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Written by Texas Highways

Courtesy Texas State University School of Music

Texas State University will honor the legacy of San Marcos-born jazz pioneer Eddie Durham February 6 with the Eddie Durham Jazz Celebration. Born in 1906, Durham started his career in San Marcos with the Durham Brothers Orchestra. By the 1930s, he was writing, arranging, and performing big-band jazz for the likes of The Count Basie Orchestra and Glenn Miller. The free 7:30 p.m. event features a big-band concert and a talk by jazz historian Dan Morgenstern. On February 7, Texas State hosts the Hill Country Jazz Festival, culminating with a show by the Texas State Jazz Ensemble.

J. Griffis Smith

Far from the battlefields of the Southeast, a little-known but influential chapter of the Civil War unfolded on the Texas-Mexico border as Rebels and Yankees fought for control of valuable cotton-trading routes. On February 28, developers of the new Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail will celebrate the launch of the trail with a history symposium at UT-Pan American in Edinburg (free and open to the public). The trail offers a bilingual website, brochure, and podcasts that trace some 60 historic sites, such as the Port Isabel Lighthouse (above) and Palmito Ranch—site of the final Civil War land battle, which recognizes its sesquicentennial in May.

Courtesy Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council

For the 50th consecutive year, the Kwahadi Dancers of Amarillo will present their Winter Night Ceremonials on weekends in late January and February. Made up mostly of teenagers, the Kwahadi Youth Dance Theater interprets the traditional dances of the desert farming people of the Southwest for the performance, titled “Tyuonyi: A Journey in Time.” The performances, held at Amarillo’s Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian, cost $9 for adults and $5 students.

John James Audubon, printed by John T. Bowen, Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

The naturalist John James Audubon (1785-1851) is best known for his effort to illustrate and catalog the breadth of America’s bird species. Later in life, he embarked on a similar project for mammals with his book Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, featuring hand-colored prints of creatures like bison, raccoons, and wolves. In Fort Worth, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art displays some of these prints in Audubon’s Beasts, which runs January 15-August 2.

gage restaurantv

When I first began traveling to Big Bend in the late 1980s, my introduction to lodging—other than a tent in the Chihuahuan Desert—was a room at the Gage Hotel in Marathon. Quiet, rustic, and largely undiscovered back then, the yellow-brick hotel stood as an outpost of civilization on the edge of Big Bend National Park’s vast wildness.

Nothing-Finish

I have wondered many times what it is about far West Texas that I find both uplifting and settling. Miles and miles of wide-open spaces, the big sky—those things make me breathe deep. But ultimately, it is the light that draws me back time and again.

highRes MasonCredit140221 003

Texas is chock-full of mockingbirds (our state bird), pecan pies (our state pie), and armadillos (our state small mammal), but when it comes to blue topaz (our state gem), there’s only one place to find it naturally in the Lone Star State. I headed to the town of Mason to hunt down this elusive gemstone, and to take in the food and history of this Hill Country town.

Photo by Will van Overbeek

Long known as the “home of the grapefruit,” Mission has celebrated its agricultural roots since 1932 with the annual Texas Citrus Fiesta.

Courtesy River Oaks Chamber Orchestra

What better place than the zoo to watch Sergei Prokofiev’s timeless composition Peter and the Wolf?

Nash Farm Courtesy Grapevine CVB

In the days before refrigeration, wintertime in Texas provided the cold temperatures required to safely prepare meat for the year to come.

Farewell to Marines by the Semper Fidelis Club, St. Paul, MN. Photograph, 1942, Collection Minne­sota Historical Society

At the Eastland County Museum, Our Lives, Our Stories: America’s Greatest Generation chronicles the remarkable span of history lived by Americans born in the 1910s and ’20s.

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