Photo by Pamela Springsteen

Willie Nelson has earned countless awards for his seven-decade music career, but the legend is also well known for his activism — particularly in the areas of farming and food security. In recognition of his longtime advocacy work, the LBJ Foundation will present its highest honor, the LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award to Nelson this spring.

The award will be presented at a special gala tribute dinner on Friday, May 12, 2023, which in turn will benefit the newly established Willie Nelson Endowment for Uplifting Rural Communities at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, a part of The University of Texas at Austin.

According to a release, the endowment will fund research and student fellowships focused on sustainable agriculture, eliminating hunger, resilient energy, sustainable water, and natural disaster recovery to benefit rural and farm communities.

Along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, Nelson organized the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 to raise funds for struggling farmers, which has since raised over $70 million for those who own and operate family farms throughout the United States. He has also helped raise millions around disaster relief, for families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks and for veterans, as well as working toward environmental and animal advocacy, and voting rights. His Luck Family Foundation provides financial grant assistance and other resources to artists, organizations, and programs in need, donating proceeds from Luck Reunion events to Farm Aid and other longtime charity partners like the Texas Food & Wine Alliance.

“Willie Nelson is a national treasure who gained fame through his sheer musical talent and won hearts as someone who truly cares about the lives of his fellow Americans," says Larry Temple, Chairman of the LBJ Foundation Board of Trustees, via release. "A product of rural Texas, Willie has never forgotten where he comes from. His longtime efforts to raise money and awareness for family farmers through Farm Aid and numerous other endeavors to help those in need throughout his career make him a true inspiration.”

The dinner will honor Nelson's lifelong support for rural communities, embodying President Lyndon Baines Johnson's commitment to public service, particularly in the areas of farming and food security. With their similar backgrounds as rural Texans, both President Johnson and Nelson shared a keen awareness of the struggles of those who work in the agricultural industry.

“The bounty of the earth is the foundation of our economy," President Johnson shared in a 1965 Special Message to Congress on Agriculture. "Programs in every aspect of our nation’s life depend on the abundant harvests of our farms.”


Madonna mounts global celebration for 2023 with 3 Texas tour stops

madge in TX

One-named pop singer Madonna is mounting a global tour in 2023, starting in the U.S. in mid-July before heading to Europe. Called "Madonna: The Celebration Tour," it'll highlight her catalog of music from the past 40-plus years.

The tour will hit 35 cities in total including three Texas cities, all in mid September, with Austin being the closest stop for San Antonians.

UPDATE 1-19-2023: Madonna has added 13 new dates to the tour, including second shows in Houston, Dallas, and Austin. The dates below reflect the new shows:

Wednesday, September 13 and newly added Thursday, September 14 – Houston, Toyota Center
Monday, September 18 and newly added Tuesday, September 19 – Dallas, American Airlines Center
Thursday, September 21 and newly added Friday, September 22 – Austin, Moody Center ATX

Produced by Live Nation, the tour will kick off in North America on Saturday, July 15 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, and wrap up in Amsterdam on Friday, December 1. Other stops across the U.S. include Detroit, Chicago, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, before it makes its way to Europe where it will hit 11 cities throughout the fall, including London, Barcelona, Paris, and Stockholm.

Her last dates in Texas were in January 2016, when she stopped in Houston and San Antonio on her "Rebel Heart" tour.

According to a release, the "Celebration Tour" will journey through Madonna’s four-decade career, paying respect to the city of New York where it began.

"I am excited to explore as many songs as possible in hopes to give my fans the show they have been waiting for," Madonna says in a statement.

The "Celebration Tour" will offer a one-of-a-kind experience with special guest Bob the Drag Queen a.k.a. Caldwell Tidicue across all dates.

Tickets go on sale starting Friday, January 2,0 at 10 am at madonna.com/tour.

Citi cardmembers will have access to presale tickets beginning Tuesday, January 17 at 2 pm through Thursday, January 19 at 6 pm through the Citi Entertainment program. For details, visit www.citientertainment.com.

