Now in its third year, RAS Day is the love child of husband and wife hip-hop duo Riders Against the Storm. Chaka and Qi Dada have established themselves as the cornerstone of a diverse and creative community, and this daylong festival stacks a super fresh family feel. Landing the Sun Ra Arkestra as headliner proves that community extends to the outer reaches of the galaxy.
The cosmic orchestra has engaged in supersonic jazz since the Fifties, inspiring a legion of Afro-futurists from P-Funk to Outkast. Since Sun Ra’s death in 1993, the Arkestra has been captained by saxophonist Marshall Allen, 92, who entered the group’s orbit in 1958.
“I’ve never been in another band where there was a leader like that,” explains Allen by phone from Philadelphia. “That’s how I got stuck; I couldn’t get away. Every time I thought I knew something, I didn’t. He’d come up with something else.
“Some people never get a person like that in their life – a great teacher, a philosopher, an innovator. Some musicians found it difficult because they’d play it straight and Sun Ra wanted them to play it crooked.”
The wildly eccentric Sun Ra (b. Herman Poole Blount in 1914) claimed he descended from Saturn.
“He wanted us to learn about the Bible, about the history of the planet, about ancient Egypt,” Allen remembers. “He’d want to talk about other worlds and going to outer space. He was interested in us knowing all of those things. You had to tune up your mind and adjust yourself to learn all these things.
“I’d ask something about music and he’d tell me something about the Bible. He’d want us to learn all this stuff, and now I see why. So you can understand, know the history, and play the music.”– Thomas Fawcett
The passing of Merle Haggard in April decreased the outlaw country posse yet again. Billy Joe Shaver just turned 77, but, as one of his best songs preaches, he’ll “Live Forever.” The Waco “whacko’s” appearances in Central Texas are nonetheless rare, so don’t miss a chance to be schooled. His songs attest to a Lone Star life lived with unrelenting determination.– Jim Caligiuri
Before it was done in poor taste by Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, and parodied on reality and late-night television, twerking ran parallel with bounce music. Expect a lot of it during the self-proclaimed Queen of Bounce’s Pride appearance. One half performance, another half dance competition, Freedia employs breakneck dance routines accentuated with rapid-fire call-and-response chants and intermittent machine-gunned beats like in songs “Excuse” and “Duffy.”– Alejandra Ramirez
Barbara Lynn’s 1962 breakup taunt “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” topped Billboard’s R&B chart before the Rolling Stones covered her “Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin’).” Now 74, the Beaumont native still stuns with aggressive lefty-guitar prodding and elegant vocals. Dallas soulman Bobby Patterson has hits of his own: “She Don’t Have to See You,” “T.C.B. or T.Y.A.,” and “How Do You Spell Love?” plus copious jive-talk. A classic Texan jukebox pairing.– Kevin Curtin
Nine men from Des Moines wearing spiked clown masks, pulverizing trash cans, and bellowing about the downfall of humanity. Slipknot’s maintained the schtick for more than 15 years, producing two chart-topping albums and a trail of arena sellouts. Steel-slab riffs and merciless blast beats further drown out your protests as Corey Taylor roars in your face with searing vitriol. Supporting is Marilyn Manson, who boils down Alice Cooper’s horror cabaret and Bowie’s glam-rock strut into his own gothic, industrial dirge.– Bryan Rolli