AUSTIN, FORT WORTH, HOUSTON, SAN ANTONIO
YES, CAROL BURNETT IS A TEXAN, and in the most valid sense of the term (she was born here). Though she moved from San Antonio to Hollywood at age seven, we don’t begrudge California for nurturing one of our most talented exports. But she’ll be all ours once again this month for a quartet of appearances, or what she calls “conversations,” in which audience members are encouraged to stand up and shout out their inquiries to the comedic queen. Is there any other celebrity so approachable? (She even called us herself—look, Ma, no handlers!—to schedule an interview.) Her candor has always been her strong suit, so we’re letting Ms. Burnett speak for herself.
I’m looking forward to coming back to my home state. Being a Texan is in your blood; I’m not even trying to escape it. I have strong memories of San Antonio. We lived on West Commerce Street, and our old house is still there. Back then my grandmother wouldn’t let me roller-skate in front of the house because the sidewalk was all crumbled up. So I skated in the hallway, which wasn’t quite level either. Last time I visited, the skate marks were still there, even though the people who lived there had tried to buff them out.
I remember Joske’s department store, the stuffed gorilla in the window of the Buckhorn Saloon that just terrified me, and, of course, the Alamo—luckily, I didn’t have to fight in it. I went to David Crockett grammar school, and the first time I performed, I was a blue fairy in a skit that we did on Pinocchio. My grandmother made me a gold wand out of a stick.
Doing these shows is like doing a crossword puzzle—they keep my brain active—and it’s just time to get back onstage. I don’t know what people are going to ask, so it’s fun. One time, I forget where, I called on this nice-looking man in a suit and tie. And he said, “It happens to be my birthday, and I really have always found you very, very attractive.” So I said, “Oh, get on up here,” thinking it would be fun to play with him. So he came to hug me, and I said, “Just a minute. We haven’t been introduced.” He apologized and told me his name was Bob and started again to give me a hug. And I said, “You’re a little overanxious here, Bob. Have you ever thought in terms of an older woman before?” And he kind of blushed, and I said, “What is it, Bob? Are you involved with someone else?” “Sort of,” he said. “I’m a priest.” There were two or three nuns in the first row who just about laughed right out of their habits.
I’m donating my salary from these shows to the Pasadena Playhouse, a little ninety-seat theater in California that was just named in honor of my late daughter, Carrie, who passed away from cancer in 2002. She was thirty. It’s quite a legacy for my daughter. So I’m glad to get on solid Texas ground— although I haven’t worn high heels in forever, so I’m really worried about my feet more than anything. Of course, I could just take the darn shoes off.
Sep 26: Bass Concert Hall, 23rd & Robert Dedman Dr, Austin; 512-471-1444; utpac.org. Sep 28: Bass Performance Hall, 4th & Calhoun, Fort Worth; 877-212-4280; basshall.com. Sep 29: Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, Houston; 713-227-4772; spahouston.org. Oct 1: Majestic Theatre, 224 E. Houston, San Antonio; 210-226-3333; majesticempire.com
The state’s musical psyche owes a lot to Lubbock, which has nurtured a wide swath of native talents and unconditionally welcomed creative outlaws. But these days, with most ears tuned to the sounds coming out of Austin and Houston, it’s easy to forget West Texas’s legendary contributions. A one-two punch this month jogs our collective memory: Buddy’s 70th Birthday Bash will send you back to rock and roll’s heyday, with music historian Bill Griggs acting as narrator of Buddy Holly’s life and musicians Patricia Vonne, Tommy Allsup, and Johnny Rogers jamming in his honor. And though Holly is not officially associated with the Lubbock Music Festival, held the very next weekend (his widow’s asking price for naming rights was too high), he’ll be there in spirit too, as Chubby Checker and ex–Red Raider Pat Green pick up where he left off. Buddy’s 70th Birthday Bash: Sep 7–9. Buddy Holly Center, 1801 Avenue G; 806-775-3560; buddyhollycenter.org. Lubbock Music Festival: Sep 15 & 16. Buddy Holly Ave & 19th, 806-747-5232, visitlubbock.org
Glasses—or plastic cups, as the case may be—will be aswirl with the finest Texas-produced wines and then some at the twentieth incarnation of GrapeFest, which seems like any other casual neighborhood progressive except for the quarter million “neighbors.” Shuttles scoot curious palates to and from Grapevine’s wineries and various tasting rooms; the designated driver is the four-day weekend’s unofficial hero. The same roving, possibly drunken taste buds are responsible for the taken-very-seriously People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic, in which tens of thousands of oenophiles wield awesome power over the nerves—and bottom lines—of vintners in the nation’s largest consumer-judged wine competi- tion. But let’s be honest: The real battles are the hourly GrapeStomps, where you’ll find entrants of varying foot hygiene running a mini-marathon in place to mash twenty pounds of the purple pods into juice. You laugh, but is the coveted Purple Foot award on your mantel? Sep 7–10. Along Main, 800-457-6338, grapevinetexasusa.com/grapefest
No Snakes Here
Don’t be alarmed if while driving just north of Dallas you’re suddenly overtaken by fleets of multicolored, low-flying planes swooshing by upside down. These specially designed aircraft, which sometimes dive as low as 328 feet from the ground, are in good hands: Close to 150 highly skilled, highly daring pilots convene here each year for the United States Aerobatic Championships. In the competition, which has been likened