Legacy members of Madonna’s Official Fan Club will have a pre-sale opportunity beginning Tuesday, January 17 at 11 am through Wednesday, January 18 at 4 pm for shows in the U.S.; and from 9 am GMT/10 am CET to 5 pm GMT/6 pm CET on Wednesday, January 18 for UK and European shows.

Fans can also purchase VIP Packages, which may include premium tickets, exclusive access to a behind the scenes tour, group photo on-stage, pre-show reception, limited edition lithograph, and more. For more information, visit vipnation.com.

Tour dates in the U.S. are as follows:
Sat Jul 15 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
Tue Jul 18 – Seattle, WA – Climate Pledge Arena
Sat Jul 22 – Phoenix, AZ – Footprint Center
Tue Jul 25 – Denver, CO – Ball Arena
Thu Jul 27 – Tulsa, OK – BOK Center
Sun Jul 30 – St. Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center
Wed Aug 02 – Cleveland, OH – Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse
Sat Aug 05 – Detroit, MI – Little Caesars Arena
Mon. Aug 07 – Pittsburgh, PA – PPG Paints Arena
Wed Aug 09 – Chicago, IL – United Center
Sun Aug 13 – Toronto, ON – Scotiabank Arena
Sat Aug 19 – Montreal, QC – Centre Bell
Wed Aug 23 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
Thu Aug 24 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
Wed Aug 30 – Boston, MA – TD Garden
Sat Sep 02 – Washington, DC – Capital One Arena
Tue Sep 05 – Atlanta, GA – State Farm Arena
Thu Sep 07 – Tampa, FL – Amalie Arena
Sat Sep 09 – Miami, FL – Miami-Dade Arena
Wed Sep 13 – Houston, TX – Toyota Center
Mon Sep 18 – Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center
Thu Sep 21 – Austin, TX – Moody Center ATX
Wed Sep 27 – Los Angeles, CA – Crypto.com Arena
Wed Oct 04 – San Francisco, CA – Chase Center
Sat Oct 07 – Las Vegas, NV – T-Mobile Arena

Europe dates are as follows:
Sat Oct 14 – London, UK – The O2
Sat Oct 21 – Antwerp, BE – Sportpaleis
Wed. Oct. 25 – Copenhagen, DK – Royal Arena
Sat Oct 28 – Stockholm, SE – Tele2
Wed Nov 01 – Barcelona, ES – Palau Sant Jordi
Mon Nov 06 – Lisbon, PT – Altice Arena
Sun Nov 12 – Paris, FR – Accor Arena
Mon Nov 13 – Paris, FR – Accor Arena
Wed Nov 15 – Cologne, DE – Lanxess Arena
Thu Nov 23 – Milan, IT – Mediolanum Forum
Tue Nov 28 – Berlin, DE – Mercedes-Benz Arena
Fri Dec 1 – Amsterdam, NL – Ziggo Dome


Universal Studios will open a new family-friendly theme park in North Texas

Theme Park News

Texans, get ready to meet Shrek: Universal Parks & Resorts is opening a one-of-a-kind theme park in Frisco, near Dallas, promised to be unlike any other in the world — a new park set in a green landscape featuring immersive themed lands that celebrates Universal's iconic characters and stories.

According to a release, the company has purchased 97 acres of land, east of the Dallas North Tollway and north of Panther Creek Parkway, which will also be home to a themed hotel.

The complex will boast a completely different look, feel, and scale from Universal's existing parks, one designed to appeal to a new audience for the brand.

It will also be a regional version, smaller than Universal's other parks in Hollywood and Orlando, designed to be more intimate and engaging for younger audiences, although surely the same quality as the larger parks.

Features will include family-friendly attractions, interactive and playful shows, character meet & greets, unique merchandise, and food & beverage venues.

The release says that Universal Parks & Resorts selected Frisco for its growing population and ability to attract businesses.

"We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the city of Frisco and Mayor Jeff Cheney as we work to bring this innovative new concept to life, designed specifically for a younger generation of Universal fans," says Page Thompson, president of New Ventures at Universal Parks & Resorts.

"We think North Texas is the perfect place to launch this unique park for families given its growing popularity within this part of the country," she says.

The new park is part of a bigger expansion for Universal Parks and Resorts, which is also opening a third theme park at Universal Orlando Resort, as well as a smaller horror-themed park in Las Vegas.

