Artsy-auto-loving Houstonians are prepping for the 31st Annual Houston Art Car Parade Weekend, where, from Thursday through Sunday, the streets of H-Town will be flooded with outrageous, occasionally goofy-looking vehicles. There will be the pre-parade, car convoy known as the Main Street Drag on Thursday morning, followed by the Legendary Art Car Ball on Friday night. The official parade rolls along Allen Parkway and into downtown Houston on Saturday morning. Aside from the automotive madness, Houston has plenty to offer this weekend.
Thursday, April 12
Dumpstaphunk brings the funk
It’s time to get funky with the bi-weekly, “Party on the Plaza” free concert series. The latest headlining band is New Orleans band Dumpstaphunk, a band which includes Ivan Neville and his cousin Ian on guitar — men who are, of course, relatives of the legendary Neville Brothers. (Aaron is Ivan’s dad.) Along with the free show, there will be food, craft-beer specials, games, and other outdoor fun. But, most importantly, this will be an opportunity for Houstonians to convene in one place – and get their funk on. The show starts at 6:45 pm.
Japan Festival launches with free outdoor concert
Now in its 25th year, Japan Festival Houston is all about celebrating Japan and its rich, cultural glory with traditional and contemporary, musical performance, dance, martial arts, Japanese cuisine, and other artful stuff. This year, the fest will kick off with a live performance by world-renowned, Japanese drumming troupe Aska-Gumi. Then, on Saturday and Sunday, the festival will be in full swing over at Hermann Park’s Jones Reflection Pool, complete with Japanese music, dance, and food. The show starts at 8 pm.
Dig into some fun and twisted Dark Matter
Don Nigro is an Ohio playwright who has written more than 400 plays and lists Shakespeare, Beckett, the King James Bible, and the Marx Brothers as some of his many influences. So, it probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that his work can get pretty twisted sometimes. This weekend, Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company at Spring Street Studios will do a collection of his dark, quirky pieces, titled Dark Matter. It’s actually a selection of ten short plays from Nigro’s 2000 compilation Tales from the Red Rose Inn and Other Plays. The show starts at 8 pm. Thursday through Saturday.
Friday, April 13
Outdoor jams at Historic Market Square Park
If you can't get enough outdoor, live music, check out the bi-monthly, concert series called the Backyard Jams Concert Series, and smacking it in the middle of Historic Market Square Park. For its inaugural show, the District snapped up indie-pop songstress Dollie Barnes and indie-rock band Vodi to perform. Blankets, lawn chairs and picnics are welcome, while food, beer, and wine will be available for purchase at Niko Niko’s. The show starts at 7 pm.
Get jazzy with the Brad Mehldau Trio
For the first time ever, jazz pianist Brad Mehldau will be coming to Houston. Mehldau and the rest of his Brad Mehldau Trio — Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums — has found a perfect place to make their H-Town debut: University of Houston’s Cullen Performance Hall, as part of Da Camera’s 2017-18 jazz series. You gotta give it up to the jazz and chamber music-loving folk at Da Camera for managing to get Mehldau on one of our stages. The show starts at 8 pm.
Saturday, April 14
TAO: Drum Heart brings the thunder to Jones Hall
The Society of the Performing Arts (SPA) presents an evening of drumming from internationally acclaimed percussion artists DRUM TAO. Titled TAO: Drum Heart, this show will feature highly physical, large-scale drumming with costumes, choreography, and visuals. But, mostly, this will be a chance for TAO to wow Houston audiences with their thoroughly modern take on Japanese drumming. Expect these guys to come with the thunder. The show starts at 7:30 pm.
Ron White gets silly at Smart Financial Centre
Be honest: back when Ron White used to tour with Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy, and Bill Engvall as part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, weren’t you ever like, “What is this dude doing with these yokels?” Apart from the Texas accent, he doesn’t play up the whole stereotypically redneck aesthetic his former tourmates still traffic in. White has always been more of curmudgeonly, silver-haired storyteller, hitting the stage with a cigar, a bottle of Scotch ready to pour, and regaling folk with some grown-man anecdotes. BTW, they also call him “Tater Salad.” The show starts at 8 pm.
Sunday, April 15
Discovery Green turns 10
For a decade now, Discovery Green has been the downtown location that keeps on giving. Virtually every week there is something fun happening at that 12-acre park. This weekend, Discovery Green will throw itself a birthday celebration. All throughout the day, there will be performances from such artists as Ballet Folklorico, Cirque la Vie, and Los Texmaniacs. There will also be interactive inflatable games, kayaking demonstrations, garden tours, goat yoga, hula hooping – man, it’s gonna be crazy down there. The celebration starts at noon.
Meat up at the 6th annual Houston Barbecue Festival
Let’s be honest with ourselves here: we all love barbecue. Whether it’s chicken, ribs, a big slab of brisket — if it’s on the grill and slathered in sauce, we’re gonna eat it. There will be a whole lot of grilling going on at this year’s Houston Barbecue Festival, now in its sixth year. Four of the state’s top ten barbecue spots will be in attendance, including Houston’s own Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue and CorkScrew BBQ, along with a large assortment of local barbecue places. The festival starts at 1 pm.
Celebrate 20 years at Paulie's Restaurant
For two decades now, Paulie’s Restaurant — and its adjoining wine bar, Camerata at Paulie’s — has been a sweet spot in the Montrose area for authentic Italian cuisine. To celebrate its 20th anniversary this year, the eatery will have an epic bash, complete with food trucks, music from local turntable star DJ Sun, and drink specials over at Camerata. But Paulie’s has also dropped a commemorative cookbook, titled Paulie's: Classic Italian Cooking in the Heart of Houston's Montrose District, which you can buy at the party. The bash starts at 4 pm.