Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from a taste of Dallas’ best ‘cue and Shakespeare at Winedale to Houston’s take on the Texas blues scene. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[August 3–August 31]
Cue It Up
Jeanine Stevens is a professional eater. “When I was growing up, my dad used to say, ‘Do you eat to live, or do you live to eat?’” she said. The Wylie resident has transformed her love of food into a job as a food tour guide for “Dallas Bites.” Her strength is chocolate tours, but she has done burgers and pizza, and this Saturday she will host the Best BBQ in Dallas Taste Tour. Start at the Pecan Lodge, which was recently featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and has since been deluged with customers. But by tagging along with Stevens, you will bypass the perpetually long line at the Dallas Farmer’s Market location, enter through the back door and enjoy a selection from the menu that includes award-winning pulled pork and hand-made sausage. “The barbecue scene in Dallas is recovering from a drought,” said Justin Fourton, proprietor of Pecan Lodge. “We had some notable places 40 to 50 years ago, but those faded out, giving way to a glut of corporate chains.” From there, get on a bus and perhaps enjoy some of the cold beer offered on the ride to Off the Bone BBQ, Mike Anderson’s BBQ, and Lockhart Smokehouse. “I always test everything first,” Stevens said. “We don’t go there just because it’s there.”
Pecan Lodge Catering, Aug. 4, 1 p.m., dallasbychocolate.com
Kind of Blues
Forbes magazine recently named Houston the “coolest city in America,” a designation that is due, in no small part, to its storied blues scene. “In the world of blues, Texas is king, and Houston is the jewel on the crown,” said Martin Miglioretti, the artist whose eighteen posters of bluesman is at the center of the exhibit “Blues in All Its Colors.” The images of marquee players and local legends lining the walls will share display space with memorabilia from other homegrown musicians including Rocky Hill, brother to Dusty Hill of ZZ Top. Miglioretti’s poster subjects include Lead Belly, who served time in a Sugar Land prison where he entertained Gov. Pat Morris Neff on Sundays; and Albert Collins, who had Parker Music make him a one hundred-foot guitar cable so he could take his instrument into the audience and out onto the street in front of the venue. But Miglioretti also cast the lesser known against his kaleidoscopic backdrops, including Pete Mayes, whose dancehall in Double Bayou was the hot spot to play. “I tried to find an iconic image of each player in the public domain and complement it with a lyric that says something about their life in Texas—or Houston,” Miglioretti said. “It’s kind of a Zen thing.”
The Heritage Society, Aug. 3-5, various times, heritagesociety.org
It is hard to look past Shorty Stump, the seven-foot-tall member of the White Ghost Shivers who plays banjo, kazoo, and nose flute. He’s at the forefront of the theatrics purveyed by the seven-piece retro-jazz band from Austin. After a song or two, though, the other members, including Cella Blue, the Betty Boop-like singer, and Smokebreak Slemenda, the chain-smoking guitarist, make a case for their own uniqueness. As the troupe’s frolicking mix of vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley takes over, the lyrics, dredged in immorality, become the center of attention. The Shivers’s live shows are equal parts shenanigans and musicianship, and the potential for wickedness will increase exponentially at Friday night’s midnight show in support of their newest album, Nobody Loves You Like We Do.
The Continental Club, Aug. 3, 12 a.m., whiteghostshivers.com
Act It Out
The actors participating in the University of Texas’s Shakespeare at Winedale in the Shakespeare at Winedale summer workshop will perform “Coriolanus” for the first time in its 42-year history. Though it is not a heralded play, it was adapted for the screen last year, with Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler, and T.S. Eliot called the political drama a greater tragic achievement than “Hamlet.” The story follows a great Roman warrior whose one obstacle to office is how poorly he relates to his country’s commoners. In this election, no matter who you tag as Coriolanus, the same point comes across: no candidate is perfect.
Winedale, Aug. 3-12, various times, shakespeare-winedale.org
QuakeCon brings thousands of participants from the virtual world of multi-player games into one room, where their revealed identities should decrease the amount of trash-talking and improve the competition.
Hilton Anatole, Aug. 3-5, 10 a.m., quakecon.org
Houston Restaurant Weeks makes a virtue of gluttony because part of the proceeds from the discounted meals offered by the more than 150 participating restaurants go to the Houston Food Bank.
Various locations, Aug. 3-31, various times, houstonrestaurantweeks.com.