The Drop Everything List
Ruthie Foster in Houston, Don Hertzfeldt's short films, the Texas Yoga Conference, and National Anthem Auditions in Grand Praire . . .
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Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from Loretta Lynn in Austin to the Texas Yoga Conference in Houston. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[Feb 17–Feb 23]
Ruthie Foster’s rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” which is slowed down and softened with piano to emphasize what she calls the “Cassandra Wilson/Sade sultriness” of her voice, is unlike any you have heard. “I’ve been sitting on that song for a while,” said Foster, the Grammy-nominated Gause native who will return to Texas in support of her new full-length album, Let It Burn, featuring the Cash number. The album—which was recorded in New Orleans with studio assassins like George Porter Jr. and Russell Batiste, the rhythm section for the Funky Meters—is another progression in Foster’s vibrant take on the blues. The cover songs include nods to revolutionary voices like Pete Seeger and Crosby, Stills and Nash, as well as confirmations of the next generation, with takes on Adele and the Black Keys. One of the two originals, “Lord Remember Me,” is a challenge to make better use of your Sunday mornings, with an assist from gospel legends the Blind Boys of Alabama. “Gospel has always been a part of the way I sing and play,” Foster said. “My guitar teacher was my preacher. He lived next door to us. A lot of the rhythms I play come right out of the church.”
Dosey Doe, February 23, 8:30 p.m. ruthiefoster.com
Life in 62 Minutes
Don Hertzfeldt may be the greatest filmmaker most moviegoers have never heard of. That’s because his films are everything that Hollywood is not. They’re short and usually shot in black and white—and the characters are stick figures. But that hasn’t stopped the cognoscenti from bestowing on Hertzfeldt—a California native who recently relocated to Austin—accolades that feature-length films aspire to receive, including Academy Award and Palme d’Or nominations. Appreciation for Hertzfeldt has to do with his absurdist take on the meaning of life as exemplified in the Bill trilogy, about an Average Joe coping with day-to-day randomness. An Evening with Don Hertzfeldt will feature the premiere of “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” the 23-minute final installment in the series, preceded by parts one and two. That’s three films clocking in at just over an hour, a confirmation that brevity is the soul of wit.
Texas Theatre, February 17, 7:30 p.m. thetexastheatre.com
Singing Stepping Stone
The culmination of the NFL season put the Star Spangled Banner on the national stage for all to critique its interpreters. The consensus is that Steven Tyler had as much business singing it at the AFC Championship as Roseanne Barr did at a San Diego Padres baseball game in 1990. Conversely, many think Kelly Clarkson’s version at the Super Bowl—speedy, percussive and with a children’s choir—was second only to Whitney Houston’s epic interpretation at the 1991 Super Bowl. Take what you have learned from these performances and apply it to the 16th annual National Anthem Auditions. Competitors vie for 79 opportunities to sing it at a Lone Star Park thoroughbred or quarter-horse race. Your ability to pull off the tricky song, with its wide range and that high part about the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, might be just the vote of confidence you need to try out for American Idol or The Voice.
Lone Star Park, February 21, 11:30 a.m. lonestarpark.com
Many people have moved to Texas over the last decade who are unaware of “Greater Tuna,” the “village comedy” that is as much a requisite to growing up here as Texas history is in seventh grade. Dive in with “Tuna’s Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Laughter,” a best-of set that will spare you the corny, humorless parts. The twenty characters of varying ages, sexes, and dispositions shamelessly played by Joe Sears and Jaston Williams embrace the Texas rube stereotype. Laughing at Sears’s Reverend Spikes, president of the Smut Snatchers of the New Order, or Williams’s Didi Snavely of Didi’s Used Weapons, whose slogan is “If we can’t kill it, it’s immortal,” reminds us to not take the outside world’s perception of us too seriously.
Eisemann Center, February 21-March 4, various times. greatertunavisitorscenter.com
You will have to bend over backward at certain points in your life, so make it as painless as possible by attending the Texas Yoga Conference, where you can learn body-twisting maneuvers and the lifestyle changes that go with being able to pull them off.
University of Houston Recreation Center, February 17-19, various times. texasyogaconference.com
Loretta Hearts Texas
Loretta Lynn will always be the coal miner’s daughter from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, but her song “I’ve Got Texas in My Heart” shows an appreciation that needs to be reciprocated when, after knee surgery and a bout with pneumonia, she returns to her home away from home.
ACL Live, February 17, 8 p.m. lorettalynn.com