The Drop Everything List
Ornette Coleman, the Great American Peanut Butter Festival, Tommy Tune, and the 15th World Championship Ranch Rodeo . . .
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Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the opera in Houston and Friday night lights in Odessa to surfing along the coast and hiking in the mountains. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[NOV 12–NOV 18]
A jazz giant’s birthday gig
No two Ornette Coleman shows are alike thanks to his innovative style. The avant-garde sax player calls it “harmolodics;” other people call it "free jazz.” Either way, it’s a calculated improvisational technique that, by nature, yields a different output every performance. Coleman, a Fort Worth native who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2007, turned eighty in March, and the Ornette Coleman Quartet’s show in Austin next week is one of only a handful of U.S. dates commemorating his birthday. Coleman has been at the top of his game for half a century, ever since he set the bar with his defining 1959 album, The Shape of Jazz to Come. Even if he has a bad night and plays to a fraction of his potential, it’s still worth hearing one of the last of the jazz giants blow his horn.
Bass Concert Hall, November 18, 8 p.m.
A sandwich for the record books
According to the National Peanut Board, the world’s largest peanut butter and jelly sandwich was made in Oklahoma City in 2002 and weighed nearly 900 pounds—that’s about 350 pounds of peanut butter, 144 pounds of jelly, and 400 loaves of bread. Organizers of the inaugural Great American Peanut Butter Festival in Grand Saline, a town of 3,000 an hour east of Dallas, intend to eat that record for lunch. “Being a native Texan, the thought that our rivals to the north in Oklahoma held the current record didn’t really sit well with me,” says “lead sandwich builder” Keith Parsons, whose goal is a 950-pound PB&J. This Saturday, the baking of enough fresh bread will commence, as will—with the aid of long boat oars—the lathering on of spreads. (Sorry, health regulations prevent crowd participation.) Fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches will be sold in Elvis’s honor, and the first peanut butter pageant queen will be crowned.
Downtown, November 13, various times.
The real lord of the dance
“My mother said that I danced before I was born,” Tommy Tune tells audiences in his new show, Steps in Time: A Broadway Biography in Song and Dance. The tall, chatty Wichita Falls native landed a role in the chorus of Baker Street the very day he arrived in New York, in 1965. But his talent soon substantiated his luck, and he went on to be a bona-fide triple-threat, incorporating singing and acting into a legendary 50-year career rewarded with nine Tonys. In Steps in Time, the spry 71-year-old breaks the fourth wall to recount his story while giving the audience a tutorial on toe-tapping. It’s is a rare chance to see a heralded Broadway cast elsewhere. And to learn how to dance sitting down.
The Majestic Theatre, November 18, 8 p.m.
A novel ride with a newsman
For the past two decades, when not reading the news on PBS, Jim Lehrer has been toiling away writing novels—nineteen of them—making him undoubtedly the most prolific fiction writer ever to moderate a presidential debate. Although Lehrer is famously a bus enthusiast (his father was a bus station manager, and he once worked as a Trailways ticket agent), trains are a recurring character in his books, including his newest, Super, a Murder on the Orient Express–style thriller set on the Chicago-to-Los Angeles “Super Chief.” If only to compare Lehrer’s novelist persona with his sober anchor routine, you should catch his appearance as part of the NasherSalon speaker series. It’s a homecoming for the former Dallasite, who got his start at the city’s two newspapers, the Morning News and the Times-Herald, and hosted the still-revered local news show Newsroom.
Nasher Sculpture Center, November 18, 8 p.m.
The reason to go to the 15th World Championship Ranch Rodeo, as opposed to any other rodeo, is that the competitors are all working cowboys, and there is nothing like an arena full of working cowboys.
Amarillo Civic Center Coliseum, November 12–14.
For the closing reception of Fantastic Fuerzas/Forces, a multimedia show exploring the role of comic books in contemporary art, the cartoonish masked men of lucha libre will wrestle in the gallery’s parking lot.
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, November 18.
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Eight more gotta-see, gotta-do events that you can't afford to miss.
