Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from supporting wildfire victims in Austin to carving gourds in Fredericksburg. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss. [Oct 14—Oct 21]
The wildfire that blitzed through Bastrop at the end of Labor Day weekend, destroying more than 1,500 homes and causing an estimated $250 million in losses, was but one in a spate of fires. “There were big fires in so many areas that almost everyone in Central Texas had to consider if they might lose their own home,” said Turk Pipkin, the writer and actor turned humanitarian behind the Nobelity Project. He and Kyle Chandler, of “Friday Night Lights” fame, will emcee the benefit event Fire Relief: The Concert for Central Texas. The pair will introduce musical acts like the Dixie Chicks, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and George Strait to an audience that will include up to one thousand first responders. You can appreciate their courage, watch short films about the enchanting woods they tried to preserve, and then do something. “Jobs are a key component of the recovery,” Pipkin said, “and one way people can help is by coming as tourists.”
Frank Erwin Center, Oct 17, 6:30 p.m. uterwincenter.com
Poncho Sanchez, the torchbearer of Latin jazz, was born in Laredo, the youngest of eleven children. “I grew up with my parents playing traditional Tejano on the radio,” Sanchez said. But as a young boy, his family relocated to the Los Angeles area, where Sanchez fell under the spell of R&B while honing his chops as a conga player and singer. He went on to play with the likes of Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria and Hugh Masekela and later earned a Grammy. He will return to Texas in support of his new album, “Chano y Dizzy!” “They’re calling it Cubano Bop,” Sanchez said of the homage to Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie, the pioneering Latin Jazz tandem. (The Dizzy to Sanchez’s Chano is Terence Blanchard, the heralded trumpeter.) The benefit of seeing Sanchez in Texas is that his longtime buddy, Little Joe Hernandez of Little Joe y La Familia, the Temple-based Tejano band, occasionally sits in with him. “When I was in high school,” Sanchez said, “I joined a Tex Mex band and we copied Little Joe and his first band, the Latinaires.”
Da Camera of Houston, Oct 15, 8 p.m., ponchosanchez.com
Carving pumpkins is overrated. The seed membrane is gross, it’s hard to make precise incisions on the ridged exterior, and there’s always the chance you will cut yourself. The Lone Star Gourd Festival, honoring the pumpkin’s estranged cousin, will show you another way. “The thickness of the gourd’s shell, which can range from eggshell-thin to more than an inch thick, allows artists a range of options, from painting to deep-relief carving,” said Suzanne Haffey, the featured artist at this year’s annual festival, hosted by the Texas Gourd Society. “There are many different kinds of hard-shelled gourds and they come in so many different shapes and sizes: eggs, apples, bottles, snakes, clubs.” For every gourd you buy, there will be one pumpkin fewer on the streets for pranksters to smash.
Gillespie County Fairgrounds, Oct 14-16, 9 a.m. texasgourdsociety.org
Rock of Ages
The biggest rock band in the world, known simply as the Stones, wants you to get satisfaction out of making some noise at the movies. For one night only, screens at select theaters across the country will rattle in unison with the never-before-seen Some Girls Live in Texas ’78, a concert performance filmed in Fort Worth featuring an interview with Mick Jagger in which he reflects on that hot summer night. The tour, supporting the wildly successful Some Girls album, was one of the Stones’s most ferocious. The veteran band was showing the burgeoning punk scene that it was still the king of the block. The show in Cowtown was a hit parade of “Beast of Burden,” “Brown Sugar,” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” as well as songs befitting the locale, like “Honky Tonk Women” and the countrified “Far Away Eyes.” Ian McLagan, the Austin musician who played keys with the band on that tour, said, “To be onstage, it was like ‘pinch me.’.”
Hulen Movie Tavern and UA Fossil Creek Stadium 11, Oct 18, 7:30 p.m. fathomevents.com
Before there was noodling, the suddenly trendy sport of catching catfish by hand, there was the sport of eating catfish, preferably golden-fried, with hushpuppies, coleslaw and sauce, which is how it shall be at the Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival.
Downtown Square, Oct 14-16, various times. conroecajuncatfishfestival.com
Your appetite for the dishes prepared in speed-cooking competitions might be diminished by the amount of perspiration dripping into the chefs’ mixing bowls, but at Chefs Under Fire, the dishes made in the competition are independently prepared for the audience at a relaxed pace.
AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, Oct 16, 7 p.m. chefsunderfire.com