Bill’s Best Bets: Braxton brings jazz back home … and a lot more

Considering close to 100,000 West Texans had pulled out all the stops to celebrate their American citizenship during the days preceding and including yet another 4th of July this year, a few entertainment promoters are taking somewhat large risks by even assuming  these men, women and children had enough energy, and desire, to keep the party going.

Mind you, Lubbock’s theater community is taking the safe approach and providing another weekend’s silence for area citizens to just rest, snack or nap – or any combination of the above.

That said, there are entertainment choices to be made in Lubbock – although the effects of the busy preceding week are visible.

Just consider the following fast-approaching Best Bets.

Luis Miguel

There had been a massive rush on tickets when a Lubbock debut by Latin American hit machine Luis Miguel – still called El Sol de Mexico (The Sun of Mexico) – was scheduled on April 8, 2000, at what was then the United Spirit Arena. That concert was canceled. If memory serves, the usual “unexpected conflicts” was the reason cited, and 19 years passed before Miguel would fulfill his promise to return to the United Supermarkets Arena.

Miguel will headline a tour-closing show at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the USA, 1701 Indiana Ave.

Who knows when he will return?

Born in Puerto Rico and calling Mexico home, he is the most successful recording artist in Latin American history. Ticket prices reflect his popularity. Reserved seats are on sale at Select-A-Seat offices – just call 770-2000 – with first row seats costing $549.25. Super seating and additional benefits are available via VIP Lounge Packages and Hot Seat Packages, also through Select-A-Seat.

Seating on rows two through 10 on the floor are $277.25, while seating in the remainder of the venue can be purchased for $146.25, $113.25, $91.25 and $69.75, with tickets on the top rows $47.75.

Never mind that Miguel, 49, sings only in Spanish. He became the youngest to join the Grammy ranks, earning his first Grammy Award at age 14 for a duet (“Me Gustas Tal Como Eres”) with Sheena Easton, and never stopped.

He ranks with the hottest acts to take the United Supermarkets Arena stage.

Arena executive Cindy Harper is another who feels busy family activities during the days and weeks leading up to the concert affected ticket sales. On any other Miguel tour, fans would stand no chance of obtaining tickets on the day of the show, she noted.

Yet tickets for the Lubbock show are available.

Miguel is the only Latin singer of his generation to put no effort in crossing over to the Anglo market during the “Latin explosion” of the 1990s, when so many others began presenting bilingual shows. He popularized the bolero genre, and clicked in a myriad of musical styles: pop, ballads, boleros, tangos, jazz, Big Band and mariachi.

He was the first Latin artist to earn two platinum-certified, Spanish language albums (“Romance” and “Segundo Romance”) in the United States, and is recognized by Billboard as having the most hits on  Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart.

Miguel’s most recent album, “Mexico Por Siempre” in 2017, is his second number one on Billboard’s Regional Mexican Albums chart, achieving double platinum status.

He is the highest-grossing Latin touring artist since Boxscore began tracking touring data in 1960, having surpassed $300 million.

In 2010, he began a three-year tour, during which Miguel headlined 223 concerts in 22 countries in North America, South America and Europe.

Last year, he earned his sixth Latin Grammy and won the Latin American Music Award for Best Tour of 2018.

Miguel has sold more than 100 million albums world-wide, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is a six-time Grammy winner and a six-time Latin Grammy winner. He has broken attendance records on each of his world tours  –  and shattered attendance records with 258 shows at the National Auditorium, the most important venue in Mexico.

First Friday Art Trail

The 178th non-consecutive First Friday Art Trail takes place from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, July 5. There is never an admission charge.

It is difficult to gauge how much of an affect this month’s Independence Day activities may have, because the art trail traditionally finds fewer venues involved during the summer months, when many students and faculty members from schools and colleges may be gone.

That said, the list of venues to visit Friday numbers fewer than 20, with only nine apparent in addition to LHUCA and Charles Adams attractions.

Still, I expect streets and sidewalks to be filled with art lovers, who often begin their personal tours at the northernmost points of LHUCA, 511 Ave. K, and its nearby associates, the Charles Adams Gallery and CASP (Charles Adams Studio Projects). Food trucks also operate in the vicinity.

Those seeking a quick rundown of museums and businesses taking part Friday, along with their addresses and known attractions, are urged to visit ffat.org online.

As usual, visitors can choose to walk, or utilize their own personal transportation, or take advantage of one of four Art Trail Trolleys visiting the identical seven venues.

The four trolleys will depart at 6:15 p.m. from the Buddy Holly Center, GlassyAlley Art Studio and Gallery, LHUCA and the Tornado Gallery. Trolleys are expected to return to their departure sites by 9:30 p.m.

Venues visited by all trolleys include: Buddy Holly Center, CASP Live/Work Studios and 5th & J Galleries, the Caviel Museum of African-American History, GlassyAlley Art Studio and Gallery, LHUCA and Charles Adams Gallery, the Platform Restaurant and the Tornado Gallery.

