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 13–May 19]
Fourteen pianos were placed around Austin last month for passerby to showcase their skills. Graham Reynolds, a local composer, began playing one of the pianos, but eventually took a sledgehammer to it. Over and over again. It was performance art as avant-garde musical display—and another way Reynolds, leader of Golden Arm Trio, an experimental jazz band whose members hover around a dozen, pushes the boundaries of music. Consider the possibilities when Golden Arm Trio live-scores Battleship Potemkin, Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 tale of mutiny, as part of the KUHF Silent Film Concert Series. A lot of destruction can be done with a string quartet, bass, drums, a horns section, and, of course, piano. Reynolds’s scoring career began almost fifteen years ago, with a rendition of Potemkin for Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse movie theater chain, and now Reynolds counts as credits numerous multidisciplinary projects, including Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly. But familiarity with live-scoring this particular film does not breed comfort. “With Potemkin, pacing is a tough one,” Reynolds said. “The film hits go and never stops.”
Discovery Green, May 13, 8 p.m.
Letters From Texas
One of the great chroniclers of life in Texas doesn’t live in Texas. Bret Anthony Johnston, director of creative writing at Harvard University, calls Boston home. But he’s from Corpus Christi—the title of his lauded debut collection of short stories. “The longer I’m away from Texas, the more moved I feel to write about the state,” Johnston said. This connection makes him eligible for Texas Bound, a program that pairs Tex-centric short fiction with actors who read it. “Caiman,” Johnston’s story selected for Monday’s reading, is about a father who buys a small alligator for his young son, set against the backdrop of a missing girl. Octavio Solis, a San Francisco playwright, actor, and director, will read the story. “Caiman” is Johnston’s third story selected for Texas Bound, but that’s not even half the number of stories that have been selected to be read by the Austin author Sarah Bird, whose “Members Only,” read by Reis Myers McCormick, will be her seventh. That’s only two of the four authors, and already it’s one of the program’s most accomplished lineups.
Dallas Museum of Art, May 16, 7:30 p.m.
© Mario Perez
The Keys to Conjunto
There will be a changing of the guard at the thirtieth annual Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio. Joel Guzmán, a genre-bending accordionist who has played with Joe Ely, Little Joe y La Familia, and T Bone Burnett, will introduce to the stage for the first time his fourteen-year-old accordionist son, Joel Gabriel Guzmán. Accordion is the glue between bass and bajo sexto in conjunto, a blues-driven working-class music. Conjuntazzo, the group Guzmán is in with singer Sarah Fox, translates as “conjunto music with great power.” “We take the traditional conjunto roots and cross-pollinate them with other styles as varied as the jazz stylings of Toots Thielemans, the African-influenced music of Panama known as ‘typical,’ and big band,” Guzmán said. A bunch of classic conjunto alone would make for quite a festival, but to pair that with Guzmán’s present-progressive take, and then allow a glimpse of its future through Joel Jr., is to not let the ages-old music vanquish into the history books.
Rosedale Park, May 13–15, various times.
Astronomers don’t get out much. They work the night shift, sequestered in solitude for long stretches, alone with their celestial bodies. Star Party, an evening of star-gazing paired with barbecue, beer, and wine included in the price of admission, gets them out from under their telescopes to teach the casual observer about what they are seeing up in the sky. On this occasion, the Houston Astronomical Society will be especially mindful of pointing out the details of the moon—three nights short of being full. That’s a lot of real estate to examine. It’s in these wistful, awe-inspiring, otherworldly conditions that people are drawn together. And making a random friend in a city of two-and-a-half million is about as common as seeing a shooting star, especially if that friend is an astronomer.
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, May 14, 7 p.m.
Twenty five tons of mudbugs sounds about right for a feast at the 25th anniversary of the Texas Crawfish & Music Festival, where scads of Texas rock and country bands will strike a chord of harmony with their zydeco-playing, Cajun brethren.
Preservation Park, May 13–22, various times.
Point and Shoot
It would be easy to pre-write and pre-produce certain parts of an entry in the 24-Hour Video Race, a short-film competition where the winners get their film screened at the Dallas Video Fest and on KERA, but that would be cheating—and cheaters never win.
Angelika Dallas, May 13, 11:59 p.m.
• • • • •
Eight more gotta-see, gotta-do events that you can’t afford to miss.
By Annie Samuelson
A musical success for the past forty years, Browne, now 62, is anything but running on empty.
Moody Theater, May 13, 8 p.m.
Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels
Let me root, root, root for the home team. If they don’t win, it’s a shame—and a surprise.
Ballpark in Arlington, May 13–15, various times.
The Mission Trail Art Market
On the first market day of the season, browse beads, baubles, and buys brought by professional artisans from across the region.
The Mission Trail Art Market, May 15, 8:30 a.m.
11th Annual Frontier Forts Days
Experience the past and celebrate the culture.
Fort Worth Stockyards, May 13 & 14, various times.
Boom, clink, crash. This physical dance troupe is a true sight-to-see (and sound-to-hear)!
The Grand, May 13–15, various times.
With vocal cords of gold (er, multi-platinum, rather) Groban is sure to raise you up.
Toyota Center, May 14, 8 p.m.
Eat, drink, and be merry with spectacular chefs from around the globe. All for the love of food!
Various locations, May 11–15, various times.
Texas Crawfish Party and Music Jam
Get your fill of Texas music and feast on Texas eats.
Historic Downtown Square and the Rogers Hotel, May 14 & 15, 11 a.m.