What to read, hear, and watch this month to achieve maximum Texas cultural literacy.
The Astronaut Wives Club (ABC, Thursdays)
Lily Koppel’s best-selling 2013 group portrait of the women behind the men at the front of the American space program gets the small-screen treatment. The script isn’t cable-quality (every jacked-up conflict and dramatic reveal arrives with clockwork predictability), but if period clothes and decor are what you liked about Mad Men, this show will scratch that itch—all while showing some love for Houston.
Pageant Material, Kacey Musgraves (Mercury Nashville, June 23)
Three years ago, this Golden native was a wannabe star with a love of John Prine and an interest in writing about the seamier side of rural life—not a surefire recipe for pleasing today’s country establishment. One gold album, two CMA’s, two Grammy’s, and one ACM award later, she’s ready to prove that she can still pack a punch now that she’s an insider.
SocioMX Cup (Mike A. Myers Stadium, July 2; Cotton Bowl, July 5)
This inaugural event brings the Mexican soccer teams Cruz Azul, Monterrey, Morelia, and UNAM stateside for a tournament that begins in Los Angeles, continues in Austin, and produces a winner in Dallas. Think of it as a chance for fans reeling from the recent FIFA scandal to return to the pure joy of seeing world-class talent keep the drama on the field.
Sweet Jones: Pimp C’s Trill Life Story, Julia Beverly (Shreveport Avenue, July 7)
Bun B, one half of the erstwhile Port Arthur hip-hop duo UGK, is today widely regarded as the unofficial mayor of Houston. His charismatic partner, Pimp C, might have achieved similar renown if he hadn’t died, too young, in 2007. This biography (which Pimp C’s widow is not happy about) is a chance for Space City to discover what it has missed out on.
The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, Jacqueline Kelly (Henry Holt, July 7)
Austin author Kelly’s award-winning 2009 debut, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, was an enchanting tween novel about a nineteenth-century Central Texas tomboy who would rather read Charles Darwin than learn to keep house. In the sequel, the Galveston hurricane of 1900 makes an appearance and Calpurnia develops an interest in veterinary medicine.
Wildfire, Crooks (Seafoam, July 10)
If it wanted to, this Austin six-piece could coast on the sheer pleasure of its sound, which is hard-driving country dosed with Mexican flavor, courtesy of the percussionist-trumpeter and accordionist who round out the lineup. But front man Josh Mazour doesn’t lean too hard on that impressive vibe; he’s written a batch of songs good enough that the shout-out to Blaze Foley on the fourth track is well earned.