The 21 Best Things to Do in Dallas, Oct. 14-21

Libby Villari as Ann Richards
Libby Villari as Ann Richards Kirk Tucker/courtesy Zach Theatre

Monday, October 14

Sontag: Her Life and Work
The DMA Arts & Letters Live series will feature a talk with biographer Benjamin Moser about his newest book, Sontag: Her Life and Work, which dissects the words and life of essayist, playwright, filmmaker and activist Susan Sontag — who examined controversial topics like feminism, homosexuality, AIDS and the Vietnam War. Moser paints a thorough picture of the woman behind the myth through Sontag’s own restricted archives, interviews with her longtime partner Annie Leibovitz and close to 100 photos. The event takes place at 7:30 p.m. Monday at 1717 N. Harwood. Tickets are $15-$65 at Eva Raggio

Tuesday, October 15

They just don’t make ’em like Ann Richards anymore. We may have a bevy of smart, strong and inspiring women in politics right now, but not one of them boasts the sass, empathy and hilarity of the inimitable Ann Richards. The former governor of Texas was elected in a contentious race in 1990 despite her outspoken feminism and being a Democrat in Texas. She was a force of nature, which is more than obvious in actor Holland Taylor’s play Ann, which runs at the Dallas Theater Center, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd., from Tuesday, Oct. 15, through Sunday, Nov. 10. Libby Villari takes on the role of the feisty politician under the direction of Kristen van Ginhoven in this paean to the ultimate icon of Texas girl power. Shows are Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 to $70 at Jennifer Davis-Lamm

Marc Grossberg
Marc Grossberg had practiced law in Houston for over 50 years when he decided to pour his legal expertise into a novel, à la John Grisham. Grossberg’s debut, The Best People, recounts the ethical conflicts sustained by the story’s protagonist, Paddy Moran, a former Brooklyn cop with a newly minted law degree, through a “social satire” that takes a critical look at the upper echelons of Houston society and the ceaseless corruption in a legal system with a shifting definition of justice. Grossberg will be speaking about his novel and signing books from 6 to 7 p.m. at Interabang Books, 10720 Preston Road. Entrance is free. Eva Raggio

Cass McCombs
Over the course of 15 years and nine studio albums, Bay Area-born Cass McCombs has created ambitious music and defied expectations. As a songwriter, first and foremost, he's crafted free-flowing explorations into subjects large and small; his meditations on the sprawling wonder of the cosmos coincide nicely with his detailed eye and appreciation for the mundane and everyday. He's also equal parts guitar shredder and noodler, a dichotomy expertly expressed on his latest album, Tip of the Sphere, that serves as a deep dive into Grateful Dead-esque jams and ambling, measured textures of sound. In a live setting, McCombs' ruffled charm and casual wit interject a nice balance to the heady numbers banged out in the set list. The show starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Club Dada, 2720 Elm St. Tickets are $15-$18 at Jeff Strowe

Jason Bucklin Trio
When Jason Bucklin isn’t teaching guitar and bass lessons, like he’s done for most of his life, he’s usually on stage with his jazz trio at The Balcony Club. In teaching guitar and bass, including master classes at the University of North Texas, Bucklin has grown an appreciation and passion for all kinds of music. But jazz was his first love. Bucklin used to play with Café Noir, the Dallas-based sextet, but every Tuesday, at least from now until sometime in December, Bucklin hits The Balcony Club stage with his trio for a night of jazz. And, it’s free. Go see the Jason Bucklin Trio while you still can. The free show takes place at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at The Balcony Club, 1825 Abrams Road. Jacob Vaughn

Wednesday, October 16

World Food Championships
More than 1,500 cooks from around the world are battling to be the best at the World Food Championships, Oct. 18-20. There are 10 categories, along with a $350,000 prize purse. Events vary, including a cooking competition that’s promised to be intense, a high-end dining experience and a barbecue block party. The competition kicks off at 8 a.m. and will all happen on the Reunion Tower Lawn, 300 Reunion Blvd. in downtown Dallas. For more information and tickets, visit Taylor Adams

