With the death of George Jones, the opportunity to see an original country-and-western singer perform has been greatly reduced. “Looking at the business,” said Ray Price, 87, the Mount Pleasant singer, who knew Jones for sixty years, “there are only three now who are the same as me: Willie, Merle and Little Jimmy Dickens. We’re the last of the bunch. The music that we’ve made—it looks like the door is slowly closing.” At his show on Friday at Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas, Price and his ten-piece Cherokee Cowboys band will perform crowd pleasers including “For the Good Times,” “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me,” and “I Won’t Mention It Again” for a seated crowd. “It’s hard to pick out which songs to do,” Price said. “And you can’t take requests, because there are too many of them.” Price, who announced in 2012 that he had received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer (now reported to be in remission), has played Gruene Hall numerous times, and the crowd there has a long history of treating him like royalty. “I’ve been greeted every time with a standing ovation,” Price said. “When the show is over, I get another standing ovation or two, sometimes three or four. That’s what turns me on.”
Gruene Hall, May 3, 8 p.m., gruenehall.com
Cult of Personality
There is no shortage of controversial religious groups, but Scientologists seem to attract more attention than others, and Tom Cruise’s infamous sofa-jumping episode on Oprah just added to the fascination. The Austin writer Lawrence Wright, author of Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, considers this a byproduct of celebrity culture. “When you invest in a celebrity as a frontman, as any product salesman can tell you, you’re also putting your fortunes with their behavior,” Wright said. “But it sometimes backfires when celebrities misbehave.” Wright, a Pulitzer Prize winner (and former contributor to Texas Monthly) based “Going Clear” on a 2011 article in The New Yorker about the filmmaker Paul Haggis’s defection from Scientology—which Wright said had declined from what he calls its fun early days under its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, to its days of fear under its current leader, David Miscavige. Wright will discuss the book on Thursday with Mark Updegrove, the director of the L.B.J. Library. The religion, Wright said, maintains principled followers who carry on Hubbard’s tenets outside the questionably corrupt modern-day church. “All religious communities provide hope of some kind,” he said. “Scientology does as well; it offers the idea of eternal life. This is really good news for some people.”
L.B.J. Presidential Library, May 9, 5 p.m., lbjlibrary.org
Fort Worth was a boomtown between 1880 and 1900, when the population quadrupled, from 6,663 to 26,668. There was plenty for the brothers Charles, David and John Swartz—photographers who moved from Virginia to settle in Fort Worth—to document, as oilmen, cattlemen and businessmen were all trying to make a buck off the new stockyards. In the exhibition “The Swartz Brothers: Fort Worth’s First Family of Photographers,” forty or so images will reveal those characters and their changing surroundings. The show includes one shot of the Fort Worth Five, a group that included the train robber Butch Cassidy and his main partner in crime, the Sundance Kid, whose name lives on locally at Sundance Square.
Fort Worth Public Library, May 1-31, 10 a.m., fortworthtexas 2.gov
Austin talks a big game about keeping it weird, but Houston could make the case that it can be even weirder. Houstonians just have to point to the Houston Art Car Parade, the largest event of its kind in the world, as proof. This three-day extravaganza of outlandishness starts Thursday night with a free sneak peak, without the epic crowds but with live music from Carolyn Wonderland, a homegrown blues woman. The main attraction, the 26th annual parade, is expected to attract more than 250,000 onlookers, there to see hundreds of cars taking on unexpected shapes like stiletto heels and peacocks.
Various locations, May 9-11, thehoustonartcarparade.com
A couple of the marquee films at the Hill Country Film Festival, which also showcases screenplays and short movies, serve double duty as both entertainment and reflections on the local culture: Somm is a documentary for wine aficionados about becoming a sommelier, and Buck Wild is a zombie comedy with Matthew Albrecht, a Fredericksburg High School graduate, who also wrote the script with Tyler Glodt.
Steve W. Shepherd Theater, May 2-5, hillcountryff.com
Because looking at yourself nude in the mirror might not convey the full potential of the human physique, there is “The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece: Masterworks From the British Museum,” a touring exhibition of toned Olympians and spellbinding muses.
Dallas Museum of Art, May 5-Oct. 6, 11 a.m., dallasmuseum 2ofart.org