its amazing diversity, highlighting the crab pie and the butter and crab rice with crab meatballs wrapped in bacon. USA Today’s circulation is a couple million so chances are the festival has made it onto more itineraries than usual this year. There are no numbers readily available on how many crabs are employed to make the varied dishes, plus the entries in the Crab Gumbo Cookoff, but an expected attendance of around seven thousand people ought to help with any predictions. There will also be live music, activities like crab races and washers, and thirty years of memorabilia on display.
Gregory Park, May 8-10, texascrabfestival.org
The Johnson Treatment
It’s the final weekend to see All the Way, the 2014 Tony Award winner for best play about President Lyndon B. Johnson’s ascendance to the Oval Office and his quest to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It’s also the last weekend to take a selfie next to the life-size cutout of President Johnson in the theater lobby, a blown-up print of the famous 1965 photo of Johnson, all six feet four inches of him, leaning in toward Abe Fortas, the newly minted U.S. Supreme Court Justice, in an intimidating style dubbed “the Johnson treatment.”
Zach Theatre, May 8-10, zachtheatre.org
Top off the five-day thirty-eighth annual Tejano Conjunto Festival, featuring more than two dozen of Texas’s finest practitioners of the traditional Mexican music, with three of the best accordion players in the world, all of whom are from San Antonio: Eva Ybarra, “La Reina del Acordeón,” at 4:30 p.m.; Santiago Jiménez Jr., recipient of a 2000 NEA National Heritage Fellowship, at 5:45 p.m.; and Santiago’s brother, Flaco Jiménez, the 2015 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, at 10 p.m.
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and Rosedale Park, May 13-17, guadalupeculturalarts.org