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Summer sounds: Plan a season of shows

Staff Writer
Austin 360

We eat, sleep and breathe live music year-round in Austin, whether the weather outside is frightful or delightful.

And although the dog days of summer might not look much different - there's always a lot of can't-miss shows, both touring and local - it is the quintessential time for getting out and about. School is out, temperatures at Austin's bevy of outdoor venues are generally tolerable in the evenings and the season's laid-back vibe is perfectly conducive to concert-going.

Fortunately, those venturing into the night in Summer 2010 will have plenty of options for live music, no matter what style or genre suits them . To help you plan your musical summer, we've singled out five of the very best shows in seven different spheres of music, five of the best albums dropping this summer, some of your festival options and some of the options you won't have to pay a dime for . Take a look and get ready to update your Google calendar.

But first, a quick disclaimer: As always, concerts are subject to cancellation or change - especially the further out they are. Album releases, too, are vulnerable to scheduling changes. And this preview is by no means comprehensive; as the summer carries on, even more anticipated shows will creep onto the schedule. But now is a good time to start filling out your dance card - and formulating your summer ticket budget (prices listed where available).

So get cracking.

- Patrick Caldwell

Country

Now that Carrie Underwood has breezed in and out of town, there's not too much in the way of Nashville superstars coming to the area this summer, aside from Brad Paisley at Aquapalooza (as if he ever wants to see that much water after the liquid devastation in Nashville). But there's a wealth of local talent playing the honky-tonks, dance halls and open air venues.

Gary P. Nunn, Sunday, Maifest at Anhalt Hall. Nunn's new album 'Taking Texas to the Country' is his best in years, thanks to a core of young writers in his publishing stable. But a bigger draw is Maifest at Anhalt, a 102-year-old dance hall with the best floor for boot-scootin' in Texas. Come early for a polka band and an $8 all-you-can-eat German feast. Anhalt is 28 miles west of New Braunfels. $5-$10 (children under 12 free before 5 p.m.). ; www.anhalthall.com .

Miranda Lambert, June 5, Whitewater Amphiteater in New Braunfels. That rare mainstream country singer rock critics love, the 26-year-old from Lindale brings her 'Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars' tour to this cool 'shed' by the Guadalupe River. Lambert comes to town as the Academy of Country Music's reigning Female Vocalist of the Year. $15.70. Whitewater Amphitheater is on FM 306 about 15 miles west of Interstate 35. Take the Canyon Lake exit.

Brad Paisley, July 10, the Reserve on Lake Travis. With a new single called 'Water' and his 'H2O Tour' being one the biggest of the summer, it's appropriate that Paisley, who has boatloads of talent, headlines the Aquapalooza signature event on Lake Travis. Festivities go from noon to 7 p.m. and the show is free. One big catch, though, is that you have to be on a boat, as there's no access to the concert by land. www.aquapalooza.com .

Hayes Carll, July 15, Shady Grove. Have the 'Unplugged at the Grove' shows become too popular, too crowded? 'Free' will do that to you. Diehards may prefer to wait and see the delightfully twisted songster Carll at Gruene Hall on July 23, but the Grove is there for those who don't want to drive and pay cover.

Asleep at the Wheel 40th anniversary show, Sept. 17, Long Center for the Performing Arts. Four decades is a long time to keep a Western swing band together, so kudos to the determination of Ray Benson. When you think of all the great musicians who've passed through the Wheel, including Bob Dylan's bassist Tony Garnier, it's more like an educational institution than a band. A great homecoming for many.

- Michael Corcoran

Hip-hop

In Austin, it's kind of a feast or famine thing: weeks without a true headliner visiting, then three or four show up at once. With the summer still taking shape, here's the best of the earliest months.

Cypress Hill, today, Stubb's. More than two decades and incalculable metric tons of cannabis into their career, B Real and Sen Dog are back on tour for the new 'Rise Up,' but most folks are just coming for the hits (from the … oh, never mind). $25. stubbsaustin.com .

