THROW YOUR PLANS OUT the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from Asleep at the Wheel at the Sengelmann Hall and classic films in El Paso to a tasting of olive oil produced in Texas. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss. [Aug 5–Aug 12]
Location can mean the difference between an average Asleep at the Wheel show and a hoedown. “When we play a concert venue, the show is more of a show,” said Ray Benson, frontman for the nine-time Grammy-winning western-swing collective based in Austin. “I tell stories or jokes more than at dancehalls, where I mix up tempos for the jitterbug waltz, Cotton Eyed Joe and schottische.” People go to Sengelmann Hall—a masterfully refurbished old-time joint with a 116-year-old, long-leaf pine floor—to scoot. That means there’s a good chance those at Asleep’s upcoming show will be sweating through their shirts by the end of the third song. This may be the best opportunity to celebrate western swing to the fullest since the 82nd Legislature passed a resolution declaring it the official music of Texas. “I was honored,” Benson said. “But it was shortsighted to overlook blues, jazz, country, tejano and rock ’n’ roll.”
Sengelmann Hall, Aug. 6, 4 p.m., asleepatthewheel.com
The olive oil industry in Texas is still relatively new, but it has made great strides. “Our extra-virgin olive oil is on par with anything in California or Europe,” said Jim Henry, proprietor of the Texas Olive Ranch, which has operated in Carrizo Springs since the mid-1990s. Henry, the scene’s Johnny Appleseed of olive trees, will have samples of his award-winning olive oil at the Texas Music & Food Extravaganza, as will a dozen other suppliers from South Texas and Northern Mexico. Learn more about this staple at the event’s premiere screening of El Camino Olive Trail, a documentary debuting later this month on PBS that chronicles the American olive trade. (The film’s soundtrack includes Latin singer Raul Malo, who will perform at the Extravaganza.) You’ll be surprised whom you impress with this knowledge. “We’re finding that olive oil is cutting across all lines,” said Bill Millet, organizer of the event and producer of the documentary, “from foodies to hunting people.”
Josephine Theatre, Aug. 6, 7 p.m., texasmusicextravaganza.com
Rock Around the Clock
Most rock musicians who take to the stage in their 60s are doing it because their band has gotten back together to pay bills stemming from the excess of their glory years. Playing straight through to one’s sixth decade while maintaining relevance is rare, but the Austin musician Alejandro Escovedo has done it with style. “I’ve never been in that situation where you have that huge hit you can fall from,” Escovedo said. While the mainstream has never embraced Escovedo, he has long been a critical darling. The argument could be made that the three albums he has released since he recovered from hepatitis C are as good as those he released with his band from three decades ago, True Believers. Catch Escovedo’s last American date in support of his newest album, last year’s “Street Songs of Love,” where your cheers will inch him closer to fame.
ACL Live, Aug. 11, 7 p.m., alejandroescovedo.com
The proliferation of festivals has propagated the science of the grid—sifting through innumerable listings to create a schedule that maximizes your time, interest and money. The Plaza Classic Film Festival will put that science to the test with more than 80 feature films to view. There are many tough decisions to make. Blood Simple or Blade Runner (The Final Cut)? The Godfather: Part II or 8 ½? Macbeth or Fantasia? Make smart decisions with the aid of festival “scholars,” including Leonard Maltin, the film critic and historian, who offers this insight: “As people have learned in New York and L.A., where vintage film screenings are frequent, there is nothing like seeing an older movie on a big screen, larger than life, with a simpatico audience.”
Various locations, Aug. 5-14, various times. plazaclassic.com
Anyone who has been unjustly fired will appreciate Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate, Juan Williams’ talk on the pit of political correctness into which he fell when a comment he made on Fox News led to his controversial dismissal at NPR.
Fort Worth Club, Aug. 10, 11:30 a.m.; Fairmont Dallas, Aug. 10, 6:30 p.m. dfwworld.org
Out of the Blue
Dandee Danao, the art director of the “No Smurfin’ Way” exhibition, capitalizes on the current Smurf trend led by the 20th anniversary remake of “Slacker,” which includes a scene about the blue characters as symbols of Krishna, and “The Smurfs,” the live-action 3-D movie that premiered last week.
War’Hous Visual Studios, Aug. 7, 3 p.m., dandee2k.com