Cowboys need more than just boots and a hat to get the job done. A horse is essential—and often a cowboy’s closest friend. Fittingly, horses will be the stars of Saturday’s National Day of the American Cowboy festivities in Bandera, with 64 of them (and their riders) competing in the Fastest Horse in Texas Horse Match Races. The races are “turn and burn,” which means contestants, paired off in single-elimination heats, begin with an about-face and then bolt one hundred yards to the finish line. The cowboy atop the winner will receive a handmade trophy saddle valued at $1,200. Bandera is arguably the best place to celebrate the National Day of the American Cowboy, started by American Cowboy magazine in 2004, because it is considered the Cowboy Capital of the World. The distinction stems from a history as a staging area for cattle drives in the late 1800’s. The town is also home to several rodeo champions, some of whom will compete against other working cowboys in the Frontier Times Ranch Rodeo after the horse races.
Mansfield Park, July 26, 1 p.m., banderacowboycapital.com
Wild and Crazy Guy
The five million Twitter followers of Steve Martin, the Waco-born Renaissance man known for his comedy, acting, writing, music, and art collecting, will be without his witty presence for the summer. He is taking a hiatus from social media to focus on Bright Star, the musical he is creating with Edie Brickell, the Dallas-born singer. But Texans who appreciate Martin’s banjo playing will still have a chance to watch him perform when he comes to Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Midland to promote his 2013 Grammy-nominated album, Love Has Come for You, which is also a collaboration with Brickell. Austin and Dallas are sold out, and Houston will be soon, so Midland may be the best bet to catch Martin and Brickell. Backing them up will be a bluegrass band, the Steep Canyon Rangers, which appeared on Martin’s previous album, the 2011 Grammy-nominated Rare Bird Alert.
Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center, July 30, 8 p.m., stevemartin.com
Ukraine of Yore
Roger Ebert, the movie critic, once wrote that watching Man With a Movie Camera, the 1929 silent film by Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov, was “unthinkable without the participation of music.” Though made during Joseph Stalin’s rule, the film is positively uplifting as it documents with innovative camera techniques the hum of life in the Ukrainian cities of Odessa, Kharkiv, and Kiev. On Friday night, Justin Sherburn, the Austin-based keyboardist for the rock group Okkervil River, will do right by Ebert. Sherburn will present a live score to a screening of the movie with his group Montopolis, which will play two violins, a viola, a guitar, a piano, a bass, drums, a xylophone, and analog synthesizers. “Vertov’s adventurous editing and cinematography combined with the ecstatic energy of his subject translates today into a celebration of the human spirit and technology,” Sherburn said.
The North Door, July 25, 8 p.m., montopolismusic.com
A Focus on Strays
Houston has so many homeless animals that respondents to the 2010 Health of Houston Survey cited strays as a bigger concern in their neighborhoods than crime. To draw attention to the matter, DiverseWorks, a nonprofit art center, is hosting “No One’s Dog,” a community exhibit displaying photographs taken by Houston residents of stray, neglected, and abused canines. The goal is to inspire action so that more of the dogs end up like Rusty, who was found in a cemetery and adopted into a loving home. He is the subject of a coloring book by the illustrator Michael Bise, which will be distributed for free at the show.
DiverseWorks, July 26-Aug. 9, diverseworks.org
Take advantage of the free admission to attend the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s Tribute Day, with programming dedicated to Johnson, who made already-scenic drives downright breathtaking with the flowers she had planted in Texas as part of the Highway Beautification Act.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, July 27, 9 a.m., wildflower.org
The Sneaker Summit, a one-day marketplace of practically every style of kicks imaginable, is a way for aficionados to be like Mike, as in Michael Jordan, the basketball player, whose fans eagerly anticipate the release of every new pair of Air Jordans.
Reliant Center, July 27, 3 p.m., sneakersummit.com