Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the crawfish festival in Kemah and DaVinci’s notebooks in Lubbock to hearing gospel singers and reenacting a retreat from battle. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
The occupants of a certain house on West Commerce Street in San Antonio recently opened their front door to find Carol Burnett standing there. The legendary comedienne was in town from California and wanted to visit her childhood home. “I used to roller skate in the slanted hallway,” Burnett said. “I would get up to the highest part and roll down to the front door and catch myself against the screen. The skate marks were still there.” Burnett said Henry Cisneros, the former mayor of San Antonio, has since relocated the house, which was to be razed, and will transform it into a school for underprivileged children. Ask Burnett about it when she brings “Carol Burnett Laughter & Reflection,” her Q & A show, back to Texas. “Raise your hand and I’ll just call on somebody who catches my attention,” she said. Burnett has hosted this show for more than years. “Inevitably, someone wants me to do the Tarzan yell,” she said of her staple from The Carol Burnett Show. “I’ll do it but I also have a story to tell about it.” Burnett said there has never been a question she hasn’t been able to answer (she steers clear of politics and religion), so there’s your challenge.
Majestic Theatre, April 15, 7 p.m. majesticempire.com
Singing His Praises
From Blind Willie Johnson to the Chuck Wagon Gang, Texans have long sung the praises of gospel music. In 1932, Virgil Stamps of the Dallas-based Stamps-Baxter Music Company, a leading publisher of Christian songbooks, popularized a Southern style of gospel singing with his inaugural Texas State Gospel Singing Convention. The annual gathering of gospel practitioners, a formalized version of more frequent “singings,” draws amateur vocalists for a weekend of religious celebration sans organized dogma. “It’s like a church service where the minister leads the music with no preaching,” said Susan Bollman, the convention’s president. Bollman’s stepfather, Arthur Watson, sang in the Frank Stamps Quartet, fronted by Virgil’s younger brother, and her mother, Marian Watson Garner, is in the Texas Music Hall of Fame as a promoter of gospel music. “I have been in this type of music since I was in the womb,” Bollman said. This year the convention will be outside of Stephenville for the first time in its history to attract the talent pool along I-35 and in states to the east. “We want to see if we can revive the convention,” Bollman said, “as close to what it used to be as possible.”
First United Methodist Church, April 13-14, various times. gospelsingingconventions.com
Confronting Your Fears
News is spreading of the fall of the Alamo. Santa Anna and his Mexican army are approaching. There is no choice but to flee. You have only a short time to decide what you’re going to take with you—and how. It is this scenario you are immersed in as a participant in the Runaway Scrape re-creation. This game of survivor plays out during a re-enactment of the Texian flight from danger that led to their eventual win at the Battle of San Jacinto. The orchestrators simulate the challenges of the day—just try wielding a heavy musket while evading cannon fire. While it seems absurd to celebrate a retreat of any kind, think of how it will better prepare you for an emergency situation.
George Ranch Historical Park, April 14, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. georgeranch.org
It has been five hundred years since Leonardo da Vinci began inventing the future with his design, artistry and engineering. And modern-day thinkers are still trying to catch up with his feats of imagination. “Da Vinci: The Genius,” the acclaimed international exhibition considered the most expansive of its kind, sheds new light on this titan of thought for one last weekend. His notebooks will reveal brilliance in its maddened infancy; reproductions of his sketches of helicopters, tanks and submarines will awe you in their forward thinking; and technologically advanced photos will support 25 new revelations about the Mona Lisa.
Science Spectrum, April 13-15, various times. sciencespectrum.org
Many of the writers whose works are in bookstores got their start submitting stories to the kinds of literary journals and small-press publications that compose the Houston Indie Book Festival, making it a marketplace for the affordable yet collectible early works of the Next Great American Novelists.
Menil Lawn, April 14, 11 a.m. indiebookfest.org
The number of people who enjoy eating “mudbugs” was grossly underestimated at last year’s inaugural Kemah Crawfish Festival, but that’s a good thing for this year’s attendees, who are promised all the farm-raised heads they can suck.
Kemah Bridge, April 13-15, noon. kemahcrawfishfestival.com