You may be planning for Cinco de Mayo, but don’t forget there’s plenty else to do in Houston this week, even if you're on a budget. This week you have your pick, because whether you want to celebrate Star Wars or the starving artist, chill amidst a gallery of new works or dance the night away at a Franco-American concert, we’ve got all your bases covered. Keep reading for ten of our favorite events that won't cost you more than $10 — and seven of them are free! Check out the Houston Press calendar for even more things to do.
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple book signing
Murder By The Book
6:30 p.m. Thursday, free
Jeff Guinn, the Fort Worth-based, New York Times bestselling author who previously tackled the O.K. Corral, Bonnie and Clyde, and Charles Manson, has now turned his investigative journalist gaze to Jim Jones, the cult leader who (in)famously inspired generations of people to glibly talk about “drinking the Kool-Aid.” Guinn explores the life and times of the Peoples Temple founder in the context of the America that produced him and led to the largest murder-suicide in American history – until September 11, that is. Guinn will discuss and sign copies of the book, which GQ called “a study of good intentions” that is “scarily relevant.”
2017 Artist Studio Program Exhibition Opening Reception
Lawndale Art Center
6 to 8 p.m. Friday, free
It's time to enjoy the fruits of Melinda Laszczynski, Randi Long and Sarah Welch’s labor as the work from their nine-month residency as part of the Lawndale Artist Studio Program is finally revealed. The three women were given non-residential studio space at Lawndale, a monthly stipend and a materials allowance. The exhibit, curated by Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s Dean Daderko, will be a mix of Laszczynski’s painting and sculpture, Long’s performance-related work, and comix-maker Welch’s illustration. Artist talks begin at 6 p.m. and the exhibit will be on view until June 11.
Cinco de Mayo at Miller with Tlen-Huicani & Villalobos Brothers
Miller Outdoor Theatre
7:30 p.m. Friday, free
There's no shortage of bar-hopping to be done on Cinco de Mayo, but what about a somewhat more authentic celebration of Mexican culture? This double bill at Miller Outdoor Theatre offers the traditional costumes and
instrumentation of Tlen-Huicani – YouTube their rendition of “La Bamba” for a taste of the son jarocho-style that inspired and catapulted Ritchie Valens to fame in 1958 – and a mix of classical, jazz and Mexican folk music from the Villalobos Brothers, child prodigies and virtuosos who specialize in what Ernesto Villalobos calls “contemporary, high-octane Mexican fiddling.” You can go for margaritas after the show.
Killer Klowns From Outer Space
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema - Mason
10 p.m. Friday, $5.41
The Chiodo Brothers' 1988 film is the perfect midnight (or in this case, 10 p.m.) movie. It’s campy, it’s colorful and it has a punk rock theme song from The Dickies. Though you may recognize some of the faces – Suzanne Snyder has a few other totally ’80s horror credits (Return of the Living Dead II, anyone?); the perpetually cranky John “Dean Wormer” Vernon, or the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance by Christopher Titus – the Klowns own this show. Whether or not anything ever comes of those sequel rumors, we’ll always have Klownzilla, the king of the popcorn-shooting, cotton candy-cocooning alien clowns – and that counts for something.
Menilfest & Gulf Coast Indie Book Fair
The Menil Collection
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, free
Ever since the Menil Community Arts Festival and the Houston Indie Book Fair united in artistic matrimony, the neighborhood has come together one spring Saturday every year to celebrate art. This year visitors can join in with an interactive drum circle courtesy of Da Camera, listen to improvised music from Misha Penton and Thomas Helton or, in addition to the book fair, patronize Houston Center for Photography’s Print Sale or the Inprint poetry buskers lining the sidewalks (no charge for the verses). The Menil’s collections, including its newest exhibit, “Between Land and Sea: Artists of the Coenties Slip,” will also be on display.
6th Annual Star Wars Art Festival
The Space HTX
Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, $6 per day
Whether you want to take your Kylo Ren cosplay out for a pre-Comicpalooza spin, get a fix to tide you over until The Last Jedi, or just check out some cool art from a few likeminded Alderaanians, the 6th Annual Star Wars Art Festival promises to be the place for all fans of a galaxy far, far away. The two-day festival from organizer War’Hous is curated by Dandee Warhol, and you can count on music, vendors, food trucks, plenty of art and thousands of fans. Tickets are $6 per day or $10 for both days, and kids under 12 get in free.
Sell Your Body Show: An Ode to the Starving Artist
The Secret Group
7:30 p.m. Saturday, $10
The only variety show in Houston where participants acknowledge and celebrate the literal ways in which they sell their bodies in the service of their craft – be it stand-up comedy, art, music, dance, etc. – is coming back to The Secret Group for its fifth edition. In addition to a burlesque routine from presenter Britt Vasicek, we know the program features the Knotty AcroCats, comedian Kathryn Way and performance artist Jennifer Free, with music by Chris Plowman and Devil to Drag’s Morgan Rae, but expect plenty of surprises, debauchery and, of course,
Miller Outdoor Theatre
8 p.m. Saturday, free
A chance meeting in a Parisian jazz club between French composer Antoine Chatenet and New York vocalist
Nicolle Rochelle turned into a match made in Franco-American heaven, their unique blend of distinctly French and American styles, dubbed “electro-swing,” taking them around the globe and now to Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre. Since being discovered at Les FrancoFolies, the duo — named for the gingko tree — have graced the stage at The Kennedy Center and have had their infectious “De New York à Paris” featured in a European perfume campaign. You can count on them to bring their bouncy, dance-party sound to your Saturday night.
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"Hurricane Ike...Where We Stand" lecture
The Heritage Society
7 p.m. Tuesday, free
We're now about a month away from the official start of hurricane season, so it’s time to consider taking that special person in your life – who doesn’t take hurricane preparedness seriously – to hear Dr. Philip Bedient and see “Tropical [Im]pression: A Gulf Coast Hurricane Retrospective,” on display until June 24. Bedient, an engineering professor at Rice, will give a lecture on the current state of hurricane-related affairs in Houston against the backdrop of the traveling exhibit, curated by the Museum of the Gulf Coast’s Hurricane Retrospective Project, which features 67 photographs that together give the “impression” recent hurricanes have left on the region.
Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow @ MKT Square Park – Office Space
Market Square Park
8 p.m. Wednesday, free
Not Labyrinth, not The Wizard of Oz, and not any of those Lord of the Rings movies – Mike Judge’s 1999 comedy is the best fantasy film of all time because it’s relatable. Anyone who’s ever had to work a job he or she despises (which is everyone) can identify with Peter Gibbons, the cubicle-residing desk jockey who wakes up one day refusing to play the game anymore. Full of quirky characters and endlessly quotable, Office Space is an ideal film to watch downtown on the lawn, in the shadows of all those office buildings and before the summer heat really kicks in. Bring your own blankets, lawn chairs and staplers.