UH's big show
The University of Houston's annual Frontier Fiesta is student–run, student–led and attracts huge crowds. The three-day event includes concerts, variety shows by student organizations, carnival booths, multicultural performances and a barbecue cook-off. This year's musical lineup includes recently reignited pop/rock band Versecity, above, whose members attend UH; Canadian electro-pop performer Lights; bilingual band Xperimento; and Texas country act Justin Van Sant. When: 4 p.m. Thursday, 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday; Where: UH Central, parking lots 20A and C.
Yes, country for old men
Merle Haggard has more miles on the odometer than many other 75-year-olds, but his voice has long done better singing sad songs full of resignation than about sunnier days. Always one of the best writers of country music songs, Hag has, over the past 13 years or so, also become quite adept at writing enough of those great songs to fill up some of the finest albums of his career. Five years ago he had a tumor carved out of one of his lungs, but Haggard didn't let that slow him down. He's put out two records since. When: 8 p.m. Thursday; Where: Stafford Centre, 10505 Cash, Stafford; Tickets: $45-$125.
Live shows should erupt
Brian Whelan's most visible gig these days is playing guitar, keys, pedal steel and accordion in Dwight Yoakam's band, which meant he had a busy 2012 playing on and touring behind Yoakam's excellent "3 Pears." But Whelan's new album, "Decider," makes a strong case for him stepping out on his own whenever his job permits. There's an underlying rootsiness to Whelan's songs but he often steers them into interesting and hooky directions that reveal a deep historical affinity for thoughtful pop. He's an expressive and versatile singer, able to touch on twang and stir in some soul. His is a sophisticated sort of power pop that nevertheless invites listeners to occasionally shake a leg. "Decider" spills forth with an energy that suggests the live show should be a corker. When: 8 p.m. Wednesday; Where: Under the Volcano, 2349 Bissonnet; Tickets: $7 at the door; 713-526-5282. Also 5:30 p.m. Wednesday; Where: Cactus Music, 2110 Portsmouth; free. ...
The rest of the week
Happy Birthday, Mr. Presidente: Cuchara, the fab new Mexico City eatery in Montrose, celebrates the life of Benito Juárez, who served five terms as the president of Mexico. DJ Sun mans the turntables with Latin sounds, including several from his "One Hundred" album. The restaurant also will serve Sun's signature dark rum cocktails. When: 7 p.m. Thursday; Where: Cuchara, 214 Fairview; Tickets: Free.
Jim Gaffigan: Gaffigan could've been a one-hit wonder. He was a comedian with an immediately identifiable routine in which he created an extended and relentlessly funny riff on the manatee. There was also the "meow" bit in "Super Troopers" and, of course, his biggest hit in which he had great fun at the expense of Hot Pockets. Testament to his craft as a comedian, Gaffigan keeps coming up with viral jokes. Thus, Hot Pockets gave way to his extended pig/bacon routine ("The pig is an amazing animal, you feed it an apple … and it makes bacon!"). It's a chance to hear tomorrow's bacon sizzle today. When: 7:30 and 10 p.m. Thursday; Where: Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas; Tickets: $42.75-$52.75.
"! Uno, Dos, Dres!" :The Houston Arts Alliance's Folklife & Traditional Arts program has put together a great spring/summer concert series called "!Uno, Dos, Tres!: The Many Musics of Houston's Latino Community." First up will be El Rectorado del Son performing the rootsy pre-Revolution music style Son Cubano, which found millions of new American fans as sung by the late great Compay Segundo on the popular "Buena Vista Social Club" record. El Rectorado del Son's songbook digs far deeper than one performer, though, with compositions by Miguel Matamoros, Sindo Garay and Ignacio Piñeiro, among others. There will be a "Polyrhythms of Cuban Son Workshop" prior to the performance. When: 5 p.m. Saturday; Where: Guadalupe Park, 333 S. Jensen; Admission: free.
Bang Bangz: Houston band Bang Bangz continues to drop music in tantalizingly small morsels, starting with last year's self-titled EP. A Radiohead cover followed, and now there's the new 7-inch, "Red City," which offers spacey, moody synthy pop with a vocal by singer/guitarist Mario Rodriguez that suggests Scott Walker. They'll celebrate its release with a show featuring A Sea Es and the Suffers When: 8 p.m. Saturday; Where: Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak; Tickets: $10.
Mother Falcon :A slew of Austin musicians - 17 of them! - have come together as Mother Falcon, a band able to bridge ethereal indie pop with classical inclinations. The music is hypnotic and beautiful, with the ability to drop the hammer and create a storm of acoustic sound built largely on strings and brass (and glockenspiel). Their studio recordings are lively and worthwhile, but this seems like the sort of dynamic ensemble best experienced live. When: 7 p.m. Saturday; Where: Orange Show, 2402 Munger; Tickets: $15-$20.
East End Arts Market: East End Studio Gallery and Bohemeos team up for the first of these monthly events, which features local artists and crafters. Peruse the booths for paintings, photography, posters, sculptures, stationery, clothing, ceramics, accessories, toys, metal art and more. When: noon Saturday; Where: East End Studio Gallery, 708 Telephone; Tickets: Free.
Scott Weiland: The Stone Temple Pilots singer was fired by his own band last month and said he found out at the same time everyone else did. Ouch. His current tour, featuring backing band the Wildabouts, focuses on two STP albums: 1992's "Core" and 1994's "Purple." And the trek has been riddled with drama - no surprise there. Weiland challenged one heckling concertgoer to a fight and regularly lets loose a string of random ramblings. Expect the Houston show to be no less of a hot mess. When: 7 p.m. Tuesday; Where: House of Blues, 1204 Caroline; Tickets: $27.50-$50.
Alyssa Edwards: The queen from Mesquite is one of the most entertaining things about this season of "RuPaul's Drag Race." Not because she can sing, sell herself or do stand-up comedy. She was terrible at those challenges. Edwards is must-see hilarious, mostly because she has no idea how funny she is. The faces and gestures she pulls during interviews are instantly GIF-worthy. Nevermind the pageant crown she lost. Edwards is a supreme queen of unintentional comedy. When: 11 p.m. Tuesday; Where: F Bar, 202 Tuam; Tickets: $10.