Bill’s Best Bets: Impressive West Texas Walk of Fame inductions, interesting Alamo screenings and Whitney Houston show

I had intended to introduce the 50th anniversary screenings of Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider” at Cinemark’s Movies 16, only to be told both planned screenings were canceled because “not one ticket was sold.”

I found that disappointing.

Nevertheless, this week’s Best Bets find:

  • Four more deserving artists being inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame on Thursday.
  • Two more of my own cinematic favorites being given single-screening salutes, although one is in party format.
  • Anyone who appreciated Whitney Houston has something special in store Sunday at the Cactus.

West Texas Walk of Fame induction: Susan Graham, David Kneupper, Romeo Reyna and Larry Trider

The West Texas Walk of Fame has been around for four decades, although a history might include some questionable decisions.

For example, there are gaps – years in which no one was inducted. I don’t think present Civic Lubbock Inc. leadership ever will let that happen again. Another mistake was made long ago when the Buddy Holly statue and Walk of Fame plaques were moved from near the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center to their present location across the street from the Buddy Holly Center.

More importance also is placed on those whose West Texas residence and labor is limited to their university years.

Regardless, take pride in the number of actors, artists, musicians, vocalists and other entertainers who began attracting attention, either within a 150-mile radius of Lubbock or on a campus stage.

Walk of Fame guidelines state those honored must have “a strong connection to Lubbock and the West Texas area … who have devoted a significant part of their lives to the development and production of the performing and visual arts, and whose body of work has been influential nationally in one or more of these areas. The West Texas area, for purposes of this program, is generally interpreted as a 150-mile radius of Lubbock.

“Inductees are selected for nomination by the Walk of Fame Committee of Civic Lubbock, Inc. and nominations are submitted to the Civic Lubbock Board of Directors for approval.”

The first two artists inducted were Buddy Holly, of Lubbock, in 1979 and Littlefield native Waylon Jennings in 1980. There was a gap before induction responsibilities were passed on to Civic Lubbock, Inc., and the next inductee was Mac Davis in 1983.

For a full listing of West Texas Walk of Fame inductees, visit www.civiclubbock.com/walkInd.html online. That will provide a listing from Holly in 1979 to last year’s inductees: Josh Abbott, the late Donnie Allison, Bob Livingston and visual artist Garland A Weeks.

Expect an elegant aura for the 2019 West Texas Walk of Fame induction ceremony at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19. Those being inducted at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Theatre, 1501 Mac Davis Lane, include international opera star Susan Graham; internationally respected composer, music producer, sound designer and songwriter David Kneupper; the late Romeo Reyna, a nationally respected textile/visual artist; and country singer Larry Trider.

The free ceremony is open to the public. Graham, Kneupper and Trider all will be present.

Celeste Cavazos, the late Reyna’s niece, is the family representative and will accept the honor on the artist’s behalf at the ceremony. Examples of Reyna’s work will be on display in the Civic Center Theatre lobby that night.

Romeo Reyna: He was a longtime Lubbock resident. Born in 1935, he first encountered Lubbock as a migrant worker with his parents. At age 16, he was the youngest student at that time accepted at the Chicago Art Institute. He continued his studies at the Los Angeles Art Center and Otis Art Institute.

He became respected for designing, creating and installing extra-large tapestries, and was featured in Architectural Digest and Texas Monthly. He also created fiber hand-woven rugs, quilted leather wall and floor coverings and three-dimensional fabric wall sculptures.

His commissioned installations can be seen across the country, including one measuring 275 feet by four stories tall for the Black Angus Restaurant in Seattle. More can be found at the Bob Hope Cultural Center in Palm Springs, Maxim’s Restaurant in Houston, as well as in banks, museums, offices and private homes. His commissions have been installed in the United States, Germany, Spain, Singapore, Columbia, Canada and Mexico.

Romeo died in 2016 at age 80.

Susan Graham: Raised in Midland, Graham was educated at Texas Tech and the Manhattan School of Music. She made her New York Metropolitan Opera debut in 1991, and her international debut in 1994 at London’s Covent Gardens. The New York Times called her “an artist to treasure.”

Within a few years, she rose to international stardom.

She sang leading roles from Baroque to Classical to contemporary operas in the world’s greatest opera houses. She appeared with the world’s leading conductors, orchestras and performers and remains in great demand.

Graham is a Grammy Award winner and was awarded the French government’s prestigious “Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur” for her popularity as a performer in France and her commitment to French music.

In 2004, she was named Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year. Gramophone magazine named her “America’s favorite mezzo.” Her hometown of Midland celebrates an annual “Susan Graham Day,” and Tech named her a Distinguished Alumnus.

David Kneupper: He grew up in South Texas and earned two degrees at Texas Tech: a master’s in music theory and a Ph.D in Fine Arts in 1987 for music composition.

