Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the opera in Houston and Friday night lights in Odessa to surfing along the coast and hiking in the mountains. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[JAN 21– JAN 27]
Blues Man Group
A Pinetop Perkins fan: “He’s a treasure, one of the great living bluesmen.” A detractor: “He’s lost it. He’s 97 years old. The only reason he gets gigs is because he’s a slick dresser.” Fan: “He was nominated for a Grammy this year!” Detractor: “The Grammys are a joke!” Fan: “Not when it comes to Best Traditional Blues Album! Craftsmanship still wins out over sales in that category.” Verdict? Well, the album in this case is Joined at the Hip, a collaboration between Perkins, a boogie-woogie piano player, and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, a 75-year-old singer and harmonica player, both of whom sharpened their grooves in Muddy Waters’s band in the seventies, and then broke free to start the Legendary Blues Band, which eventually disbanded. Perkins and Smith have joined forces on and off ever since, purveying Chicago and Delta blues. They have only a couple shows scheduled in support of the new album, where they will demonstrate the magical power of interconnectivity, and convince you that, in the above argument, the fan wins.
Sam’s Burger Joint, Jan 27, 7 p.m.
It is not a coincidence that the Texas premiere of Red Hot Patriot, a play about Molly Ivins, is opening in Austin during the onset of the Eighty-Second Legislature. Ivins, the slyly funny and brutally honest writer who lived in the state capital for much of her adult life, took great joy in delivering jabs to our state legislators, most notably in the Texas Observer. Austin actress Barbara Chisholm plays the title role, which was inhabited to much acclaim by Kathleen Turner in the national premiere, in Philadelphia last spring. The action of the play, written by twin sisters Margaret and Allison Engel, centers around Ivins attempts to write a column about her father, a powerful Houston oil and gas executive. This proves difficult, revealing much about her personal and professional life. “Playing Molly is balls out fun,” Chisholm said. “With this play, I have to go to a place where my heart and mind are wide open.” The challenge, Chisholm added, is to honor Ivins’s memory and convey her “extreme generosity and unapologetic love of people” to a hometown audience that will likely comprise a good number of people who knew and were influenced by Ivins—including those within the Pink Dome.
ZACH Theatre, Jan 25, 8 p.m.
Wine at All Costs
Fredericksburg Wine Road 290, a coalition of ten wineries located in Fredericksburg—the German Hill Country town 75 miles due west of Austin that’s otherwise known for an abundance of antiques shops—was formed to promote the idea that the area ought to be considered the Napa Valley of Texas. It’s a bit of a stretch—although Fredericksburg makes critically acclaimed wines, there’s hardly the attitude of Napa. The first event for Fredericksburg Wine Road 290 in 2011 is Port ’n Pairings, on Saturday. (Port, in this instance, is a misnomer for fortified wine—genuine port wine is a product of Portugal—but Fortified Wine ’n Pairings doesn’t have the same ring to it.) Port is regarded as a dessert wine, so savory treats will complement the tastings. Grape Creek Vineyards will offer a gorgonzola, walnut, and dried peach tart, while Pedernales Cellars will play it safe with chocolate.
Wine Road 290, Jan 22, various times.
Air Traffic Control
Houston is infamous for polluted air. The culprits? Transportation for an estimated 4.7 million metro-area citizens, constant sun and heat, and one giant industrial complex. It’s a seemingly overwhelming predicament, but there is one thing that can be done to repair the damage: plant more trees. As part of its 25th Annual Arbor Day, the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department is soliciting volunteers to help plant 25,000 trees along Wallisville Road, between I-610 and US 90, and at the intersection of I-10 and I-610. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, a source of global warming, and, in turn, replenish the atmosphere with oxygen. You’ll get the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done your part to help purify the city’s air supply, and for years to come, you can whiz by and point out your legacy.
Houston Community College Northeast, Jan 22, 7 a.m.
The Dallas Burlesque Festival is a mash-up of All That Jazz and the Suicide Girls website, with twenty-some performers demonstrating that near nudity can be more scintillating than full-frontal.
House of Blues, Jan 22, 8 p.m.
The Extra Yard
You will leave Neil Sperry’s Home Landscape School with a rendering of your own landscaping project—the perfect match for Sperry’s quintessential book, Neil Sperry’s Complete Guide to Texas Gardening.
The Plano Centre, Jan 22, 9 a.m.
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Eight more gotta-see, gotta-do events that you can’t afford to miss.
By Alice Rose Busa and Stefania Malacrida