Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the opera in Houston and Friday night lights in Odessa to surfing along the coast and hiking in the mountains. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[May 27–June 2]
AP Photo/David Goldman
Diva on the Down-Lo
The last we saw Erykah Badu, the eccentric Dallas soul singer, she was in a video for her song “Window Seat,” which showed her walking around Dealey Plaza, where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, undressing herself until nude, and then collapsing to the ground in a pool of blue blood. Badu, like Lady Gaga, is a talented musician whose art is sometimes compromised by sensationalist acts. There are two reasons why this won’t happen at the Black and White Memorial Day Event, a hip-hop party signaling the advent of BBQ and pool season. One: Badu, the event’s hostess, will perform as her alter-ego, D.J. Lo Down Loretta Brown, and that means she’ll be tucked away behind the master control, her mix of songs front and center. Two: Badu is on a short leash after having just completed six months of probation for her striptease. But these are the sort of hip-shaking affairs where things can get unruly in a hurry, and where new videos—TMZ videos—can crop up after the party ends at 4 a.m.
Beamers, May 29, 8:30 p.m.
Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
“Space, Land and Time: Underground Adventures with Ant Farm” is a documentary on the anti-architectural firm that hailed from San Francisco, but had strong ties to Texas. Chip Lord and Doug Michels, two of Ant Farm’s three principals, taught at the University of Houston, in 1969, and two of the firm’s most famous projects occupy the state. The filmmakers Laura Harrison and Beth Federici delve into the firm’s fascination with Texas as a stage for cultural commentary. They use as examples the House of the Century, a futuristic residence built in an undisclosed location, and Cadillac Ranch, a display of Cadillacs halfway submerged into land in Amarillo owned by Stanley Marsh, the prankster arts philanthropist, and thought to be leaning in the direction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. “Cadillac Ranch was inspired by a Cadillac print ad from 1959 that showed the evolution of the tail fin from 1949 to 1959,” Lord said. “We made the decision that they should be headed west on Route 66. The business about the pyramids is just made-up nonsense.”
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, May 27, 7 p.m.
Courtesy of the Watermelon Festival
In the grand tradition of breaking the fourth wall to slime the audience, there are few acts in the modern era that, in their defacement of the crowd, compare to Gwar, the rock band dressed as aliens, or Blue Man Group, the performance-art collective that wears blue paint. Strip away the artifice, though, and you have Gallagher, the grand master of the form. His hot-headed bald-guy routine gives perspective to his debauchery. Gallagher will bring his Sledge-O-Matic to the Watermelon Festival on Sunday. Don’t forget your poncho. Of course, there’s more to the fest than spraying savory watermelon all over people who literally pay for it. The Miss Watermelon Pageant, the Watermelon Carving Contest, and the Watermelon Relay are some options. But let’s go back to Gallagher. This is a man who has smashed to smithereens entire grocery stores. And do you know which object started it all? Watermelon.
Donna’s Corn Maze, May 29, various times.
Health problems prevented Johnny Gimble, a fiddler who used to play in Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, from accepting a lifetime achievement award at the Llano Fiddle Fest, in April. But it looks like the 84-year-old’s health has improved, and he will be at the Texas Swing Festival to receive a similar honor. The event includes workshops interspersed with bands with countrified takes on traditional swing music—a jazz style regarded as much for its jump-jivin’ dance moves as its merry-go-round sound. The festival takes place two days shy of Gimble’s birthday. Gimble will celebrate by ushering in the new guard, the Marshall Ford Swing Band, when he jams with them to close out the fest. It will be especially poignant considering Emily Gimble, a pianist in the upstart band, is Gimble’s granddaughter.
Cain Center, May 28, noon.
Everyone likes a good underdog story, and to see Jordan Spieth, the seventeen-year-old amateur golfing phenom from Dallas, steal the Byron Nelson Championship from the pros this weekend would be one for the ages.
Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas, May 27–29, various times.
Photograph by Svatava Strnad
Back in Time
If the Czech Republic is too far away for a visit, try Ennis, especially during the 45th Annual National Polka Festival, an immersion into the Czech culture replete with authentic music, beer, and kroj attire.
Various locations, May 27–29, various times.
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Eight more gotta-see, gotta-do events that you can’t afford to miss.
By Olivia LaVecchia
Wine and Music Festival
A brew garden, wine tent, live auction, and ten musical acts.
The Domain, May 28 & 29, 1 p.m.
Arts, crafts, and performances, plus juried and non-juried marketplaces, Saturday night fireworks, and free admission to Fair Park’s eight museums.
Fair Park, May 27–29, various times.
Thunder in the Canyon
A motorcycle run, car show, and concert of D.J.’s and tribute bands sponsored by the Mission Riders.
McKelligon Canyon Theatre, May 28, noon.
This opera combines the reflections of a Beat poet (Allen Ginsberg) with the music of an avant-garde composer (Philip Glass).
Bass Performance Hall, May 26 & 29 at 7:30 p.m. & May 28 at 2 p.m.
Cavalla Historical Foundation’s Memorial Day Ceremony
Observe the day with military speakers at the site of two historic World War II ships.
Seawolf Park, May 30, 11 a.m.
Ellis Hall: Ray Charles Tribute
The former Charles protégé pays tribute to his friend’s music.
Jones Hall, May 27 & 28 at 8 p.m. & May 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Texas Toy Soldiers Show
Plastic toy soldiers, dioramas, military miniatures, and historical military reenactors commemorate this Memorial Day weekend. Note: The show is conveniently located across from the Alamo.
Menger Hotel, May 28 at 9 a.m. & May 29 at 10 a.m.
Kerrville Folk Festival
The popular bluegrass festival kicks off its 39th year.
Quiet Valley Ranch, May 26–June 12, various times.