Kid Sister, June 4, Mohawk. A young hip-hop star who's far better live than on record - how often does that happen? The Chicago dynamo will definitely need a Gatorade or five by the time this sweltering show's done. mohawkaustin.com

Nas and Damian Marley, June 9, Stubb's. Kind of a push/pull thing going on with one of rap's best ever and the son of reggae's best ever. Whatever the result of their upcoming 'Distant Relatives' album, the live show should be incendiary. $35. stubbsaustin.com .

MC Chris (with MC Lars and Math the Band), June 16, Emo's. This Brooklyn nerdcore overlord appears on Austin show lists more than many locals, which is a testament to the devotion his high-pitched, cartoonish delivery inspires in fans. $12. emosaustin.com .

Rah Digga, DJ E-Swift, Nottz, more, June 25, Aces Lounge. One of two parties for the Spill.com Film Fest at Alamo Drafthouse (featuring a deep list of backpacker greats), this opening night could steal the weekend at a budding hub of Austin hip-hop.

- Chad Swiatecki

Punk and Metal

Punk rock and heavy metal are as much a part of Austin as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Nelson. Four shows and a festival guaranteed to have you bouncing off the walls:

Converge, Coalesce, May 21, Emo's. When they were making their marks in the 1990s, nobody thought either of these bands would still be around in 2010, let alone making some of their most powerful music. It's astonishing how much the punk and metal underground stole from these two bands - here are the originals. $12. emosaustin.com .

Chaos in Tejas. May 27 to 31, Emo's. Beerland, Mohawk, Red 7. Every year, it's the highlight of Austin's hardcore punk calendar. 2010 features sets from a reunited Rorschach, Subhumans, Poison Idea, Marked Me, the Riverboat Gamblers and dozens more. webang.blogspot.com .

Melvins, June 5, Emo's. Like Parliament-Funkadelic with Washington, D.C., the Melvins have always enjoyed a special relationship with Austin - we understand and appreciate these weirdos like few others do . Expect a packed house for their thunderous, low-end roar. $15-$17. emosaustin.com .

Cro-Mags, June 5, Red 7. The Melvins have some competition down the street from one of the seminal American hardcore bands. Joining them is Municipal Waste, who revive the very metal-and-hardcore thrash sound the headliners practically created.

Lightning Bolt, July 10, Mohawk. This pair all but invented the duo-that-sounds-like-a-whole-punk-band format, and they are still the masters, blending hardcore, noise rock and metal licks into a frantic, sweaty brew. $8. mohawkaustin.com .

- Joe Gross

Roots rock

Americana, alt-country, roots rock - whatever you want to call it, a lot of people in Austin love this broad genre, which incorporates rock, country, bluegrass and just about everything else.

The Band of Heathens, May 21, Antone's. The hardest-working Americana supergroup in Austin, they keep getting better and better . $13-$15. antones.net .

Mason Jennings, May 22, Antone's. The Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter has developed a loyal fanbase over the years for a sound that pulls from pop, folk and rock. $22. antones.net .

Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic, July 4 at the Backyard. Who needs fireworks when you can watch Willie light up the night with Asleep at the Wheel, Billy Joe Shaver, David Allan Coe and a host of others? $55. thebackyard.net .

Robert Plant and Band of Joy, July 26, Stubb's. A follow-up of sorts to his much-praised collaboration with Allison Krauss, Plant brings Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller along this time in what should be a very special show. Technically sold out.

Sheryl Crow, Aug. 28, the Backyard. What better way to spend a steamy summer night than with this veteran singer-songwriter, who will release a new album, '100 Miles From Memphis,' on July 20. $50. thebackyard.net .

- Peter Mongillo

Classical

Classical music percolates along in the summer, chiefly in the form of festivals that offer buffet-style concert-going. And also popping in for an appearance this summer, famed tenor Jose Carreras, in a celebratory solo recital.

