The first weekend of the Houston International Festival is in the books, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had, as the second and final weekend of iFest is about to get underway Saturday in downtown Houston. As you make your take-two iFest plans, here are five options to consider.
1. Take a Musical Journey
From funk and soul to hard-driving roots rock, there are plenty of options for music lovers this weekend at the festival’s 10 performance venues.
On the Bud Light World Music Stage, Saturday’s lineup includes gospel pedal-steel shredder Robert Randolph and the Family Band, followed by the buoyant reggae vibe of rebel rocker Michael Franti and Spearhead.
Sunday’s bill on the World Stage features critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, and closing out the night will be Texas firebrand Joe Ely with a rocking band that includes guitar ace David Grissom and the Rolling Stones’ long-time sax player Bobby Keys. For a complete schedule, go to ifest.org.
2. Bring Mom (The Kids Are Free!)
In celebration of Mother’s Day, children 12 and under get in free to iFest on Sunday, thanks to a grant from ConocoPhillips.
After you’re done exploring the 23-foot-tall Trojan Horse and 100-foot-long replica of the Great Wall of China in the Chevron Silk Road Living Museum, head to the Kids Zone, where the Creative Kids Corner offers tons of free arts and crafts provided by Houston-area community groups.
Special bonus if your Mom happens to be in another country: You can wish her a happy Mother’s Day free at the Cricket Wireless International Calling Kiosk in the Latin Zone on Sunday!
3. Laissez les bons temps rouler…
Can’t make it to Jazz Fest in New Orleans this year? No need to despair. First, a number of this weekend’s featured artists at Jazz Fest are also performing at iFest (including Michael Franti and Spearhead, Lucinda Williams, and Robert Randolph and the Family Band).
Second, the Houston International Festival offers its very own retooled Louisiana Zone, complete with Jackson Square, the Bacardi Gras Bar, and the Louisiana Stage sponsored by Green Mountain Energy, featuring Jazz Fest favorites like “The Crown Prince of Treme” Glen David Andrews (6 p.m. Saturday) and Buckwheat Zydeco (8:15 p.m. Saturday). Pull up a plate of crawfish and enjoy … you never know when a spontaneous Second Line brass band parade may pop up.
(P.S., don’t forget to say hi at the CultureMap booth at the entrance to the Louisiana Zone — we know where to find a party!)
4. Don’t Miss the Azerbaijan State Dance Ensemble
For a remarkable slice of the rich, vibrant culture of Azerbaijan, be sure to check out the Azerbaijan State Dance Ensemble, which will perform on Asia Society Texas Center Stage at 4:30 p.m. Saturday and at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
This internationally acclaimed group, known for their beautiful choreography and colorful costumes, will perform traditional Azerbaijani dances in a rare Houston appearance.
5. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
The Houston International Festival will feature special Cinco de Mayo programming on the RoomStore Latin Stage all weekend. The action gets started with Danza Azteca Teokalli and Mariachi MECA, and featured performers include top Latin ska/cumbia club band Los Skarnales, local legends the Norma Zenteno Band, and one of the best new rock en espanol bands in Houston, Los Guerreros de la Musica. Check out the entire schedule.
The second weekend of the Houston International Festival will take place from noon until 10 p.m. Saturday, and from noon until 8 p.m. Sunday.
Darrow works with the Houston International Festival staff and freely admits she is not exactly impartial. However, she points out she was a fan and dedicated festival-goer long before joining the iFest team.