Written by Texas Highways
In these modern times, the words “music festival” make me think of Jumbotrons and multiple stages, $225 wristbands and the Foo Fighters. There’s none of that at the Tejano Conjunto Festival, a celebration of Tex-Mex accordion music that started in San Antonio in 1982 and maintains an old school feel as it enters its 35th year this May.
Since 1966, premiere jazz players from across the nation have made an annual pilgrimage to Odessa for the West Texas Jazz Party—a series of performances focused on traditional jazz and swing music. May 20–22, the West Texas Jazz Society hosts the 50th edition of the party at the MCM Eleganté Hotel. The event includes four-hour performances on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon—broken into ensemble sets—as well as a Thursday swing dance and a Saturday brunch show. Twenty-three musicians are scheduled to attend, among them pianist Johnny Varro from Florida, and from New York, cornetist Ed Polcer and clarinetist Ken Peplowski.
Wildflower Days are upon us! Along with springtime’s burst of blooms across the state, the season heralds the annual Wildflower Days celebration at the University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (through May 31). Texas Highways is proud to participate with a fetching exhibit of wildflower photography. This year’s show, Wild Thing, runs April 30–May 30 at the center’s McDermott Learning Center and features images from Texas Highways’ April wildflower issue and expert shutterbug contributors Theresa DiMenno, Rob Greebon, and Joe Lowery.
Here in Wimberley, a town of less than 3,000 in the heart of the Hill Country, visitors and residents alike describe the scene as “bootiful.”
From a perch beyond the left-field fence, the mid-summer scene unfolds like a real-life Field of Dreams. An afternoon thunderstorm gives way to puffy clouds. Scores of youngsters stream onto the outfield turf with their mitts and new souvenir baseballs for a session of pitch-and-catch with their parents.
Many of you may find the thought of school in the summer somewhat, well, less than exciting. We get that. But our idea of summer school means learning how to have more fun. The kind of school where you pick up a skill—say cooking, sewing, or glassblowing—that lets you entertain or test your creativity. Classtime spent near the water, learning fun things—perhaps fly-fishing, sailing, kayaking, or sandcastle-building. Places to find a new activity you can enjoy over and over again, such as horseback riding or birding. Or, ones that offer the opportunity to explore and learn more about our natural world, the better to appreciate its amazingness and importance.
Glamping: A combination of “glamorous” and “camping” that blends great outdoor adventures with the comforts of home or a hotel. It’s the perfect merger of ideas for people who want to connect with nature without disconnecting from comfort.
Incorporated as Houston’s first African American graveyard in 1875, Olivewood Cemetery is the final resting place of roughly 4,000 Houstonians who helped build the city, from slaves to ministers, teachers, and dentists. Houston’s National Museum of Funeral History showcases the cemetery in Honoring Olivewood, a collection of contemporary photographs taken by Kasey French, now a college student. Sales of a book compiling the photographs benefit the nonprofit Descendants of Olivewood, a group formed in 2003 to restore the cemetery after it was abandoned and choked with vegetation over the previous three decades. Honoring Olivewood runs until May 29. 2016.
Postcards are gloriously enticing—intended to generate fond memories with beauty, grandeur, and humor. The Texas State Library and Archives in Austin explores the topic in Wish You Were Here: Postcards from the Texas State Archives. Open April 4-September 16, 2016, the exhibit features about 55 postcards (40 on display at a time) from 20th-Century Texas. The cards bear historical drawings and photos of attractions like the Hotel Galvez and Galveston Seawall and the Beaumont oilfields at night, as well as accompanying photos and documents, including a 1927 menu from the still-popular Camino Real Hotel in El Paso.
Western Swing musicians and fans will flock to Turkey on the last weekend of April for the 45th annual Bob Wills Day. The tribute to the “Father of Western Swing,” who honed his chops in the area, features dances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights (April 28-30, 2016) and afternoon shows at the Bob Wills Museum. On Saturday, the event culminates with a parade, barbecue cook-off, fiddlers contest, and free outdoor concert. The acts on stage—among them Asleep at the Wheel, Billy Mata, Jason Roberts, and Jody Nix—all specialize in Wills’ innovative blend of jazz, blues, and hillbilly music.
Race announcers may belabor the phrase “hold onto your hats,” but the exhortation rings true at the 1836 Chuck Wagon Race at the Diamond B Ranch near Palestine. The races (April 22-24, 2016) pit chuck-wagon teams pulled by horses and mules, hurtling perilously through an open-field course, kicking up dirt and careening around barrels. The event, which runs April 15-25, 2016, commemorates Texas Independence and also includes camping, live music, trail rides, mounted shooting, horse clinics, horse auctions, and other events.
In the remote reaches of West Texas lies one of the most pristine rivers in the Southwest United States. Surrounded by cacti and rocks, the Devils River snakes through the Chihuahuan Desert like a ribbon of turquoise blue, eventually flowing into Lake Amistad. And for experienced paddlers looking for an off-the-grid adventure, this trip is absolutely heavenly.