Bach's Mass in B Minor, June 13, Long Center. Five-time Grammy-nominated choir performs one of the supreme masterpieces of the classical repertoire. 7 p.m. $20-$50. www.conspirare.org

José Carreras, June 19, Bass Concert Hall. He might be popularly known as one of the 'Three Tenors,' but the Spanish master is one of the most adored opera singers around. 8 p.m. Bass Concert Hall, UT campus. $39-$99. www.texasperformingarts.org .

'Austin Goes Classical,' June 22-27 . Pepe Romero, the LA Guitar Quartet and flamenco sensation Grisha are just some of the star attractions when the Guitar Foundation of American descends on Austin for its international convention and competition. Multiple events, all at the Long Center. www.austingoesclassical.org .

Piano Duel: Graham Reynolds and Peter Stopschinski, July 11, Pete's Dueling Piano Bar. Austin's two favorite alt-classical composers battle it out on the ivories. 8 p.m.

Austin Chamber Music Festival, July 9-July 31, multiple venues. This year's festival features, among others, tango maestro Raul Jaurena, the famed Cavani String Quartet and Michael Nyman's chamber opera based on Oliver Sack's book 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat.' $25 per concert. www.austinchambermusic.org .

- Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Indie

Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously defined obscenity as 'I know it when I see it,' but he might as well have been talking about the term 'indie,' which has by now grown so broad it's all but lost any meaning. It remains useful as a descriptive catch-all for what the cool kids are into . The five bands here don't have a lot in common - aside from, yes, all being on independent record labels - but each is instantly endearing in its own way.

Voxtrot, June 3, Emo's. Austin's Voxtrot attracted an avalanche of blog buzz on the strength of three EPs of swelling, string-heavy, literate pop. That hype stalled after the release of their unfairly maligned debut full-length in 2007. They're calling it quits after this tour . $12.

Thao and Mirah with The Most Of All, June 11, the Mohawk. This unbeatable set pairs two of San Francisco's best musicians - Cat Power-if-only-she-rocked-harder Thao Nguyen and folk-inflected singer-songwriter Mirah - for a loose, collaborative show . $10-$12.

Health, June 26, Red 7. Health's brand of synthesized noise rock can come off as rough, abrasive and downright inaccessible on record - like a Magic Eye puzzle, it takes a little concentration and a little imagination to see the order in the chaos. But live, they're a force to be reckoned with.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, July 6, La Zona Rosa. Girl problems and drug problems inspired Alex Ebert - front man for the brilliantly named dance-punk band Ima Robot - to form this winning, high-concept ensemble band. Ebert adopts the persona of Edward Sharpe, an easily distracted messiah figure, for a band that blends country, psychedelia and powerpop. $16.

The New Pornographers, July 23, Stubb's. The Canadian pop supergroup is riding high on the release of fifth album 'Together,' a heady blend of soaring vocals, thunderous percussion, insistent strings and songwriting that's almost chemically habit-forming. Live, they're every bit as gleeful and fetching as on record. $25.

- Patrick Caldwell

Blasts from the past

Most of these old-school bands have the kind of live chops that develop only from decades on the road - rather than the questionable talents of a band that blew up after Pitchfork gave them a 9.0. Sorry, kids, but Passion Pit is awful live - you're better off with the Melvins.

The B-52s, May 15, La Zona Rosa. With the bouffant hairdos of Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson, the surf-style guitar of the late Ricky Wilson and later Keith Strickland, and Fred Schneider's studied cool, the B-52s have always had something of a purposefully old-school appeal. Last years's Austin City Limits Music Festival proved the new wave rock favorites can still delight a crowd. $35.

