Dancing for Dollars
A number of musical genres that are synonymous with Texas, including western swing, conjunto, and polka, might not be as culturally significant today without Texas dance halls, community institutions often built by German and Czech immigrants. “Many forms of music were born and bred in these dance halls,” said Stephen Michael Dean, co-founder and board member of the nonprofit Texas Dance Hall Preservation. “If it weren’t for these places, we wouldn’t have Willie Nelson or Roy Orbison or Buck Owens.” Many of these historic structures are in jeopardy because the small towns they call home do not have the financing to maintain them, so as a way to raise funds, Dean organized the Texas Dance Hall Preservation concert. Asleep at the Wheel, the nine-time Grammy-winning Texas swing band, will headline the show at Anhalt Hall in Spring Branch, which Dean said “has one of the largest, most beautiful dance floors in Central Texas,” a curved ceiling, and views of “pristine countryside outside of every window.” Even if you can’t make it to the show, help make sure these landmarks aren’t neglected by visiting any one of the roughly 1,400 dance halls scattered around the state.
Anhalt Hall, March 30, 8 p.m., texasdancehall.org
Dallas subcultures have been subverting the city’s stereotypically conservative image for decades. In the eighties, celebrities and locals danced away the night at the internationally known and infamously wild Starck Club. Before that, in the late seventies, there was a punk scene with some real bite--the Sex Pistols played one of their seven American shows in Dallas in 1978. “Dallas. PUNK!,” the exhibition open through this weekend at Cohn Drennan Contemporary, captures that scene from 1976 to 1981, when places like the Hot Klub, DJ’s, and the Twilight Room had teeming mosh pits. Check out work by punk rockers turned artists like Barry Kooda of the Nervebreakers, who opened for the Pistols back in the day, as well as photographs by James Bland, who focused his camera on the audiences. There will also be a bunch of DIY-style show flyers and posters by artists including Frank Campagna. “Of course, after the exhibition’s opening night,” said Cohn Drennan, a former drummer in the punk band the Boys, “a bunch of them were missing.”
Cohn Drennan Contemporary, March 29 at 10 a.m. and March 30 at 12 p.m., cohndrennancontemporary.com
The Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers have been playing baseball games against each other since 2001, but this is the first year those matchups will really matter. Until last year, the Lone Star Series was played for little more than pride and the Silver Boot, a size fifteen cowboy boot trophy. It was a forced rivalry—part of Major League Baseball’s interleague play— that never really caught momentum because the teams were rarely good at the same time and only met six times a year. But all of that will change this season as the Astros, with their new uniforms and new manager, join the Rangers, who lost former MVP Josh Hamilton, in the American League West. Now they will play nineteen games, more than enough to allow the teams (and their fans) to build some hatred for one another. Game one is MLB’s featured season opener, and Lyle Lovett, someone on whom most Texans can agree, will sing the National Anthem.
Minute Maid Park, March 31, 7 p.m., mlb.com
Marfa receives most of the attention bestowed on West Texas, which is a major disservice to the area's towns. Alpine boasts a vibrant antiquing market; Fort Davis has the McDonald Observatory; and Marathon is surrounded by large ranches. But the Viva Big Bend Food Festival, an offshoot of the Viva Big Bend Music Festival occurring in July, is a way for locals to highlight the entire region's food scene.
Various locations, April 4-6, vivabigbend.com
If you sense that Jack Kerouac, with his stream-of-consciousness prose, embellished the details of his cross-country trip with Neal Cassady in On the Road, then check out “Mad Beat Hip & Gone,” the new production by the Austin playwright Steven Dietz, about the two guys in the car right behind Kerouac and Cassady.
Zach Theatre, April 3-28, zachtheatre.org
After the Dallas International Film Festival screening of The Exorcist, ask the director William Friedkin (on hand to receive the Dallas Star Award) what compelled him to make what is arguably the most terrifying movie of all time.
Various locations, April 4-14, dallasfilm.org