Things To Do

Best Bets: Juneteenth, Tokyo X Festival and ABBA

Tony DeSare brings the tunes of Frank Sinatra to the Hobby Center during Sinatra & Beyond.
Tony DeSare brings the tunes of Frank Sinatra to the Hobby Center during Sinatra & Beyond. Photo by Matt Baker

It’s Father’s Day weekend, not to mention National Dog Dad Day, so if you have a meaningful paternal figure in your life, give them a thanks on your way to one of our best bets. This week, we’ve got classic music, a (modern) classic comedy, and a Juneteenth celebration. Keep reading for these and more of our picks over the next seven days.

Pianist and composer Tony DeSare, who has been performing the music of Frank Sinatra since he was a teenager, will stop by the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts on June 14, at 7:30 p.m. for Sinatra & Beyond. Of “Ol' Blue Eyes,” DeSare has said that “Frank had the single biggest influence on me musically, including his singing style, his face and song…He’s been gone since 1998 so I love the idea of being able to keep the music alive, the legacy alive, making sure people are aware of his gift to the world.” DeSare will perform a second time on Saturday, June 15, at 7 p.m. and tickets, which are $94, are almost completely gone for both, but you can check here to nab the last few or join the waitlist.

It’s been 20 years since modern stoner classic Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle hit theaters, and it stands as “one of the only mainstream movies of its decade to star two Asian American leads, John Cho and Kal Penn,” validating “the experiences of stoners, outcasts, and anyone who didn’t fit the narrow, nerdy trope that dominated perceptions of Asian Americans at the time” and widening “ideas of what Asian Americans could be.” On Friday, June 14, Asia Society Texas will host a 20th anniversary outdoor film party (with food, music and trivia) celebrating the “munchie-fueled adventure.” Tickets are available here for $30 and include the film screening, a slider from burger-chan, drinks and White Castle-branded swag. The lawn opens at 7 p.m. and the screening starts at 8:30 p.m.

Experience the evolution of Black music, from gospel and blues to R&B and hip hop, this weekend at Miller Outdoor Theatre during Wells Fargo Presents Juneteenth: A Musical Journey Through Eras. Journey from 1960 to 1980 on Friday, June 14, at 8:15 p.m. with Erin Stevenson, Jourdan Carroll, Spud Howard, Ernest Walker Band, Liz Vaughn and Werner Richmond. The show is free, and you can reserve tickets here starting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 13, or you can take a seat on the no-ticket-required Hill. The celebration of Black music continues on Saturday, June 15, at 8:15 p.m. with Regina Belle, Chris Walker, De’Andre Nico, J Xavier, DJ Chilly Bill Smith and the Ernest Walker Band leading audiences from 1980 to 2000. Get free tickets for the second night starting here on Friday, June 14, at 10 a.m.

Celebrate Japanese culture right here in Houston on Saturday, June 15, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. when Tokyo X Festival comes to NRG Center. The indoor festival promises more than 300 vendors peddling their culinary and artistic wares, games, concerts, a maid café, car show, and cosplay contest. Manga and anime, of course, will be getting a lot of love, included a manga library courtesy of Houston Public Library, and voice actors from shows like Pokémon and One Piece. The festival continues on Sunday, June 16, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. General admission tickets are available for purchase here for $10 to $45, not to mention VIP passes as well as autograph and photo ops available for extra.

Just this month, the four members of Swedish supergroup ABBA reunited to be knighted by their home country, an honor that speaks to the continued cultural influence of the folks that brought us hits like “Dancing Queen” and “Mamma Mia” – among many others. On Saturday, June 15, at 2:30 p.m. the Houston Symphony will welcome Finnish a cappella group Rajaton to the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts for The Music of Abba. Conductor Lucas Waldin will lead Rajaton and the Symphony in the concert, which will be performed a second time on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to either show can be purchased here for $63 to $185, and the Saturday night performance will be followed by an afterparty, Dancing Queen Disco, complete with cocktails and swag. Tickets to the party are available here for $40.

Spend approximately 90 minutes delving into the complex relationship between three people when famed English playwright Harold Pinter’s Betrayal opens at Rec Room Arts on Saturday, June 15, at 7:30 p.m. The 2005 winner of the Nobel Prize for literature wrote the play in 1978, and it tells the story of a literary agent who finds out his wife and best friend are keeping a pretty big secret from him. The twist here is that the story is revealed in reverse chronology. Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays until July 6. Tickets are available here for $15 to $40. (There’s also a “Wednesday Fiver” scheduled for June 19, a performance for which tickets are only $5 each.)

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Houston Pride Band closes their season on Saturday with a world premiere.
Photo by Stefan McFall
On his way to establishing himself as a composer, Texas’ own JaRod Hall has made stops at the University of North Texas and Texas State University (for a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, respectively) and served as a high school band director. Recently, Hall's said we're in something of a "renaissance" of band music, and you can see for yourself if you catch Hall’s latest work, “Storm Surge,” when Houston Pride Band presents its world premiere during their season-ending concert, Winds of Summer, Rhythms of the Sea: A Musical Celebration of Leisure, Power, and Tranquility, at the MATCH on Saturday, June 15, at 8 p.m. Tickets to the concert are available here for $5 to $15.

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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.