Boys to Men
Today is Friday, September 11, 2015, and Dez Bryant still caught that ball in last January’s nail-biting divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers—despite the fact that it was ruled incomplete. Say what you will, Cowboys haters, about Bryant not making a “football move” or about how he didn’t “complete the catch”—never mind the multiple steps he took after securing the football and the control he showed in moving the ball from one hand to the other—that was a catch! It’s just plain sad when a referee takes a game out of players’ hands, improbably reversing a call that was initially ruled a complete pass. Game over. Season over. Hopefully for Cowboys fans, that sting has carried over during the offseason and the team is ready to live up to this year’s escalated expectations. It’s Super Bowl or bust in the last years of quarterback Tony Romo’s prime, and it all starts on Sunday night, with a nationally televised home game against NFC East foes the New York Giants. The Cowboys beat the Giants in both games last season, so the Giants will come looking for revenge. A win at home for the Cowboys could be a good sign, considering the team’s only defeats last year were at home. A loss, meanwhile, could set the Cowboys up for a downward spiral, considering three out of their next four opponents will be brutal, with Philadelphia, New Orleans, and New England. Will the additions of Randy Gregory, Greg Hardy, and Byron Jones, and the return of Sean Lee, shore up a wobbly defense that has already lost Orlando Scandrick for the season? Can a platoon of middling running backs make up for the departure of DeMarco Murray, last season’s league offensive player of the year? It’s game one and it’s already a must-win.

AT&T Stadium, September 13, 7:30 p.m.,

The Dukes and Earle
People come to Steve Earle shows for the songs and stay for the banter in between. Earle, a San Antonio native who lives in New York, likes to speak his mind. When Earle and his band the Dukes take the stage in Austin on Thursday for the only Texas date on their schedule, Earle’s bound to talk about a number of things. There’s no question he’ll rap about politics and how Bernie Sanders is his man for president. It’s a good bet he’ll go on about how Austin has changed and how real tacos are increasingly hard to find. Perhaps, since he’s performing in a community populated with musicians, he’ll lay down the law about how luthiers should stop making guitars out of hardwood because it’s wasteful and environmentally irresponsible. These are but a few of his diatribes. Once Earle is done talking, he’ll let his songs do the talking. The lineup will likely include a few of the blues numbers from his latest album, Terraplane, in which he conjures the sounds of the heroes he grew up listening to—and in some cases saw perform live—like Freddie King, Mance Lipscomb, and Lightnin’ Hopkins. There will also no doubt be a rendition of “Mississippi, It’s Time,” the new single that calls for the removal of the Confederate flag likeness from the Mississippi state flag, which Earle recently released in cooperation with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Paramount Theatre, September 17,


Bank Shot

In the seventies, a decade before Lonesome Dove was published, the Texas photographer Bank Langmore was inescapably drawn to the inherent coolness of working cowboys and quit his corporate job to travel the West and document their way of life. The fruits of his infatuation resulted in the 1975 photography book The Cowboy, a peek into a world that the average citizen largely knew only through ads for the Marlboro Man. On Saturday the Briscoe Western Art Museum—named after the late Texas governor Dolph Briscoe, a part-time rancher and an art collector—will display some of Langmore’s photographs as part of the show “The Cowboy Returns.” It is the museum’s first original exhibition since opening nearly two years ago and it’s part of San Antonio’s citywide Fotoseptiembre USA International Photography Festival. Complementing Langmore’s photos are photos by his son, John Langmore, who in the last couple of years revisited some of his father’s subjects from four decades ago and who will over the course of the exhibit lead an exhibition talk and two photographer’s tours.

The Briscoe Western Art Museum, September 12 to November 29,


Kingdom Come

It’s ridiculous that the United States recognizes the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. only in January and February, on MLK Day and during Black History Month. His teaching tools are certainly applicable to everyday life in this racially divided country. Change the mindset about a once- or twice-a-year tribute by attending The Mountaintop, playwright Katori Hall’s intimate look at Dr. King the night before he was assassinated. The setting is the Lorraine Motel, in Memphis, following Dr. King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech at the Mason Temple. He’s worn out and frustrated, and in his time of need he befriends a motel maid delivering room service, who helps provide the play’s twist ending. The Mountaintop will make its debut in Dallas next week, following its run on Broadway, in 2011, with Angela Bassett as the maid and Samuel L. Jackson as Dr. King.

Wyly Theatre, September 16 to November 15,


Our Poison Horse, the fifth book by the Elgin poet Derrick Brown, comes after a ten-year writing hiatus, which was snapped when Brown was inspired by an ailing horse that had been cruelly subjected to pesticide spray by some juvenile delinquents. Brown will unfurl verses from the 2014 work across six Texas cities on his “Lazers of Sexcellence 5.0 Motorcycle and Poetry Tour,” with actress and fellow poet Amber Tamblyn, whose recently released collection, Dark Sparkler, is getting raves.

AvantGarden, September 13, 7:30 p.m.,


Beat Around the Bush
Dixie Chicks frontwoman Natalie Maines ditched Texas for California after the whole Bush fiasco but now she’s back and is ready to make nice when her hometown of Lubbock honors her along with Jo Harvey Allen (the writer, actress, and artist married to Terry Allen) with a spot on the West Texas Walk of Fame.

Lubbock High School, September 17, 6 p.m.,