You thought SXSW was the spring festival end-all/be-all? You thought wrong.

Hubbard with Tony Joe White (l) and Chris Robinson (r) at the 2011 Grit 'n Groove
Hubbard with Tony Joe White (l) and Chris Robinson (r) at the 2011 Grit 'n Groove (Courtesy of Wylie Hubbard)

Festival Season

In the aftershocks of South by Southwest, a steady succession of local festivals fills the calendar into June and proves that, even though the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Fun Fun Fun Fest go down in the fall, springtime here still means one musical convergence after another.

Already in the rearview are street band spectacular Honk!TX and last week's Austin Urban Music Festival. The revelry continues this weekend with Wobeon's Austin World Music Festival, which imports African diva Angélique Kidjo, tropical dread Collie Buddz, and the global brass of Brooklyn's Red Baraat, which turned heads at SXSW (see Music Listings, p.68). The Lonestar Rod & Kustom Round Up rides into the Travis County Expo Center beginning Friday, bringing with it a chromium musical lineup in multiple venues (again, check our Music Listings), including soul man Bobby Patterson and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame guitarist James Burton.

Drive down I-35 to Buda, and you'll find the 19th Annual Louisiana Swamp Thing and Crawfish Festival offering a whole day of Cajun-spiced acts like Papa Mali between alligator wrestling demonstrations. The fests don't rest from there, with the New Braunfels Euphoria Music Festival (April 12-13), Old Settler's Music Festival (April 18-21), Austin Reggae Festival (April 19-21), Austin Psych Fest (April 26-28), Pachanga! (May 10-11), Punx Picnic (May 10-12), and Chaos in Tejas (May 30-June 2) all in the immediate queue.

Amidst the avalanche, this week we highlight outlaw country philosopher Ray Wylie Hubbard, who hosts his fourth annual Grit 'n Groove Fest at the Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels this Saturday. What's "grit" mean to the local host?

"Nothing shiny or polished," says Hubbard. "These guys don't use Auto-Tune. They just get up there and play."

This year's roster brings back crafty songwriter Hayes Carll, who played the first two Grit 'n Grooves, and showcases Austin's younger class of roots rockers with last week's Chronicle cover boys Sons of Fathers, and Wheeler Brothers, Uncle Lucius, Dustin Welch, and the Trishas.

"They're all younger compared to me," notes Hubbard. "But these are the bands I respect what they're doing with songwriting, and, as far as I can tell, their souls are in the right place with the reason they're doing it."

Austin Music Awards talent Ben Kweller, for example.

"I'd always been familiar with Ben and his music, but then I saw him live and he killed," Hubbard exclaims. "It was just powerful, like seeing Pete Townshend doing a solo thing.

"More than anything else, I just love hanging out with these guys. That's why this festival has such a good vibe. It's all about the hang."

Walker Lukens: Sad Bastard Learns to Rock

The Side Arms (l-r): Kyle Hermes, Kyle Vonderau, Drew Brunetti, Taylor Thomas, and Lukens, pantless
The Side Arms (l-r): Kyle Hermes, Kyle Vonderau, Drew Brunetti, Taylor Thomas, and Lukens, pantless (Photo by John Anderson)

While on tour in 2011, Walker Lukens came to the dreadful realization that he was bumming people out.

"My old material was sad bastard music," he says over a long lunch. "Very contemplative and mellow. I used to think I had to tell it like it is, but then I became aware that most people aren't hanging on my every word."

Six months ago, the 26-year-old Texas native, whose music career launched in New York, moved to Austin and got himself a rock & roll band. In doing so, he resigned singer-songwriter pretension and found satisfying harmony between art and entertainment.

"People respond to that Bruce Springsteen shit," he attests. "They like singing along and clapping – stuff that before I thought was so lame, now I do it with this band. Nowadays, I actually want people to have fun at my shows."

Lukens celebrates the release of his sophomore album, Devoted, this Saturday at the North Door with Good Field and Growl. Devoted showcases Lukens' quavering voice with irresistibly sturdy melodies that come in the form of space-age R&B vocal loops ("Kindle to Your Fire") and college-radio-pop gems ("Dear Someone"). Lyrically, Lukens remains a sad bastard.

