Music

Best Bets: Jazz, Sandcastles, and The Wizard of Oz [UPDATED]

Marquis Hill is one of three headliners in DACAMERA's Houston SUMMERJAZZ.
Marquis Hill is one of three headliners in DACAMERA's Houston SUMMERJAZZ. Photo by Todd Rosenberg
Update 10:10 a.m.: Citing "the continued rise of COVID-19 cases in Texas," ISHIDA Dance Company's appearance scheduled for August 19-21 has been cancelled.

If your to-do list is looking a little sparse this week, let us suggest some upcoming arts events that will keep you busy and entertained. Keep reading for a jazz festival, mythological water nymphs, sandcastles, and more.

New dance company alert! Artistic Director Brett Ishida will debut ISHIDA Dance Company this weekend at The MATCH with a mixed repertoire program titled Faraway, So Close. Ishida, who creates work “driven by a poetic narrative,” will have two pieces on the program, one a 25-minute piece exploring “observations on loneliness within intimacy” and the other an excerpt from a work cancelled last summer. The program also features work from Bret Easterling, currently a professor at the University of California and formerly of Batsheva Dance Company, and Danielle Rowe, a former Houston Ballet principal. Performances will be held at a socially distanced 25 percent capacity on Thursday, August 19, and at 50 percent capacity on Friday, August 20, and Saturday, August 21. Each show is set for 8 p.m. and you can purchase a ticket (ranging in price from $30 to $110 for VIP) here.

Jazz lovers rejoice! DACAMERA will make their return to the Theater District for Houston SUMMERJAZZ this weekend. Dianne Reeves (on Friday, August 20), the Dafnis Prieto Big Band (on Saturday, August 21), and Marquis Hill (on Sunday, August 22) headline the festival’s socially distanced concerts at the Wortham Theater Center, with post-concert performances at Cezanne by José-Miguel Yamal (on Friday, August 20) and the Woody Witt Quintet (on Saturday, August 21). There’s also a completely free show, featuring Boomtown Brass Band set for Saturday, August 21, in the Wortham’s Grand Foyer. You can register and buy tickets or a festival pass (and view the prices) for all the shows here. And note that the headliners’ performances will be livestreamed, so you can always pick up a $10 ticket to watch from home.
On Friday, August 20, at 7 p.m. the Houston Cinema Arts Society and Goethe Pop Up Houston will host a free backyard screening of modern fairy tale Undine, directed by Christian Petzold. Undine is a “dark, seductive fantasy” based on a popular myth about a water nymph. In it, if a man falls in love with her, she becomes human. If he falls out of love and leaves her for another, she has to kill him. That said, Undine (the nymph in question) is “full of love” and “a little fairy character that gives you hope that love exists,” says actress Paula Beer, who won Best Actress at the European Film Awards for the role. A reception is set for 7 to 8 p.m., and then Dr. Sandy Frieden, a professor of German cinema at the University of Houston, will introduce the film, which will start at 8 p.m. The screening is free and you can register here.

After a COVID-forced break in 2020, the art and architecture of sand sculpture will be back on display this Saturday, August 21, during the 34th Annual AIA Sandcastle Competition at East Beach in Galveston. Dozens of teams of architects will take to the beach for five hours, vying for awards including the top one, the Gold Bucket Award. New categories this year will feature the best designs for nursery rhymes, video games, and Texas pride. The beach opens at 9 a.m. for the public to arrive, with teams building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The public can vote for their favorites between 1 and 3:30 p.m., with the actual awards being handed out at 4:30 p.m. The event is free, but parking at East Beach is $15 (cash only). You can find more information here.


Last year, Fleetwood Mac’s album Rumours made a TikTok-fueled return to Billboard’s top 10 – 42 years after its 1977 release and adding to its tally as one of the highest-selling albums of all time. Rolling Stone called the album, which includes hits like “Dreams” and “Go Your Own Way,” a “diamond of opulent late Seventies rock” created under “excruciating emotional pressure” (i.e. the “elaborate entanglements, enormous amounts of money and mountains of cocaine” you can Google at your leisure). On Saturday, August 21, at 8:30 p.m. you can experience the classic record, note for note, when Classic Albums Live Presents Fleetwood Mac Rumours at Miller Outdoor Theatre. This one won’t be streamed, but you can try for a free seated ticket here, or you can always grab a blanket or lawn chair and head for the un-ticketed seating on the Hill.
Just last month, one of Judy Garland's screen-worn Wizard of Oz dresses (you know the one, the iconic blue gingham dress), was found in a shoebox, inside a trash bag, on top of the faculty mailboxes at Catholic University some 40 years after it went missing. Celebrate the discovery of a piece of cinematic history – and just enjoy the film the Library of Congress says is “the most-watched movie ever” – on Tuesday, August 24, at 7 p.m. during The Wizard of Oz Movie Party at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. The movie party will be interactive, with Alamo Drafthouse providing all the props you need (including a ribbon wand) to fully enjoy the timeless tale of a young girl from Kansas who finds herself in a magical land and needs a way home. You can purchase a ticket here for $13.

Group Acorde will kick off a free, online duet series on Tuesday, August 24, at 8:30 p.m. on Facebook Live. The company, conceived by two contemporary dancers (Roberta Paixão Cortes and Lindsey McGill) and two musician/composers (saxophonist Seth Paynter and bassist Thomas Helton), will stream the improvised performances from the P.E.T Outdoor Theater. Tuesday’s installment will feature Paixão Cortes and Paynter, with McGill and Helton following on September 14 and all four artists on November 2. Each will last approximately 30 to 40 minutes, and stay tuned after for a Q&A.

On Wednesday, August 25, at 1 p.m. (and Thursday, August 26, at 7:30 p.m.) the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center will screen Howie Mandel: But, Enough About Me. The documentary, “lovingly directed by biography documentarian Barry Avrich,” not only “examines Mandel’s long career in comedy,” but also delves into his “long battle with obsessive compulsive disorder.” They were also in the middle of filming last year, “allowing the filmmakers to document how one of the world’s most famous germaphobes deals with the terror that is COVID-19.” Tickets to the in-person screenings can be purchased here ($10 for ERJCC members and $15 for non-members), or you can buy a ticket (same prices) to screen the film virtually from August 30 through September 1.
The Downtown District closes the summer edition of Movies at Market Square Park with a free outdoor screening of An American in Paris, the 1951 musical that beat out A Place in the Sun and A Streetcar Named Desire for Best Picture in 1952. Though the win caused some shock and outrage at the time, time has been kind to the Vincente Minnelli-directed film for its “unabashed romanticism, kaleidoscopic imagery, and audacious, wordless finale,” all which have inspired artists ranging from Ray Bradbury to La La Land director Damien Chazelle. So grab a blanket or lawn chair and head out to Market Square Park on Wednesday, August 25, at 8:30 p.m. to enjoy the Gene Kelly vehicle, about a love triangle in Paris set to music from George and Ira Gershwin. Get there early to claim on a socially distanced patch of grass and don’t forget your mask.
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Natalie de la Garza is a contributing writer who adores all things pop culture and longs to know everything there is to know about the Houston arts and culture scene.