Cold suds, sexy ladies and mounds of crawfish. Maybe it was the sublime sunny Saturday afternoon weather or the get-to-it spirit of the young professionals behind Child Builders' Night Shift, because at "Crawfish Battle Boyale" at OTC Patio Bar Saturday, 600 pounds of steaming seafood were long gone.
What was left was $4,500 for the nonprofit, which helped up the total to more than $20,000 in funds raised by these young professionals this year. Among them were Cid Espejal, Kari Govan, Chris McCauley, Mark Donaldson, Allison Hauser, Jessica Edquist, Amy Fuqua, Amanda Knox, Margot Tompkins, Thomas Thornton, Carmen Millet, Iman Pourghead, James Phelan and Becky Koch.
Miller Outdoor Theatre kicked off its performance season with a raucous "It's Dark and We're Wearing Sunglasses" fete. The "Original Tribute to The Blues Brothers" brought sassy grooves and fresh tunes to Hermann Park. Sure, the boys were fantastic, but the trio of ladies that make up the Bluettes gave the bros a run for their money.
Does it get any better than "Think," "Respect" and "Soul Man"?
The Houston Chamber Choir premiered Dominick DiOrio's A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass, a four-movement robust choral virtuosic showcase inspired by the imagist poetry of turn-of-the-century Nobel Laureate Amy Lowell. When he said that he had written for a professional choir who could do just about anything, he wasn't kidding.
At the dress rehearsal Friday night, 200 Apache personnel, one of the group's major sponsors, experienced a behind-the-scenes look at how musicians refine a number for performance.
On deck this week are outdoorsy socials, hands-on crafty workshops, jazz, a children's festival and lots of live music.
During the day, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens offers a delightful setting to revel in the decorative arts delicacies on display, or a leisurely stroll through the wooded paths, bridges and meadows of the formal gardens. At night, the sparkling fountains take on a dressier tenor.
Evening affairs at Bayou Bend are lovely when coupled with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and live music. While the first floor of the museum home will be open for viewing, the canopy of Ima Hog's former residence will be the backdrop for chic socializing under a tent in the Diana Garden. Chaired by Kelly and Will Garwood.
Thursday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $100.
More Bayou Bend events continue with Saturday's Children's Party ($60) chaired by Estela S. Cockrell and Heather Lawrence Mitchell and Sunday's Garden Party (individual tickets start at $500) chaired by Barbara Nau.
For those in the mood for something a little kooky and off the beaten path, try this three-in-one gathering at the Orange Show Monument. The folk art environment crafted by postman Jeff McKissack turns into a season kickoff party, an amusing Easter egg hunt and a hands-on trophy making workshop for the Art Car Parade.
Amid the ladders, tractor seats, wagon wheels and whimsical labyrinths, guests will rummage for hidden eggs, oranges and a cornucopia of treats. If you are feeling artsy, try helping make the awards to be given out at this year's Art Car Parade, which is set for May 12.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1p.m. Admission is free.
It's been quite the busy year for singer-songwriter Kristine Mills. Music she wrote, recorded, performed and produced is featured in A Collector's Waltz, a Michel Muelle film about Houston's visual artists and their loving collectors. Although the documentary is slated for release later this spring, the musically curious can get a listen at the tracks, also featuring Tommy "TJ" James and bassist David Craig, during this concert at Cezanne.
There's more. "Silhouette," with lyrics by Brian Spack and Mills, is another original on the playbill. The text tells the story of Cindi Rose's sister, Holly, who passed away after a fierce 15-year fight against breast cancer. After the track is recorded and released on iTunes, Mills plans to donate a portion of the proceeds to the Rose Ribbon Foundation.
Saturday at 9 p.m. Admission is $10.
Ten Family Adventure Zones, five stages and more 300 games, rides and activities: That's what Tranquility Park, Sam Houston Park, City Hall and the downtown library will host on Saturday and Sunday. As the largest family-friendly carnival in the country, organizers expect to attract more than 50,000 people. Rains may be expected this weekend, but in the name of fun and good doing, let's hope the forecast makes other plans.
Radio Disney's Raini Rodriguez (Trish on Austin & Ally) and Nickelodeon's James Manslow (Big Time Rush) will make special appearances alongside HoustonPBS' Buddy, the T-Rex from Dinosaur Train, and Clifford, the Big Red Dog.
Proceed from the event benefits Child Advocates.
Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Admission is $10.
For families that need more, the Houston Japan Festival is at Hermann Park, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Free admission.
Hilary Hahn may be a young 31-year-old gal, but she plays violin with the prowess of a season veteran. She's a Houston favorite and as such, Hahn is slated to be featured in four concerts with the Houston Symphony.
If you are new to classical music, check out the interactive ACCESS series. Hosted by NPR's Morning Edition music commentator Miles Hoffman, the musical affair begins with a pre-concert mixer with symphony musicians — complimentary nibbles and a cash bar — follows with a shorter one-hour concert without intermission and concludes with a Q&A with the artists. On the program: Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1, Elgar's Enigma Variations.
Friday, 7 p.m. Tickets start at $25.
For a more intense musical experience, catch the whole shebang, which also features Elgar's Sospiri and Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes. Thursday at Sugar Land Baptist Church ($25) and Saturday and Sunday at Jones Hall ($25).
Contrary to popular belief, not all wind music sounds like big Texas-sized marching bands. Sure, there's a place for the thunderous sounds of blaring trumpets, honking tubas and sliding trombones. But it does get better, especially in the compositions of Johannes Brahms and Igor Stravinsky.
The two composers anchor this wind-focused program with the Serenade in A Major and Pulcinella played by the newest ensemble at Shepherd School of Music. In the Sinfonietta, master teachers and emerging talent perform side-by-side. The end result is a melange of zestful energy and refined wisdom.
Saturday, 8 p.m. Admission is free.
Tyler says: "For the last three decades, artist Catherine Wagner has looked to the built environment as the key to deciphering the inner-workings of contemporary life, using photography and public installations to examine places ranging from science labs to art museums to Disneyland.
"Wagner will discuss her ongoing photographic work during a free talk at the MFAH's Brown Auditorium as part of the 2012 FotoFest Biennial — should be cool!"
Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Karen says: "Check out Eisley Thursday night at Warehouse Live. This Texan-based indie outfit keeps it all in the family. The DuPree clan from Tyler, Texas, has been making music for a long time now, but always makes sure to stop by and play a Houston show every now and then.
"It's nice to see these guys still at it and touring — they even brought along their little sister, Christie DuPree, this time around. She'll be opening up for them!"
Thursday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15.
Nancy says: "This weekend marks the inaugural showing of Mountainfilm on Tour-Houston at Rice Media Center. Started in 1979, Mountainfilm is dedicated to educating and inspiring audiences about issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving and conversations worth sustaining.
"This is a rare chance to some fabulous shorts, including Chasing Water, where Peter McBride follows the Colorado River from source to sea, and Yelp With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg's Howl, a rant on unplugging and living in the present tense. If you love the earth and film, this is the place to be.
Friday (7 to 11:30 p.m.) and Saturday (6 to 11:30 p.m.). Tickets are $15-25; free for Rice University students.
Whitney says: "I've always had a sneaking suspicion that art and science are inextricably tied. This weekend, the Orange Show Eyeopener Tour sets out to prove it with a five-hour trek around Houston's renowned medical centers and research labs. Artists visualize science, and scientists create art, and you'll see it all."
Sunday at 1 p.m. Tickets are $60 for non-members, $40 for Orange Show members.