"I've pretty much only ever sang about being lonely," Lukens explains. "But now I have a sense of humor about it."

Half Notes

Blue Moon: Sabrina Ellis and Bobby Jealousy shine on Hotel Vegas
Blue Moon: Sabrina Ellis and Bobby Jealousy shine on Hotel Vegas (Photo by Shelley Hiam)

› Vocalist Maryann Price, famous for her work with Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks, Asleep at the Wheel, and the Kinks, sits behind bars awaiting trial on aggravated assault charges related to an incident at her home on Christmas Eve. According to a letter sent to the Chronicle Music staff from one of Price's music students, the singer "got a little Irish" with a neighbor who was being aggressive toward her daughter. Price was arrested and released, then taken in again on March 21 because the arrest violates her probation for a prior controlled substance charge. Price faces a judge on April 11, and – according to one of her attorneys – if her probation is revoked, she'll receive a sentence between six months and two years. Well-wishers can send her letters through attorney Will Mitchell, 602 W. Ninth, Austin, Texas, 78701.

› The concert venue at the Circuit of the Americas Formula One track, unfortunately named the Austin 360 Amphitheater, debuts tomorrow with a performance by country megastar Kenny Chesney. Previewing it on Tuesday, we saw crews scrambling to ready the stage by deadline and noticed it was considerably smaller than initially reported – only 13,000 to 14,000 depending on seating, on par with or maybe a tad smaller than the Frank Erwin Center, which makes its own announcement today. (As we went to press, the UT venue could "neither confirm or deny" a date with the Rolling Stones, who announced a new tour on Wednesday.) Thirteen shows are on the books for the outdoor venue through September, including the Lumineers on April 26, Jimmy Buffett on May 2, and Mumford & Sons June 8-9. Events are being co-promoted by C3 and Live Nation. C3 Marketing Director Sarah McGoldrick says ticket sales have been solid, with those first three shows close to selling out.

› Someone snapped a photo of a freshly printed Lollapalooza 2013 poster and put it online last week, making Monday's official announcement somewhat anticlimactic. As expected, the Cure, Mumford & Sons, the Killers, Nine Inch Nails, and Phoenix headline, while Austin acts that made the bill are the Bright Light Social Hour, Wheeler Brothers, and Heartless Bastards. The concert brand is booked by Austin's C3, so expect to see some of these same names on the concert promotion giant's ACL lineup, which drops next month.

› Crawling into the vacated Home of the Blues like a cockroach intrusion, Infest christens the former Antone's spot with a good old-fashioned punk show Friday. British street punk vets One Way System and SoCal mainstays Agent Orange top a heavy bill that includes Mass Terror, Sniper 66, Here to Offend, One Shot Down, and Hey! The all-ages event kicks off at 6pm, and the first 50 people that bring in the Infest Chronicle ad get in free. The next night, Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly throws down.

› For weeks I've been reacting to singer/artist David Duet's zombie-hand photos on Facebook with ass-clenching terror. The El Pathos frontman has undergone some 10 surgeries in three weeks after a deep cut got infected. Phoning from the hospital, Duet reports that he plans to turn the pain into inspiration with an art exhibit focusing on hands and some new El Pathos tunes. Duet gets a little help from his friends with a benefit on Thursday, April 11, at the Longbranch Inn, where Churchwood, the Hickoids, and the Beaumonts entertain.

› Heavy pop quartet Bobby Jealousy went so far as to record new music in order to pull everybody's leg that they're changing their name to Lovers Under the Stars and moving to Nashville to write pop country hits. The cat came out of the bag on Monday during the band's "last show" at Hotel Vegas when singer Sabrina Ellis mooned the audience with "April Fools" written on her ass.

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Ray Wylie Hubbard, Walter Lukens, Maryann Price, Infest, Wobeon, Lollapalooza, El Pathos, David Duet, Bobby Jealousy

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