By Melanie Gasmen
Wizard World Austin Comic Con
This annual conference celebrating pop culture features more than thirty special guests, including the world’s first bionic couple, Lindsay Wagner (Jamie Sommers) and Lee Majors (Steve Austin); The Incredible Hulk’s Lou Ferrigno; the dynamic duo, Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin); and Ray Park, who played Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode 1. More than one hundred artists, creators, toy inventors, and more will also be on hand.
Austin Convention Center, Nov 13 & 14, various times.
Vince Vaughn & Kevin James Comedy Roadshow
The Dilemma hits screens in January, but these two funny guys are on the road now, mixing variety with sketch comedy and adding in laughs from comedians Owen Benjamin, Richie Minervini, and Steve Byrne.
Majestic Theatre, Nov 13, 7 p.m.
Much Ado About Nothing
The El Paso Playhouse adapts Shakespeare’s comedy about two couples and their friends’ trickery that may bloom or break their undying love.
El Paso Playhouse, Nov 13–18, various times.
Greek Food Festival
Souvlaki, spanakopita, pastitsio. Go crazy. Then walk it all off while you browse selections of Greek clothing, jewelry, and candles.
St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Nov 13 & 14, various times.
Festival of Lights Opening Celebration
Kick off the holiday season with an appearance by Santa, who will flip the switch that will turn on more than one million dazzling lights along a mile-long trail. After the little ones take their pictures and tell what’s on their wish lists, go skating in the outdoor ice rink. Performances by local choirs will top off the night.
Moody Gardens, Nov 13, 4–10.
Cinema Arts Festival Houston
Isabella Rossellini, Shirley MacLaine, and John Turturro headline this four-day festival that celebrates innovative cinema and highlights the film and arts scene in Houston. Screenings, discussions with filmmakers and actors, and more.
Various locations, Nov 10–14, various times.
Rock ’N’ Roll Marathon & Half-Marathon
Run to the rhythm and riffs of more than twenty bands along either a 13.1- or 36.3-mile course through San Antonio’s scenic spots. Grammy Award–winner Rick Springfield headlines the opening night concert, and Ryan Star headlines the post-race celebration. The event supports the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Star Line Village, Nov 14, 7:15 a.m.
Heritage Syrup Festival
See how real ribbon cane syrup is made and watch demonstrations from blacksmiths, woodcarvers, herbalists, and more. Live country and bluegrass will keep your toes tapping as the kids enjoy a carousel ride, a petting zoo, and a puppet show.
Depot Museum Grounds, Nov 13, 9–5.
Eight more gotta-see, gotta-do events that you can’t afford to miss.
By Melanie Gasmen
Beaujolais Wine Festival
Do a little noshing, some sipping (try the French and Texas offerings) and try your hand at bidding in a silent auction at this event that also features cabaret dancing, a fashion show by Texas’ Next Top Designer finalist Darian Thomas, and a meet-and-greet with Miss Texas 2010. Attendees are encouraged to wear a mask, so come with your best guise.
World Trade Center, Nov 19, 7—9:30 p.m.
The El Paso native hit it big in the sixties with hits such as “It Must Be Him” and then crossed over to the Latin music world during the eighties. She returns to her birth city to perform in a charity concert benefiting the Vikki Carr Scholarship foundation, which provides funding for El Paso medical students.
Abraham Chavez Theatre, Nov 20, 8 p.m.
Seaside Treasure Festival
Grab the family for early holiday shopping by the shore. The twelfth annual festival features more than one hundred arts and crafts vendors, a used book sale, pet adoptions, and a silent auction. Proceeds benefit Galveston outreach work.
Moody Methodist Church, Nov 19 & 20, various times.
Roger Waters: The Wall Live
Hey you. Yes, you. Calling all Pink Floyd fans, old and new, to Roger Waters’s reprise of the influential rock opera The Wall.
Toyota Center, Nov 20, 8 p.m.
Step back into time and have a look-see at a blacksmith shop, ride in a horse-drawn wagon, see a mock gun fight, take in the action during a Civil War reenactment, and more. Singer/songwriter K.R. Wood performs.
Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum, Nov 19 & 20, various times.