Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from watching the Mavericks dunk on the Heat to seeing RG3 play in the Alamo Bowl. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[Dec 23–Dec 28]
The Mavericks robbed the Miami Heat of what was supposed to be their destiny last season: the NBA championship. Bet the mortgage LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh of the Heat will come with their shoes tied tightly to try to avenge this indignity when the teams square off again in the season opener. The frustration of a protracted off-season embroiled in a labor dispute should have both squads fired up, guaranteeing a hard-fought match in this burgeoning rivalry. James will dunk so hard it will look like the backboard is going to shatter. Dirk Nowitzki will knock down turnaround fade-aways that swish so perfectly it will seem like the net doesn’t even move. And Khloe Kardashian will preen in the background. Drama. Cameras. Pressure. And then the game will be over, and even if the Mavs lose, it won’t matter, because after the season that almost wasn’t, there is still victory in an early defeat.
American Airlines Center, Dec. 25, 1:30 p.m. dallasmavericks.com
Open White House
With Pinetop Perkins off to that great gig in the sky, Lavelle White has become Austin’s reigning senior citizen of the blues. The octogenarian singer was a linchpin of the Houston R&B scene in the 1950s and ’60s, recording a number of singles for the venerable Duke label, including “Just Look at You Fool” and “Yes, I’ve Been Crying.” She even toured with the likes of James Brown, Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin. But White didn’t get her due until 1994, when she recorded her first full-length album, Miss Lavelle, for Antone’s Records. Then, in 2006, she was inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame. White does not have a pocketbook commensurate with her talent, so her musical family organizes a benefit for her each year. As White will show in her impassioned song and dance at Lavelle White’s Christmas , however, charity is only the half of it.
The Saxon Pub, Dec. 24, 7 p.m. thesaxonpub.com
Sixteen weeks ago in this column, it was predicted that Baylor would upset TCU in the opener of the college football season, and that Robert Griffin III—RG3—would be a special player. Now here we are: Baylor beat the Horned Frogs and went on to defeat both Texas and, for the first time, Oklahoma. Almost no one guessed Baylor would have been the team to beat in the state. And Griffin was a big reason, as the Heisman Trophy presentation two weeks ago showed. The Alamo Bowl pits Baylor against the Washington Huskies, and it might be the last time to see Griffin, a junior, in a college uniform. Don’t miss what could be the capper to a season for the ages. Admire the astonishing speed and maneuverability of a world-class hurdler. Fathom the arm that led to a sensational eighteen of 36 passing touchdowns of longer than 35 yards. Respect the talent.
Valero Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29, 8 p.m. alamobowl.com
The Sure Thing
Skip the hassle of cooking your own holiday feast. Book your Christmas Eve or Christmas prix fixe dinner at Craft to mark the occasion. Tom Colicchio, co-host of Top Chef, which was shot in Texas this season, is owner of the chain. He holds people to high standards—he axed the first contestant on Top Chef before the elimination challenge because of the contestant’s improper butchering techniques—so that means he expects you to hold Craft to the same standards. But it’s safe to presume a restaurant willing to host holiday meals for which most restaurants aren’t even open has the right mixture of talent and brio. Just think: you won’t have to fight traffic or clean up your mess, and valet is complimentary. A reservation is a present you can give and still receive.
Craft, Dec. 24-25, various times. craftrestaurantsinc.com
Artists can be most revealing when they are surrounded by people who knew them before they were famous, as Gary Panter, the designer of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” sets and countless rock-album covers, will be when he returns to his small hometown for a joint exhibition with his father, Mel Panter.
Connally Street Gallery, Dec. 26, 4 p.m. garypanter.com
War Is Over
The title track to Hayes Carll ’s heralded album KMAG YOYO is a Dylanesque jingle about a soldier in over his head, and chances are it won’t ever sound as good as it will Wednesday night, at Carll’s first show since the end of the war in Iraq.
John T. Floore Country Store, Dec. 28, 7 p.m. hayescarll.com