Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the "Made in Texas" exhibit and an evening watching the Rangers play in Arlington to a performance by Willie in Corpus. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[July 6–July 8]
Much like the Cowboys are America’s Team, Texas is America’s brand. At least that’s what the Made in Texas exhibition implies in its vast display of items made by Texans and enjoyed by many others. There are obvious choices, like Dr Pepper, mesquite furniture and chili powder. “The commodification of chili powder in Texas led to the mass popularization of Mexican food for the non-Mexican,” said Sarah Gould, the exhibition’s curator. And there are the less obvious but no less employed, including the Palmaz Stent, which is integral in angioplasties, and Ultima, the role-playing computer game that spawned a genre. “You’ll see the Ziploc bag with the cover that Richard Garriott and his mother came up with,” Ms. Gould said. “It still has a $19.99 tag on it.” Discover in this hodgepodge of high- and low-brow one common thread: the hands of immigrants have built much of Texas.
Institute of Texan Cultures, July 6-Sept. 29, various times, texancultures.com
The first half of the Major League Baseball season is almost over and the Rangers have the best record. A third consecutive World Series appearance seems possible, but potential trouble looms. The pitching rotation is still in quandary, with the mustachioed star Derek Holland working his way back from a shoulder injury and Roy Oswalt, the former Astros hurler, still proving himself a reliable starter. Then there is the problem of slugger Josh Hamilton, the heart of the team. Nolan Ryan, the team’s president, was quoted as saying that Hamilton’s approach at the plate is as poor as he’s seen it since Ryan has been with the team. And this comes with added distraction: it was recently announced that Casey Affleck will produce a movie based on Mr. Hamilton’s life. Ensure the Rangers head into the All-Star Break on a positive note — and set the tempo for the second half — by rooting them on in a series against the Minnesota Twins.
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, July 6-8, various times, texasrangers.com
Kelly Willis and Ruby Jane Smith, both Austin musicians, are at different points in their careers, but each is at a crossroads. Ms. Willis, long a solo country-pop singer, has for the first time joined forces with her husband, Bruce Robison, for an album due out in January. “The stuff we’re doing together is purely motivated by how we sound together, as opposed to lyrical content or concepts,” Ms. Willis said. “Bruce wrote half the tunes and the others are covers.” Meanwhile, Ms. Smith, the fiddler prodigy, has come into her own with her new album, “Celebrity (Empire of Emptiness),” which transcends roots music in favor of alternative-pop. “I’ve tried to develop a sound that’s different than anything anyone’s heard from me before,” Ms. Smith said. “It’s a style that’s really all my own.” Ms. Smith’s new tunes mixed with maybe one or two from the coming Willis-Robison collaboration will make a discovery out of opening night at the Music Under the Star series.
The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, July 6, 6 p.m., thestoryoftexas.com
The Far Right Stuff
In this era of staunch partisanship, it appears every contest can be turned into a conservative v. liberal fight. Take, for example, the Conservative U.S. Pageant , featuring far-right-leaning competitors from across the country who will vie for titles in Mrs., Ms., Miss, Teen, and Jr. Teen categories. “God, country, and family” must be embraced for a shot at the crown. Since this event is inherently political, there is the chance of a liberal masquerading as a conservative to disrupt the proceedings. So maybe the best way to size up a potential queen’s true colors is to see how she responds to guest speaker Pete Sessions, Republican of Dallas, the conservative’s conservative who was instrumental in effecting major change to women's health care.
Renaissance Dallas Richardson Hotel, July 6-7, various times, conservativeuspageant.com
You don’t have to be a gamer to be in awe of “ The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses ,” the mash-up of classical music applied to images of the videogame, which is about universalities like exploring new worlds and good triumphing over evil.
Jones Hall, July 6-7, 7:30 p.m., houstonsymphony.org
Comfort Among Strangers
Willie Nelson devotees foiled by his Fourth of July picnic falling in the middle of the week will more than make up for it at his next show on Friday, in a venue that provides a lot more seating and air-conditioning than his last gig.
American Bank Center, July 6, 8 p.m., willienelson.com