The Drop Everything List

The Texas Tornados, the Festival of Ideas, Becoming Kinky: The World According to Kinky Friedman, and the Texas Pinball Festival . . .

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 25–Mar 31]

•••••

GRUENE

Twister and Shout
Appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone at the ripe age of three would seem to portend a life of excess and unrealized potential. But Shawn Sahm, son of Tex-Mex pioneer Doug Sahm (the co-subject of that 1968 cover), has parlayed his psychedelic start to life into a successful musical career of his own. His current gig: front man for the Texas Tornados, the super-group, presided over by his father until his passing in 1999, that fuses rock, country, and Mexican music into an intoxicating, bilingual blend. The mic has been smoothly passed to the younger Sahm, who slipped in effortlessly with original members like keyboardist Augie Meyers and accordionist Flaco Jimenez on last year’s reunion album, Esta Bueno! At the upcoming shows, close your eyes and see if you can tell the difference. “Dad used to always joke that he would just send me out on the road in place of him, so he wouldn’t have to miss baseball season,” Shawn Sahm said. Also absent from the original lineup is Freddy Fender, who died in 2006. But Fender’s music lives on in four songs on the album—the last he wrote.
Gruene Hall, Mar 25, 8 p.m.
thetexastornados.com

DALLAS

Brainstorming Session
One of America’s favorite pastimes is telling anyone who will listen about your ideas for how to make the world a better place. It’s one thing to do this in the company of friends and family, but what about in front of think-tank-smart people who aren’t afraid to call your bluff? That’s how it’s done at the Festival of Ideas, hosted by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Five “highly regarded figures,” including Ken Auletta, a staff writer for the New Yorker, and Stephen Krasner, former director of policy planning at the U.S. Department of State, will be paired with some of the brightest minds in Dallas for sessions on power, media, healthcare, and religion. Eventually, the audience will be welcomed into their ivory tower to offer a ground-level perspective. It’s a chance to be heard in a forum that matters, even though what matters most is converting ideas into action.
Dallas Museum of Art, Mar 26, 10 a.m.
dallasinstitute.org

HOUSTON

Working Out the Kinks
Some Texans just can’t get enough of the Kinkster—a.k.a. Kinky Friedman, former gubernatorial candidate, former agricultural commissioner candidate. That’s probably because he’s not afraid to speak truth to power, with a joke on the side—whether through his quixotic political campaigns, his satirical writings (many of which have appeared in TEXAS MONTHLY ), or his ribald country songs (performed with his band, the Texas Jewboys) like “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven & Your Buns in the Bed.” A new revue-style play will attempt to distill this witty, complex, and iconic character using his own words and music. “I want the audience to see what a sometimes acerbic and yet big-hearted person he is,” said Ted Swindley, the Houston playwright who wrote Becoming Kinky: The World According to Kinky Friedman. “I want them to believe along with me that Kinky Friedman is a modern day Will Rogers with an edge.” For the world premiere only, Friedman’s real-life sidekick, Little Jewford, will play the role of himself. Friedman, meanwhile, will not play any of the three Kinkys—Young Kinky, Musician Kinky, and Older Kinky—but he’s expected to be in the audience.
Farmers Branch Historical Park, Mar 12, 10 a.m.
kinkycigars.com

DALLAS

Pub Songs
Poor David’s Pub, a hallowed singer-songwriter venue, is turning 34 years old this month. That wouldn’t be a birthday worth making a stink about, except that Wednesday’s performer will be Willis Alan Ramsey, an all-but-forgotten legend of Texas music who also has a birthday this month—his sixtieth. In 1972, Ramsey, who grew up in Dallas, released his only album, a self-titled affair. Its success blindsided the 21-year-old into oblivion. But Ramsey’s influence prevailed in other performers’ interpretations of his songs, including Lyle Lovett’s “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas).” Here’s a chance to hear “Ballad of Spider John,” “Geraldine and the Honeybee,” and “Northeast Texas Women” before Jimmy Buffet, Widespread Panic, and Jerry Jeff Walker, respectively, got their hands on them—and perhaps even a song from Ramsey’s eternally-in-the-works sophomore album, Gentilly.
Poor David’s Pub, Mar 30, 8:30 p.m.
pubpoordavidspub.com

GRAPEVINE

Game On
The tenth annual Texas Pinball Festival will include a swap meet of coin-operated collectibles, a host of tournaments for pinball wizards to show off their hand-eye coordination, and a screening of Special When Lit, a documentary that attempts to be to pinball what King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is to Donkey Kong.
Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center, Mar 25–27, various times.
texaspinball.com

MARFA

Word Play
“The Jumper of Maine,” a screenplay about a paramedic with Tourette’s Syndrome, earned writer Andrew Lanham, an Austin resident, a staged performance of his script that will be presided over by Hollywood heavies as part of the inaugural iteration of The Reading, which aims to annually acknowledge a movie written by a Nicholl Fellow.
Crowley Theater, Mar 26, various times.
ballroommarfa.org

• • • • •

[PLUS]
Eight more gotta-see, gotta-do events that you can’t afford to miss.
By Annie Samuelson

AUSTIN

Harry Connick Jr.
The music behind When Harry Met Sally and the leading man in Hope Floats, Connick has a golden touch on-screen and onstage.
The Long Center, Mar 26, 8 p.m.
thelongcenter.org

DALLAS

Evening With Bill Maher
Maher jests about things one shouldn’t: politics, religion, and money. And he is all the more funny for it.
AT&T Performing Arts Center, Mar 27, 8 p.m.
attpac.org

EL PASO

Kidspalooza 2011
Performances, exhibits, and fun will stretch across the entire city.

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