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21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: A Soaked City Searches For Amusements

This Friday, The HillBenders will present The Who's TOMMY: A Bluegrass Opry at Miller Outdoor Theatre.
This Friday, The HillBenders will present The Who's TOMMY: A Bluegrass Opry at Miller Outdoor Theatre.
Photo by Maranie Staab

Note: In light of the total disruption caused by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey, any relevant cancellations/postponements have been noted below.

Tuesday, August 29

This event has been canceled. Art inspires art and when Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II adapted Ferenc Molnár’s 1909 play Liliom and turned it into a musical, America fell in love with the story of carousel barker Billy Bigelow and naive but smitten Julie Jordan. For Houston Ballet’s first lecture of the season, Dance Talk: Carousel – A Musical and A Dance, they’re delving deeper into Christopher Wheeldon’s one-act ballet. “It’s an interesting look, almost an abstraction of a very story-driven musical,” says Jennifer Sommers, director of education and community engagement. Joining the dance talk is Principal Sara Webb, members of the artistic staff and one crossover guest. “Because HGO did Carousel last year, we’ve having Richard Bado from HGO sit on the panel as well,” says Sommers, making for a nice compare-and-contrast of the musical interpretation and storytelling. 7 p.m. August 29. Houston Ballet Center for Dance, 601 Preston. For information, call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Wednesday, August 30

Mariah Carey said it best: “Why are you so obsessed with me?” Turns out obsession is kind of a thing. Just ask that guy who surgically altered his body to resemble Mattel’s Ken doll. In that same spirit, Alamo Drafthouse is showing a series of curated movies that depict obsession in its various forms. With the movie Chuck and Buck, directed by Miguel Arteta and starring Mike White, Buck just can’t get over his childhood friend Chuck, and he develops a dangerous fixation on Chuck’s life. Programming Director Robert Saucedo says, “It’s both comedy and drama. One of my favorite subgenres of comedy is fringe comedy. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry, and this is a great example of that kind of film.” Stick around afterward for a post-show discussion. 7:30 p.m. August 30. 531 South Mason. For information, call 281-492-6900 or visit drafthouse.com. $5.41. — Sam Byrd

It was his early days as a cub reporter covering the police beat in southern California that introduced T. Jefferson Parker to the uglier side of humanity. His first novel, Laguna Heat, was written in his spare time on nights and weekends but now the three-time Edgar Award winner and New York Times bestselling author devotes himself full time to penning thrillers that touch on dark subjects: extremist groups, child molesters, cancer and war. His latest, The Room of White Fire, is the first of a new series and introduces readers to the grim and controversial subject of outsourced torture and the Central Intelligence Agency. His new character, private investigator Roland Ford, is the best when it comes to tracking down missing persons, but he also carries the scars and pain from his wife's death and his time as a marine. Parker will be in town to read from his book and sign copies. 6:30 p.m. August 30. Murder By The Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit murderbooks.com. Free. — Susie Tommaney

It seems that every new art movement is initially met with resistance, and the same held true in the early 1930s with the advent of abstract art. In spite of a lukewarm reception, the American Abstract Artists formed in 1936 and now the New York City-based organization is celebrating its 80th anniversary. A touring print exhibition titled "75th Anniversary American Abstract Artists Print Portfolio," curated five years ago, is making its rounds and its next stop — the first time the portfolio has been presented in a university setting west of the Mississippi River — is at the University of Houston-Clear Lake Art Gallery. There's a preview reception from 5 to 7 p.m. August 30. The exhibit continues 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon Fridays. August 31 through October 20. 2700 Bay Area Boulevard. For information, call 281-283-3376 or visit uhcl.edu/artgallery. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Thursday, August 31

We're still not sure if it was benevolence or home-field advantage that inspired the Dallas Cowboys to offer up AT&T Stadium for this pre-season game against the Houston Texans. Regardless of intent, there's no doubt that this is one of the greatest rivalries going and we've already got football fever here in H-Town, even if it's still pre-season. Sadly, tailgating is off the table since the game has been relocated to Arlington, so — praying the roads will be passable by then — why not head out to the tavern of your choice and root for J.J. Watt and company to take down America's Team? Lord knows Houstonians are overdue to blow off a little steam. 7 p.m. August 31, KTRK-ABC 13. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Warm up your vocal cords, because this girl’s night out is about to get loud at Alamo Drafthouse’s Girlie Night: Pitch Perfect Sing-Along. Join the Barden Bellas and the Treblemakers for an aca-awesome night. “You can sing and quote along with the film during all the great songs,” Alamo Programming Director Robert Saucedo says. “To aid, we give people props. You’ll get a custom Pitch Perfect cup and do the cup song along with Anna Kendrick. You’ll also get a Bella scarf to rock out in your best attire. We have a few other surprises for funny plot points in the movie.” After all, let’s face it – it’s always more fun to belt out our favorite songs in a room full of movie lovers than to sit at home alone doing it. 7:30 p.m. August 31. 531 South Mason Road. For information, call 281-492-6900 or visit drafthouse.com/Houston. $12. — Sam Byrd

