Be warned, fans of country, folk and Americana music: you're going to be rather busy in August. Narrowing down the list of worthy country-ish concerts to catch to only five is almost futile, as the list for August could've easily been far more. But we're here to have some fun and lists that we can argue over is probably one of the definitions of fun in the new Webster's edition.
Wednesday, August 6
Jimmy LaFave and Parker Milsap
Now that the former J. Pepe's on Greenville Avenue has been hosting acoustic shows on Wednesday nights for a while now, it seems to be a place that's hit its stride, mainly focusing on local talent. But this show is a fantastic opportunity to catch a couple of Okie songwriters who represent the past and future, while both absolutely bring the goods, here in present times, of course. To suggest that this duo will offer the audience an intimate evening of finely crafted stories is a massive understatement. Sometimes there's not a cover charge for shows at Vagabond, but not for this stellar bill, so get on it. Now!
Thursday, August 7
Mountain Sprout, Boxcar Bandits
Gas Monkey Bar and Grill, Dallas
The explosion of acoustically minded string-bands offering new-grass, jam-grass or whatever-anyone-wants-to-call-it-grass over the past decade has produced some acts that've become big-time stars (we'll get to one of those bands in just a bit). Sometimes, though, it's nice to just hear a few dudes with non-ironic, bushy facial hair with naturally thick accents to match play legit mountain music. Such rustic greatness can be heard from Mountain Sprout, an actual band of hillbillies from the freaking Ozarks. They should feel right at home at Gas Monkey where the beards in the crowd will be plenty and the stage backs up to a murky pond.
Saturday, August 16
William Clark Green and Chris King
Hank's Texas Grill, McKinney
Indeed, Green, a Tyler-native, plays around these parts fairly often, but there's a reason this show is the one of his in this area in August that's the best to catch. No, it's not because we named one of his songs as the Best Texas Country song of 2013. It's also not because Hank's in McKinney is a great spot for a burger before a show (though it is). This night will stand-out among other WCG shows because Austin's Chris King, a killer country writer and singer, will make a rare north Texas appearance. If you've wondered about the up and coming talent in Texas that doesn't sing about floating the river, grab a copy of King's latest full-length, 1983 and check out the interactively cool thing he's got going on with his website, where he randomly offers up new, unreleased songs and opens himself up for discussion about them.
Friday, August 22
Nickel Creek and Sarah Jarosz
Majestic Theatre, Dallas
This calendar-mark-worthy show is the polar opposite of the aforementioned hillbilly band playing on an outdoor stage at a biker bar, though somewhat linked sonically -- if only barely. The freshly reunited Nickel Creek is finally back after a seven year hiatus. Each of the group's members, Chris Thile, Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins did pretty well for themselves as solo acts and members of various group projects (with Thile's Punch Brothers easily being the most notable), but the gang sounds great on their comeback album, A Dotted Line. Of course, the trio could play inside of a Panda Express in Waxahachie and it would be worthwhile, but performing in perhaps Dallas' best room for acoustic music and having the promise-fulfilling native-Texan Sarah Jarosz open up for them makes this the best acoustic show in Dallas since the 2012 Gillian Welch concert at the same venue.
Sunday, August 31
Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis
Levitt Pavillion, Arlington
There's not much more than can be said about Texas' first musical couple. Both are singular songwriting talents with voices that can ache as well as crank things up. It took much longer than many thought it would for the married couple to finally work together on a proper studio record. But the duo made quick work of following up on last year's Cheater's Game LP with an even better one, Our Year, which came out a couple of months ago and features a killer version of "Harper Valley PTA" along with some expectedly wonderful original numbers. We imagine each artist will produce a standard solo effort soon, but for now, it's hard to not enjoy watching this couple get all kinds of musically lovey-dovey.