How to join the cast of 'Yellowstone' spinoff '1883: The Bass Reeves Story' filming in North Texas

Hollywood, Texas

Texan fans of the hit TV shows Yellowstone and 1883 will have the chance to act in the shows’ newest spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, at the end of January — if they're willing to travel, that is.

The new series' talent agency, Legacy Casting, announced on Facebook that they're seeking people, ages 16-50, to cast as Union and Confederate soldiers for scenes being shot in North Texas.

Casting director Andrei Constantinescu says they are also seeking Native American, specifically Black Seminole, men and women.

“But really, in the world of extras, we’re looking for all body types, ages, etc.,” Constantinescu says.

The agency is hoping to cast hundreds of non-speaking background actors and extras for some of the show’s scenes. For Civil War scenes, several hundred actors will be needed, they say, while some town scenes may require only a few hundred. Exact DFW shooting locations have not yet been revealed.

The new six-part series will be a sequel to 1883, about the titular character, a former slave who became one of the first Black U.S. deputy marshals west of the Mississippi River in 1875. Reeves, who will be played by British actor David Oyelowo, is said to have killed 14 outlaws and apprehended more than 3,000 criminals during his time as a marshal.

Taylor Sheridan, the creator of Yellowstone and 1883, will be the executive producer of Bass Reeves and is expected to direct two episodes. Sheridan is an honorary Fort Worthian who attended Pascal High School and lives on a ranch in Weatherford. This is not his first project in North Texas, of course. 1883 was filmed around Granbury and Fort Worth, partially in the Stockyards, in 2021 — much to local spectators' delight.

Those interested in being cast should create a profile with MyCastingFile, where Legacy Casting posts all its casting calls. For non-speaking background extras, there are no auditions. Those cast in Bass Reeves will be selected primarily based on the photos or videos applicants use in their MyCastingFile profiles, Constantinescu says.

Filming in Fort Worth is set to begin in late January. The agency plans to have wardrobe fittings until then. Pay will fluctuate at around $100-$150 per day, depending on the role, Constantinescu says. The base rate is $96 per 10 hours. Most background actors will only work one day, but those cast in a major scene may be required to be on set for multiple days.

While the pay may not look that appealing to some, Constantinescu says the job will be “a lot of fun” and a possible career advancement opportunity.

“If you’re interested in film, if you love to know what it’s like behind the scenes, this is a great experience for you,” he says. “Or if you want to make a career out of film and don’t really know where to get started, this is an awesome place to start because you can watch the process and start kind of making connections, as well.”

There are no COVID-19 vaccine requirements to be cast in the show. However, all cast and crew will be tested for the virus several times per week, Constantinescu says. Background actors will also be required to take a COVID-19 test before going to costume fittings.

For questions about casting, email extras@legacycasting.com.

Photo by Louie Banks

Shania Twain rides into San Antonio with just-announced date on 2023 world tour

Concert news

Country music star Shania Twain's expansive 2023 world tour now includes a night in San Antonio. On December 6, Twain announced a second leg of the anticipated Queen of Me Tour, adding 19 cities to the schedule, including San Antonio and Fort Worth.

She will play San Antonio's AT&T Center on October 12, 2023, and Fort Worth's Dickies Arena on October 13, 2023. The new dates are in addition to previously announced Texas stops in Dallas (July 21, 2023) and Houston (July 22, 2023).

Tickets for the tour will go on sale starting 10 am Friday, December 16 at LiveNation.com. Citi cardmembers will have access to presale tickets beginning 10 am Tuesday, December 13 until 10 pm Thursday, December 15 through the Citi Entertainment program.

This is Twain's first tour in nearly five years. It was originally announced in conjunction with the news of the upcoming release of her new album, also called Queen of Me, due out on February 3, 2023. Her first album since 2017, it is also the first with her new record label, Republic Nashville.

The sales of that album will add to her record of being the best-selling female artist in country music history, a record she's achieved despite releasing only five albums in her 30-year career.

Twain has remained a star all these years thanks to three massive albums — 1995's The Woman in Me, 1997's Come On Over, and 2002's Up! — each of which sold over 11 million copies in the U.S. alone. She also has seven No. 1 hits and eight more top 10 hits from those three albums.