Dr. Kittredge Stephenson is a clinical psychologist who has spent years studying mental health from an Eastern perspective, including co-translating a book by Jungian analyst Iwao Akita, in order to help grapple with life’s biggest questions. And now, he’s utilizing Akira Kurosowa’s seminal 1950 film, Rashômon, in which four witnesses recount very different versions of the same story, to help. “It feels to me like [Kurosowa’s] wrestling with truth, capital-T truth, and to what degree humanity can be a part of that or tolerate it or represent it or see it,” says Stephenson. He expects the evening to be a little bit lecture and a little bit discussion, and hopes to use his knowledge and Akita’s theory “like a magnifying glass” to “reflect on who we are and what we want in our lives.” 7 p.m. August 31. The Jung Center, 5200 Montrose. For information, call 713-524-8253 or visit junghouston.org. Free. — Natalie de la Garza

Like an extravagant multi-course meal, this Turkish music festival serves up plenty of tunes (both historic and contemporary), an exhibition of Turkish instruments, and a couple of lectures by experts in culture, Rumi and religion. The first free lecture is 2:30 to 5 p.m. August 31 with Dr. Cengiz Sisman. His program, titled The Last Empire: The Fall of the Ottomans and the Rise of the Turkish Republic, takes place at Rice University's Alice Pratt Brown Hall. Performing Asia Music of Turkey with Choppa Projects continues with concerts at 6:30 p.m. September 15 and 8 p.m. September 16, both at Asia Society Texas Center; an exhibition of music scores, recordings and instruments at Rice University's Fondren Library (August 26 through September 30) and free lectures on September 7, 14, 15 and 16 at Rice University. 6100 Main and 1370 Southmore. For information, visit hoppaproject.com/tmf2017 or asiasociety.org/texas/events/performing-asia-music-turkey-hoppa-project. Free to $20. — Susie Tommaney

Friday, September 1

South by Southwest co-founder Louis Jay Meyers certainly had the connections; the longtime musician and producer saw his Austin music festival take off like nobody’s business. But still it took decades to find the right bluegrass band to realize his dream of infusing Pete Townshend’s rock opera with some banjo, dobro and mandolin. Sadly, Meyers died on opening day of SXSW 2016, but not before seeing his dream come true; we’ll get our first look when The HillBenders Present The Who’s TOMMY: A Bluegrass Opry at Miller Outdoor Theatre. HillBenders guitarist Jim Rea describes it as “bluegrass meets rock and roll” and says they got to meet Townshend. “Oh man, it was remarkable. He’s a rock and roll legend,” says Rea. “It was a huge deal for me; a huge deal for Lewis.” 8 p.m. September 1. 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 281-373-3386 or visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free. — Susie Tommaney

This event has been canceled. Join the Houston Symphony as they kick off the 2017-2018 POPS season with Steven Reineke at the conductor’s stand. The organization is rolling out the red carpet for his new role by celebrating the birthday of one of his all-time favorite performers. Sophisticated Ladies: Ella at 100 brings together vocalists Montego Glover, Capathia Jenkins and N’Kenge to present Ella Fitzgerald, as well as other great musicians of her era. “This entire concert celebrates music from Ella, Dorothy Dandridge, Cab Calloway, Billie Holliday and the Cotton Club days,” says N’Kenge. “It’s nice to have an older generation who knows these songs and grew up with them, as well as the new generation hearing this for the very first time.” 8 p.m. September 1-2; 7:30 p.m. September 3. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $35 to $155. — Sam Byrd

When Stephen King directed Maximum Overdrive in 1985, his first and only directorial credit, he was in over his head and coked out of his mind – or at least he is in Maximum King!, a fictionalized, behind-the-scenes account by screenwriter Shay Hatten. Selections from Hatten’s script will be read before Alamo Drafthouse’s “retail under siege” double feature of Maximum Overdrive and The Mist, screening as part of their month-long tribute to the horror master. Though not widely considered “great” adaptations of King’s work, programming director Robert Saucedo argues “there’s no such thing as a movie that’s so bad it’s good. If you had fun watching the movie, then it’s a great film, and I challenge anybody to come watch a movie like Maximum Overdrive on the big screen and not have a good time.” 8 p.m. September 1. 531 South Mason Road, Katy. For information, call 281-492-6900 or visit drafthouse.com/houston/theater/mason-park. $9.74. — Natalie de la Garza

