Sérgio Mendez in the house
Beautiful feathered babes & thunderous tunes turn the iFest kickoff into a wild carnival
Say what? Come again? What was that, hon?
Surely it will take a few days before the aural skills of attendees of the 43rd Annual Houston International Festival kickoff return to normal levels. You couldn't hear yourself think at Friday night's Brazilian themed, high-decibel musicale at Hobby Center for the Performing Arts — but with foxy feathered babes shaking it and a banda de bateria (drums) banging away, who would want to?
When Casa Samba did their Afro-Brazilian thing, a few couldn't contain themselves and had to dance on the aisles — this reporter included — particularly as a samba line led the grooving throng to the lobby for intermission, where the feral dance party continued. Highlighting the performance was the Sérgio Mendez Band, which offered more chilled bossa nova rhythms, the kind best enjoyed with a caipirinha in hand lounging in a white sandy beach in Rio.
As a strategy to engage the community at large, executive director Kim Stoilis crafted a voting mechanism that put this year's theme in the hands of Houstonians.
Noted guests at the preceding and more genteel Chairman's Reception in the Founder's Club were welcomed by KHOU Ch. 11's Lily Jang and Vicente Arenas, Mayor Annise Parker and Houston Festival Foundation board chair Robert Navarro, who reminded supporters of the 900,000 children in seven counties that will benefit from iFest's educational component.
Adding a slice of tropical flavor to the reception were light tunes by Brazilian native Lois Albez and percussionist Ilya Janos, striped bass ceviche and brandade by new restaurant on the scene Batanga, vino provided by The Tasting Room and Flora & Muse and more costumed beauties from Morena Flor, a local Brazilian entertainment troupe.
God knows when the after party concluded. The culprit may have been Sérgio Mendez mingling with guests and Smilebooth capturing the evening's mementos. Check CultureMap's Facebook Page for those photos.
As a strategy to engage the community at large, executive director Kim Stoilis crafted a voting mechanism that put this year's theme in the hands of Houstonians. Beyond the oil and gas connection, which Parker explored last year during a trade mission trip to Brazil, there's a spirited energy — and a fique tranquilo attitude (Portuguese for don't worry, be happy) — that unites both destinations.
Taking in the lindo maravilhoso carnival were Jeff Shell, George Donnelly, Jennifer Egacila, Sal Vanegas, Bob Fretz, Jonathon Glus and Alton LaDay, Minnette Boesel, Lori Freese, Jennifer and Steve Dolman, Christine and Ramon West, Christine Di Stadio, Shari Okin, Hank and Maya Fasthoff, Brian and Ianne Fasthoff and Brazil Consul General Mario Saade —many of whom were stoked to visit the festival, set for this upcoming weekend and next around City Hall and Sam Houston Park.