Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the East Texas Pipe Organ Festival in Kilgore and the Ferrari Festival in Houston to a celebration of our First Ladies in Austin. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
Unobtainium is the name inventors and scientists have given to that elusive element missing from their unrealized experiments. If geniuses like Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison had access to this fictional ingredient, the world might be a radically different place. Fathom these possibilities at Showdown at Unobtainium, the two-day experiential theater piece wherein Tesla and Edison will vie for this powerful matter amid a cast of Victorian characters populating a fictional ghost town outfitted with Tesla coils, the Maker Mad Science Lab, an airship, fire-spitting cannons and magicians. The event will climax with the actors playing Tesla and Edison—Edwin Wise and Daniel Benes, respectively—engaging in a “steampunk-style PowerPoint presentation” debate. The protagonist in Mark Twain’s final novel, The Mysterious Stranger, who is kin of Satan, will moderate, and the audience will have a stake in who wins. “Edison represents the old captains of industry who step all over people to get what they want and make money,” said Maggie Duval, who conceived the event with Sam Tyler, an Austin purveyor of steampunk paraphernalia. “Tesla represents the open-source, hacker, do-it-yourself ethos of rapid-fire innovation and implementation.”
The Ball Farm, November 10-11, noon and 10 a.m., showdownatunobtainium.com
Lorenz Maycher was ten when he became smitten with Opus 1173, the grand 1949 Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ at the First Presbyterian Church in Kilgore. “I remember thinking that is the most amazing sound I’ve ever heard,” Maycher said. “That is the kind of organ I want to play.” As fate would have it, Maycher is now the church’s organist, and he is responsible for organizing the East Texas Pipe Organ Festival. This show-and-tell of the four pipe organs at churches in Kilgore, Longview and Nacogdoches will include performances ranging from music by Fats Waller to Wagner’s “Tristan & Isolde.” The herculean task of installing these complex instruments fell to Roy Perry, one of Maycher’s predecessors, and members of the Williams family of New Orleans. They proved themselves an exceptional team, and their “American Classic” pipe organs have become textbook examples for enthusiasts from around the country, who will attend to witness their versatility and pitch-perfect “voice.” “This organ here in Kilgore has 4,191 pipes in it,” Maycher said. “Each pipe is tailor-made for this particular church and Mr. Perry’s ears. I’ve been told they spent countless hours working on each pipe.”
Various locations, November 12-15, various times, easttexaspipeorganfestival.com
Rock ’n’ Roll Wake
Reform School Girl is the great album of rockabilly, blues and garage-rock that you have most likely never heard about because Nick Curran, the guitarist and singer behind it, was diagnosed with tongue cancer at the time of its release in 2010. The album tour was aborted and promotion all but ceased when, on October 6, Curran, 35, died. Fans of the upstart—who once played with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and was mentored by Jimmie Vaughan—mourn his unrealized potential. Join the CD release party Curran never had at “A Celebration of the Life of Nick Curran,” featuring a bunch of bands banging a gong in his honor.
The Beauty Ballroom, November 10, 9 p.m., thebeautyballroom.com
Just because you walk into a Ferrari dealership looking coiffed and sophisticated, it does not guarantee that you will be able to score a test drive. A credit check might be required to see if you have an extra $200,000 to actually purchase one of them. But at the Ferrari Festival, the showcase of more than fifty Ferraris, all you have to do to get a ride is make a donation to fight childhood cancer. Granted, someone else will probably do the driving—and it likely will not be Christie Brinkley or Ferris Bueller—but at least you will get to sate your need for unparalleled speed.
Motor Sports Ranch Houston and Highland Village, November 10-11, 9 and 10 a.m., ferrarifestival.com
I Am Woman
Presidents are only as strong as the women who back them, a notion supported by “The Enduring Legacies of America’s First Ladies,” a one-day conference that will culminate with a sit-down between Barbara and Laura Bush.
LBJ Presidential Library, November 15, 1:30 p.m., lbjlibrary.org
Experience the fast-paced thrill of Formula One without the congestion of 120,000 spectators by attending the unveiling of “Velocity,” the 120-foot-wide impressionistic painting commissioned by Circuit of the Americas.
Christopher Martin Gallery, November 9, 7 p.m., christopherhmartin.com