To make megabucks in the music business, it's a good idea to have your fingers in more than one pie. Rap artists design clothes; rock stars buy restaurants. It's all about the Benjamins, baby. Houston-based Omni Distribution has jumped in the game, too. For the past five years, in addition to its regular business of selling records, the distribution company has sponsored the Omni Music Festival, a weekend of networking and music.Industry professionals from all over the country will converge here to learn about the rap game from attorney Dedra Davis and Wreckshop CEO D-Wreck Dixon. In the evenings, some big-name hip-hop, R&B and gospel artists -- including Michelle Williams and Lil' Flip -- will take the stage. Lil' Flip, who won last year's DJ Screw Award, will bestow the honor on another promising performer.
Gary Wade, CEO of Omni Distribution, is serious about educating people about the ins and outs of the biz. "I want independent labels to understand what it takes to be successful That's the mission of the festival."
The conference runs from Thursday, April 3, through Saturday, April 5. Thursday: 8 a.m. registration, 7 p.m. award ceremony and 11 p.m. hip-hop showcase. Friday: 6:30 p.m. rhythm and blues night. Saturday: 7 p.m. hip-hop night. Radisson Hotel Astrodome Convention Center, 8686 Kirby Drive. For a full seminar schedule, visit www.omnidistribution.com/conference. For more information, call 713-222-7891. $200 registration fee includes breakfast and lunch, seminars and concerts. -- Felicia Johnson-Leblanc
Let It Slide
Slides do sometimes jam at the Contemporary Arts Museum's Slide Jams, but usually things go off without a hitch. For the series, the CAM invites real live local artists to show slides and talk about their work. This week features Rice professor John Sparagana, who recently created an eerie series of photographs of popular magazine covers with ominous shadows cast over them. Michael Golden, painter and Houston Community College instructor, will also present his work. Both the CAM and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston are open until 9 p.m. Thursday nights, so you can view art till you drop. 7 p.m. Thursday, April 3. 5216 Montrose Boulevard. For information, call 713-284-8250. Free. -- Kelly Klaasmeyer
Pass the Kama (and Your Number)
Lonely? Scope out the peeps at this year's Japan Festival at the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park. Sidle up next to someone during the traditional tea ceremony and say, "Would you please pass the kama?" (A kama is a kettle.) If this display of worldliness doesn't turn heads, try the origami area. We know, we know -- origami isn't easy. That's why you should bring a store-bought creation to the festival. You can tinker around a little, then pull it out of your pocket. Your "talent" will reel in new friends. 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 5, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 6. One Hermann Circle Drive. For information, call 713-963-0121. $3; free for children 12 and under. -- Cathy Matusow
Helios's Circumcision Soda
It was almost one in the morning, and I'd already mixed too many different libations around town. But my date was far from finished, and besides, the wee hours are really the best time to hit Helios (411 Westheimer, 713-526-4648). Medicine Show was playing free-form jug-band music and the joint was jumpin', but we managed to find a table in the front room. Then I remembered we were empty-handed. I returned with a beer and a concoction called a Circumcision Soda, thinking I'd let her decide who got what. I got the giggles when I told her the name of the drink, but after we both tried it we decided to ditch the beer altogether. The band was getting looser by the minute: "Dickens Cider, Dickens Cider, everybody wants to have a Dickens Cider"" That catchy refrain got stuck in my head for three days.
2-1/2 ounces Smirnoff Green
1/2 ounce Chambord
In a highball glass, combine vodka and Chambord over ice. Top off with 7-Up. Great for graduation parties, bar mitzvahs and baby showers. -- J.W. Crooker