DIIV (pronounced like “dive”) made a massive impact following the release of their debut 2012 album Oshin, almost immediately garnering comparisons to acts like Nirvana for far more than lead singer Cole Smith’s Kurt Cobain hairdo. By 2016, however, it seemed as if the New York-based indie-rock shoegazers were likely to head down the same path as the band that became Seattle’s second best (right behind the coffee). The band canceled a chunk of the European leg of their 2016 tour after an incident in Leeds, in between losing founding members Colby Hewitt and Devin Ruben Perez. Earlier this month, DIIV has followed through on a tremendous comeback by way of their third album, Deceiver, released Oct. 4. Adopting a far darker tone than their earlier outings, the album revolves around the metamorphic changes that often come about after one survives an ordeal as threatening to one’s health as Smith’s battle with drugs and alcohol. The result is 10 tracks that exist somewhere between the cavern-like simplicity of their debut and the upbeat intensity of their second, Is the Is Are, a seemingly sweet spot that will keep you staring at your ever-tapping toes all night. The show starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at Canton Hall, 2727 Canton St. tickets are $20-$23 at Nicholas Bostick
Psych-rock indie band Pearl Earl is playing its last local show of the year, so don't leave for next year what you can do in this one.
Simone Carter

Thursday, October 17

a love offering
Dallas Theater Center's resident playwright, Dallasite Jonathan Norton, reaches back to his childhood once again for a tender story, a love offering, inspired by hearing his mother relate her experiences as a caregiver in a nursing home. There's a thoughtful message here about how race affected a setting where white patients, many of whom had memory problems, largely depended on a black staff. Perhaps the care even dated back to the patients' young years. The world premiere opens the 29th season at Kitchen Dog Theater, still in its temporary home at Trinity River Arts Center, 2600 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 180. Heading the cast are Whitney LaTrice Coulter, Rhonda Boutte and Max Hartman. Artistic director Tina Parker directs. Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 27. Tickets are $30. For info, kitchendogtheater.orgReba Liner

Femme It Forward
The ladies who ruled the airwaves in the late 1990s and early aughts were a sexy and self-assured bunch of R&B superstars, churning out hit after hit; they weren’t exactly take-no-prisoners, but they were certainly take-no-shit. Brandy, Monica, Ashanti, Mya and the like shaped the sound of the new millennium with their jams, all of which any self-respecting millennial can still belt out. There will be plenty of opportunity for that during the Femme It Forward tour, starring all those ladies plus Keri Hilson, appearing at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory, 300 W. Las Colinas Blvd. in Irving, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17. Tickets are $29.50 to $129.95 at; the event, curated by women for women, raises funds for a variety of organizations that support the advancement of women. Jennifer Davis-Lamm

Pearl Earl
Pearl Earl’s inception traces to songs penned by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ariel Hartley in her bedroom. A couple of years later, Hartley formed the band with drummer and backing vocalist Bailey Chapman and bassist Stefanie Lazcano after the trio had a rollicking jam session. After performing and gaining a following as a three-piece for a couple of years, Pearl Earl later added the uber-talented multi-instrumentalist Chelsey Danielle on keys and more in 2017. The band's show Thursday is billed as their last one in Denton until next year, so you won't want to miss it. They will be playing with special guests The Schizophonics from San Diego, and Maestro Maya. The show starts at 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, at Harvest House, 331 E. Hickory St., Denton. Tickets are $2 at door. Daniel Rodrigue

Maxo Kream
With a dark sense of humor and a breezy wit, Houston-raised rapper Maxo Kream, aka Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah Jr., expertly tells snippets of his life story on this year's stellar album Brandon Banks. Here Kream tells heartfelt tales of crime and punishment, abandonment and loss, grief and joy, in equal measure. It's an effort that will likely find him garnering many votes for year-end best-of lists. The rapper also reps his home state well. In a recent interview he threw out tons of praise for the Texas scene, referencing fellow artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Splurge and Lil' Jairmy. The show starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, at House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St. Tickets are $25 at Jeff Strowe

Friday, October 18

Teatro Dallas' production of Villa happens at 8 p.m. Friday and Thursday, Friday and Saturday through Nov. 2 at Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak Ave. Playwright is Chile's Guillermo Calderon, whose plays (including Kiss) have been produced around the world. Artistic director is actress and designer Sorany Gutierrez. Through the roles of three women, hell-bent on deciding the future of the prison Villa Grimaldi, Calderon gives his audience a close-up glimpse of torture and prison experiences during the reign of the Pinochet military dictatorship era in Calderon's home country. Tickets for the regional premiere are $15 for students and seniors and $20 for general admission. For info, 214-671-0045 or Reba Liner

