Earl Gilliam
Earl Gilliam
Courtesy of Earl Gilliam

Free to Jam

SAT 6/18
As a place of musical importance to Houston, it's tough to beat the Eldorado Ballroom. Originally open from 1939 to 1973, its stage hosted musical legends from Count Basie and Duke Ellington to T-Bone Walker and Clifton Chenier. So of course the reopened Eldorado in the heart of the Third Ward carries historical and social importance for local African-Americans. This weekend Project Row Houses will host a Juneteenth celebration at the newly refurbished Eldorado, featuring blues keyboardist Earl Gilliam and guitar slinger I.J. Gosey, along with zydeco singer-accordionist Corey "Lil' Pop" Ledet. Show organizer and blues scholar Roger Wood, author of the blues tome Down in Houston, says the connection between the show and the holiday commemorating the end of slavery is clear. "Music is a fundamental celebratory response," he says. "In the pre-emancipation era, music was one of the few forms of creative self-expression available. And part of the legacy of that social history is an especially rich musical tradition."

So, at this show, audience members can definitely keep in mind the words of the great African-American funk scholar George Clinton: "Free your mind, and your ass will follow." 8 p.m. Saturday, June 18. 2300 Elgin. For tickets and information, call 713-526-7662 or visit www.projectrowhouses.org. $10. -- Bob Ruggiero

Left With No Choice

Aswad Walker takes on preachy politicos in Weapons of Mass Distraction

SAT 6/18
Since every good 'merican knows that the mainstream media is little more than a bubbling cauldron of left-wing radicalism, we can't figure out why Houston professor, clergyman and author Aswad Walker doesn't have his own nationally syndicated show. Just like every overexposed TV pundit (not), Walker claims to speak for the "silenced majority," the millions of average, religious Americans disenfranchised by the Bush administration's fealty to the Christian right. This week, Walker will sign and discuss his book, Weapons of Mass Distraction, a collection of sermons dealing with the war in Iraq, universal health care, prison reform, AIDS and environmental protection. "I've got to give the Republicans an A for effort," says Walker. "They've done an excellent job of demonizing anyone who doesn't agree with them." 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at the Breakfast Klub, 3111 Travis; and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at Muddie Waters Coffee House, 9330 Broadway in Pearland. For information, call 713-528-8561. Free. -- Scott Faingold


Art with Heart

This is the hottest art show I've ever attended. That's probably because it's, like, 90 degrees inside the sprawling Winter Street Studios. This balmy Saturday night, the old warehouse-cum-art studio space is bustling with nearly everyone who has anything to do with the local art community.

It's a big, fun, sweaty happening -- with an art sale, auction and music -- all to benefit local artist Debbie Riddle, who runs Negative Space. A few weeks ago, Riddle fell 22 feet from the balcony of her home and ended up in a coma for four days. The details of her accident are sketchy, but her medical bills are staggering, and like so many artists, she has no health insurance.

To the rescue came gallery owner Deborah Colton and other folks from the local art scene. In a few weeks, they put together one of the biggest art benefit shows in recent history. Some 200 artists donated their works, which will be displayed (and for sale) at the studios through Sunday, June 18.

As ceiling fans hum overhead, parents peruse the offerings with their kids, scenesters make chitchat, artists fawn over each other's work, and collectors commiserate over the pieces that got away. High-profile art collector Lester Marks nonchalantly strolls around. In the midst of it all, Riddle sits quietly, offering shy grins and thank-yous to well-wishers. A fixture of the local art community for years, she's overwhelmed at the outpouring of support.

"When I look around and see all these people gathered here for me, I realize I can count on them, and that really helps me," she says, feeling the love in the room. For details on how you can help Riddle and score some art, call Deborah Colton Gallery at 713-864-2364. -- Steven Devadanam

He Can Do It Blindfolded

SAT 6/18
Mario Reis doesn't just do his "blindfolded drawings" without looking -- he's actually trying not to do anything at all. The artist covers his eyes, attaches pencils to his fingers and then tries to remain still, a difficult proposition at best. When unintended spasms and impulses course through his body, they leave telltale signs, now known as art. It's a bit of a departure for Reis, who generally uses his conscious mind to make things like watercolor paintings. Opening reception: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 18. Exhibit runs through August 14. Gallery Sonja Roesch, 2309 Caroline. For information, call 713-659-5424 or visit www.gallerysonjaroesch.com. Free. -- Scott Faingold

Dorothy's Dearest

In the old days, "friend of Dorothy" was a euphemism for someone who was thought to be gay. So it's fitting that this weekend Dorothy's gay and straight pals will flood the River Oaks Theatre for midnight screenings of The Wizard of Oz in celebration of Gay Pride Month. Saturday night before the screening, scarecrows, tin men and anyone in sparkly red slippers can compete in the Over the Rainbow Costume Contest for Oz-themed prizes. Set off to see the Wizard at midnight Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18. 2009 West Gray. For tickets and information, call 713-333-3456 or visit www.landmarktheatres.com. $6 to $8. -- Steven Devadanam


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