Photo by Jono Foley

The sounds of Texas are as varied as Willie's guitar and the cooing of a roadrunner. (Contrary to popular belief, it is a coo rather than an old fashioned car horn). Even as Texas has become more urban, it'd be silly to separate its musical heritage from the wide open spaces that inspired so much art to come. One album this fall explores and commemorates musical identity in the Lone Star State from its past, its present, and the from Texas wild, which happens to lend its name to the project. And the first single, out May 2, kicks things off in a fittingly hybrid style that will delight listeners of all genres.

Texas Wild is part of the 100 Years of Texas State Parks Celebration, which has inspired a long string of onsite (and offsite) events in Texas parks all year. The party is now bringing the whole state together for one united musical endeavor (released by Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF) in partnership with Rambler Sparkling Water). So far, 16 artists from around the state have covered tracks from older Texas artists that influenced some of the state's defining genres: blues, cumbia, country, hip-hop, R&B, electronica, and possibly more.

The first single gives the Houston treatment to a San Antonio classic, "(Hey Baby) Que Paso." Originally written by members of the Sir Douglas Quintet, the bouncy Tex-Mex track was popularized by Tejano group Texas Tornados, and retains much of its good-natured inquisitiveness (que paso?) when sung by rapper Fat Tony. The instrumentation is much funkier, but this cover is about as faithful as they come without being direct copies — until the rap verses hit. Paul Wall joins in and the "San Antonio national anthem," in Doug Sahm's words, is fit for any summer block party across the state 40 years later.

While Paul Wall reps Houston, more big names on the record include Shakey Graves (Austin), and Ray Wylie Hubbard (Dallas), and even the smaller fish in this particular pond are making big waves in the industry. Although the album is regionally well-balanced among big cities, there's only so much the Live Music Capital can do to keep from pulling focus.

Many of the contributions are by Austin artists, including the overall production headed by local singer-songwriter Walker Lukens, who has faithfully proved his skill in bringing retro sounds sincerely to life. Other Austin contributions in both performance and songwriting come from Sir Woman, Adrian Quesada, Daniel Johnston, Willie Nelson, and more — not to mention those who shared their talent largely in Austin without spending their entire career, like the legendary Townes Van Zandt.

"Texas Wild is an album that encompasses that wild, untamed spirit for which Texas is best known," said TPWF executive director Anne Brown in a press release. "Incredible artists from across the state have come together to put their unique stamp on Texas classics, resulting in an exciting playlist that music fans will want to play on repeat. We're thankful for the many talented artists who made this extraordinary album possible."

If this first track is any indication, this album should appeal to many of its contributors' fans regardless of their interest in Texas history or local pride. Still, Texans heard it first, and should look out for two more singles in June and July, followed by the entire album in digital or vinyl formats in the fall. Texas illustrator Mishka Westell created the cover art featuring Texas wildlife, and sales will benefit TPWF.

Tracks announced so far on Texas Wild:

  • Fat Tony featuring Paul Wall — “(Hey Baby) Que Paso” (Original Track: Sir Douglas Quintet)
  • The Texas Gentlemen — "(That's Right) You're Not From Texas" (Original Track: Lyle Lovett)
  • Shane Smith and The Saints featuring Hayes Carll — "Pancho and Lefty" (Original Track: Townes Van Zandt)
  • LUNA LUNA — “Si Una Vez” (Original Track: Selena Quintanilla)
  • Ryan Bingham — "Possum Kingdom" (Original Track: The Toadies)
  • The Suffers — "My Maria" (Original Track: B.W. Stevenson)
  • Shakey Graves featuring Jess Williamson — "True Love Will Find You In The End" (Original Track: Daniel Johnston)
  • Sir Woman featuring Ray Wylie Hubbard — "Texas Sun" (Original Track: Khruangbin and Leon Bridges)
  • Adrian Quesada featuring US and The Soul Supporters — "Say My Name" (Original Track: Destiny’s Child)
  • Sarah Jaffe — "Flying Too Close To The Ground" (Original Track: Willie Nelson)
  • The Toadies — "Since You've Been Gone" (Original Track: Kelly Clarkson)
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Kendra Scott teams up with Texan style influencer for milestone breast cancer awareness collection

Wear for a cure

Kendra Scott is already basically the mayor of Austin, but for a new collection the lifestyle brand is kicking its philanthropy up a notch. This will be the first time an entire collection will give back, and the focus is turned to an indisputably important cause: breast cancer research.