The Petite Palace
Apparently, some people want to get closer to clowns, as opposed to keeping the frequent horror movie antagonists as far away as possible. If you are not one of those who suffers from It-triggered coulrophobia, the Petite Palace offers a much more intimate circus experience than the Ringling Bros. or Cirque du Soleil. Acrobats, jugglers, magicians, dancers and clowns put on a show under the little top in a tent with a capacity of about 150. This week’s shows are 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 apiece for children or for groups of 10. The show runs through Nov. 3. at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Jesse Hughey

Generations of Adam
Experimental theater collective Artstillery is the brainchild of Ilknur Ozgur, recently named “Best Theater Director” in the Observer’s Best Of 2019 issue. The troupe’s newest offering, Generations of Adam, deconstructs — through 13 true-life narratives — the institutionalized patterns of abuse that perpetuate its (literally) vicious circle: patriarchy, spiritual abuse and domestic violence. The immersive think piece experiment allows guests to freely walk and explore the space and its entrancing use of mixed media (like puppets and video). It runs until Nov. 16, at 723 Fort Worth Ave. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $10 for seniors and students, at Eva Raggio

Formed in 1991, Denton’s legendary alternative rock band Baboon will be performing a one-off performance at The Kessler alongside Daniel Markham and Caved Mountains on Friday. The band once featured in the 1996 “Hall of Fame” episode of Walker Texas Ranger has not played a show since the 10th anniversary “Dia de los Toadies” event at Possum Kingdom Lake over two years ago. Known for their high-energy performances featuring heavy guitars, machine gun drums, trombone and a lot of screaming, Baboon is sure to bring new life into a venue known for its mellow performances. It remains unclear whether the show will be part of a larger announcement, as their social media pages have stayed fairly tight-lipped about why exactly they are choosing this moment to do a headlining show. What is clear, however, from their practice video is that the band remains as tight as ever. Whether you’re feeling nostalgic, want to learn a bit about local music history or you just want to throw down to some real '90s music, this is a show not to be missed. It starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, at The Kessler, 1230 W. Davis St. Tickets are $16 at David Fletcher
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The “Grand Pooh-Bah of Denton bands,” Brave Combo, will be at Dan's Silverleaf this Thursday.
Daniel Rodrigue
Brave Combo
In a 2008 Paste Magazine piece naming Denton, Texas, as “Best Music Scene,” Brave Combo was mentioned as the “Grand Pooh-Bah of Denton bands” — after all, how many other Denton-based groups were animated and featured playing on The Simpsons, or picked to play David Byrne’s wedding? Tonight offers fans a chance to celebrate 40 years with two-time Grammy-winning Brave Combo’s brand of polka and other dance-able styles of world music as the group’s genre-spanning, celebratory set is likely to include a mix of polka, rock, zydeco, ska, salsa, conjunto, cumbia, merengue, norteño and other styles. Formed near the end of the spring 1979 semester by a handful of North Texas State University (now UNT) students, after gigging hard all summer and seeing growing support from fans in North Texas, Carl Finch, Tim Walsh, Dave Cameron and Lyle Atkinson decided to turn Brave Combo into a full-time endeavor, and by August the band started recording their first studio album, a seven-track, double-7-inch EP, Polkamania. In September ’79, Brave Combo played in front of a true polka crowd for the first time at Westfest, the annual Czech music, arts and food event in West, Texas, which helped solidify a substantial regional cult-like following for the group. The show starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, at Dan's Silverleaf, 103 Industrial St., Denton. Tickets are $10 at Daniel Rodrigue
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Talk about "Tenacious D." The comedic musicians will be playing at The Bomb Factory on Saturday.
Kevin Winter/Getty