Get glowing during this Saturday's Blacklight Run at Sam Houston Race Park.
Get glowing during this Saturday's Blacklight Run at Sam Houston Race Park.
Photo by Justin Muir for Blacklight Run

Saturday, September 2

This just might be the only race where the journey matters more than the destination. In fact, the organizers of the Blacklight Run™ encourage dancing and partying along the three-mile course, which shouldn’t be hard with three different Blacklight Zones™, plus glow-in-the-dark tattoos and race bibs. VIPs snag shutter shades, a pair of LED jelly rings and first crack at the fun. Justin Muir, media manager for U Run LLC (which manages the runs all over the world), says its pre-party is one of the best in the industry. “We get our DJs to get the crowd energized and ready for the run.” Participants get dosed with a non-toxic, UV reactant powder that glows with different colors in every zone. The Neon Sky™ after-party keeps things glowing with tons of swag, even more glow powder, amazing selfies and the every-15-minute “celebration glow throw.” Doors open at 6; race starts at 8 p.m. September 2. Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway North. For information, visit blacklightrun.com/houstontx. $30 to $50. — Susie Tommaney

Richard Wagner invoked the German word for erotic death when composing the dramatic finale for Tristan und Isolde. It surfaces again in this latest exhibit at Redbud Gallery, "Michael Meads: Der Liebestod and Other Drawings." After Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding ruined his life’s work, Meads fled to the driest place he could imagine – New Mexico – where he now creates his amazing detailed masterpieces. The exhibit includes the ten foot by 14 foot “Der Liebestod,” a year in the making, as well as smaller studies for the piece. “It has to be seen in person. You can move back and forth and get the full scale of it and move closer to get the detail,” says Meads. “With my stuff you’re watching an opera rather than viewing a scene. It’s more of a theatrical production and almost all of it takes place in and around New Orleans.” We’ve seen the work and a stop at Redbud should be on everybody’s bucket list this fall. Opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. September 2. Due to the weather, the reception has been rescheduled for September 9. Continuing Noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. September 9 through October 1. 303 East 11th. For information, call 713-862-2532 or visit redbudgallery.com. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Raymond Cook, manager of the Houston Improv, has been following Ali Siddiq for years and has seen the native Houstonian comic’s evolution as a performer. “Ali is our local hometown guy,” Cook says. “I remember back in 2007, he was opening for the great DL Hughley, and almost every show when DL would come out to follow Ali, DL’s first joke was always about not having Ali on his show anymore because he’s too damn funny.” With five shows through September 3, Saadiq, now as seen on Comedy Central, will get to hone his new hour of sit-down style. “Ali’s come so far and I’ve seen a million of his shows. I would say he’s probably the best storyteller in the industry,” offers Cook. “In July he was the talk of the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal, and he’s got the respect of his peers in the industry.” 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. August 31, 7 and 9:30 p.m. September 2, 7:30 p.m. September 3. Special Harvey relief show added September 5. 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit improvhouston.com. $20 to $30. — Vic Shuttee

This concert has been postponed. A movement afoot in modern classical music incorporates the old into the very, very new. Instead of a sit-down, listen-and-leave concert, local organizations such as Mercury Houston are sculpting multimedia presentations to accompany the works of the masters. Such an event, Mercury’s Bach and Piazzolla, features a meshing of J.S. Bach’s Art of the Fugue with Astor Piazzolla’s tango nuevo in a sensory orchestral experience that includes bold lighting and robust image projections. Antoine Plante, Mercury artistic director, wields the baton in a production that’s scheduled to involve violinists, violists, cellists, a bassist, Tango Boreal (bandoneonist Denis Plante and guitarist David Jacques) and dancers from Luna Tango. “It will be a concert that enthralls the senses,” says Brian Ritter, Mercury Houston executive director. 8 p.m. September 2. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-533-0080 or visit mercuryhouston.org. Free. — Steve Jansen

Show has been postponed to September 9. The Music Box Theater is getting a little horny with Keep It Brassy. The troupe, known for making big music with only a handful of performers, is spicing it up for the upcoming show. “We’re bringing in three horn and reed players to join our three-piece band,” says co-owner Rebekah Dahl. “For the first time, the musicians will outnumber our singers. We’re basically doing all the music we wanted to do in the last six years but couldn’t do because we didn’t have horn players.” So what does that music entail? Imagine the greatest numbers from Chicago, James Brown, Otis Redding, George Michael, Broadway hits and even Bruno Mars. Show has been postponed until September 9 and replaced with "Feelin Groovy," itself held over from August 25 and 26. 7:30 p.m. September 1 and 2. 2623 Colquitt. For information, call 713-522-7722 or visit themusicboxtheater.com. $29 to $39. — Sam Byrd