He works primarily with theme parks, museums, branded experiences and new media. He has worked with Universal Studios, the Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros., Six Flags and other attractions in the United States, Europe and Asia. He devoted 15 months to creating harmonious scores for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

Eleven of his projects were awarded the Themed Entertainment Association’s Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Also a Tech Distinguished Alumnus, Kneupper is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Motion Picture Sound Editor’s Guild, Themed Entertainment Association and International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

Larry Trider: He was born in 1937 and raised on a farm near Lazbuddie in the West Texas panhandle. After collaborating with Rick Tucker in Amarillo, he formed a series of bands – Larry Trider & The Nomads, Larry Trider & The Psychos, Larry Trider’s Playboy Quartet, and Larry Trider & The Road Riders.

With Norman Petty as his manager, Trider appeared at Panther Hall in Fort Worth with The Crickets in 1965, and also recorded at Petty’s studio in Clovis, N.M.

Trider released music on the Roulette label in 1961, on Coral in 1963 and 1964, the Dot label in 1965 and Amy Records in 1968. He and his band worked in 42 states, playing gigs from New York City to Kansas City to Portland.

The Larry Trider Show also fulfilled an 18-month contract in Las Vegas.

Trider’s album “Country Soul Man” was released in 1974 on Ranwood Records. He then chose to stay closer to home and could often be seen performing with his band on a Lubbock nightclub stage in the 1970s and 1980s.

His recordings from the vault of Norman Petty’s studio were recently released by Nor-Va-Jak Music, including 31 tracks from original master tapes.

‘Pulp Fiction’

It is not enough that any movie – well, the great ones anyway – remain far more gripping and entertaining when given a chance to see them on a large screen in the dark, free of telephone calls, microwave dings, children running through the room and the tempting pause button on a remote.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has the ability to provide distractions of its own, but they are well planned.

The great movie to which I refer this time is the incredible “Pulp Fiction,” which made its debut 25 years ago by winning the top prize, the Palm d’Or, at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. That would be followed by seven Academy Award nominations.

As for potential distractions, “Pulp Fiction,” still Quentin Tarantino’s career masterpiece – do not let the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” hype persuade you otherwise – will be shown at 6 p.m. Saturday as a “movie party” at the Alamo.

Tickets are $14.07 and about 50 seats were still available as of early Friday afternoon.

The explanation at the Alamo’s app: “We will have Red Apple (fake) cigarettes so you can puff along with Mia, cap guns so you can shoot along with Jules and Vincent, and, of course, a pretty good $5 milkshake. We’ll even have a Jack Rabbit Slim’s Twist competition beforehand (black wigs encouraged).”

See what I mean by distractions?

On the other hand, this screening is aimed purely at “Pulp Fiction” devotees; the Alamo is clearly preaching to the choir.

The traditional “Quiet Zone” at the Alamo is disengaged at such random movie parties, during which fans, provided they do not go to extremes, can cheer for heroes and boo bad guys – even when heroes are bad guys – and recite favorite lines with characters. Yes, that means speaking aloud at the Alamo will not result in your being shown the door.

At least, not this time.

As for the film’s worth, two other 1994 films have survived the test of time far better than the film that won the Oscar: “Forrest Gump,” directed by Robert Zemeckis.

Also nominated and lost: “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Quiz Show.”

Should have been nominated: “Nobody’s Fool.”

But the two pictures which were nominated, lost and clearly shine brighter than “Forrest Gump” are “Pulp Fiction” and “The Shawshank Redemption.” At the time, I wrote that Tarantino’s film, which deservedly won an Oscar for its snappy screenplay, also was the year’s Best Picture. Over the ensuing two decades, “The Shawshank Redemption” has gained near-universal favor as one of history’s finest films.

Trivia: Among Oscar crimes, Frank Darabont was not even nominated for his direction of “The Shawshank Redemption.”

I’d be in favor of a time machine that would allow either film a second chance at being called that year’s best over “Forrest Gump” and his box of chocolates theory. However, for pure fun and an incredibly conceived story that dodges chronological order and yet closes in tidy fashion, I never grow weary of watching the criminal world of Los Angeles via “Pulp Fiction.”

Tarantino’s crime film co-stars John Travolta and Samuel Jackson as low-rent hit men, breathing much-needed new life into the career of the former. Uma Thurman plays their boss’s sexy wife and, elsewhere in the city, Bruce Willis is a desperate boxer on the lam. Tim Roth and Ving Rhames also star.

More than one major studio turned down the film. It was Harvey Weinstein – yes, that  Harvey Weinstein who decided “Pulp Fiction” would be the first film fully financed by Miramax Pictures.

In 2013, “Pulp Fiction” was selected for preservation in the United States’ National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

On top of that, the film’s great lines never stop. Whether it is Vincent informing Jules early on that a McDonald’s Quarterpounder in Paris is called a “Royale with cheese,” or Butch telling Fabienne, “Zed’s dead, baby. Zed’s dead.”

‘I, Android, Book One: A Different Model’ an e-book release

One of the bigger secrets in Lubbock is that Heather Killough-Walden (aka H.K. Walden), a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, has made her home for quite some time here in West Texas … ever since her husband accepted a position on the faculty at Texas Tech. Mind you, Ms. Killough-Walden has not gone out of her way to seek local publicity, playing life on the down low, so to speak.