The Go-Go's, July 27, Paramount Theatre. As the first all-woman band to top the Billboard album charts that wrote their own songs and played their own instruments, infectious pop-rock icons the Go-Go's have been doing it their way off and on since 1978. That long, respectable run comes to an end - supposedly; we've heard this before - with this last show at the Paramount Theatre, in the hometown of bassist Kathy Valentine. $35-$90.

The Buzzcocks, June 10, the Mohawk. It might be easier to enumerate what corners of rock music this classic English rock quartet didn't impact - they were among the first bands to fuse pop and punk, were pioneers in the independent record label movement and stood at the epicenter of the late '70s English punk scene that also birthed the Sex Pistols and the Clash. The lineup might have shifted across this band's extensive reunions, but the important thing is that front man Pete Shelley and guitarist Steve Diggle are in tow. $20-$22.

Concrete Blonde, June 29, Emo's. Shout! Factory is doing the world a service with a 20th anniversary re-release of 'Bloodletting,' the seminal album from '80s and '90s alt-rock standbys Concrete Blonde. Partly that's because 'Bloodletting' is a fine album, but it's also giving the departed group an excuse to tour again - and singer Johnette Napolitano to let loose her wail. $25-$27.

Cyndi Lauper, Aug. 10, the Paramount. There's a barely a corner of popular music that Lauper hasn't explored across her lengthy career - especially now that she's recorded a blues record, 'Memphis Blues,' which comes out June 22 and will presumably form the basis for this show. Let's hope it turns out better than Aerosmith's ill-advised foray into the blues. $35-$65.

- Patrick Caldwell

Summer albums

The advent of online piracy, file sharing and iTunes means that the fervent, 'see it first' culture that surrounds big movie releases doesn't really exist for big album releases anymore. Which is a shame, really, because summer remains a season for blockbuster records. Each of these five albums would be more than worth hitting a midnight sale to be the first with a copy.

LCD Soundsystem, 'This Is Happening.' James Murphy has stayed busy since releasing 2007's instant-classic 'Sound of Silver,' composing the soundtrack for film 'Greenberg' and helming label DFA Records. But anticipation has been high for the band's third album, which, if lead single 'Drunk Girls' is any indication, looks fit to keep Murphy's signature mix of dance style and a sense of humor intact. Tuesday, DFA.

The Roots, 'How I Got Over.' The Roots' ninth studio album was recorded just as the band was gaining visibility as the house band for 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.' 'How I Got Over' looks to continue the genre-spanning, eclectic musical tastes of Fallon's show with guest spots from John Legend and Jim James and even, oddly, a Joanna Newsom sample. June 8, Def Jam.

The Gaslight Anthem, 'American Slang.' This blue-collar rock band managed to out-Springsteen Springsteen with the head-banging, critically praised 'The '59 Sound,' one of 2008's best. Expectations are high for 'American Slang,' which veers from the last album's … well, '59 sound for something slightly more contemporary. June 14, SideOneDummy.

Eminem, 'Recovery.' The critical reception to Eminem's big comeback album, 2009's 'Relapse,' was lukewarm, to put it mildly.

Because it was bad. But early tracks off 'Recovery' feature a tighter, smarter flow. Will 'Recover' be the Eminem comeback we all hoped for? June 22, Interscope Records.

Alejandro Escovedo, 'Street Songs of Love.' 2008's 'Real Animal' was a classic rock-evoking delight, and with producer Tony Visconti returning for this album, 'Street Songs of Love' continues Escovedo's winning streak. June 29, Concord Records.

