Six Must-Attend Events: April 24-May 1

The state’s top offerings, from the king of barbecue in Austin to the kings and queens of opera in Fort Worth.

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Wyatt McSpadden


Any dips in sales of Weber grills over the past few years can largely be attributed to pitmaster Aaron Franklin, whose world-famous Austin restaurant, Franklin Barbecue, has sold out every day since opening in 2009. Franklin has ushered in a whole new generation of backyard barbecuers, who are forgoing quick-and-hot weenies and burgers on the grill in favor of slow-and-low brisket in the smoker. But the latter requires a lot more work than simply sitting around drinking beer for fourteen hours and occasionally stoking the fire. Glean insight on the process from Franklin’s new cookbook, Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto, co-written by Jordan Mackay. At a hometown book signing on Wednesday, Franklin will discuss this barbecue bible, which Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor, describes accordingly: “Rather than preaching about ‘one true way,’ Aaron Franklin guides you through all the wood and smoke so that you can find your own style. And instead of just listing ingredients and rattling off generic recipes, these pages tell the story of a place and a barbecue tradition steeped in history.” The book debuted this week at number eighteen on the New York Times bestseller list, in the Advice, How-To, and Miscellaneous category, and last week Franklin appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Take advantage of this opportunity to meet Franklin without having to wait in line for five hours. Beforehand, check out the 2012 Texas Monthly story “Of Meat and Men,” by Katy Vine, for a primer on how Franklin went from a trailer-front operation to a James Beard nominee. “It’s an oddly big deal for someone that just builds fires and puts them out,” Franklin told Kimmel of the culinary distinction.
BookPeople, April 29, 7 p.m.,


Green Party
Admit it: you feel guilty for not participating in Earth Day. Hey, it was Wednesday, in the middle of a hectic workweek, when there was absolutely no free time to plant a tree or built a composter. Redemption is yours this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the fifth annual Earth Day Texas, considered the state’s largest celebration of its kind. See the Texas premiere of the 2015 Sundance Festival movie Racing Extinction, about the role humans play in animal extinction, filmmaker Louie Psihoyos’s follow-up to The Cove, about the mass killing of dolphins. Also partake in the kick-off of the centennial year celebration of the National Park Service, featuring distinguished speakers and park rangers. These are just 2 of the 1,100 exhibit spaces and activities offered during a weekend that puts a premium on learning about ways in which you can live a greener life and leave behind a healthy planet for future generations.
Fair Park, April 24-26,


The Maestro
Robert Glasper has all that jazz. And soul. And R&B. And funk. And hip-hop. Lately, the genre-skipping, Grammy-winning Houston pianist and producer has been a go-to for major players: he contributed on a number of tracks on Kendrick Lamar’s critically lauded album To Pimp a Butterfly and he’s currently scoring the actor Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead. On Saturday, the Robert Glasper Experiment, a four-piece that fuses musical styles, will perform a hometown show as part of St. John’s Church’s Back Pew Concert Series, with proceeds going to house and feed Houston’s homeless and hungry. It might be the last time in a long while to see Glasper in this particular incarnation. On June 16, he will release his Blue Note album Covered, featuring an acoustic jazz trio with both originals and covers of songs by the likes of Radiohead and Joni Mitchell.
St. John’s Church-Downtown, April 25, 8 p.m.


Eyes of Texas
Because drought has adversely affected every Texan in some way, they can certainly understand the motivation of the valiant airplane pilot in Austin filmmaker Lucas Martell’s short movie The Oceanmaker, who battles sky pirates for control of the clouds—the last remaining water source in a future world. See the story play out on the big screen at the Hill Country Film Festival, where Martell will join fellow Austin makers of short films including Lauren Pruitt (Highsmith, about a lonely writer who invites a stranger into her home) and Scott Cobb (The There, about two women who reunite in Austin after living as expatriates in their twenties). The six-year-old movie gathering embraces its Texas-ness: 38 percent of the more than ninety largely short films were in part made in the state.
Various locations, April 30-May 3,


The Texas Crawfish and Music Festival is conveniently divided into two three-day weekends. Those attendees unfamiliar with the process of grasping, twisting and snapping, peeling, and finally tugging out the crustacean’s meat can use the first weekend to prep for the second, while masters of this ritual can double up on their mudbug intake.
Preservation Park, April 24-26 and May 1-3,


Love, Death, and the Apocalypse
Those who fear the end is nigh might pick up some tips from “Dog Days,” the critically acclaimed opera about a family’s struggle in a post-apocalyptic world, which makes its regional premiere at the Fort Worth Opera Festival, alongside two classic operas: Verdi’s “La Traviata,” about love, and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” about death.
Bass Hall, April 24 to May 10,


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