A Painter’s Touch
The troubadour Ryan Bingham cut his teeth in Texas but flourished in Los Angeles, where he moved in 2007. There was the 2010 Oscar for his tender acoustic song “The Weary Kind” from the movie “Crazy Heart.” And then there was another artistic breakthrough: painting, which Mr. Bingham said he was inspired to pursue by his friend Terry Allen, the Lubbock singer-songwriter and distinguished visual artist. Mr. Bingham said he recently holed up in the empty house of a friend, who offered to let him make the place his own. There, Mr. Bingham got a bunch of canvases and started “throwing some paint around.” He then took a similar approach to his latest album, “Tomorrowland.” “The main thing with this record is I wanted it to be a lot of fun to play live,” he said. “I wrote most of the songs with an electric guitar. I want to go out there and turn up the amps and play rock and roll.” Fans can experience this when he returns to Texas for a string of shows topped by the one at Billy Bob’s, where Mr. Bingham has history, having regularly entered the Saturday bull-riding contests there when he was living in nearby Stephenville. “I had a couple pretty good wrecks there,” he said.
Billy Bob’s, March 9, 10:30 p.m., binghammusic.com
Go for Baroque
An integral part of Houston’s cultural renaissance is its niche music. Within the past 15 years, two baroque outfits have made waves: Mercury, the experimentalists who last year teamed with Triniti for a music-food paring, and Ars Lyrica, the Grammy-nominated precisionists who lean toward lesser-known composers or pieces. The groups have strengthened the missions of Da Camera, offering chamber music and jazz, and Houston Early Music, offering historically accurate pieces from the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods. All four will join forces this weekend for the Texas Early Music Festival. So what exactly is early music? “It can be almost anything as long as it was completed before yesterday,” said Matthew Dirst, the director of Ars Lyrica, who will perform Handel’s “Acis & Galatea,” with five singers, two violins, two oboes, a cello, a bass, a harpsichord and a theorbo (a large lute). “To be precise, it simply means music that favors period instruments, typically Baroque and before. One of the major reasons why we decided to have this festival was to point out to the world that Houston has made a mark on the period-instrument scene.”
Wortham Center and Hobby Center, March 8-9 at 8 p.m. and March 10 at 6 p.m., mercuryhouston.org
In the Mix
Mexicans and Spaniards have their share of differences, but one thing they can agree on is paella. The fourth annual Paella Challenge, benefiting, among others, the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, elevates this seafood- and rice-based Spanish dish that derives its name from the large pan in which it is cooked. In addition to the usual ingredients, there will be several others, including perhaps game meats and rice substitutes like couscous and noodles. This kitchen-sink approach is embraced in competition format by both professional chefs and high schoolers flexing their culinary aspirations in front of onlookers whose appetite will grow with each glass of sangria.
Pearl Brewery, March 10, 11 a.m., paellachallenge.com
Just Beat It
Polka music is losing its beat in some circles. In 2009, the Grammys nixed Best Polka Album. And perhaps the best-known practitioner of the genre’s standout instrument, the accordion, is Weird Al Yankovic, who occasionally plays polka, but mostly for shtick value. Yet in Texas there are still plenty of keepers of polka’s invigorating beats. You just have to seek them out in humble places like the SPJST Lodge 18, in Elgin, where the Texas Polka Music Museum will host the Texas Polka Festival, featuring the Cloverleaf Orchestra and Fritz Hodde and the Fabulous Six.
SPJST Lodge 18, March 10, 1 p.m., texaspolkamuseum.com
The devastating combination of poverty and ignorance about healthy food has created the dual epidemic of hunger and obesity in the United States, but solutions are out there, and a good starting point is the movie “A Place at the Table,” a 2012 Sundance entry featuring the actor Jeff Bridges, with a score by the Fort Worth native T Bone Burnett.
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, March 8-10, themodern.org
Get a beat on Jack Keruoac at Kerouac Fest, with readings, discussions and poetry buskers, which might inspire attendees to hit the road, or at least prepare them for the “On the Road” adaptation that just hit the silver screen.
The Orange Show, March 9, 3 p.m., orangeshow.org