Festival has been cancelled, but may be rescheduled at a later date. See its Facebook page for details. So much alliteration, we're not sure where to look first. Babes, blues, bikes and booze form the framework for the annual Summertime Bluesfest and Biker Bash in Freeport. Yes, there's a wet T-shirt contest and an appearance by the Flaunt Girls, but there's wholesome fun to be had, too, including jalapeño and watermelon eating contests, a Stripes & Pipes military tribute ride and the not-so-pretty beer belly contest. We did mention blues, so don't miss back-to-back concerts with Friday's Kiss Alike (Kiss tribute band) and Saturday's Back in Black (AC/DC tribute band). 5 p.m. September 1, noon September 2. Freeport Municipal Park, 421 Brazosport, Freeport. For information, call 979-482-2036 or visit facebook.com/SummertimeBluesFest. $5 to $50. — Susie Tommaney

The MFAH is currently closed until further notice, but could be open by this weekend. Check its website for updates. A bleak and forbidden landscape, a hazardous journey, a skilled tracker and promises of wishes come true. No, it's not a lost episode from the Game of Thrones franchise; it's a recently restored Russian sci-fi film that delves into the metaphysical and has even inspired a book. British writer Geoff Dyer was so moved by Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker that he wrote Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room. As the flick unfolds, a writer and a scientist set out to find a mysterious and magical room and hire the Stalker to navigate the menacing terrain of the Zone. Expect two and a half hours of stunning visuals in a post-apocalyptic wasteland as visionary director Tarkovsky leads us through a series of disquieting passages. In Russian with English subtitles, this vintage USSR classic is loosely adapted from Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s science-fiction novel Roadside Panic. 7 p.m. September 2, 2 p.m. September 23. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org/films. $7 to $9. — Susie Tommaney

According to Last Concert Cafe's Facebook page, "Along with the rest of the city we will remain closed until the roadways are safe to travel again." Last Concert Cafe invokes the spirit of Greenwich Village this Saturday when poets, musicians and spoken word artists take the stage during Transcendent Zero Press's Fall Shindig 2017. Expect plenty of wordsmithing from the literary stable of Houston's own small press publisher including Anis Shivani, Mark Jodon, Kingsley and Birdman 313. They'll be taking the stage between musical guests Gwen Doll, Heather Bishop, Let Me Remember and Ken Jones. Jones is time-shifting the holidays in his presentation of "PoetKen Presents A Cannabis Carol," a hazy, smoke-fueled riff on the Christmas classic where he invokes various spirits including the ghost of Bob Marley, nurse Mary Jane and the Colorado Chamber of Commerce. Can you dig it? 7 to 11 p.m. September 2. 1403 Nance. For information, call 832-523-0191 or visit transcendentzeropress.org/events. $10. — Susie Tommaney

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Sunday, September 3

This event has been canceled. See this website for more details. It’s sort of like the Super Bowl for LGBT musicians, and Houston nailed the brass ring this year. The Stars at Night is both the name for this year’s Lesbian and Gay Band Association conference — their first time back since 1991 — and the title of its crown jewel, a no-holds-barred concert at Wortham Theater Center. Conference co-chair Russell Ben Williams says he’s looking forward to getting past the logistics of housing 228 musicians from 30 different bands to enjoy the performance, which includes 35 musicians from the Houston Pride Band. We’ll hear Steven Bryant’s “Dusk,” Bill Conti’s “The Right Stuff,” John Philip Sousa’s “Daughters of Texas March” and a special collaborative commission of “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” Those wanting to dig deeper should visit the website for information on workshops, clinics and HIV-positive socials. 7 p.m. September 3. 501 Texas. For information, visit lgba2017.org. $25. — Susie Tommaney

Monday, September 4

Don’t get a case of the Mondays — come drink your cares away at Axelrad Beer Garden and watch the movie that understands the white-collar grind, Mike Judge’s cult hit Office Space. “It’s definitely one of my favorite movies,” says general manager Elisa Capers. “I figured because it’s Labor Day and we’re all tired, this was a perfect choice. But I don’t think I was even allowed to see this movie when it first came out…It [was] 1999, and I was in the eighth grade.” BYO staplers, but Michael Bolton impersonators need not stop by. Also, please do not destroy your office’s copy machine anywhere near the outdoor patio. 9 to 11 p.m. September 4. 1517 Alabama. For more information call 713-597-8800 or visit axelradbeergarden.com. Free. — Vic Shuttee

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