Save the Polka
For eight years the Austin nonprofit Texas Folklife has raised the profile of one of the state’s most vaunted instruments, the accordion, through its statewide Big Squeeze contest, which shines the spotlight on musicians 21 and under. But organizers have discovered a disturbing trend. “There aren’t many young polka players coming up in the ranks like there are in other genres like conjunto or zydeco,” Cristina Ballí of Texas Folklife said in an email. To promote awareness, Texas Folklife has teamed with Texas Dance Hall Preservation—a nonprofit dedicated to another endangered state symbol—to present the inaugural Texas Polka Festival and Symposium. Fans can witness an extraordinary assembly of regional musicians, including Brian Marshall, a Polish polka fiddler from Houston; the celebrated San Antonio accordionist Santiago Jiménez Jr., whose brother is Flaco Jiménez; and Big Squeeze contestants. Music isn’t the only attraction: the site of this daylong affair, Sengelmann Hall, is one of the jewels of Texas dance halls. Built in 1894 and shut down at the onset of World War II, the hall reopened in 2009 after a $1 million renovation that earned it a 2010 National Preservation Award—and the praise of dancers who glide across its five-thousand-square-foot longleaf pine floor.
Sengelmann Hall, February 22, 10:30 a.m.,


Embrace the Strange
Unlike Austin, Lubbock does not need to be kept weird. The flatland of seeming nothingness but drive-through beer barns and an artery of highways, which gives Lubbock the nickname Hub City, cannot be anything else. “Sometimes I think U.F.O.s had more to do with all the weirdness than the psychedelics,” Jimmie Dale Gilmore, one-third of the seminal Lubbock band the Flatlanders, once told the music journalist Richard Gehr. In Is There Life After Lubbock?, a night of songs and story-swapping, Gilmore joins a fellow Lubbock expatriate (and his first wife), Jo Carol Pierce, the writer, musician, and monologuist, and Jaston Williams, another West Texas expat, whose exploration of small-town eccentricity is typified by his play Greater Tuna. Since audience interaction is encouraged, there could be a debate about which city is indeed the weirder.
Stateside at the Paramount, February 21, 7 p.m.,


Risk and Reward
Like Beaumont’s oil-wildcatting tradition before it, the Boomtown Film and Music Festival is speculative in its appraisal of the truly independent movies and bands that it will host this weekend. With two dozen musical acts largely from southeast Texas who have had little national recognition, there is great potential for discovery. This is also true of the films being screened: not one of the fifty or so domestic and international feature-length and short-film selections has enjoyed a wide United States release. But a review of the directors reveals that immense potential is there: Kat Candler of Austin and Eric Steele of Dallas, for instance, are in the Texas Filmmakers Showcase organized by the Houston Film Commission.
Various locations, February 21–22,


All the Difference
Fredericksburg Road, in San Antonio, is the road more, then less, then more traveled. It boomed during the early to mid-twentieth-century, as the suburbs grew and strip malls popped up; then when Interstate 10 was built in the sixties, it continued to expand to the northwest but faltered near downtown. Today the downtown section of Fredericksburg Road, better known as Fred Road, is on the rebound, thanks to gentrification. A winning mix of hipster pioneers and old-school locals has made the area fertile ground for creativity, which will be on display at the seventh annual On and Off Fredericksburg Road Studio Tour. This two-day, self-guided art tour passes through seven neighborhoods and showcases around eighty featured artists’ works at studios and galleries.
Various locations, February 22–23,


Go, Cowboys
The Bullock Texas State History Museum’s 2011 high school football exhibition posited that the sport was deeply ingrained in Texans because of the frontier spirit spread by figures like cowboys, and at the Cowboys and Cowboys Sky Ranch Gala these two worlds will collide when members of the Dallas Cowboys—both past and present—and rodeo cowboys hobnob with ticket holders, all to raise money for children’s and family camps.
Omni Hotel, February 22, 6 p.m.,


Take Cover
It cannot get any more rock ’n’ roll than the Austin band Shearwater’s show on Saturday promoting its new album, Fellow Travelers, which pays tribute to the camaraderie forged among musicians on tour, with cover songs by bands with whom Shearwater has hit the road, including Lou Barlow (“Natural One”).
The North Door, February 22, 9 p.m.,