- Patrick Caldwell

Also recommended:

Tuesday: Band of Horses, 'Infinite Arms'; Black Keys, 'Brothers'; Sarah Jaffe, 'Suburban Nature' (local); Jamie Lidell, 'Compass'; Nas and Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley, 'Distant Relatives'

May 25. Crystal Castles, 'Crystal Castles'; the Glitch Mob, 'Drink the Sea'; Smashing Pumpkins, 'Teargarden by Kaleidyscope'; Stone Temple Pilots, 'Stone Temple Pilots'; Widespread Panic, 'Dirty Side Down'

June 1: Clay Aiken, 'Tried and True'; the Futureheads, 'The Chaos'; Jack Johnson, 'To The Sea'; the Melvins, 'The Bride Screamed Murder'; Tift Merritt, 'See You on the Moon'

June 8: Against Me!, 'White Crosses'; Christina Aguilera, 'Bionic'; Dierks Bentley, 'Up On The Ridge'; Here We Go Magic, 'Pigeons'; Hot Hot Heat, 'Future Breeds'; Jewel, 'Sweet and Wild'; Nada Surf, 'if I had a hi-fi'

June 15: Drake, 'Thank Me Later'; Game, 'The R.E.D. Album'; the Gaslight Anthem, 'American Slang'; Sarah McLachlan, 'Laws of Illusion'; the Steve Miller Band, 'Bingo'; Ozzy Osbourne, 'Scream'; Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 'Mojo'; We Are Scientists, 'Barbara'

June 22: Chamillionaire, 'Venom'; the Chemical Brothers, 'Further'; Miley Cyrus, 'Can't Be Tamed'; Danzig, 'Deth Red Sabaoth'; Macy Gray, 'The Sellout'; Herbie Hancock, 'The Imagine Project'; Cyndi Lauper, 'Memphis Blues'; Robert Randolph and the Family Band, 'We Walk This Road'; Stars, 'The Five Ghosts'

June 29: Scissor Sisters, 'Night Work'; Three 6 Mafia, 'Laws of Power'; Paul Wall, 'Heart of a Champion'; Wolf Parade, 'Expo 86'

July 6: Big Boi, 'Sir Luscious Leftfoot … Son of Chico Dusty'; Jimmie Vaughan, 'Jimmie Vaughan Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites' (local)

July 13: Crowded House, 'Intriguer'; Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse, 'Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Present "Dark Night of the Soul"'; School of Seven Bells, 'Disconnect From Desire'

July 20: Sheryl Crow, '100 Miles From Memphis'

Free shows

Unplugged at the Grove: The KGSR-sponsored Thursday night shows continue at Shady Grove (1624 Barton Springs Road; www.theshadygrove.com). Some nights are TBA. Already scheduled: Kelly Willis (tonight) ; Bruce Robison (May 20); Rhett Miller (solo, May 27); Bettysoo (June 3); Carolyn Wonderland (June 24); Band of Heathens (July 1); Warren Hood (July 8); Hayes Carll (July 15); James McMurtry (July 22); Guy Forsyth (July 29); the Trishas (Aug. 12): Paul Thorn (Sept. 2); Jimmy LaFave (Sept. 16); the Gourds (Sept. 30).

Blues on the Green: The event (also KGSR-sponsored) returns to Zilker Park for year 20 after park renovations booted it to Waterloo Park last year. Continuing its ongoing dominance, C3 Presents produces the event. Here's the lineup - sans a mysterious 'TBA' for July 21: Texas Tornados (June 9); Special Antone's 35th Anniversary Show with Carolyn Wonderland (June 23); Alejandro Escovedo (July 7); Charlie Mars with Amy Cook opening (Aug. 4); Raul Malo (Aug. 18).

Wednesday at Scholz Garten: No cover, with free parking after 7:30 p.m. Some of the scheduled acts: Redd Volkaert and Cindy Cashdollar (May 19); Strings Attached (May 26); Dale Watson (June 2). www.scholzgarten.net .

Festivals - a quick guide

Pachanga Latino Music Festival: May 22. www.pachangafest.com

Kerrville Folk Festival: May 27-June 13. www.kerrville-music.com

Chaos in Tejas: May 27-30. webang.blogspot.com

Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic: www.thebackyard.net

Aquapalooza: July 10

Lilith Fair: Aug. 14. www.lilithfair.com

Austin City Limits Music Festival: Oct. 8-10. www.aclfestival.com