THROW YOUR PLANS OUT the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from Texas high school football at the Bullock Museum and Houston rap in Dallas to the Kueckelhan Rodeo. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss. [July 29—Aug 5]
Friday Night Highlights
“Football is a rough sport, and Texans are a rough people,” Sonny Detmer, the legendary football coach at Somerset High School and the father of Ty and Koy, two former N.F.L. quarterbacks, told Joe Nick Patoski, who is the guest curator of the exhibition “Texas High School Football: More Than the Game.” The quote sums up why football defines Texas. “The game is physical and speaks to our frontier spirit and competitive nature,” said Patoski, a longtime chronicler of Texas culture. The exhibition focuses on the game, and its history and spirit. “I factored in segregation, the rural-to-urban migration, and external events such as wars,” said Patoski, who is currently writing a book about the Dallas Cowboys. The exhibition has something for everybody. Football junkies can geek out on the snapping machine invented by Felton “Pooch” Wright of Ballinger, and casual fans can appreciate how artifacts from cheerleaders, mascots, marching bands, drill teams and homecoming queens have enhanced this culture.
The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, July 30-Jan. 22, various times. thestoryoftexas.com
The rapper Chingo Bling of Houston can seem all shtick. “People say, ‘Hey, this guy’s educated; why is his music so dumb?’” said Bling, who blends Weird Al Yankovic-style parody with a gangster's gold grill and cowboy boots emblazoned with a Nike swoosh to draw attention to issues affecting his Mexican brethren. “But they’re not listening to me. I have a lot of songs about not giving up, keeping the faith and chasing the dream.” Bling, born Pedro Herrera, got his education in the classroom, not on the streets, as so many rappers profess. He graduated from Trinity University in 2001 with a degree in business administration and has parlayed that into a career that also includes radio and acting. “The direction I’m trying to go is Chingo Seacrest,” Bling said. “Rapping isn’t my biggest strength. I just know, from being a DJ, how to program and put content on a CD.” Bling’s next CD, “Back to the Border,” comes out July 31, on the final date of his mini-tour. All signs point to Bling going out with a bang.
House of Blues, July 31, 7 p.m. chingobling.com
Dining at a fine restaurant feels less indulgent during Houston Restaurant Weeks. That’s because a portion of sales from lunch or dinner at more than 120 participating restaurants goes to the Houston Food Bank, which feeds about 137,000 people each week. Major deals can be had. When else would you be able to enjoy a $35 three-course meal at Tony’s, the namesake Italian restaurant by Tony Vallone, Houston’s “Dean of Dining”? Originally just one week, the culinary event has grown to a full month, and last year it raised more than a half-million dollars. They say it’s better to give than to receive, but what’s even better is to give and receive.
Various locations, Aug. 1-31, various times. houstonrestaurantweeks.com
Milk and Honey
We are all secretly jealous of professional musicians for what seems like their carefree lives of traveling, partying and romancing without repercussions. But Sam Beam, the folkie who performs as Iron and Wine, is not like most musicians. Beam—a family man intensely dedicated to his artistic pursuits—lives with his wife and their five daughters in a cottage in Dripping Springs, and he would rather hang out there than regularly beat up the nearby Austin music scene. So Iron and Wine’s third annual benefit show at the Paramount is quite an occasion, made especially unique because the songs on Beam’s glistening new album, “Kiss Each Other Clean,” are jubilant band numbers that Beam will most likely recast for this intimate acoustic set. The $55 ticket price is worth it for the special guests alone—and if an appearance two years ago by the Academy Award-winner Glen Hansard of the Swell Season is any indication, Beam knows some very important persons.
Paramount Theatre, July 29, 8 p.m. ironandwine.com
Rodeo on the Rise
The appeal of the Kueckelhan Rodeo is apparent in its transformation from a family affair with church pews for bleachers to a 56-year-old hootenanny that will draw up to 5,000 enthusiasts this year, in part for the slick live country band, Two Tons of Steel.
Kueckelhan Ranch, July 28-30, 8 p.m. kueckelhanrodeo.com
Ultimate Fighting might be all the rage, but the fighting at the Legends of Kung Fu Martial Arts Championship, which features the pile-driving military style Sanshou, goes back to the dawn of fighting.
Plano Centre, July 29-31, various times. legendsofkungfu.com