Kendra Scott — who loves a Texas connection — is joining native Houston fashion influencer Nasreen Shahi (@heynasreen), for a limited-edition jewelry collection. It will include two necklaces, two pairs of earrings, and a bracelet, all named after Shahi's mother.

Although Shahi's mother is the muse, it is her own experience with breast cancer that ties the collection to the cause. The fashion maven was diagnosed in 2021, and it's the outpouring of community support that the collection celebrates.

"This is a difficult month for most survivors because you reflect on so much of your own journey," wrote Shahi on Instagram on October 1, commemorating the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The pieces are gold (with some silver options) and very simple, setting stones in abstract patterns meant to be layered. The centerpiece is an emerald eye of protection, a classic Middle Eastern motif. A release states that avoiding pink was intentional, but does not share why. From a wearer's perspective, it may feel refreshing to wear a breast cancer collection that isn't so literal, and doesn't invite questions about the wearer's intent or connection.

Kendra Scott x Nasreen Shahi from @heynasreen collection necklacePhoto courtesy of Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott and Shahi have been "close partners" in previous years (the influencer has been featured on the Kendra Scott blog), but this is the first collaborative collection. All pieces will result in a 20 percent donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

The Kendra Scott x Nasreen Shahi from @heynasreen collection ($55-85) is available at kendrascott.com and in Kendra Scott retail stores.

8 immersive art exhibits to get lost in this October in Austin

state of the arts

From immersive worlds to thought-provoking themes, a series of captivating art shows invite you to embark on eye-opening journeys this October in Austin.

At Wonderspaces, step into fantastical worlds during a month-long showcase. Get immersed in stories like “Gloomy Eyes,” a poignant VR experience narrated by Academy Award winner Colin Farrell.

Meanwhile, renowned abstract artists Larry Akers and Janet Brooks draw inspiration from color theory legend Josef Albers in their joint exhibition “Chroma+Lux” at Link & Pin; At the Dougherty Arts Center, explore nostalgia, violence, and contemporary culture through Neil Flynn’s thought-provoking assemblages in his solo exhibition “Access"; and across town, Swiss artist Simon Berger makes his Texas debut at West Chelsea Contemporary.

Cloud Tree Studios

Valerie Fowler: “Offering: A Balm in a World of Wounds” — through October 14
Experience the contemplative reveries of Valerie Fowler's latest exhibition, "Offering: A Balm in a World of Wounds," at Austin's Cloud Tree Gallery. Fowler's 17 oil paintings, including four large diptychs, offer a poignant meditation on nature's imperfect symmetries, the human body's vulnerabilities, and our fragile bond with Earth. Enter worlds both familiar and reimagined as Fowler explores themes of broken patterns, generational pain, death, rebirth, and sacrifice. Feel the raw power and delicate beauty of the mostly female forms that inhabit these winding landscapes. Let Fowler be your guide through alarming yet captivating vistas that illuminate our imperative to cherish and protect our shared home in this era of climate catastrophe.

West Chelsea Contemporary

Simon Berger: “Beauty in Destruction” — through October 15
Berger, an acclaimed Swiss artist, transforms reinforced safety glass into stunning portraits with a hammer, challenging traditional norms about glass as an artistic medium. With more than 40 new works exclusively for West Chelsea Contemporary, this exhibition marks Berger’s Texas debut. Berger's work resonates globally, as the artist has exhibited worldwide and collaborated with prestigious institutions. Through his lens, he invites viewers to perceive the world differently and discover beauty in unexpected places.

Link & Pin

Larry Akers and Janet Brooks: “Chroma+Lux: Abstractions in Color and Light” — October 5-29
Renowned artists Larry Akers and Janet Brooks invite viewers to dive into a vibrant world of color and illumination through “Chroma+Lux.” Akers' mathematically intricate sculptural designs and Brooks' visually striking abstract paintings draw inspiration from color theory visionary Josef Albers. Experience geometric patterns transformed into thought-provoking abstract artworks that engage the senses. See how light interacts with color to produce visually enthralling sculptures and paintings. Ignite your curiosity and imagination at this can't-miss showcase melding science, math and art.

