Acts You Shouldn't Miss at iFest's Second Weekend
Photos courtesy of Houston International Festival
Texas Brass Band Bud Light World Music Stage, 1 p.m. April 27; Houston Press Rocks Off Texas Music Stage, 4:30 p.m. April 27
The Texas Brass Band combines trumpet flourishes and tuba-led bass lines with jazz, R&B, and hip-hop influences to create a unique, distinctively Southern sound. Last year, the ten-man band could barely fit onstage together, but its members still found a way to groove to the music onstage, swaying back and forth in perfect, funky rhythm. The energy TBB exhibits during live performances, on which the band prides itself, is infectious and, no matter how long their set lasts, fans will inevitably clamor for more. MATTHEW KEEVER
Bombasta Houston Press Rocks Off Texas Music Stage, 2:30 p.m. April 27
San Antonio barrio-funk masters Bombasta are best-known for a sound that cobbles together a fantastic array of cultural influences, from a full horn section and conga drums to DJ turntables and accordion. Pulling from an array of cumbia, salsa, reggae, and hip-hop, the band is a melting pot of border sound that transcends cultural identification. To go with the steady beats, Bombasta embellishes their sound with lively energy and Spanglish vocals courtesy of the guitar- and accordion-wielding front man Roberto Livar. ANGELICA LEICHT
Oliver Mtukudzi & The Black Spirits Bud Light World Music Stage, 4:30 p.m. April 27
In a career spanning more than four decades Zimbabwe's Oliver Mtukudzi has established himself as one of Africa's longest-running and most popular superstars. His music, preserved on more than five dozen albums and heard live by literally millions of fans worldwide, is one of the quintessential sounds of African culture.
Backed by his roots-oriented Black Spirits band, Mtukudzi's personalized blend of African pop styles and message music creates an anthemic sound that doubles as a forceful call-to-action and as an eminently danceable expression of joy. Hearing it live is an experience no worldbeat fan should miss. MICHAEL POINT
Jovino Santos-Neto & Kellye Gray Houston Press Rocks Off Texas Music Stage, 6:30 p.m. April 27
iFest's first weekend saw a lot of rambunctious rhythms, and there will be more as it winds up this weekend. But there are also some quiet delights to be found amidst the sonic onslaught. One of the most intriguing is expatriate Brazilian jazzman Jovino Santos-Neto, a pianist/flutist who has worked with the country's legendary figures, such as Airto and Flora Purim.
He'll play a duo set Sunday on the small Cultural Stage, but the show to catch is his group set featuring special-guest vocalist Kellye Gray, a former Houstonian who was queen of the local jazz scene before departing for international renown in 1992. MICHAEL POINT
Los Lobos Bud Light World Music Stage, 6:30 p.m. April 27
This is an easy one. Los Lobos has been one of my favorite bands since the three months in college when 1987 LP By the Light of the Moon didn't leave my car's tape player. The band from East L.A. is no stranger to iFest, though it's been a while since they've been downtown; in fact, I think the last time I saw them was some Super Bowl-related event off Main Street the year Houston hosted the big game.
Los Lobos shine in outdoor festival settings, and seem to be inching back toward rock and roll again -- their most recent original album, 2010's Tin Can Trust, has strong echoes of two of my other favorites, The Neighborhood and Kiko, which Shout! Factory reissued in a lavishly expanded edition last year. CHRIS GRAY
Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic Bud Light World Music Stage, 1 p.m. April 28; Houston Press Rocks Off Texas Music Stage, 4:30 p.m. April 28
Despite being born in California, much of Andre Thierry's family is from Louisiana. His strong ties to the state's French Creole culture led to him forming his own band, Zydeco Magic, at 12. Since then, his contemporary take on zydeco music has earned him acclaim both at home further afield, where he and his band were awarded the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame award for "Best Zydeco Group" by the San Francisco Bay Area Blues Society. ALTAMESE OSBORNE
Suns of Orpheus Houston Press Rocks Off Texas Music Stage, 2:30 p.m. April 28
Suns of Orpheus, a world-fusion ensemble hailing from Austin, will be spreading their infectious hybrid of American, Brazilian, African, and Latin beats in a style they've dubbed as "International Psychedelic Pop." Fronted by Brazilian-born vocalist Frederico Geib, the Suns have created an exotic amalgam of sound that encompasses not only their eclectic world beats, but incorporates influences from funk, reggae, and of course, good ol' rock and roll. ANGELICA LEICHT
Aaron Neville Bud Light World Stage, 6:30 p.m. April 28
"Everybody Plays the Fool" was the soundtrack to my ninth-grade year, so I'm excited to see Aaron Neville perform this Sunday at iFest. (Though I'll admit: I don't know much else from the 72-year-old singer's collection. Don't judge me.) What I do know is much of his music borrows Creole and Cajun influences, paying homage to his New Orleans origins. I'm sure his performance will bring me up to date on all the amazing music he's done, is doing and will continue to do. ALTAMESE OSBORNE
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