iFest fever: The Silk Road meets Texas in one of music's great festival bargains
There is much to see and much that should not be missed at the 41st Annual Houston International Festival this weekend as it descends on downtown Houston. As we prepare to enjoy some of the cultural treasures discovered by Marco Polo as he traveled "The Silk Road" through Asia, wanna-be world travelers can experience a miniature recreation of The Great Wall of China, Chinese silk, a traditional tea ceremony and even a freakin' 23-foot-tall, 3,000-pound Trojan Horse to crawl around in.
What missed the exit ramp off Ye Olde Silk Highway on the way to Houston, however, were the Asian musicians (they should have followed those crafty Golden Dragon Acrobats who managed to find Bayou City without incident).
In truth, iFest coordinators are no dummies. They are happy to take you on a walking tour through a virtual Asia and show you the sites ... but they know that if you want Houstonians to show up by the Trojan Horse-load, the music better sound a little more homegrown. That doesn't mean we can't pretend though.
The first weekend of iFest features a Saturday lineup highlighted by Chinese superstars like Jimmy Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton(6 p.m.. Bud Light World Music Stage), Step Rideau & The Zydeco Outlaws (8 p.m..Green Mountain Energy Louisiana Stage) and Jonny Lang (8 p.m. Bud Light World Music Stage).
Sunday features Indian (or is it Turkish) delights like Keb' Mo' (4:30 p.m. Bud Light World Music Schedule), Lil' Brian and the Travelers (4:30 p.m. Green Mountain Energy Louisiana Stage) and the Robert Cray Band (6:30 p.m. Bud Light World Music Stage).
(Click here for a full iFest schedule.)
I kid, of course, about the American roots of this Asian celebration. The truth is that there are few places you can go on this Earth and enjoy as much top-notch talent for a daily price that is roughly the equivalent of downloading an album worth of songs on iTunes.
We locals are fortunate to have one of the greatest annual "world" music festivals in the country.
2011 Houston International Festival, noon-10 p.m. Saturday & noon-8 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $18 ($3 for children age 3-12)