Wally Workman Gallery

Sarah Ferguson: “Continuum” — October 7-29
This Austin-based artist, known for her brilliant exploration of light, color, and perception, presents a vibrant and immersive experience that encourages viewers to contemplate life, death, and the mysteries beyond through meditation and self-discovery. Each painting in the exhibition acts as a beacon, enticing viewers into a hypnotic shift where chaos morphs into geometric harmony, guiding them towards a deeper, more insightful, and healed space. Drawing inspiration from the Light and Space art movement, minimalism, hard-edge painting, and geometric abstraction, Ferguson's work promises a thought-provoking exploration of the human condition.


Fernando Maldonado and Jorge Tereso: “Gloomy Eyes” — October 8, 15, 22, and 29
Step into a world of wonder this October at Wonderspaces Austin. Journey alongside Gloomy, a zombie boy, as Colin Farrell narrates his touching 50-minute VR voyage from despair to hope in the award-winning "Gloomy Eyes." This exclusive presentation immerses viewers in an imaginative new world. Beyond this exclusive presentation, Wonderspaces hosts 17 interactive installations year-round, including "Human Study #1," where guests become the subject of robot-made portraits, and "RULES," a collaborative evolving artwork.

"Eye Moon Cocoon " opening reception
Photo courtesy of Virginia L. Montgomery

Virginia L. Montgomery explores native Texas luna moths.

Dougherty Arts Center

Neil Flynn: “Access” — through November 25
Flynn's work, primarily featuring new assemblage, collage, and site-specific interventions, delves deeply into themes of nostalgia, loss, violence, ownership, and aspects of contemporary Western culture. His artistic process is characterized by collecting, journaling, photographing, researching, and reacting to the rapid societal changes we face. Like any artist, Flynn is influenced by his personal experiences; he interrogates them as a "young, white, cisgender male, gay artist, arts professional, and learner/educator." The materials and imagery he employs are reflective of a restless "Americentric culture," characterized by relentless progression and a tendency to forget the past.

Women and their Work

Virginia L. Montgomery: “Eye Moon Cocoon” — through November 30
Enter a dream world of symbols and sounds in Virginia L. Montgomery's "Eye Moon Cocoon" exhibit. This multimedia journey explores native Texas luna moths, the moon, and their intricate connections, creating a space for hope and healing. Drawing on science, mythology, and ecofeminist thought, it highlights the interconnectedness of all things and challenges oppressive hierarchies. Experience synesthesia as natural and manufactured textures coexist. Embark on a thought-provoking exploration of consciousness and our shared agency in an era of climate change. This is an artistic testament to collaboration and collective healing.

Mexic-Arte Museum

Mexic-Arte Museum: "40 Years of Día de los Muertos" — through January 7, 2024
Experience the poignant beauty of honoring those we've lost at Mexic-Arte Museum's 40th annual Día de los Muertos exhibition. This year's showcase, "40 Years of Día de los Muertos," reflects on four decades of celebrating the dearly departed. Contribute a photo of a cherished loved one or admired person who has passed for the communal ofrenda. Your contribution will transform the gallery into a shared space of collective remembrance, where each photograph becomes part of a communal tapestry of stories.

Austin 'Top Chef' winner emerges after controversy to open upscale Mexican restaurant, plus more top stories

hot headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From cross-country tours to best-in-state colleges and snacks, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Austin 'Top Chef' winner emerges after controversy to open upscale Mexican restaurant. Bacalar has opened after years of preparation and controversy surrounding the chef's departure from his last role.

2. Nebraska Furniture Mart to bring massive new store and 700 jobs to Austin suburb. NFM will anchor a development that will include a 250-room hotel and 30,000-square-foot convention center.

3. Hello Kitty Cafe Truck says hi to Austin on cross-country tour. Among the new items is a bright pink tote bag with rainbow straps and desserts decorating the front, and an assortment of Hello Kitty baked goods.

4. UT Austin rises to the top in new list of best Texas schools for 2024. UT Austin claimed No. 2 in Texas, and ranked No. 32 nationally. It fared similarly in Niche's list of top public universities.

5. How to get every possible discount at the 2023 State Fair of Texas. The fair starts its 24-day run at Fair Park in Dallas on September 29, bringing with it music, games, food, and more.