We're halfway through the year and for most of the past week we've been turning our gazes back at these six months past, taking stock of all the fine music that's been released in North Texas since the start of the year. It's been a fun trip, boys and girls, but before we start getting too misty-eyed about what's already happened, there's still plenty to look forward to. It's a new month, after all. That means another six months of fine music.
Here to get our heads fixed straight again are our choices for the best country music concerts happening around the area during July. We're even spotting you a freebie and looking past Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic, which happens this Friday at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Wednesday, July 9
Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen's Hold My Beer and Watch This tour.
House of Blues, Dallas
For the better part of a decade, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen have curtailed their constantly rolling, lucrative full-band tours for a couple of weeks each summer to get in some quality bro-time. Of course, their version of hanging with a buddy is different than our non-awesome method of just sitting around watching The Challenge on MTV. The "Hold My Beer and Watch This" tour has become as anticipated an event in the Texas country/Red Dirt world as the biggest festivals have been. A night of acoustic swapping and beer-fueled storytelling from two of our state's best latter-day country writers indeed makes for a calendar-marking occasion.
Sunday, July 13
Holly Williams and Carrie Rodriguez
The Kessler, Dallas
Another show featuring a powerful one-two combo is this month's can't-miss concert for people who bemoan the lack of female insights in modern country music. Holly Williams and Austin native Carrie Rodriquez lean toward the Americana side of the country spectrum with two different sonic styles. Williams draws heavily on acoustic folk flavors while the more diversified Rodriguez can burn a club down with her fiddle. Either way, each proffers remarkable writing, and they're two of the most distinctive voices to emerge from the past few years. The cozy, pristine confines of the Kessler are as perfect a spot for this show as there could be in Dallas.
Sunday, July 20
Dale Watson - Shiner Sunday
Love and War in Texas, Plano
With his latest, infallible album, El Rancho Azul, Austin's premiere honky-tonker Dale "The Real Deal" Watson and his masterfully maintained pompadour finally achieved a higher form of notoriety, which had barely eluded him for years. An overdue performance on the Austin City Limits television show, along with an appearance on David Letterman's Late Showand some NPR love are highlights most Texans think Watson has become accustomed to by now, but such isn't the case. There isn't a better way to enjoy the greatest in Texas' brand of country music than on the impeccably renovated patio biergarten of Love and War in Texas on a Sunday afternoon, either. Sorry, south-of-LBJ-ers. On this particular Sunday, the 'burbs have you beat rather handily.
Thursday, July 24
Dirty River Boys - Rockin' the River
Panther Island Pavilion, Fort Worth
As we've known on the east side of DFW International Airport for years, Cowtown has figured out a way to have some serious fun along the banks of the Trinity River. But now they're having a drunken good time of musical merriment in the freaking thing, not simply around it. Who needs the Comal or Frio when you can tube with a crap-load of cold beers in front of a finely engineered stage with the increasingly picturesque Fort Worth skyline behind you? The last time El Paso's Dirty River Boys, the second-best live act from the Red River region touring right now (more on that in a moment) played this weekly summer event, each of the grimy foursome made the 20-foot jump into the river along with the partiers after their rambunctious, sweat-inducing show.
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Friday, July 25
Turnpike Troubadours - Texas Rangers Post-Game Concert
Globe Life Park, Arlington
After drying off and sobering up from the night before, go see the finest, tightest country band from this part of the country play after an inevitable, injury-fueled Rangers loss. Oklahoma's Turnpike Troubadours have but three records to their name but they're all stellar, each one more so than the previous. In concert, the Evan Felker-led band doesn't have the punk frenzy of Dirty River Boys, but the precision and expertly offered renditions of their already strong material are amped up a touch and simply as good as it gets these days. It's not only the South that's impressed, either. The group has been touring and packing rooms across the country lately. Similar to the halcyon days of Cross Canadian Ragweed a decade ago, it's likely that metroplex clubs will no longer hold the crowds for Turnpike any longer, so sweltering outdoor shows will have to do. But this is a group that will command any stage under any conditions.