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.
Eye of the Beholder
Bouts with vertigo last year prompted Wendy Wagner, an artist in Houston, to see multiple doctors. After they all gave her a clean bill of health, she went back to working on her art, including a twenty-foot triptych that will appear in her Austin show, “Look to the Left,” opening Thursday at the Women & Their Work gallery. But eventually a raging headache forced Wagner to go to the emergency room. “That’s when they did a CT scan and found that I had a large mass on my brain,” Wagner said, “and everything changed.” She is now undergoing chemotherapy and has had multiple surgeries to remove what turned out to be a malignant brain tumor. She has also lost the left peripheral vision in both eyes—she can’t see anything unless it’s in front of her or to the right. This radically affected her approach to art and inspired her to return to drawing, which she had not done in years. For her latest show, she will display her signature rainbow-colored graphic designs alongside the new work influenced by her condition. “I’ve loosened up a little bit,” said Wagner, who plans to attend the show despite her medical issues. “I’m becoming more organic in my technique.”
Women & Their Work, January 24 – March 14, womenandtheirwork.org
Lyle Lovett once asked Carrie Rodriguez, the classically trained violinist from Austin who at the time was studying at Oberlin Conservatory, to sit in with his Large Band. Playing with Lovett turned out to be a career-defining experience for Rodriguez, who subsequently left Oberlin and transferred to the Berklee College of Music, where she studied as a fiddler. This led to tours with Chip Taylor, the “Wild Thing” singer-songwriter, the actor Jeff Bridges, and four studio albums. Rodriguez’s fifth album, Give Me All You Got, synthesizes these influences into a hybrid sound that incorporates rock, blues and folk. And when she promotes it during four Texas dates starting Wednesday in Denton, it will become apparent that her voice—at full throttle on the first single “I Cry for Love”—has taken over as her primary instrument.
Dan’s Silverleaf, January 23, 8 p.m., carrierodriguez.com
Bach’s Great 18 Choral Preludes, the collection of sacred music for solo organ, are defining works he composed over the course of his career. It is thought that the final prelude, “Before Your Throne I Now Appear,” was dictated from his deathbed. The selection is a favorite of Alain G. Déclert, the program director at the Round Top Festival Institute, who will play it Saturday as part of the organ recital “Singing Bach on the Flues.” “Having been trained in the demanding legato technique by Genevieve de La Salle, herself a student of Louis Vierne, my purpose is to respect the clarity of the lines—the counterpoint—of Bach’s music, without the frills of distracting coloring,” Déclert said. He will perform on the oldest organ in Texas, the 1835 Henry Erben pipe organ, which should help him sound even more like Bach.
Edythe Bates Old Chapel, January 19, 3 p.m., festivalhill.org
One look at Redd Volkaert’s small, meaty hands might lead someone to believe he is a grappler, not a guitarist. And yet Volkaert, who was in Merle Haggard’s band and is now an Austin-based frontman of his own, produces immaculate, standard-bearing tone on his Telecaster. Volkaert has teamed with Dangerous Guitar, an online resource for learning how to play, to teach fellow guitarists advanced techniques like “Chicken Pickin’ in G” and “Licks I Stole From Fiddle Players.” But if you would rather just sit back and enjoy Volkaert’s handiwork, then attend A Day with Dangerous Guitar, which culminates in a jam session involving him and other instructors.
Eddie Deen’s Ranch, January 20, 10 a.m., dangerousguitar.com
It Takes All Kinds
One of the reasons Houston landed on the New York Times’s list of “46 Places to Go in 2013” is because of the many cultural institutions that celebrate the diversity of the city’s artists, whose work will be on display at “Remembered, Regained: Immigrant Arts of Houston,” a series of concerts, discussions and workshops starting Saturday and running through July.
Asia Society Texas Center, January 19 at 7:30 p.m. and January 20 at 3 p.m., houstonartsalliance.com
Andrew Young, the politician, pastor and personal friend of the Martin Luther King Jr., will preside over “The Role of the African American Church in the Civil Rights Movement,” the topic of the Eighth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium, on how progress can be made through the shared embrace of a higher being.
City Performance Hall, January 21, 7 p.m., dallasinstitute.org