A look at what to hear, read, watch, and see this month in order to achieve maximum Texas cultural literacy.
“Texas Folk Art” (Amon Carter Museum of American Art, October 17–September 19, 2016)
The late artists on display in this exhibit chose the quotidian as their subject, but their approaches ranged widely, from Velox Ward’s stark realism to Clara McDonald Williamson’s verdant, almost dreamy pastoralism to the Reverend Johnnie Swearingen’s vivid primitivism, so colorful it could be a precursor of pop art.
Opening Day for Texas’s Three NBA Teams (October 28)
Guided by the steady hand of Gregg Popovich, the Spurs are the oddsmakers’ favorite to win the Western Conference, but Kevin McHale’s Rockets and Rick Carlisle’s Mavericks aren’t far behind in the rankings. All three, in fact, could be playoff contenders, which should make for an interesting spring. Forget about college football for a moment; this is the golden age of Texas pro basketball.
Problemas, Grupo Fantasma (Blue Corn Music, October 30)
On its first studio album since 2010’s Grammy-winning El Existential and the departure of band leader Adrian Quesada, the Austin Latin-funk orchestra pulls in its first outside producer, Los Lobos member Steve Berlin, who brings some sonic clarity to the proceedings. The result: a bracing genre mash-up that turns out to be the nine-piece group’s savviest pop move yet.
Front Row Seat, Josh Abbott Band (Thirty Tigers, November 6)
This Lubbock-founded country act has been making a big noise on the Red Dirt scene, and its fourth full-length record is something ambitious: a concept album about the front man’s failed marriage. It’s an earnest and well-intended effort for a guy who could easily get by singing about pickup trucks and cheap beer. But don’t for a second buy those Phases and Stages comparisons.
Salvation With a Smile: Joel Osteen, Lakewood Church, and American Christianity, Phillip Luke Sinitiere (NYU Press, November 13)
If you assume that the perpetually sunny Osteen would be an easy target for an academic, think again. Sinitiere, a professor at Houston’s College of Biblical Studies, takes Osteen seriously, painstakingly explaining how he became “America’s most notable evangelical preacher.”
Yours in Haste and Adoration: Selected Letters of Terry Southern (Antibookclub, November 17)
The greatest novelist-screenwriter ever to come out of Alvarado—and that’s wildly underselling the accomplishments of someone responsible for Dr. Strangelove, Easy Rider, and Candy—turns out to have been a funny and prolific writer of letters to the likes of Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, and at least two Beatles.