Saturday, October 19

Dallas Fan Days
Pressed to pick the show with the most loyal and binge-y fan base, it’s a tough call between Doctor Who, Stranger Things, Riverdale and Star Trek (various iterations, naturally). Cool thing is, Dallas Fan Days is Friday-Sunday at the Irving Convention Center, 500 W. Las Colinas Blvd., and it will hit high notes for fans of all those shows. And Star Wars. And comic books. And cosplay. Christopher Eccleston, Matthew Modine, Casey Cott, Anthony Daniels and others join comic featured guests Mike Grell, Ashley Witter, Kerry Gammill, Joe Eisma, and others, as well as a veritable Worbla-load of popular cosplayers. The 8x10s come out 4-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Individual day tickets start at $20 ($5, kids), but weekend ($60-$70), family ($45-$85) and gold passes ($159, in advance only) are available. Bring extra money for merch and autographs and check out to book celebrity photo ops and get complete schedules and all the info. Merritt Martin

Fun Fall Fest
It's getting to be that time of year again when the leaves start falling, the wind starts turning colder and the kids are staying in the house more because it's too cold to play outside. Mark my words. Three days will pass before you'll start researching what little control you can have on the weather just so you can get the kids out of the house. The Dallas Comedy House has the perfect solution. The comedy theater's annual Fun Fall Fest runs 3-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, and offers activities and shows that everyone can enjoy. The theater's patio will have a ton of outdoor games for kids and their grown-ups, face painters and chances to paint a pumpkin for the porch. Then you can watch the theater's Family Friendly improv comedy show at 6 p.m. The Dallas Comedy House is at 3036 Elm St. Tickets for the performance are $10 for adults and $5 for children. The Fun Fall Fest is free and guests who register for a free ticket will received a pumpkin-painting kit. Tickets are available at the box office and online at Danny Gallagher

Tenacious D
Tenacious D bills itself as "The Greatest Band in the World / on Earth." That's a pretty bold statement, but superlatives surrounding the band certainly aren't uncommon. The loudest. The fastest. The funniest. Tenacious D is all of them. Although consisting of comedians Jack Black and Kyle Gass, don't dismiss Tenacious D as simply a side project — these are wildly talented musicians. In 2014, the band won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance for their cover of Ronnie James Dio’s “The Last In Line," and Black's intense heavy-metal vocals over Gass' booming lead guitar are best turned up to 11. The duo has released four albums since their eponymous 2001 album. Last year, they released Post-Apocalypto, featuring Dave Grohl on drums. The album samples music from the band's animated series Tenacious D in Post-Apocolypto — a series that was allegedly in response to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential win. The show starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, at The Bomb Factory, 2713 Canton St. Tickets are $60-$200 at ticketfly.comDiamond Rodrigue

The Legendary Pink Dots
The Legendary Pink Dots turn 40 in August 2020, and the experimental art-psych-post-punk rockers with the cult-like following have already kicked off the first leg of the band’s 40th anniversary tour. After more than 40 studio albums in under 40 years (not counting live albums, singles, EPs and collaborations), the band deserves an early victory lap. And this tour comes on the heels of the release of Angel in the Detail — an album, many fans seem to agree, is one of the Dots’ best in ages. Now truly legendary for the band’s prolific output, rotating cast of musicians (not to mention record labels) and genre-defying sound, The Legendary Pink Dots formed in London in 1980 before moving to Amsterdam in ’84 with Edward Ka-Spel and Phil Knight at the core. While singer-songwriter Ka-Spel’s vocals have always been front and center, he’s truly sounding cooler and more confident with age. Whether a Dots track starts with electronic bleep-bloops, a tape recording, guitar or keys, when the distinctive vocals of singer-songwriter Ka-Spel kick in, his vocal tone, enunciation and theatrical delivery become instantly recognizable. Local openers Nervous Curtains seem like a perfect pairing. The show starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Three Links, 2704 Elm St. Tickets are $22-$25 at Daniel Rodrigue

Sunday, October 20

Revelers Hall Band
Every Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m., the Revelers Hall Band makes a not-so-subtle stop at their home venue. The six-piece brass band packs a punch that is near impossible to stand still against. The band embodies what Revelers Hall co-owner Jason Roberts and music director Kevin Butler want to get out of all the performers at the venue. It's acoustic, and they play real pianos and upright basses, instead of electric. Even if the power goes out, the Revelers Hall Band will keep the show going. The band can also be heard accompanying other acts booked at the venue throughout the week. The free show starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20, at Revelers Hall, 412 N. Bishop Ave. Jacob Vaughn
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