Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from Erykah Badu and the Cannabinoids jamming in Dallas to Clint Black strumming in San Antonio. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[Jan 20–Jan 22]
The neo-soul singer Erykah Badu likes to provoke. She hosted a BBC Radio series on the Black Power Movement earlier this month, led a “second line” down Dallas’s Main Street with the Rebirth Brass Band on Saturday, and, in 2010, stripped in a music video shot in Dealey Plaza, where President Kennedy was assassinated. She could survive on her exceptional singing alone, but why would she deprive her audience of an impromptu political diatribe, a blissed-out twenty-minute jam or a potential epic meltdown? Badu, a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, has a new backing band called the Cannabinoids, a collective of musicians she has played with since her college days but only recently formalized into something official. THC, the agent in marijuana that gets you high, is a cannabinoid, so expect a lot of stoned grooves from Badu and her people as they work through material from their forthcoming album.
Granada Theater, Jan. 20, 8 p.m. baduworld.com
Laura Bartlett is the token comedian in a family of doctors. “The joke is that I dispense medicine through laughter,” she said. Though funny by night, Bartlett is serious by day, working as a banker. This everywoman approach to stand-up is the basis for Four Funny Females, which also includes Linda Stogner, a filmmaker; Jodi Hadsell, a corporate learning consultant; and Sherry Belle, a marketing executive. “It’s become a grassroots movement to get women laughing again,” Bartlett said. “I think that there’s more of a need to laugh now than ever before, with the economy and the long war and people being laid off.” While the show would seem like a male-bashing session, it sold out in November on the strength of riffs on personal and family life. For example, Stogner jokes about being adopted, and Bartlett injects humor into her past bout with cancer. If you are longing for the sisterhood lost by the departure of Oprah, then get found here.
McKinney Performing Arts Center, Jan. 21, 8 p.m. mckinneytexas.org
Black Is Back
As last season’s Celebrity Apprentice showed, Clint Black, the other man-in-black country musician, is a businessman first. He immediately understood the importance of the bottom line in a successful career: according to his website, his album Killin’ Time generated five number one hits—unprecedented for a debut in any genre. Black, a native of Katy, will turn fifty in February, and he is celebrating early by entering the studio this month to record his first album in five years. On his Facebook page, he wrote, “Two of the songs are from a very special project I was asked to write a ‘story album’ for. (Mysteriously vague!)” It would seem Black’s Saturday show, the last Texas date on his current tour, would be where part of this mystery could be revealed.
Freeman Coliseum, Jan. 21, 7 p.m. clintblack.com
Keija Parssinen could teach us about tolerance. Born and raised an “oil brat” by American parents in the violent eastern province of Saudi Arabia, she has a unique perspective that might help people understand why terrorists do the things they do. “I feel like prior to 9/11, I had been very naïve about the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia,” Parssinen said. “I had this romantic vision because of my family’s wonderful Saudi friends. And so when 9/11 happened, and I learned that many of the terrorists were Saudi, I felt very betrayed. Why are they doing this? There must be some good justification.” The Ruins of Us—Parssinen’s book about a family living in Saudi Arabia that unravels amid polygamy, expatriotism and radicalism—is not a justification for those acts, but it helped the author to process the event and find her voice. Parssinen wrote the lauded debut novel well after her family moved back to the United States and settled in Austin. At her homecoming reading, she intends to read a passage from the book that involves Austin.
BookPeople, Jan. 21, 4 p.m. keijaparssinen.com
If it’s getting hard to justify paying escalating ticket prices to NBA games to support the players’ ridiculous salaries, participate in the 10th Annual Rockets Run and score a free ticket to see the Houston Rockets—minus the registration fee, of course, which benefits Autism Speaks.
Toyota Center, Jan. 21, 6:30 a.m. nba.com/rockets
Before trains go the way of dinosaurs, hop aboard the Amtrak Exhibit Train, a vintage locomotive celebrating the carrier’s fortieth anniversary, and learn how San Antonio, the hub for the regional cattle industry, played an integral role in the dawn of this new mode of transportation.
San Antonio Amtrak, Jan. 21-22, 10 a.m. amtrak40th.com