Six Must-Attend Events: December 20–22
The state's top events and offerings, from Amanda Shires channeling Leonard Cohen to a classic NBA showdown.
When Doves Cry
Southeastern, the solo album by Jason Isbell, is a fan favorite among Americana releases this year, but Down Fell the Doves, by Amanda Shires, Isbell’s wife, is the hidden gem of the genre. The couple has been touring together to promote both records, and on Saturday Shires will headline a hometown show in Lubbock. It was there that she started out as a musician, playing fiddle with the Texas Playboys at age fifteen. A couple of years later, while working at Ralph’s Records, she became enchanted with Leonard Cohen, the Canadian baritone. That infatuation led to having lyrics from Mr. Cohen’s time-honored song “Hallelujah” tattooed on her forearm and has culminated in “A Song for Leonard Cohen,” written as a birthday tribute, on her latest album. The unbearable lightness of being that pervades Cohen’s music has seamlessly infiltrated the songwriting of Shires, who once jokingly told NPR that she had only one happy song. “I’ve been with the Townes Van Zandt school of thought in which you can either write ‘Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah’ or you can write the blues,” Shires said. “When I’m happy, it doesn’t strike me to write a song.”
1711 Live, Dec. 21, 7 p.m., amandashiresmusic.com.
A screening by the Austin Film Society of the 1972 film Beware! The Blob (also known as Son of Blob) may seem like an unusual way to acknowledge the first anniversary of Larry Hagman’s death. The film is a Grade A B-movie and hardly represents the actor who had countless fine moments, comic and dramatic, on his series “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Dallas.” Still, it’s the first and only film that Hagman ever directed. Sitting in a hot tub in Malibu, California, Hagman was asked by his neighbor whether he was interested in making a sequel to the 1958 horror classic The Blob. Hagman subsequently shot the movie in fifteen days for $87,000 — and it shows. But it may be more reflective of Hagman in some ways than his roles as Major Anthony Nelson and J.R. Ewing. Hagman admitted he was familiar with marijuana and LSD, and there’s something more than a little trippy going on here.
The Marchesa, Dec. 20, 8 p.m., austinfilm.org.
Best in the West
The NBA season just started, but already it looks as if the San Antonio Spurs could wind up battling the Oklahoma City Thunder for Western Conference supremacy. These two have been at the top of their game for some time: Each has played in the Western Conference Finals twice in the past three years. In 2012 they played each other. When they meet Saturday, it’s bound to be intense. Some pundits think the Thunder, led by the former University of Texas standout Kevin Durant, are the best they’ve ever been. Others believe that Manu Ginobili, a Spur whom many people wrote off after last year’s NBA Finals, has returned to form. This will be a textbook matchup of old guard versus new, with the Spurs seeking revenge for having lost a squeaker to the Thunder in November.
AT&T Center, Dec. 21, 8:30 p.m., nba.com.
When the French artists Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro organized an exhibition in Paris, in 1874, as the Anonymous and Cooperative Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers, they were unwittingly starting a revolution. Mr. Monet’s dreamy, sketchlike painting of a harbor, “Impression, Sunrise,” debuted at the show and, along with similarly spontaneous-looking pieces by his contemporaries, challenged the status quo of art, which had embraced delineated features. Art lovers can see the birth of a genre in Houston, where “The Age of Impressionism” is making its last stop. This touring exhibition includes more than 70 works, all from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, founded by the Singer sewing machine heir, in Massachusetts.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Dec. 22–March 23, mfah.org.
The Dallas rockabilly band Reverend Horton Heat is entering its 30th year with the January release of its new album, “Rev,” which is likely to be previewed on Saturday in Austin, where, during college at the University of Texas, the group’s front man, Jim Heath, was known to play guitar in the hallway of the Moore-Hill Dormitory late into the night.
Emo’s, Dec. 21, 9 p.m., reverendhortonheat.com.
Getting the Boot
One of the reasons Stallion Boots of El Paso counts Bob Dylan among its clients is that their wares are made to fit from day one, and that’s largely because of the chief bootmaker, Pedro Muñoz, who will be at the Pinto Ranch trunk show selling current inventory and tracing feet for custom orders.
Pinto Ranch, Dec. 21, 10 a.m., stallionboots.com.