The East Texas town of Athens will be the hottest place in the Lone Star state when the second Texas Swing & Heritage Festival gets underway at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Cain Center, 915 S. Palestine St.
Robyn Ludwick, Deadman, Elizabeth McQueen and many other performers will grace three stages during the 12-hour festival, which also features the Austin Blues Society’s Heart of Texas Blues Challenge (East Texas division), the Swing Chick fiddle contest, a swing-dancing contest, a disc golf tournament, a barbecue cook-off and more. Late Texas honky-tonk legend Al Dexter will be honored with a presentation by Dr. Gary Hartman, director of the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University.
Admission is $35; VIP tickets are $150 and include access to a special festival lounge with open bar (noon to 10 p.m.), food from the Railway Café and exclusive performances. Tickets are available online at texasswingfestival.com or by calling 903.677.4247.
Others performers include Bordertown Bootleggers, Lone Star Swing, JT Coldfire and Shoot Low Sheriff, with more to be announced — including entrants in the Heart of Texas Blues Challenge. The winner of this regional preliminary for the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge, held annually in Memphis, will receive an expenses-paid trip to compete in the Austin Blues Society Heart of Texas finals in Austin. The finals winner will compete in Memphis.
“Our festival is built on the idea of bringing people together, and one of the ways we’re doing that is through good old-fashioned competition,” says festival director Michael Lenz. “We’re just updating ours a bit.”
But celebrating heritage is equally important, which is why the festival also is paying homage to musical legend Al Dexter. Dexter co-wrote and recorded “Honky Tonk Blues,” the first song to use that term, in 1936. Born in Jacksonville, Texas (conflicting reports list the year as 1902 and 1905; he died in 1984), Clarence Albert Poindexter also ran his own honky-tonk, the Roundup Club, in Turnertown, and in 1943, recorded his biggest hit, “Pistol Packin’ Mama.” The first country singer to perform on Broadway, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971 and the Texas Country Music Hall of
Fame in 2010.
Festival sponsors include Cedar Creek Brewery, Come and Take It, Cosmec Inc., Document Solutions, Guitars Etc., KCKL-FM, the Kessler theater, Kyser Capo, Railway Café, KKUS-FM (the Ranch), Rodeo Monogram Shop, Super 8 motel, Sundown Ranch and Texas Hatters.
About the Texas Swing & Heritage Festival
Formed in 2011, the Texas Swing & Heritage Festival is committed to celebrating and promoting Texas musicians, artists and cultural heritage, and strives to become the premier festival showcasing unique and emerging Texas music and arts. Held in Athens, Texas, the festival combines music, educational workshops, blues and barbecue competitions and other forms of creative expression in a family-friendly format.
Tickets and information: texasswingfestival.com, 903.677.4247.
Posted by: Sam Moore
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