Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from watching an opening-weekend NFL football game in Houston and finding pecan treasures in Groves to eating kolaches in Caldwell. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss. [Sep 9–Sep 16]
Bigger Than the Blues
Say what you will about signing with a major label in this day of the independent, but guitar hero Gary Clark Jr. has surely benefited from his new deal with Warner Bros. With promotional might, the Austin nouveau bluesman whom Texans always knew was special in that Stevie Ray Vaughan sort of way is now becoming special to the rest of the world. His new EP, Bright Lights, pairs his lady-killer voice with his dexterous playing, in a blues showcase drawing from rock, soul, and funk. The EP scored the lead review in an August issue of Rolling Stone, and a couple of weeks later a photo circulated of Clark looking chummy with Paul McCartney and Roger Waters. See where this is going? Stadium shows and $100 tickets. Catch Clark on a return trip to Texas, in a club where you can actually see him shred on his guitar, because intimate shows are coming to an end.
Sam’s Burger Joint, Sept. 14, 8 p.m. garyclarkjr.com
Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” is a work of fiction, but there was a time when literature really was coming under fire. These writings, by early 20th century poets, politicos and propagandists, are the subjects of two new exhibitions: “The Greenwich Village Bookshop Door: A Portal to Bohemia, 1920-1925,” an exhibition curated by Molly Schwartzburg, and “Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored,” curated by Danielle Sigler. “Both exhibitions are concerned with the question of how literature goes from producer to reader during this time period,” Schwartzburg said. Many of the writers featured in both exhibitions had their works squelched by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, a morality watchdog. “Patrons will see a wide variety of materials,” Sigler said, “from the copy of ‘Ulysses’ that initiated the famous 1933 obscenity trial to a satirical volume of censored Mother Goose rhymes.” At Uncensored, the opening party for both exhibitions, see the Greenwich Village bookshop’s blue door, which bears more than 240 signatures from literary arts champions of the era, as well a replica door on which you are invited to exercise your freedom of speech.
Harry Ransom Center, Sept. 9, 6 p.m. hrc.utexas.edu
Corralling the Colts
If the Houston Texans don’t realize their potential and make the playoffs this season for the first time since joining the NFL in 2002, Coach Gary Kubiak will probably get fired, marquis players will get traded, and Texas will have another Dallas Cowboys. The Texans’ first foe is their fiercest: the Indianapolis Colts have dominated the division since Peyton Manning has been quarterback, even though the Texans in recent years have found a way to beat the Colts at their own high-scoring game. Starting the season with a victory over the Colts will build both confidence and momentum, and with reports surfacing that Manning will miss the game because of an injury, a win looks likely. But true Texans fans will still pack Reliant Stadium to capacity, because even without Manning, the Colts will put up a solid defense of their AFC South crown against their most threatening divisional opponent.
Reliant Stadium, Sept. 11, noon. houstontexans.com
Nothing says fall in Texas like temperatures dropping below 100, homecoming, and pecan pie. Several pecan festivals commemorate the fruit of the state tree, but the 72nd Legislature decreed the Texas Pecan Festival, in Groves, a small town near Port Arthur, the official one. The festival doesn’t technically start until Sept. 15, but if you’re looking to store some money for the winter, head out Sept. 12 to participate in the Pecan Festival Treasure Hunt. “We have four golden pecans over four days,” said Brad Corley, the festival’s organizer. “They’re each worth fifty dollars. Clues about where they’re located will come out each day in the local newspaper.”
Various locations, Sept. 12-18, various times. texaspecanfestival.com
Honor the fallen at “9/11: Remembrance and Reconciliation” with the Arts District Chorale, a community ensemble of amateur and professional singers who will perform a concert featuring the song “Dona nobis pacem,” which translates to “grant us peace.”
Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Sept. 11, 7 p.m., artsdistrictchorale.org
If the bakers in West know you by name, it may be time to put your skills to the test and enter the kolache-eating contest at the 27th Annual Kolache Festival, where the day of the fruity Czech pastry begins with “Kde domov mův,” the Czech national anthem.
Various locations, Sept. 10, 9 a.m. burlesoncountytx.com