Bye bye July, say hello to August. So they say that time flies when you are having fun? That sure beats staying at home and watching the clock tick away the minutes.
On the agenda this week is the beginning of a month of dining out to feed the hungry, classic theater, jazz and more jazz, an end-of-the-world party and a New Orleans-themed street fête.
Be sure to click on the links below each blurb. There, you will find more information about each event, a nifty feature to download the details to your cyber cals and helpful intel about points of interest to get the most out of your excursion.
Houston Restaurant Weeks
It's here. You have no excuse not to get out and polish off specialty-crafted dishes from three-course dinner and two-course lunch menus offered by the city's most enticing eateries. To date, more than 160 restaurants in Houston and surrounding areas have signed on to donate cash from each meal sold to benefit the Houston Food Bank, Galveston County Food Bank and Montgomery County Food Bank.
Forbes may love Houston, but seriously, the fact that some of our neighbors are going hungry is not tolerable for a megalopolis that prides itself on a strong economy, a fabulous food scene and generous philanthropists. Founder Cleverley Stone is looking to up last year's record-setting $800,000 drive to more than $1 million.
Your job is to write down the list of restaurants you've always wanted to try, make reservations and have a party. Or you can also place a one-time $10 donation to the Houston Food Bank by texting HRW to 20222.
That's not so hard, is it?
Houston Shakespeare Festival: Hamlet and The Comedy of Errors
To go or not to go? That's definitely not the question — Houstonians have come to adore this August tradition since its inaugural run in 1975. The 30-plus-year-old festival usually mounts one classic production and another more updated, contemporary take on the timeless stories of The Bard.
OK, so Hamlet may have an assertiveness problem — and it's no secret that many die in the name of familial revenge. Everyone should experience one of the most iconic monologues of Shakespearean theater. Then there's Comedy of Errors, a shipwreck of a hilarious romp that centers around mistaken identities. There's no avoiding that when two sets of misplaced twins take center stage.
With University of Houston graduate Cindy Pickett — she was unforgettable as Matthew Broderick's mom in Ferris Bueller's Day Off — and Mark Metcalf, the bad boy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, plus a troupe of professional actors, Shakespeare in the park is always a good idea.
All you have to decide is whether to get free tickets for seating inside the theater, bring a blanket and get comfy on the right side of the hill, or lawn chairs and lounge on the left. That is the question.
22nd Annual Houston International Jazz Festival
It's true that the jazz scene in Houston is relatively "underground" — and by underground I mean thriving but somewhat hidden. Not this weekend. This three-day jazz binge presents a mélange of pioneers, veterans and newcomers to the genre.
It all begins with a kickoff party-cum-concert at Red Cat Café on Friday, featuring the smooth, soulful sexy sax of Theresa Grayson. In an interview with Great Day Houston's Deborah Duncan, Grayson says that the most important thing she wants to convey to listeners is that she plays from the heart.
The feast continues with two days of concerts at Bayou Music Center with such notables like Roy Ayers, Hiroshima, Rachelle Ferrell, the Rebirth Brass Band and the Texas Brass Band.
For philanthropists, Mayor Annise Parker is hosting a jazz brunch in honor of Helen George. Funds raised will subsidize the cost of music education programs.
FrenetiCore's & Houston Zombie Walk's "Apocalypse Ball"
Don't be scared. Be terrified. Everything that happens at Frenetic Theater veers off the artistic beaten path — and that's a good thing. But with partner in crime Houston Zombie Walk, there's no telling what sort of undead creatures will occupy this East End party spot.
More than just a drink fest, this doomsday carouse showcases the art of Daniel Anguilu, Rachael Moriendi, Bret Harmeyer, Kyle Fu and artists from Zen Art Space, a performance by FrenetiCore Dance, fire dancing by ChinaCat Dance and a burlesque show by Dem Damn Dames. Add a live DJ and here you have a wicked affair that raises funds for The Houston Children's Charity, Spay/Houston and Dove Key Ranch Wildlife Rehab.
White Linen Night in The Heights
Let's get this right, people. It isn't White Linen Nights. It's night. Meaning it's a one-night only street party. So if you snooze, you'll have to wait another 365 days to partake in the NOLA-inspired, al fresco gathering.
White Linen Night is all about "Local Faces, Local Flavor, Local Fun," and features what's lovely about the spirit of this charming neighborhood.
After doing some shopping, listen to music by Cavernous, The Tyburn Jig, Poor Pilate, Runaway Sun and Lords of Kool. The Fresh Arts pavilion on White Oak flaunts the talents of Mercury, Suchu Dance Company, Mildred's Umbrella Theatre Company and Kiki's Sordid Sideshow burlesque show.
Add a fashion show, beer, wine and lots of private parties — the event also raises awareness for breast cancer and organizations that serve the cause, including The Houston Young Survival Coalition, Pink Phurree Dragon Boat Team, Be Bright Pink, Relay for Life in The Heights, Pink Angels Harley Team, Dreamers and the Bayou City Sisters Network.
Staff writer and adventurous Houston explorer Whitney Radley's pick: The Flatlanders 40th Anniversary Concert
Whitney says: "I cut my teeth listening to the Flatlanders through my parents' stereo speakers, dancing to the twangy tunes while wearing hand-me-down prairie skirts — so the group's 40th anniversary concert at Conroe's historic Crighton Theatre holds sentimental significance for me. But this performance by singer-songwriters Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock is a can't-miss for any true Texas music fan."
Arts smarty pants and in-the-loop museum groupie Nancy Wozny's pick: American Made: 250 Years of American Art
Nancy says: "If you are feeling a tiny bit down on your country and need a patriotic boost, I suggest spending an afternoon at American Made: 250 Years of American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
"Not only can you ponder this fabulous Longhorn Rocking Chair and Edward Steichen's photo of Martha Graham, but there are 240 other objects to marvel at, including paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, Native American art, photography and works on paper.
"It's impressive. You will leave thinking things are not so bad and that we are an innovative clan after all. I plan several trips. Oh, one more total highlight: A generous sampling of Robert Frank's seminal work from The Americans."