New agriculture commissioner Sid Miller announced that his first official act would be to grant “amnesty” to cupcakes by publicizing a 2014 policy change to state school nutritional standards that he said ended a 2004 rule prohibiting schoolchildren from bringing sugary desserts to celebrate class birthdays.
This is a song about fictional people who used to farm near a place I used to fish,” James McMurtry says from the stage before launching into “Deaver’s Crossing,” a track off Complicated Game, his first studio album in nearly seven years. It’s a head-scratching bit of banter, which is not surprising coming from a songwriter whose lyrics lean more toward the imaginative than the confessional.
“El Paso—Rayo Reyes, a musician, in an unwary moment, crosses to the Mexican side and is robbed of everything he had with him by highwaymen. The hold-up was a most thorough one, and included the taking of Reyes’ clothes. He was afterwards forced to recross the Rio Grande in his underclothes.”
—Shiner Gazette, March 4, 1909
For years, Cleveland Turner was a fixture of Houston’s Third Ward, riding his bike every day, foraging for cast-off flowers, misfit toys, and other brightly colored urban detritus to decorate his home at 2305 Francis Street, the third location of the Flower Man House, his decades-long, ever-evolving masterpiece of African American yard-show art. But when Turner fell ill with stomach cancer in 2013, the house ailed as visibly as he did.
Black Beauty, Elana James (Snarf Records, February 24)
As Hot Club of Cowtown’s fiddler and singer, James is best known for playing western swing and hot jazz. Black Beauty is a reminder that her training—studies in classical and North Indian music, a sideman gig with Bob Dylan—ranges much further. And so: a disparate bunch of original compositions, an Azerbaijani folk song, and covers of Dylan, the Dead, and, hmmm, the electro-pop duo Yazoo.
- A Slaton man deposited five hundred pounds of pennies, equaling about $816, which he’d been collecting for 65 years.
- As of January 22, Amarillo had received 13.1 inches of snow in 2015, an inch more than Syracuse, New York, “America’s Snowiest Big City.”
- The Dallas Safari Club, which last year faced criticism for auctioning off a hunt of the endangered black rhino, faced criticism again for sponsoring an African elephant hunt, which it eventually canceled.
From the moment in 1986 when the idea to hold a music conference in Austin was first broached, Roland Swenson has been a part of SXSW—initially to convince people that it wasn’t a crazy idea, and then to make it happen. In the years since, he has overseen a trajectory of growth that has included the launches of SXSW Interactive, SXSW Film, SXSW Edu, SXSW Eco, and the V2V entrepreneurial conference.
Amid all the changes in state government brought about by the November election, Joe Straus remains the most notable constant. The San Antonio Republican was first elected speaker of the House in 2009 after widespread dissatisfaction with the heavy-handed leadership style of Tom Craddick, the first Republican speaker since Reconstruction, led to Craddick’s ouster.
•A hummingbird that had flown off course on its migration south was taken by airplane from Minnesota to Texas, where it was released into the wild. A Woodlands house with a three-story closet was put on the market for $12.9 million.
•Fathers at Lakewood Elementary School raised money to buy a car for the longtime crossing guard, whose vehicle had been repossessed following his wife’s costly illness.
Make Some Room, The Suffers (self-released, January 20)
Yes, this is a four-song EP from an unsigned Houston band. But when that band dominates the Houston Press Music Awards, attention must be paid. And given this ten-piece ensemble’s razor-sharp funk revivalism and front woman Kam Franklin’s powerhouse voice, it’s tough to imagine they’ll remain unsigned for long. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, watch out.