Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the Bob Phillips at the Texas Country Reporter Festival in Waxahachie to celebrating Día de los Muertos in the Chihuahuan Desert. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[Oct 28–Nov 4]
On the Road
In the past forty years, Bob Phillips of the TV show “Texas Country Reporter” has driven nearly four million miles in pursuit of almost three thousand stories often neglected by the mainstream media. “We shy away from famous people,” Phillips said, having just finished a story about a black man who bought and restored an old plantation house near Galveston that once belonged to slave owners. “If they’re famous, we let TMZ have them. We’re just trying to do real stories about real people.” Celebrity, however, awaits Phillips’s subjects at the Texas Country Reporter Festival, where they are the main draw in tale-swapping sessions among roughly fifty thousand people. “Waxahachie is like a movie set,” Phillips said. “It has everything people are looking for in a small-town festival, including the most beautiful courthouse in the state.” There will be live music and a car show, and Phillips will be there to shake hands and field your story ideas.
Courthouse Square, Oct 29, 9 a.m. texascountryreporter.com
Genuine Texas singer-songwriters are on a first-name basis: Willie, Townes, Billy Joe, Kris, Guy. That last fella is, of course, Guy Clark, and for his seventieth birthday, a host of his disciples will serenade him with covers of his songs. Rodney Crowell, who performed “That Old Time Feeling” for the album This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark, out December 6, said, “The man’s a painter, luthier, songwriter, singer, poet and, with Townes dead and gone, usually the smartest guy in the room.” James McMurtry, who performed “Cold Dog Soup” on that same album, added, “Guy has the voice and the eye for detail that reminds me of the Texas I knew as a child. He is probably the Texas songwriter.” Jerry Jeff Walker, Joe Ely and Ray Wylie Hubbard will join Crowell and McMurtry, plus a score of others, in what might just turn out to be one of the most exhilarating guitar pulls in recent memory.
The Long Center, Nov 2, 7 p.m. guyclark.com
Halloween is that one time of year when you don’t get strange looks for talking to dead people. Why not take advantage and commune with a host of souls in a far-out place like the Chihuahuan Desert in deep West Texas? Dude of the Dead Music Festival, an event akin to Burning Man that mashes Día de los Muertos rituals with live music, is like one big séance. “Camping under the stars of the desert offers a wonderful opportunity to reflect on those who have left us in body,” said Harry Miller, the event’s organizer. “Who’s to say there won’t be a spirit or more drawn by the heat of the dance and the merriment of the music?” Community fires will keep you warm at night after a day of desert bowling and Frisbee golf. As with all Halloween parties, costumes are encouraged. Don’t have one? Miller said birthday suits count.
Presidio ¼ Mile Drag Strip, Oct 28-30, various times. dudeofthedead.net
Keep Hope Alive
Hope is not lost. It’s right there on Girl in a Coma’s new album, Exits & All the Rest . “We played a show back in 2010 in Arizona, and we saw much more than we were prepared for,” said Nina Diaz, the frontwoman for the female power trio from San Antonio. “We saw the jail where they held immigrants and also met a lot of families being torn apart by this disaster. I decided to write lyrics about what I saw for this new song ‘Hope.’” Girl in a Coma will celebrate the release of the album at Échale! Latino Music Estyles , a live-music series showcasing contemporary Latin bands. It’s quite an honor—it’s the first time a local band has headlined—but it’s also pigeonholing. Girl in a Coma rocks without borders. They’re signed to Joan Jett’s label, they’ve toured with the Go-Go’s and they’re inspired by Morrissey. Your chances to see them for free again are slim.
Pearl Park Amphitheater, Oct 29, 6:30 p.m. girlinacoma.com
A haunted house is kid’s play compared to the uneasy feeling you’ll have walking back to your car after seeing Lon Chaney Jr., the son of the man behind The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, perform his most revered role, in The Wolf Man, on the big screen.
Miller Outdoor Theatre, Oct. 31, 7:30 p.m. milleroutdoortheatre.com
Journey Into Night
Scotch, cigars and steak will accompany the Comanche Moon Social, which will feature Barry Corbin (who played Roscoe Brown in Lonesome Dove ) performing “Buffalo Altar: A Texas Symphony,” which is based on a short story by the Austin writer Stephen Harrigan.
Perini Ranch Steakhouse, Oct 29, 6:30 p.m. periniranch.com