Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from tuning in to Roky Erickson in Dallas and stopping to smell the orchids in Orange to watching wild (Ford) Mustangs travel to the coast. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[Sep 30–Oct 8]
Roky and Roll
Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators were getting people in Texas to turn on, tune in and drop out a whole year before San Francisco hosted the Summer of Love. New documentation of the Austin psych-rock outfit’s early influence recently surfaced on the blog A History of the Underground Recording Industry, the Dallas Observer reported, in the form of the band’s earliest live performances. Recorded in March and May 1966 on “Sump’n Else,” the dance show broadcast on Dallas’s WFAA-TV in the late 1960s, these songs will thrill you with their drug-addled intensity. They will also fire you up for Erickson’s Dallas show. Will you get the Erickson who transcended mental hospitals, shock treatment, and alien encounters to record last year’s triumphant, ballad-buoyant album True Love Cast Out All Evil? Or will you get the Erickson who is having a bad day and decides to take it out on his guitar?
The Kessler, Sept 30, 8 p.m., rokyerickson.net
Chances are if you have owned an orchid, you have killed an orchid. “People have this misconception that the orchid is a delicate plant,” said Michael Hoke of the Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. “Many people baby them to death.” Shangri La will host the third annual Orchid Festival to not only wow you with the beauty of one hundred different species—some around since the turn of the twentieth century, when the grounds were the private gardens of H.J. Lutcher Stark, the heir to a Texas timber fortune—but also to teach you how to ensure they live a long and prosperous life. The stage will be the rare, Victorian-style Lord & Burnham greenhouse that was refurbished in 2008 after fifty years of neglect. (The only tenant during that time was a bobcat). “You will walk in the greenhouse and be completely blown away by the wonderful smells,” Hoke said.
Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, Oct 1–8, various times, shangrilagardens.org
Sarah Bird and Stephen Harrigan are two Austin writers whose work is infused with the Hill Country. Bird wrote a chunk of her new novel, The Gap Year, while at J. Frank Dobie’s ranch house there, and two of Harrigan’s novels—the recently published Remember Ben Clayton and his 2000 masterpiece The Gates of the Alamo—draw from the setting. Hear their insights at Texas Literary Life, a discussion moderated by Elizabeth Crook, a fellow Austin novelist. The event is part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Wittliff Collections, a repository for Texas’ literary and photographic arts. “If you explore the collections, you’ll see that Texas writers are writing to each other, and about each other, and often even for each other,” Crook said. Besides words, be sure to see Bird’s “sweet, smokin’ blue-and-black-striped bathrobe,” in which, she said, she wrote most of her first three novels.
Texas State University, Oct 6, 6:30 p.m., thewittliffcollections.txstate.edu
There simply isn’t enough environmental awareness if people are still throwing trash out of their car windows and sneaking the use of their sprinkler system in the face of strict anti-watering laws. Get educated on the honest-to-goodness changes happening to Mother Earth and how you can live with them at SXSW Eco, the inaugural environmental conference by the people behind the popular SXSW music, film, and interactive festival. “We hope to provide some moments of clarity on how to create a sustainable world while embracing concepts currently well understood by businesses, such as resource management, short- and long-term cost, and goodwill,” said Scott Wilcox, the conference director. A dizzying list of speakers from all spectrums will distinguish between environmentally friendly and “green-washing” and compel you—on a personal and corporate level—to live within your means. “Ultimately, the big challenge involves what people do with this environmental awareness,” Wilcox said, “and at what cost to themselves and to others.”
Hilton Austin, Oct 4–6, various times. sxsweco.com
Recent news reports suggest historical documents at a number of county offices in Texas are in peril because of insufficient resources to manage them, which makes events like the 32nd Annual Texas Hispanic Genealogical and Historical Conference increasingly crucial for documenting our lives.
Marriott Plaza San Antonio, Sept. 30–Oct 2, 8 a.m, losbexarenos.org
You will feel born to be wild when you drive in formation with miles of other Ford Mustangs en route from Mustang, Oklahoma, to Mustang Island, Texas, as part of MustangFest.
Mustang Island, Sept. 30–Oct. 2, various times, mustangfest.org