Stockyards Hotel

New self-guided tour showcases iconic Fort Worth Stockyards' many Hollywood ties

Tinseltown in Cowtown

A new self-guided tour showcasing the Fort Worth Stockyards’ many star-studded appearances in cinema throughout the years recently debuted in time for the 16th annual Lone Star Film Festival, which took place earlier this month in the Stockyards for the first time.

Called Stars of the Stockyards, the eight-stop, go-at-your-own pace walking tour guides folks to famous film sites where celebrities have stepped foot in front of Hollywood cameras. Visitors to the Stockyards can access the PDF tour map on their smart phones via QR codes (no app required) posted throughout the district, namely at hotels and tour kiosks.

"The Stockyards is a historic and celebrated destination for many reasons, but one that may be lesser known is its popularity as a filming location for some of our favorite movies and TV series," said Ethan Cartwright, VP of marketing for Stockyards Heritage Development Co.

The tour and corresponding QR codes are a permanent addition to the district, he said.

Stops on the map include the iconic White Elephant Saloon, a hotbed for Hollywood performances including several by legendary actor and martial artist Chuck Norris in the longtime TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger when the watering hole was portrayed as the fictional CD Bar. The White Elephant was also graced by country music superstar Tim McGraw and Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton for their appearances in Paramount Plus’ hit series 1883.

Also in 1883 and featured on the tour is Hookers Grill, hidden in the less flashy West side of Exchange Ave. The burger shack transformed into a gambling den in the show called The Texas House of Liquor & Sport. It’s the only building in the Stockyards that preserved the façade constructed by 1883’s production team. During operating hours, customers can order at the outdoor burger window and dine at patio tables within the two-story structure.

Cowtown Coliseum is marked on the map for its appearances in the 1983 film Tough Enough, where actor Dennis Quaid played an amateur boxer. It’s also the home of the final rodeo scene in the 1992 movie Pure Country starring country music legend George Strait.

Billy Bob’s Texas, the Stockyards Hotel, and even unassuming historic cattle pens also make the list on the tour, along with notations for the Texas Trail of Fame, which features more than 240 bronze markers honoring contributors for preserving and perpetuating the Western way of life.

Veteran actors Sam Elliot and Robert Duvall, both stars in the megahit TV series Yellowstone, are among the most recent Texas Trail of Fame inductees.

For more information and to get started on the tour, go here.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Soul songstress Patti LaBelle makes solo stop in San Antonio on her Texas tour with Gladys Knight

Midnight Train

It may be hard to nail down what gives someone “soul,” but two iconic performers are taking that je ne sais quoi on tour. Gladys Knight (“Midnight Train To Georgia”) and Patti LaBelle (“Lady Marmalade”) are joining forces for a summer tour that San Antonians can catch if they want to take a drive to Austin.

LaBelle will breeze through San Antonio’s Majestic Theater on June 17 for a solo show. She will meet Knight at Austin's Bass Concert Hall on Monday, June 19.

Both singers came up as frontwomen of groups — Knight with her family as Gladys Knight & the Pips, and LaBelle with girl group Labelle. Knight stayed more in the realm of soul and R&B, while LaBelle crossed over to a more rock sphere. Both have won numerous awards and are considered pioneers in the genre.

Knight and LaBelle are the same age, but after decades of friendship spanning the majority of their lives, the former calls the latter her “little sister.” The pair famously first appeared together in the 1986 HBO special Sisters in the Name of Love, and have been seen as a pair many times since, including when LaBelle bestowed Knight with her Kennedy Center honors in 2022 and even facing off in a Verzuz battle (a webcast stream in which the two artists chatted and took turns singing karaoke to their own tracks).

The duo will be hard to catch elsewhere, as both are on separate tours that only sometimes converge. LaBelle's only solo Texas stop is the Majestic Theater stop. Knight's independent tour schedule does not show any Texas date. The two will come together before their Austin show in Grand Prairie, Texas, at the Texas Trust CU Theatre on June 18.

