It is quite possible that had it not been for the arrests of brothers Timmy and Charles Overton, two of Austin’s most notorious gangsters, Charles Whitman may have never opened fire from the University of Texas Tower on that fateful August day in 1966. The short of it, which the author-musician-artist Jesse Sublett will likely expound on during a hometown reading of his new book, 1960s Austin Gangsters: Organized Crime that Rocked the Capital, boils down to a poker game. The Overton brothers cleaned Whitman out during a game in 1961, while Whitman was a freshman at UT; he settled his debt in the form of a $400 check but promptly cancelled it, ticking off the Overtons and forcing Whitman to start carrying a .357 magnum for protection. The heat died down when the Overtons were arrested in Dallas, in 1962, for robbing tony homes in Highland Park. “This saved Charlie’s life,” Sublett said. The book follows the exploits of the brothers along with Jerry Ray “Fat Jerry” James and their cohorts in underground crime and vice. Sublett came across the story while researching the murder of his girlfriend, who was killed in 1976 and whom he chronicled in his 2004 memoir, Never the Same Again: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Gothic. “They never pulled a million dollar score, but they were voracious and prolific—safecracking, bank burglary, prostitution, drug dealing, gambling, counterfeiting, you name it, 24/7,” Sublett said. “And they changed Cadillacs more often than you’d take a suit to the dry cleaner.”
BookPeople, March 23, 7 p.m., jessesublett.com
It is probably safe to say that successful females don’t want to be singled out as “the first female” or as “one of the only females in a man’s field,” instead preferring to be acknowledged for their skill rather than their gender. But that is the burden that Eva Ybarra, the San Antonio conjunto musician known as La Reina del Acordeón, or the Queen of the Accordion, bears. Born into a musical family, Ybarra, a septuagenarian, received her first accordion, a two-row button diatonic Hohner model, when she was four years old. “It was like they gave me a doll to play with,” Ybarra told the McAllen Monitor last year. Ybarra has been playing ever since and, unlike her male accordionist contemporaries, she has mostly written her own songs, allowing the female perspective to resonate with listeners. “La Reina del Acordeón: Eva Ybarra’s Life on Stage,” the multimedia theatrical production at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, will recount her musical prowess within the context of the sexual politics that sometimes made it hard for her to find musicians who were man enough to play with a woman who was better than them.
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, March 20 & 21 at 8 p.m. and March 22 at 3 p.m., guadalupeculturalarts.org
If Dr. Martens and Blossom hats aren’t indication enough that the nineties are back in fashion, then consider the new development at 2713 Canton Street, in Deep Ellum. It’s the site of the old Bomb Factory, where Ford cars were once manufactured and then World War II ammunition (i.e., bombs) before the place was transformed into a live music joint that enjoyed its heyday in the nineties with touring acts like INXS, Nine Inch Nails, and Sonic Youth. Beginning next Thursday, the old Bomb Factory will become the new Bomb Factory, a state-of-the-art 50,000-square-foot modular venue essentially rebuilt from the studs of its former self. Two of the best musical performers in the Dallas area will help break in the space on opening night: Erykah Badu, the funk-soul veteran, and Sarah Jaffe, the electro-pop upstart.
The Bomb Factory, March 26, 7 p.m., thebombfactory.com
There are only three days left in the twenty-day Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, but there is still plenty to do. Start with the pig races, featuring little squealers that can cover the 150-foot track in seconds flat. Graduate to the BP Super Series Championship, with hotshot cowboys and cowgirls participating in bareback riding, barrel racing, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping, and tie-down roping—all for a chance at some purse money, which totals $1,690,000. Next, chill out to live music from country stars Brad Paisley and Luke Bryan. And then, on the final Sunday, trade in your traditional church clothes for jeans and boots and attend Cowboy Church.
NRG Park, March 20-22, 8 a.m., rodeohouston.com
The Mexicans may have wanted the Spaniards off their land back in 1821, but for the past four decades they—along with Tejanos and other ethnicities residing in El Paso, Ciudad Juárez, and the surrounding area—have invited the Spaniards to grace their stage at the Chamizal National Memorial, where this weekend’s Fortieth Annual International Siglo de Oro Drama Festival will celebrate theater from the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish Golden Age, with plays by, among others, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra of Don Quixote fame.
Chamizal National Memorial, March 20, 21 & 22, 7 p.m., los-paisanos-chamizal.com
What better way for the Texas Museum of Science and Technology to celebrate its grand opening than with “Body Worlds and the Cycle of Life,” the popular international traveling exhibition that explores the mechanics of the ultimate machine, the human body, with more than one hundred real human specimens of various ages, preserved through plastination and stripped of their skin so that their inner workings are on full display?
Texas Museum of Science and Technology, March 20, txmost.org