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.
[Apr 22–Apr 28]
Photograph by Collette Barragan
Drivers in the Unlimited Division of the Big Bend Open Road Race probably got a good laugh at the recent proposal to raise the speed limit to 85 miles per hour in certain parts of Texas. That’s because these speed demons routinely break 200 mph on the 118-mile round-trip stretch between Fort Stockton and Sanderson, on Highway 285, in West Texas. But speed alone will not win this race. “The goal is to get as close to the target speed as possible,” said Kenda Furman, race coordinator. Add to that a “tech speed”—a mph limit over which drivers cannot exceed—and you have a race that calls for a wicked combination of precision and lunacy not found in Nascar. The only way to view the race is to sign up as one of the volunteers stationed at each of the 84 ranch gates along the course. As for the fires raging in the region, don’t worry. “The fires are far west of us,” Furman said. “And hopefully they will be out and no new ones will start by race day.”
Various locations, April 20–23, various times.
Photograph by Randy Chambers
Real Texas Music
Texas music can mean two different things: music that comes from within the state’s boundaries, from Bun B to Townes Van Zandt to the Polyphonic Spree, or music that is derivative of country. This will be the twenty-third year that Larry Joe Taylor’s Texas Music Festival & Chili Cook-off has perpetuated the latter with a Kerrville-meets-Terlingua vibe. Taylor was a burgeoning singer-songwriter who instead of waiting to get offered to play a fest, befriended all the right singer-songwriters, including Rusty Wier and Jerry Jeff Walker, and started his own fest. Watching him perform this year, between sets by the likes of Joe Ely and Ray Wylie Hubbard, will be an inspiration to aspiring musicians and concert promoters alike. The best way to make friends at the fest is to bring marshmallows. Late-night jam sessions around the campfire are legendary. Imagine stumbling upon Guy Clark, Pat Green, and Doug Sahm, as Taylor did at four-thirty one morning in 1997. Might your definition of Texas music then be solidified?
Melody Mountain Ranch, April 26–30, various times.
Easter as It Was
In 2000, Sebastian Horsley, the deceased British artist, infamously subjected himself to a crucifixion—as in real nails, real blood, and real pain—to see “what it was like.” There’s YouTube footage of the event, but it might be too hard on the eyes. A more family-friendly way to see “what it was like” is to attend the fifteenth annual Last Days of Christ, a multi-fold reenactment that is considered the largest Easter celebration in Texas. Observe more than five hundred actors and behind-the-scenes workers portraying the Last Supper, Roman soldiers sword-fighting in the streets of a fictional Jerusalem, and all aspects of the crucifixion, from Jesus carrying the cross to Roman Centurions flogging him to death to his eventual ascension into Heaven. It’s the real deal—though Horsley might disagree—and a great way to slack off from church for a weekend.
Legacy Christian High School, April 21–23, 6 p.m.
Photograph by Akira Kinoshita
Jessica Mathaes is a violinist like no other. Among other accolades, she became, in 2005, the youngest—and first female—concertmaster of the Austin Symphony. It takes a special musician to impress her, not to mention a fellow violinist. But then Itzhak Perlman, whose influence ranges far and wide, is a violin master to whom most fellow violinists bow down. “I’ve been listening to Perlman’s recordings since I was small, and his CDs of the Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 3 and Ravel Tzigane in particular inspired me as a young violinist,” Mathaes said. “I also remember seeing him on Sesame Street when I was a child.” Perlman will be the featured performer at the Austin Symphony Centennial Gala. Watching Perlman perform Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 might just be the thing to unclog your ears to the wonders of classical music.
Long Center, April 28, 7:30 p.m.
Photograph courtesy of the Buccaneer Commission
Any festival that starts with the mayor walking the plank—as is customary at the Buc Days Carnival, a celebration of summer’s arrival—is one that speaks to not only the common man’s disdain for government, but also the swashbuckler’s penchant for sadism.
Various locations, April 28–May 8, various times.
Courtesy of the Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour
The Funky Chicken Coop Tour, a show-and-tell of urban farmers’ chicken-raising methodologies, serves the dual purpose of expanding the sustainable, farm-to-table culture and equipping belt-tighteners with an alternative to grocery store prices.â€¨
Various locations, April 23, 10 a.m.
• • • • •
Six more gotta-see, gotta-do events that you can’t afford to miss.
By Olivia LaVecchia
Watch the iconic singer-songwriter croon everything from classics (“Sweet Baby James”) to Covers, his latest solo release.
Bass Concert Hall, April 23, 8 p.m.
Earth Day Dallas
An inaugural festival with music, speakers, yoga, films, and vendors that celebrate the Earth—and educate Dallas about going green.
Dallas Arts District, April 22 & 23, 10 a.m.
Sesame Street Live: Elmo’s Healthy Heroes
Elmo and his team of Healthy Heroes teach exercise, sleep, nutrition, and hygiene through song and dance.
Abraham Chavez Theatre, April 21–24, various times.
Culture meets nature with live music on two stages, wildflower tours, eco-exhibitions, and an Easter egg hunt.
Tandy Hills Natural Area, April 23, 10 a.m.
“Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards”
Emmy award–winning actress