Venues which will not be visited by any trolleys this time include Art For Goodness Sake, Bo Tan Fine Arts Studio and Gallery, Municipal Garden & Arts Center and Sugar Brown’s Coffee.

Highlights are many, too many to cite in fact … but include new works by traditional painter Bo Tan at his gallery; digital photography by the Lubbock Camera Club at the Garden & Arts Center; art by Janelle Barrington Spivey, John Self and Clifton Duncan at Tornado Gallery; photographs of music legends by Watt Casey Jr. at the Buddy Holly Center; art owned by Christina Rees, the state’s only full-time, salaried art critic, at the CASP Live/Work Studio Flats; and Raku Days at the Helen DeVitt Jones Clay Studio on the LHUCA campus.

And, of course, so very much more. It’s impossible to take in all of the impressive local and regional at work during a three-hour, monthly visit.

Those who enjoy live theater will enjoy snippets of upcoming plays at LHUCA – with Lubbock Community Theatre staging scenes from “Matilda” at the Christine DeVitt Icehouse, 511 Ave. J, and Will of the Winds teasing with scenes from “The Shadow Box” at LHUCA’s Firehouse Theatre.

Caprock Jazz Festival

Frankly, even with so many seats filled, the annual Caprock Jazz Festival remains a yet to be truly-discovered Lubbock gem – and can be enjoyed from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 6, at the Helen DeVitt Jones Event Center/Auditorium inside the Museum of Texas Tech.

Enter on the west side at 601 Indiana Ave.

General admission tickets are $50 and on sale at all Select-A-Seat outlets in Lubbock. Call SAS at 770-2000 for more ticket information.

I won’t say it never happens, if only because local concert promoter Don Caldwell has made a habit of luring Lubbock-born celebrities back home. That said, I am a huge admirer of smooth jazz saxophonist and recording artist Tom Braxton, who is so highly regarded in the worldwide smooth jazz community.

Braxton is a Lubbock native giving a hand up to his home town.

Handed his first saxophone by his dad, Braxton made his bones as a musician and athlete in Lubbock. Honored on the West Texas Walk of Fame, Braxton never has forgotten about Lubbock and, in fact, has taken the yearly Caprock Jazz Festival under his wing – to the point of returning each year to headline, and also luring great jazz musicians to accompany him back to Lubbock to take part.

I do recall several telephone and personal conversations with Braxton during my many years covering arts and entertainment in Lubbock, and he always struck me as appreciative and loyal, a family man who remembered each step forward he managed to make.

If wondering how great jazz was born on the dusty plains of West Texas, check out a nice little biography of Braxton online at www.last.fm/music/Tom+Braxton/+wiki.

Saturday’s featured smooth jazz guest musicians/recording artists include guitarist Blake Aaron and pianist Joe McBride. The concert will open, however, with a spotlight on local talent, namely Jazz Alley and The Joy Harris Quartet.

Doors open at 4 p.m. Food trucks and a cash bar are available.

Proceeds from each year’s Caprock Jazz Festival benefit the Lubbock Roots Historical Arts Council.

Call (806) 535-2475 for more details.

Tex Westus

This is not the first time I have listed country-rock duo Tex Westus as a weekend best bet in Lubbock and – having talked to Corbin and Chloe, written about them and enjoyed their music – this likely will not be their last time inspiring headlines.

The recording act is led by Corbin Burgett and Chloe Fowler.

This time, the recording duo will headline at 11:15 p.m. Saturday at one of the more exciting night spots in Lubbock, Blue Light Live at 1806 Buddy Holly Ave.

Darby Sparkman will open the show at 10 p.m.

All admitted must be age 21 or older. Thee is an $8 cover charge. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Blue Light co-owner Dustin Six commented, “Vocals and harmonies by Tex Westus stand out in a crowd. It is a very driven group you’ll probably see playing on bigger stages soon. They have stayed humble enough to keep rendezvousing on the smaller stages, as well.”

Lubbock music promoter Don Caldwell, former Cactus Theater owner, added, “Corbin and Chloe both sing extremely well, have incredible stage presence, and Corbin is an outstanding country guitar player. Probably the best player of the younger generation growing up here in West Texas.”

Caldwell predicts a bigger record deal for Tex Westus, and adds, “On top of them being really talented, they are great kids.”

Downtown Farmers Market

True, I could have mentioned this sooner, but better late than never. (I really was not trying to save more of the good stuff for myself.)

The Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market can be visited from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday beginning north of 19th Street on Buddy Holly Avenue – and at the same time and place on every Saturday afterward, through Oct. 19.

There is never an admission charge, with food trucks also present.

Market producers provided the following statement: “For a taste of downtown Lubbock and the finest in local produce – meat, dairy, cheese, baked goods, and also the arts – visit the Downtown Farmers Market. We are a kid friendly, dog friendly, family event in the heart of the Depot District.

“Check our Facebook page closer to each date to confirm the vendors at each market and which food trucks will be visiting our food area.”