April in Austin: Magic happens as the weather turns warm – the fields and venues are blooming with music
April is the coolest month for fans of all kinds of music, starting with John Mellencamp and Janet Jackson this past weekend at ACL Live. Tonight's performance by Jeff Beck, one of the greatest electric guitarists of all time, and Imelda May, the Irish spitfire with a great shoe collection, keeps up the pace.
The month ends with birthday celebrations for both Willie Nelson, who turns 78 at the Backyard, and a certain fictional donkey whose keg at Pease Park is eternally half-empty.
Where March used Austin for all it was worth, April spreads out the craziness with festivals quite different from each other. The Urban Music Fest is back Saturday , Texas Relays weekend, with "Uncle" Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band headlining. Then there are three fests overlapping (in dates, not musical styles), the next weekend: Old Settlers at the Salt Lick Pavilion from April 14-17, the Austin Reggae Festival at Auditorium Shores from April 15-17 and the Lone Star Jam at Waterloo Park on April 16.
Old Settlers has its best lineup yet in year 24, with such varied acts as the Avett Brothers, Richard Thompson's Electric Trio, Gaelic Storm and Foster and Lloyd among those playing the three stages of continuous music in a gorgeous Hill Country setting.
Headlined by Denton's Eli Young Band, who just might open with the National Anthem to prove they know the words, the country hunk-laden Lone Star Jam could be the last fest at Waterloo Park for years, depending on when the Waller Creek Tunnel Project construction starts. Kevin Fowler, Casey Donahew Band and others play the all-day affair.
This month ends and next one begins with the Black Angels-curated Austin Psych Fest from April 29-May 1 at the Seaholm Power Plant. You might have heard about the venue big enough for Kanye West's ego, but not enough for all his Austin fans to get to see him and Jay-Z during South by Southwest. This celebration of screeching feedback and garage-rock pounding could only be headlined by Roky Erickson, who kind of invented psychedelic rock with the 13th Floor Elevators.
Another highlight of this month of the wildflowers is the April 26 sold-out show by Mumford & Sons and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes at a venue at Fourth and Waller streets that has yet to be built. President Obama's boys in Austin, C3 Presents, will get it done by the time the modern minstrels arrive on vintage trains. Mumford will also tape an episode of "Austin City Limits" while in town. Unless your last name's Lickona...
Don't think the Erwin Center's just going to sit there empty and drum-shaped, like the hat Perez Hilton wore at SXSW. Oh, no, Frank's namesake has got Lady Gaga, the grandest new star on the galaxy, on Wednesday, followed by Tim McGraw on Saturday (leave your ticket stubs for "Country Strong" at home — he won't be giving refunds) and the Kings of Leon on the 12th.
Wow! That's got to be it. There can't be room for any more music in the month of which T.S. Warhol once predicted everyone will be cruel for 15 minutes. Spoiled Austin music fans can't expect more, can they?
They can if they're a fan of Crosby & Nash (12th at Bass Concert Hall), Interpol (21st at Austin Music Hall) or James Taylor (23rd at Bass Concert Hall) or Tony Bennett (27th at ACL Live) or the Decemberists (30th at Stubb's). Who isn't a fan of Anthony Benedetto, the Johnny Cash of saloon singers?
If you're not down with that whole exchanging green paper for a hand stamp thing, the Toadies are playing a free show in the parking lot of Waterloo Records in celebration of Record Store Day on the 16th.
And, as always, there are all those cool musical things that don't have a high profile, but are deliciously fun anyway. Check with austin360.com for daily recommendations.
We dig the wild hare of March in Austin, but the steady tortoise pace of April will get you there sooner at the end.
April is a big month for fun in general, before the temperature starts going past 90 regularly. Other stuff happening this month:
Yoga in the Park: Free, every Wednesday in April. austin-parks.org
April 10: Round Rock Express Ride benefiting Please be Kind to Cyclists. bekindtocyclists.com .
April 14: Sarah Jaffe opens the 18th season of KGSR's Unplugged at the Grove series at Shady Grove. kgsr.com/unplugged .
April 15 to May 9:Texas Biennial art celebration. texasbiennial.org
April 16: Zooma Half Marathon. zoomarun.com
April 17: Rookie Triathlon. therookietri.com
April 20 to May 1: Fusebox Festival. Contemporary art and performance extravaganza. Full schedule: fuseboxfestival.com .
April 22-24: Easter Hill Country Tour (sponsored by Austin Cycling Association)
April 23: Lake Travis Triathlon. rbsportsllc.com.
April 27 to May 1: Art Week Austin. artallianceaustin.org .
April 28: Austin Symphony Centennial Gala with special guest Itzhak Perlman. austinsymphony.org
April 28:Texas Roundup and 5K (a big health fair). texasroundup.org
April 30: Eeyore's Birthday Party. It's the 48th year of celebrating and raising money for the Friends of the Forest Foundation (and other local nonprofits). eeyores.com .
April 30 and May 1: Buda Country Fair and Weiner Dog Races. Tiny dogs. Running. budalionsclub.com .
April 30: Dragon Boat Festival. A day of races and tons of other activities, all at Lady Bird Lake. asian-americancc.com .
Find more things to do Thursdays in Austin360 and online @austin360.com.