Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from celebrating the 100-year anniversary of Spindletop to watching Shawn Colvin and Lyle Lovett jam out. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
The Lucas oil derrick at Spindletop spewed glorious black rain into the sky in 1901, bringing this country into the 20th century and giving Texas major bargaining power in the new economy. “Spindletop changed the face of oil production in the U.S.,” said Mark Osborne, director of the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum. “It produced more oil than anywhere in the world — 80,000 to 100,000 barrels a day.” The museum is set in a fictional Gladys City modeled after the “perfect industrial city” from which the good fortune flowed. It hosts the annual Lucas Gusher Celebration, centered on a re-enactment of the monumental discharge, involving a 65-foot-tall replica derrick that shoots water upward of 100 feet. This year, a fleet of classic cars will be part of the festivities. “We’re recognizing the impact Spindletop had on transportation,” Mr. Osborne said. “Soon after this big oil find, Henry Ford came out with the Model T.” Sure, but this day is all about feeling the thrill of striking pay dirt.
Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum, Jan. 14, 10 a.m. spindletop.org
Music Fit for Texas
Shawn Colvin and Lyle Lovett, two Texas singer-songwriters of slim stature, seem to share an obsession with weight. Ms. Colvin’s second album, “Fat City,” was released in 1992, and two years later, Mr. Lovett recorded the song “Fat Babies,” in which he sings: “Fat babies make me sick/Fat babies make me ill/All that fat baby drooling/And that fat baby smell.”Perhaps this is why Ms. Colvin and Mr. Lovett have joined forces to perform a benefit concert for Marathon Kids, an organization dedicated to children’s fitness. This is especially important in Texas, which consistently ranks as one of the most obese states. But don’t expect the aforementioned tongue-in-cheek song and dance. Instead, count on Ms. Colvin and Mr. Lovett to perform some of the finest songcraft Texas has to offer, both as individual musicians and as a duo on potential covers of the likes of Buddy Holly and Bob Wills.
The Paramount Theatre, Jan. 13, 8 p.m. austintheatre.org
Delving Into Diasporas
Isabel Wilkerson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, thinks immigration from Mexico to Texas is analogous to the Great Migration of African-Americans from the South following the abolition of slavery. Ms. Wilkerson will expound on this theory as the keynote speaker at the Seventh Annual MLK, Jr., Symposium, using as evidence her heralded book, “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.” It took 15 years for her to write the book, and she interviewed 1,200 people in addition to recreating the road trip from Louisiana to California that was taken by one of her real-life protagonists who was escaping the Jim Crow caste system. Ms. Wilkerson preaches peaceful coexistence, like Dr. King did, and emphasizes compassion for the displaced. “The book is a universal human story,” Ms. Wilkerson said. “Everybody has to cross something to get here, whether it’s the Atlantic or Pacific or Rio Grande.” Regardless of your views on immigration, almost everyone can use a refresher course on America’s history and our ancestors’ quest for a better life.
Winspear Opera House, Jan. 16, 7 p.m. dallasinstitute.org
The Reality of Fantasy
Rick Riordan used his first rejection letter from a publisher, received when he was 13, as motivation to become a bestselling author. The suppression of the San Antonio native’s voice surfaced in the good-versus-evil archetype employed in his future works. Roughly three decades later, in 2005, Mr. Riordan issued his most compelling example of this struggle in the form of the first book in the Percy Jackson series, wherein Percy, a dyslexic 12-year-old boy with attention-deficit disorder, overcomes great odds to slay mythological creatures. These young-adult fantasy works will be the focus of Rick Riordan’s World of Myth and Mystery, an exhibition of the Riordan Collection, which the Wittliff Collections has been archiving since 2004. See the behind-the-scenes machinations of this persevering imagination, plus the original sword wielded by Percy in the movie adaptation of “The Lightning Thief.”
Texas State University, Jan. 17-July 15, 8 a.m. thewittliffcollections.txstate.edu
The Big Giant
The Dallas Theater Center promises that its production of “Giant,” helmed by the three-time Tony-nominated director Michael Greif, will be its biggest yet, and that should make you curious about the ways they will convey Jett’s gusher, Bick’s manse and the vastness of the landscape.
Wyly Theatre, Jan. 18-Feb. 19, various times. dallastheatercenter.org
Before you go off to the nearest tattoo parlor and get some regrettable ink from a random slinger, attend the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival, where you can spend all weekend vetting the best of the best before marking yourself for life.
Palmer Events Center, Jan. 13-15, noon. golivefast.com