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.
[Mar 18–Mar 24]
Photograph by Michael Antares
On the Bandwagon
Band geeks shall inherit Austin this weekend when they hit the pavement with a merry cacophony of brass, percussion, and household products, as part of Honk! TX, a free, roving get-together of fancifully dressed community street bands. Come one, come all: These street bands can balloon to as many as sixty or more members, and a wide variety of genres will be on display, including Bollywood, klezmer, and the Brazilian uptempo brass band style known as frevo. “Some will also throw in a Black Sabbath song or some hip-hop for good measure,” said Christopher Ledesma of iLoveMikeLitt, one of the organizers of Austin’s iteration of the national festival. Five of the twenty bands are local, and perhaps the most popular is Minor Mishap Marching Band, a 35-piece “circus-punk-brass” band whose members typically perform dressed as bumblebees. “Playing in a street band allows you to dress up like it’s Halloween every weekend,” said Jeff Luna, Minor Mishap’s mellophonist. Unlike at a traditional concert, expect the fourth wall separating performer and audience to be broken repeatedly.
Various locations, Mar 11–13, various times.
Guided by the Light
The mere mention of contemporary art, like calculus, can cause people to shut down. That may be one of the reasons why Luminaria, an exposition of contemporary artists of every imaginable kind, takes as its theme the infinite ways to project light. What better way to enlighten patrons about art than to use the medium through which we see? Now, if you encounter Charles Harrison Pompa’s glowing, life-size robot-looking creatures, you will know not to freak out, because it’s just art. This is the fourth year of Luminaria, which takes place in San Antonio, and the complaints of visitors from years past have caused organizers to take notice. It’s too crowded in the park, people have said. So this year, the entire park, instead of just a portion of it, will be utilized. There are too many artists, the people have said. So this year, a quality-over-quantity approach has cut the number down to about 110. Obviously, Luminaria doesn’t take customer service lightly.
HemisFair Park, Mar 12, 6:30 p.m.
The Old Ball Game
Before steroids and free agency all but ruined baseball, there was base ball—two words, not one—a game as unadulterated as a real life field of dreams. Among other differences, there were no gloves and certainly no cussing or spitting (such uncouth behavior warrants a fine of up to “two bits”), and the field of play is often a pasture, with natural or man-made obstacles such as railroad tracks, a chicken coop, and a barbed wire fence. “You will be witness to all skill levels of play, with players, both male and female, from ages 18 to 73, with the main focus on history, the love of the game, and sportsmanship, rather than winning” said Russell Smith (a.k.a. “Lefty”), who plays first base and outfield for the Farmers Branch Mustangs. Not buying it? Attend the Farmers Branch Vintage Base Ball Tournament this weekend and see for yourself how teams from Texas and beyond did it back in the 1860’s.
Farmers Branch Historical Park, Mar 12, 10 a.m.
Ladies of Steel
Out of the fifty steel guitarists partaking in the 27th annual Texas Steel Guitar Jamboree, a trade show with vendors, workshops, and performances, there are only three women. So why aren’t there more women who play this instrument that is to country music what barbecue is to Texas? Cindy Cashdollar, a participant from Austin who excels at both Dobro and lap steel, the quintessential steel guitar, and who has jammed with Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, and the Dixie Chicks, once asked Marian Hall, one of the first western swing-style female steel players, that same question. She received this answer: “Maybe because the darn thing is so heavy to haul around.” This weekend, Cashdollar will perform with Herb Remington, one of the original steel players in Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, a pioneering western swing band, a rare chance to hear two steel players in concert together.
Sheraton Grand Hotel, Mar 11–13, various times.
Five dollars per pound is the going rate for rattlers at the annual Rattlesnake Round-Up, a gathering (and decommissioning) of the first snake of Texas, where a disturbing sight surely will be a booted performer standing in a pit of hundreds of agitated guests of honor.
Nolan County Coliseum, Mar 11–13, various times.
Overcrowded waters make winning the fifteen-mile Buffalo Bayou Regatta a thing of luck, so why not focus on winning something within your power, like the Styrofoam Cup, awarded to the canoer or kayaker who picks up the most trash along the race course?
Buffalo Bayou, Mar 12, 9 a.m.
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Seven more gotta-see, gotta-do events that you can’t afford to miss.
By Annie Samuelson
The “World Famous” Lipizzaner Stallions