The second golden age of television is at its peak. Whether you prefer reality show cotton candy, like The Bachelor and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, or serious cable programming, like The Sopranos and Mad Men, television during the last decade has had more diverse offerings than ever before. The second annual ATX Television Festival capitalizes on this with programming appealing to fans and job-seekers in a statewide TV industry that counts Revolution and Dallas as shows in production. Kick off Friday night with cast members of Friday Night Lights (sorry, Connie Britton, Kyle Chandler, and Taylor Kitsch are not confirmed), who will appear at a tailgate screening of an episode a fan has picked of the critics’ darling, which was filmed in Austin. There will also be screenings of My So-Called Life, Party of Five, and Boy Meets World, where viewers can see how these nineties-era favorites stand up over time. Fans of the cult hit Community are especially lucky: the show runner Dan Harmon—who was dismissed last season, reportedly because of a spat with the actor Chevy Chase, but was reinstated last week—is set to attend. And Harmon, who is famously raw, will probably have plenty of choice words to say about the drama.
Various locations, June 7-9, atxfestival.com
Accuracy and breadth of knowledge were paramount for Philipp Meyer in writing The Son, a 576-page epic about a Texas oil and ranching dynasty, rich with Comanches and Texas Rangers history. To write the novel, his second, Meyer, a Yankee transplanted to Austin, did exhaustive research, reading nearly 350 books and even drinking buffalo blood. It seems that his efforts have paid off, with the book earning raves from critics as the most ambitious Texas work since Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian—two bibles of Texas Western culture that were published in 1985. But along the way, he said, he came to an unfortunate revelation about one of his heroes: McCarthy “was wrong” about a lot of things, Meyer said in a recent Texas Monthly profile. “Writing this book made me respect him a little less,” he said. “You have to smack down your forebearers, you know what I mean? You have to be like, no, I’m the authority.” See if those remarks spark literary warfare at Meyer’s reading and signing at the Twig Book Shop, the last Texas date on his book tour.
The Twig Book Shop, June 8, 4 p.m., philippmeyer.net
The Sound of Excellence
A day before the victory medals are passed out at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition on Sunday, the Round Top Festival Institute’s 43rd annual music festival will feature a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1, the piece that made Cliburn famous. The Fort Worth native played it at the 1958 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow—his victory there a symbolic end to the cold war. The Round Top Festival founder James Dick, a past top winner in the Tchaikovsky competition, will be at the keyboard for this performance in homage to Cliburn, who died in February. And then, over the course of more than a month, about ninety musicians will perform in about three dozen public events that will showcase the expanse of orchestral and chamber music.
Round Top Festival Institute, June 6-July 13, festivalhill.org
BBQ Bottom Line
The Chisholm Trail Roundup pulls out all of the Texas-themed stops: it has its own rodeo; a horseshoe, washer and disc tournament; requisite live country music; and a cowboy breakfast around a chuck wagon. But it’s the barbecue and chili cook-offs that will bring people to the place once regarded as the Barbecue Capital of Texas. Which leads to the real reason people will travel to this brisket, sausage, and pork rib mecca: to find out for themselves if Smitty’s, long a standard-bearer of finely smoked meat, deserved the boot from Texas Monthly’s recently released and highly respected list of top barbecue joints.
Various locations, June 7-8 and 13-15, chisholmtrailroundup.com
Fresh off an Indianapolis 500 victory, Tony Kanaan will try to become the third driver in history to also win the Firestone 550 in the same year, and the odds look good for Kanaan, who holds the second-best career finishing average at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Texas Motor Speedway, June 8, 7:30 p.m., texasmotorspeedway.com
The Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Festival—where sweet-tooth hounds have four hours to make it through nine homemade flavors—will have a crank-off contest in which participants will literally scream for ice cream as they put a lot of elbow grease into the traditional style of making it.
Chestnut Square Historic Village, June 8, 9 a.m., chestnutsquare.org