Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the last weekend of Wurstfest in New Braunfels to a performance by the Wacko from Waco in Dallas. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
Despite the popularity of American Idol, The X Factor, The Voice, The Sing-Off, Glee —you get the idea—there are some of us who need prodding to bring our singing out from under a showerhead and into a performance space. The Big Sing, the thrice-annual community sing-a-thon, eliminates that fear with safety in numbers. “I tell people who say they can’t sing to leave their inner critic at the door,” said Craig Hella Johnson, artistic director of Conspirare, the Grammy-nominated choral group that is hosting the event. “This is about being together and sharing one breath.” Join the more than 400 amateurs and pros led by Johnson in a seventy-minute run of songs by, among others, Woody Guthrie, Cole Porter, and George Handel. “Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock once said, ‘When we sing, we announce our existence,’” Johnson said. “I say, let your existence be heard.”
First Baptist Church, Nov. 17, 6 p.m. conspirare.org
Texas has a rich history of influential women, from Susanna Dickinson, who survived the Battle of the Alamo, to Barbara Jordan, who transcended racism, to Molly Ivins, the journalist who wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is. At the Texas Conference for Women, women from in and out of state will channel that independent spirit through a series of workshops, discussions and networking opportunities presided over by first lady Anita Perry. “This is a time in history when the way women think is particularly important,” said Martha Beck, a life coach and columnist for O, the Oprah Magazine who will speak at the conference. “We are crowded on a planet filled to capacity with humans. And women under stress secrete hormones men don’t have in abundance: the ‘tend and befriend’ hormones. This helps women be less combative and more cooperative.” In other words, women—your mom, wife, daughter—will forge the path to the kingdom of peace. A smart man would heed Beck’s theory and join them in these strategy sessions.
George R. Brown Convention Center, Nov. 17, 7:30 a.m. txconferenceforwomen.org
In his first major interview since being acquitted of aggravated assault for shooting a man in the face outside a bar in Lorena, the singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver, 72, told Texas Monthly in May that he was going back on the road because he needed money. “If I was to quit, I’d probably die,” Shaver added. At the time, prostate surgery was looming, and he had a bum shoulder. But Shaver soldiered on, as he has his entire life. Any man whose father tried to kill him before he was even born, as Shaver claims in his autobiography, Honky Tonk Hero, deserves to be applauded for making it this far. In return, Shaver might just reward you with “Wacko From Waco,” a new song he collaborated on with his old pal Willie Nelson. The song, about his shooting incident, should have more bang now that Shaver has had a chance to road-test it.
The Kessler, Nov. 11, 8 p.m. billyjoeshaver.com
Order of the Sausage
“Opa” in German means grandfather, but at Wurstfest, the sausage free-for-all, an opa is a member of the Wurst Association of New Braunfels—an inner circle of men wise in the ways of bratwurst and pilsner. Opas orchestrate the ten-day gorge, and they are thought to be masters of polka and yodeling and dancing the schottische. Only opas (and maybe a few trusted apprentices) know how much sausage and beer is actually consumed by the more than one hundred thousand people who attend this premier celebration of German culture in Texas. The opas will be out in full force to close out the festival this weekend, and if you wish to learn the nuances of Wurstfest’s fifty-year history, strike up a conversation with one of them. Fanatics might like to know that the opas host a debriefing get-together at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday at an undisclosed location where ancient secrets are sure to be unlocked. But you didn’t hear that here.
Landa Park, Nov. 11-13, various times. wurstfest.com
Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre gets you laughing about stuff that makes you feel terrible for laughing about it—like its new production, My Cold Dead Fingers, about a “lapsed” Jew and a right-wing Christian who fight evil, complete with an exorcism at a Montessori school.
14 Pews, Nov. 11, 12, 14, 18 and 19, 9 p.m. 14pews.org
The NBA is locked out, but the players are still playing, and at the Josh Howard Celebrity All-Star Basketball Game, they will take out their frustrations on the owners by lighting up the scoreboard.
P.C. Cobb Complex, Nov. 12, 5 p.m. joshhowardweekend.ticketleap.com