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Go west, and see which fest is best

Peter Blackstock

Editor’s note: This article was originally published April 7, 2014

Summer and fall still seem far away, but it’s not too early to plan ahead for some popular music festivals on the state’s western horizons.

Coming up first, July 24-27, is Viva Big Bend, which spreads out over a few dozen miles of West Texas desert with events at venues in Alpine, Fort Davis, Marfa and Marathon. The music festival is in its third year; there’s also a food event this weekend (April 10-12). The lineup, which will include more than 50 acts, is scheduled to be announced in April or May; performers in the first two years included Camper Van Beethoven, the Texas Tornados, Joe Ely, Amanda Shires, Dale Watson, Wild Child, Butch Hancock, Bob Schneider,, Terri Hendrix, Shakey Graves, Soul Track Mind and the Hickoids. Earlybird four-day passes are $55 at the event’s website.

Next, Sept. 12-14, comes Utopiafest – held, naturally, in Utopia, not quite as far of a haul about three hours southwest of Austin (near Lost Maples and Garner state parks). More than 20 bands will perform on two stages, with tickets currently going for $99-$125 at the event’s website. No word yet on the lineup; last year’s acts included Lucius, Galactic, !!!, Grupo Fantasma, Robert Ellis, Ume, Peter Rowan, Bernie Worrell and Residual Kid.

Head way out west to Marfa again for El Cosmico’s Trans-Pecos Festival of Music + Love, Sept. 25-28. The ninth annual event is billed as “three days of music, art, baseball and workshops” plus camping that extends it to a fourth day. Earlybird discount tickets went on sale at the event’s website this week, with $100 for music only or $150 including camping. Lineup announcement won’t be until summer, but past performers have included Robert Plant, Patty Griffin, M. Ward, Will Johnson, Charlie Mars and Tift Merritt.