RETURN OF THE DIXIE CHICKS
Fans of Natalie Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire had been waiting a decade for the Texas country trio to do a full tour again, and the shows ended up selling out everywhere. The Austin360 Amphitheater show on Aug. 7 was special because of the band’s close ties to Austin, and because Natalie’s father, Lloyd Maines, joined in on pedal steel. This was certainly the concert of the summer, with an opening set by the supercharged soul group Vintage Trouble as an added bonus. — P.B.Read more: Our interview with Lloyd Maines
BEST LIVE SHOWS
Aug. 25: Lyle Lovett & His Large Band at ACL Live. Lovett turns up in Austin enough for various events and special appearances that we can sometimes take him for granted. But this two-and-a-half-hour show with the seemingly ever-expanding Large Band, which he brought back to town three-days later for a tour-closing encore, reminded that there is probably no better bandleader in all of contemporary music. — P.B.
Aug. 27: RAS Day at Kenny Dorham’s Backyard. The most remarkable thing about the husband/wife hip-hop team Riders Against the Storm is the transformative effect they’ve had on their community since they relocated to Austin six years ago. In an offhand conversation about a year ago, they recalled how friends warned them about the dwindling population of black folks in Austin when they were considering their move. “Oh, I’ll find the black people,” Qi Dada said.
When they arrived in town they entrenched themselves in Austin’s black arts and hip-hop scenes and, with their magnanimous energy and ceaseless drive, helped them grow. RAS Day is the glorious fruit of that labor.
The act of throwing a successful outdoor music event in the deadly heat of Austin summer, is impressive in and off itself. The fact that it also showcased a veritable who’s who of Austin’s top hip-hop and soul talents, and every single one of them showed up and threw down, is magnificent. But the greatest achievement is the way this crew has embodied their larger mission. They’ve built a family-friendly, multi-cultural wellness festival very intentionally designed to bring love, light and healing to artists, activists and the community at large. And that’s a beautiful thing. — D.S.S.
Also: Culture Club at Statesman Skyline Theater, Aug. 2; Case Lang Veirs at Long Center, Aug. 3; Chris Stapleton and Hank Williams Jr. at Austin360 Amphitheater, Aug. 13; Gwen Stefani at Austin360 Amphitheater, Aug. 16; Cherubs at Beerland, Aug. 20; Ace Frehley at Batfest, Aug. 20.
BEST NEW ALBUMS
“Shia” Holiday Mountain. On the new album, front woman Laura Patiño abandons the odd vocal acrobatics that largely defined the group’s earlier sound. The flourishes were impressive, but jarring, and the more straight ahead melodic approach makes their music music about 3000 times more relatable. The group still experiments wildly, but it no longer feels deliberately weird. With the shift, they’re suddenly producing irresistible club bangers with massive festival rocking potential. — D.S.S.
Mood Illusion, “Strangers in the Night and Other Favorites.” Pedal steel guitarist Bob Hoffnar takes the instrument way beyond the traditional bounds of country music in his Wednesday residency at Stay Gold, and this fascinating instrumental album documents some of those adventures. — P.B.
BEST NEW SONGS
WARNING: Contains explicit language
“M.G.M. Calm Down Verses” Crew 54. Sure, this a stretch. It’s not any sort of official single. The crew developed the song, rhyming over the beat from Busta Rhymes “Calm Down,” as a new intro for their performances. The Wyld Gents shot this video in their garage, to build hype for a show this month and for their upcoming Slaprapz project. “It came out super fun as hell,” Eric Morgan, a.k.a. Master of Self, said. It’s true. You can’t call yourself an ATX hip-hop fan if it doesn’t get your hands up high. — D.S.S.
Jack Ingram, “Old Motel.” Long overdue for a new record, Ingram delivered with “Midnight Motel,” which finds him digging back into his Texas troubadour roots. We like this special acoustic take of the album’s leadoff track, written by Blu Sanders. — P.B.Read more: Our interview with Jack Ingram
MORE AUGUST HIGHLIGHTS
Check out our feature and video from August Austin360 Artist of the Month Monte Warden & the Dangerous Few. And see what six venues we visited for “One Night in August,” our monthly feature and video spotlighting what live music in Austin is like on any given night.