Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from a showing of a documentary about Antone's, Austin's famed blues venue, to the Texas Ranch Roundup in Wichita Falls. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
Man the Ship
Loren Steffy, the Houston Chronicle ’s business columnist, said recently that when he was a child his father took him to nearly every maritime museum on the East Coast. “We were always looking at ships,” Steffy said. “If we weren’t at a museum, we were at a marina.” His father, Dick Steffy, was an autodidact who transformed himself from a small town electrician to a worldly master restorer of sunken ships. Loren Steffy chronicles this improbable transformation and rise to the top of the field that his father essentially created—and that landed him a MacArthur “genius” grant—in his new book, The Man Who Thought Like a Ship. At a coming public discussion, Steffy will explain how his father, who died in 2007, used model ships as learning tools for his crowning achievement: the restoration of the Kyrenia, a 2,300-year-old Greek ship found off the coast of Cyprus in 1967. Dick Steffy’s work with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M brought his family to Texas, where he taught graduate classes, despite not having a college degree. “My dad always said ships teach you how ancient societies dealt with technology, how societies transacted with each other,” Steffy said. “They were the Internet of their time.”
Houston Maritime Museum, Aug. 21, 7 p.m., lorensteffy.com
Blues Man Group
Clifford Antone did more than just bring the blues to Austin; he fostered collaborations between young hotshots and cool veterans, broke down racial divides among blacks and whites and strongly influenced the robust live music scene. Antone’s: Home of the Blues is a documentary film about the eponymous club Antone opened on Sixth Street in 1975, where the countless collaborations included Lou Ann Barton with Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughan with Albert King. (Antone’s has since moved locations.) The movie debuted at South by Southwest in 2004, but it was re-edited for its DVD release in 2006, two weeks after Antone died. The final edit, which will be screened at the Bob Bullock Museum on Sunday with live music by the Antone’s House Band and special guests, includes more footage of interviews with old guys like B.B. King, Albert Collins and Pinetop Perkins. “As Clifford says in the documentary,” said Denise Boudreaux, the movie’s associate producer, “the blues was his wife, his kid, his everything. Everything he did was to tell this story, and to help resurrect some of the careers of some of these blues players.”
Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, Aug. 19, 6 p.m., thestoryoftexas.com
The sport of rodeo has gone mainstream, drawing competitors who might not have grown up on a ranch but have the drive to ride livestock for prize money. At the Texas Ranch Roundup, though, only certified hands are able to compete, as individuals and as teams representing their ranches. The Roundup, which started in 1981, claims to be the first ranch rodeo in the country to honor the working Texas cowboy. Watch competitors vie for bragging rights, and then see how cowboys relax and reflect, with chuckwagon cooking demonstrations and with a cowboy church service by Susie McEntire, the sister of a fellow country singer, Reba McEntire.
Wichita Falls Multi-Purpose Event Center, Aug. 17-18, various times, texasranchroundup.com
Tejano is a genre of Mexican music in which rock ’n’ rollers and traditionalists can plug into the same amplifier. The fruits of this healthy kind of cross-pollination will be on display at the 32nd annual Tejano Music Awards. The diverse, all-star lineup consists largely of Texans, including Girl in a Coma, the tattooed emo band with an affinity for the British singer Morrissey; Emilio Navaira, the country singer who survived a coma after a nasty automobile accident; and Ruben Ramos, a.k.a. El Gato Negro, the socially minded singer whose melting-pot sound remains relevant fifty years after he first made his mark. Who wins what award probably won’t matter, because you will be lost in the jams.
Alamodome, Aug. 18, 6 p.m., tejanomusicawards.com
Note for Note
The beauty of listening to a great album performed in sequence and in its entirety has nearly been lost in this digital age of the shuffle play, but the Texas quartet Old 97’s will resurrect it for their fifteenth anniversary tour in support of the cowpunk classic Too Far To Care .
House of Blues, Aug. 23, 7 p.m., old97s.com
Dance Hall Nights
Texas dance halls are kind of equivalent to vinyl records, and music aficionados wanting to preserve their pure sound and atmosphere will scoot down to the Texas Dance Hall Showcase, a live-music fundraiser for these endangered structures.
The Highball, Aug. 18, 9 p.m., thehighball.com