Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from Kinky Friedman getting you in the holiday spirit to a trip to a chance to hear the world's best mariachi music in San Antonio. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[Nov 25–Dec 1]
The Season of Kinky
Kinky Friedman always has something to say. Whether he’s talking about Rick Perry or Jesus, every topic is a setup for a punch line from the writer, musician, and perennial political candidate. He’ll be rattling off witty observations at his one-man, fourteen-city Hanukkah Tour, where he’ll be promoting his new tequila and his relatively new book. “The underlying theme is that Hanukkah and Christmas have become corporate marketing tools,” Friedman said. “Like Gandhi said, ‘We’re the one-eyed giant.’” Friedman will perform his country-schlock classics “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed” and “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews like Jesus Anymore,” which he only recently started playing again after temporarily banning it because it contains the N-word. He will also read from Heroes of a Texas Childhood, about 23 of his idols. Sample some Man in Black tequila before it hits stores, and when you get to the front of the book-signing line, ask Friedman what he really thinks of Perry, his old gubernatorial foe. “If Rick Perry was president,” Friedman said, “the world would be a better place.”
The Aardvark, November 29, 9 p.m. kinkyfriedman.com
Mass With Brass
In the 1960s, Josephine and Jesse Orta traveled from San Antonio to Mexico to learn time-honored folk songs and their attendant rituals. When the Ortas returned home, one of the traditions they began teaching through the churches was Mariachi Mass, a version of Catholic Mass peppered with strings, horns, and bajo sexto. The 17th annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza , an eight-day celebration of Mexican history through music, will commence with Mariachi Mass at San Fernando Cathedral, the state’s oldest standing church. Competitions among groups and vocalists from both sides of the border, plus an art exhibit and workshops, will lead to a finale performance by Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, the century-old exemplar of the genre. “I have cousins who live in Monterrey, who have seen the show,” said Cynthia Muñoz, the extravaganza’s producer, “and they couldn’t believe they had spent their entire lives in Mexico and had to come here to see the best of their own culture.”
Various locations, November 27-December 4, various times. mariachimusic.com
Websites like Etsy and Folksy have turned arts-and-crafts hobbyists into entrepreneurs. Renegade Craft Fair is a way for those indie D.I.Y.-ers to connect face to face with their customers. Holiday Market, the seasonal version of the multi-city, roving marketplace, starts in Austin. It will appeal to those who covet handmade, few-of-a-kind goods, like ironic T-shirts, limited-edition rock posters, and vintage kitsch. The vendors are chosen by a panel, so it’s not like just anybody can peddle the wares. Of course, it wouldn’t be D.I.Y. if you didn’t get involved: make ornaments in an Airstream, attend a workshop on turning “upcycled” materials into accessories, and marvel at a knit yoga-ball installation by Knitta Please, the Austin “yarn bombers.” This is how to participate in Black Friday without descending into the mayhem of shopping malls.
Palmer Events Center, November 26-27, 11 a.m. renegadecraft.com
In the Foxxhole
Jamie Foxx has his grandmother to thank for his stardom. She was the one who first realized his potential as an entertainer, and steered him toward the piano as a boy growing up in Terrell, 30 minutes east of Dallas. Show up the Entertainment Tonight staff as a hard-hitting celebrity journalist and ask Foxx how this influenced his Academy Award-winning role as Ray Charles when he sits down for a question-and-answer session during the Brinker International Forum. Start with something easy: ask him about Django Unchained, the Quentin Tarantino movie he is currently filming. Then go for the gut and ask him what he was doing getting in a fight at an Usher concert earlier this year.
Winspear Opera House, December 1, 8 p.m. jamiefoxx.com
Roping Holiday Cheer
Experience Christmas the way it was celebrated on the range more than a century ago, when Michael Martin Murphey, the self-described “No. 1 cowboy singer and songwriter” in America, saddles up for his Cowboy Christmas Tour, an homage to the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball held in Anson in 1885.
The Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian, November 26, 7:30 p.m. michaelmartinmurphey.com
The band Sons of Fathers was originally called Beck & Cauthen until Beck (as in “I’m a loser, baby”) threatened litigation if the name wasn’t changed—which wasn’t so bad, because it affirmed the talent of the Austin-roots duo, who will perform a CD release show for their self-titled debut co-produced by Lloyd Maines.
The Scoot Inn, Nov. 26, 9 p.m. sonsoffathers.net