What to read, listen to, watch, and look at this month to achieve maximum Texas cultural literacy.
The Magnificent Seven, directed by Antoine Fuqua (September 23)
Austin native Ethan Hawke straps on the six-shooter for this update of the 1960 John Sturges favorite (itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai), which has already spawned a TV series and some forgotten sequels. Those leery of an actual remake should recall the last time Hawke teamed with Denzel Washington and director Fuqua, for the satisfying genre film Training Day.
Rich Man, Doyle Bramhall II (Concord Records, September 30)
The Austin guitarist’s first solo album in fifteen years is anything but predictable. There’s an R&B protest song, an elegant duet with Norah Jones, and deep dives into Indian, African, and Arab music. The big payoff is a thunderous solo on the ten-minute, Hermann Hesse–inspired “The Samanas.” This is—and isn’t—a guitar-hero record in all the best ways.
“Julian Onderdonk and the Texan Landscape” (the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 2, 2016–January 2, 2017)
Set to coincide with Yale University Press’s publication of the first comprehensive catalog of the late San Antonio impressionist’s work, this exhibit offers dozens of paintings from the more than one thousand he created during his short life. There are bluebonnets, of course. But much more too.
T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit, Lloyd Sachs (UT Press, October 4)
Fort Worth–born Burnett didn’t participate in this biography (he said he had no time to “gaze back”), but Sachs artfully weaves together news clips and original interviews to create a valuable context for the musician-producer’s work. There’s lots of shoptalk, as well as great anecdotes, like the one about the time Burnett slipped the bullets out of Jerry Lee Lewis’s gun.
My Gospel, Paul Cauthen (Lightning Rod Records, October 14)
Recorded after Cauthen’s split from the Americana band Sons of Fathers, this promising, outlaw-style solo debut makes the Tyler native sound like the Highwaymen all rolled into one: he’s got Willie’s phrasing, Johnny’s haggard quiver, Kristofferson’s knack for storytelling, and Waylon’s baritone. Though none of them could have hit the high notes that Cauthen nails with ease.
Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark, Tamara Saviano (Texas A&M Press, October 18)
Because Clark’s songs were so personal, Saviano tells us a lot about his music simply by telling us a lot about his life. Want to read up on the series of childhood experiences that inspired “Desperados Waiting for a Train”? They’re here, complete with a major cameo from Clark’s one-legged grandmother.