What to hear, read, watch, and look at this month to achieve maximum Texas cultural literacy.
Jason James (New West, August 21)
Drop this Texas City native’s self-titled debut into any honky-tonk jukebox and its tear-in-your-beer ballads (“World of Make Believe”) and thumping barroom rockers (“Hot Mouth Mama”) will hold their own. James is a disciple of George Jones, and his Possum-like delivery of lines such as “I’ve been drinkin’ more since you’ve been lovin’ me less” will convert even the most demanding traditional country purists.
“Donald Moffett” (Blanton Museum of Art, August 29–February 28, 2016)
As part of its growing interest in the work of Texas artists, Austin’s still-young museum displays eight recently acquired works by the San Antonio–born Moffett, who weds impeccable technique to political engagement, as evidenced by a series of digital prints hanging on the walls here with the provocative title What Barbara Jordan Wore.
Hollow Man, Mark Pryor (Seventh Street, September 1)
Pryor, an Englishman who works as an assistant DA in Austin, has written a thriller whose narrator, Dominic, is an Englishman who works as a prosecutor in Austin—and happens to be a sociopath. Make of that what you will, but it’s tough not to fall for Dominic’s (and Pryor’s?) belligerent descriptions of Texas’s capital city, such as calling Ed Bluestein Boulevard “East Austin’s jugular.”
Out of Darkness, Ashley Hope Pérez (Carolrhoda Lab, September 1)
The fourth YA novel by this UT grad is an interracial romance set against the 1937 New London school explosion, which happened mere minutes from where she later grew up. The explosion comes in the last pages of the book, well after Pérez has drawn a detailed—and still relevant—portrait of Texas’s tripartite (white, black, and brown) system of segregation.
The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, Gary Clark Jr. (Warner Bros., September 11)
The Story of Gary Clark Jr. might be that we’ve done him a disservice by pigeonholing him as a bluesman and a guitar hero. The highlights and revelations on this Austinite’s second major-label studio set are the tunes that may cost him the cover of Guitar World—slabs of silky soul and R&B that rely far more on his ethereal falsetto than his wah-wah pedal.
Dallas Cowboys’ season opener on Sunday Night Football (NBC, September 13)
The favorite to win the NFC East, the Cowboys get a prime slot to begin that campaign amid a lot of questions: Can they succeed without DeMarco Murray? Will Tony Romo’s back hold up? Can the defense possibly be good two years in a row? But with Dez Bryant in the fold and a heartbreaking playoff exit to avenge, don’t bet against them.