Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from Sarah Jarosz's bluegrass and the Drum Corps International Southwestern Championship to the "World Series" of dog shows. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[July 20–July 28]
Art for Profit
The producer Elizabeth Avellán launched her career with El Mariachi , the independent movie Robert Rodriguez made for $7,000 in 1992. Now she’s one of Hollywood’s leading filmmakers, with credits ranging from Spy Kids to Grindhouse. And she has mostly done it outside Hollywood, running Troublemaker Studios in Austin with Rodriguez, to whom she was married for sixteen years until they separated in 2006 . One of the questions she is most frequently asked at events like Sunday’s “ A Conversation in Film with Elizabeth Avellán ” is, “How do I build something like Troublemaker where I live?” “Start out by creating from within,” Avellán said. “You take people who were maybe your P.A. and little by little they become costume designer.” Avellán will also try to convince aspiring filmmakers that art is about making money. “There are many, many ways to monetize your talents.” She will use her son’s film, Blacktino, as a guide for independent production. She will most likely also promote her upcoming movie, When Angels Sing , a Christmas story starring Harry Connick Jr., Connie Britton, and Willie Nelson. “Willie plays the magical character in the film,” Avellán said. “That twinkle in his eye really comes through.”
Harry Ransom Center, July 22, 3 p.m., austinfilmfestival.com
In the Groove
Ohio State’s marching band dots the “i,” Texas bangs Big Bertha, and Hawaii makes a Stick Man. “The Crossmen are known for a groove,” said Fred Morrison, the director of the San Antonio drum corps. “If you’re not tapping your feet and bopping your head, we’re doing something wrong.” The Crossmen is the only World Class division drum corps in Texas, with 72 brass, forty percussion, 36 color guards, and two drum majors. It is one of four corps from Texas competing against 23 other squads from across the country in the Drums Corps International Southwestern Championship. There will be roughly four thousand college and high school students participating, who have spent the entire summer training and performing on the D.C.I. circuit. “A lot of our members want to be professional musicians or band directors,” Morrison said, “and this is part of their education on that career path.”
Alamodome, July 21, 1:30 p.m., dci.org
All Mixed Up
Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking with a French Accent , the new cookbook by the Denton native Ellise Pierce, was born of desperation. As an expatriate living in Paris, Pierce has learned to make do with the ingredients and cookware available to her. To make tortillas, she uses a cast-iron creperie instead of a comal. Because fresh jalapeños are scarce, she has adopted Moroccan peppers. “A lot of people are recipe followers,” Pierce said. But her book is “about breaking the rules when you can.” Chefs with rebellious streaks will be able to express themselves in Pierce's classes , coming to Central Markets in five different cities over five days, starting with Fort Worth and ending in Austin. Pierce’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Soufflé, which she calls “an inside-out Reese’s,” should appeal to junk food-lovers and French traditionalists alike.
Central Market Fort Worth, July 25, 6:30 p.m., cowgirlchef.com
Watching the world famous Westminster Dog Show, how many proud dog owners have opined that their dogs are every bit as marvelous as the ones being trotted around the stage? Well, at the 35th annual Reliant Park World Series of Dog Shows , any owner can prove it. “My Dog Can Do That!” is a free event complementing the official competition, and it invites all breeds and mixes to show off their agility on an obstacle course. Don’t worry if your canine doesn’t perform as hoped. Professional trainers from the American Kennel Club will offer pointers. And the twelve-pound Pekingese named Palacegarden Malachy, this year’s Best in Show at Westminster, will also be there to rub it in.
Reliant Center, July 20-22, 8 a.m., reliantdogshows.com
What appears to be the beginning of an extended drought has homeowners rethinking what to plant in their yards, and the Tough Texas Landscapes Series will help them make informed decisions about xeriscaping and hearty native vegetation.
San Antonio Botanical Garden, July 21 and 28, 9 a.m., sabot.org
Now that Sarah Jarosz , the Grammy-nominated bluegrass prodigy from Wimberley, has turned 21, she can accept beer from fans grateful for her original mix of traditional music and Tom Waits and Radiohead covers.
The Kessler Theater, July 20, 8:30 p.m., sarahjarosz.com