Tickets for LaBelle's San Antonio performance are available at majesticempire.com via Ticketmaster. Tickets for the Austin performance will go on sale on March 31 at 10 am at texasperformingarts.org. Presale tickets are available to Texas Inner Circle members as of March 28.

Shiner Beer crafts new barbecue joint at iconic Texas brewery

Lewis and Clark, Sonny and Cher, SpongeBob and Patrick. Duos float in and out of pop culture at hummingbird speed. But few have quite as much staying power as beer and barbecue. So, it’s only natural that one of Texas’ most iconic breweries would want to break out the smoker.

According to a release, Shiner Beer is untapping a new market with the April 1 grand opening of K. Spoetzl BBQ Co. Housed at the newly expanded Spoetzl Brewery, the eatery will welcome carnivores seven days a week.

Pitmaster Tommy Schuette, the former proprietor of the Shiner Barbeque Co., will lead the charge with the state’s holy trinity of smoked meats, including brisket, sausage, and ribs. Other favorites like pulled pork and chicken will be served alongside a meaty assortment of salads, loaded potatoes, and sandwiches.

Of course, no Texas barbecue joint can get away with skimping on the sides. Potato salad and pinto beans are served throughout the week, but weekend guests get a little extra. Diners can also opt for green beans, coleslaw, creamed corn, and giblet rice from Thursday through Saturday.

In celebration of K. Spoetzl BBQ’s debut, samples will be passed out between 10:30 am-6 pm on April 1. QR codes will also be scattered across the grounds giving visitors a chance to win gift cards, shirts, hats, and more. Diners will also be given a free beer token for every $25 spent at the restaurant that day.

In addition, budding influencers can post a picture of Schuette to social media to get a coupon for 10 percent off. (As a rule, pitmasters do not need a yassify filter.)

After the grand opening celebration, K. Spoetzl BBQ will be open daily. Hours are 10 am-4 pm, so plan accordingly.

Texas rises through the ranks of most innovative states, says new report


The Lone Star State has again taken a step up on an annual report that ranks the most and least innovative states in the country — this time cracking the top 15.

Texas ranked No. 15 in personal finance site WalletHub's 2023’s Most and Least Innovative States ranking. It's a steady improvement for the state, which ranked No. 16 in 2022 and No. 17 in 2021.

The report analyzed the 50 states and the District of Columbia and how each performed across 22 key metrics, including population of STEM professionals, venture capital investment activity, number of technology companies, patents per capita, and more. The data was pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Science Foundation, National Center for Education Statistics, United States Patent and Trademark Office, and other records.

Here's how Texas performed at a glance:

  • No. 18 – for share of STEM professionals
  • No. 16 – for projected STEM job demand by 2030
  • No. 25 – for eighth grade math and science performance
  • No. 21 – for share of science and engineering graduates aged 25 or older
  • No. 13 – for share of technology companies
  • No. 31 – for R&D spending per capita
  • No. 18 – venture capital funding per capita

For the 11th year, Texas won Site Selection Magazine's Governor's Cup, the governor's office announced earlier this year. The award, which Texas has won 19 times since its inception in 1978, recognizes the nation’s top-performing state for job-creating business relocations and expansions.

"Texas truly is America’s economic engine, and we stand apart as a model for the nation. When choosing where to relocate or expand their businesses, more and more innovative industry leaders find themselves at home in our state," Governor Greg Abbott says in a news release about the award.

"I congratulate the exceptional economic development teams at the local, regional, and state level who have worked so diligently to attract and retain these growing businesses and the jobs they create in diverse communities across this great state," he continues.

The most innovative states included the District of Columbia, which ranked at No. 1, followed by Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, and California, respectively. The least innovative state was identified as Mississippi, followed by Louisiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Arkansas, respectively.

Source: WalletHub

Access to quality education is a significant contributor to each state's innovation economy, the experts say in the report.

"Investing in education, particularly K-12 but also at the University level, it is no accident that innovative ecosystems develop in states with strong education systems and research universities," says David L. Deeds, professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. "These institutions build strong capable modern workforces that attract capital, and jobs and create innovations. The benefits do not happen overnight, in fact, they take years if not decades, but consider what The UC’s or the University of Texas at Austin have meant for the development of premier innovative ecosystems."