I interviewed her only once and she preferred that interview be conducted by e-mail. She is fascinating.

Her newest e-book – “I, Android, Book One: A Different Model” – will be released on Saturday by all e-book sellers.

Killough-Walden’s biography has not changed, still closing with her hopes to one day reside in a city “with four real seasons, lots of trains and a world-class hockey team.”

That’s obviously not Lubbock, but it still has not happened yet. She is a wife, mom and author – often traveling cross country or overseas for book research – who continues to produce always gripping and often frightening fiction, with a sensual bent.

I have read, or re-read, far more than a dozen of her titles … enjoying all, if some (i.e., the “Neverland” series) a bit more than others. I keep expecting Hollywood to give her agent a call. Her imagination is that visual.

A few of her stories are available at brick-and-mortar bookstores; far more can be purchased as e-books.

She is the author of the best-selling Big Bad Wolf series, Kings series (a favorite of mine), Monsters series, Lost Angels series (another favorite), October trilogy, Neverland Series (which I have read several times) and Chosen Soul series.

Official publicity for “A Different Model” describes the story as follows:

“Malcolm Antares, Zero to his enemies, is charismatic and magnetic. The handsome and dangerous man is the perfect machine, tall and strong, fast and brilliant, a strategist and tactician capable of out-thinking anyone on the planet. With his wealth and power, he can have anything and with his intelligence he can outsmart anyone except the one person he actually desires: Samantha Hart.

‘The Greatest Love of All,’ featuring Belinda Davids

Belinda Davids will be on stage as an internationally recognized Whitney Houston impersonator when a touring concert tribute to Whitney Houston arrives at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Cactus Theater, 1812 Buddy Holly Ave.

Reserved seats are $49 for the first three rows (temporary row A-1, and A and B), and $39 for the remainder of the lower floor. Tickets are $35 for traditional balcony seats and $70 for balcony box seats. (Box seats include free concessions.)

Take note: Cactus ticket prices listed above are “base prices;” varied fees and tax always will be added to base prices at time of purchase. Tickets can be purchased in advance by using a link at cactustheater.com.

All sales are final. The Cactus Theater does not permit exchanges, refunds or credit for future shows in exchange for unused tickets. The theater’s box office is staffed at 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, unless Monday is a major holiday.

Call the Cactus at 762-3233 for more information.

Davids was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She began performing at age 14. Without formal vocal training, she is blessed with a four-octave vocal range.

Showtime Management held almost 14,000 auditions over a full year to find just the right person – and voice – to star in touring show “The Greatest Love of All: The Whitney Houston Show.”

Davids was named a front-runner in 2013.

Exposed mainly to R&B and gospel as a child, Davids was innately drawn to Houston’s musical style. She paid homage to her idol through her dress, hairstyle and by including Houston’s songs in all her live shows.

The ultimate recognition of Davids’ affinity with Houston occurred during a show in Hong Kong. Following her rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” the audience was stunned and demanded she sing the same song a cappella to prove she was not lip-syncing to a Houston recording.

Davids would bolt into stardom with her jaw-dropping performance at the Apollo Theater in 2017.

That performance has been viewed almost 10 million times on the Internet, cementing Davids as a global musical icon.

‘The Outsiders’

Who can forget the line, “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold?”

Call the following film a cult classic, at least in my eyes.

“The Outsiders” will be given a special screening at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Alamo Drafthouse. Tickets are $10 and still available.

After receiving a letter from elementary school librarian Jo Ellen Misakian and her students in Fresno, Calif., acclaimed filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola took the time to read “The Outsiders,” a novel by S.E. Hinton. He was so impressed he decided to direct the film adaptation.

The coming-of-age saga finds an Oklahoma gang of working-class teens, referred to as Greasers, at odds with the Socs, wealthier teens from the other side of town.

When Greasers Ponyboy (C. Thomas Howell) and Johnny (Ralph Macchio) get into a brawl resulting in the accidental death of a Soc, the boys go on the run.

Soon, Ponyboy and Johnny, along with the intense Dallas (Matt Dillon) and other Greaser buddies, must contend with possible consequences of their violent lives.

The movie stars a who’s who of ‘80s teen heartthrobs – including the young Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Leif Garrett and Emilio Estevez – in some of the earliest roles of their careers. Diane Lane also stars.

Both Lane and Dillon stuck around to co-star in Coppola’s follow-up: “Rumble Fish,” also based on a Hinton novel about young people.

Coppola said he had no intention to make a film about teen angst before hearing from librarian Misakian and seventh and eighth grade students in Fresno.

The house used for filming in the movie is located at 731 Curtis Brothers Lane in Tulsa, Okla. It now is a museum featuring props from the movie.

Authors Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins, in a 2007 book, wrote the film’s realistic portrayal of poor teenagers “created a new kind of filmmaking, especially about teenagers — a more naturalistic look at how young people talk, act and experience the world. This movie was one of the few Hollywood offerings to deal realistically with kids from the wrong side of the tracks, and to portray honestly children whose parents had abused, neglected, or otherwise failed them.”

It holds up, and still deserves to be seen.