Get Envolved

SAT 8/7

Produced by an impromptu group of Muslim artists and activists, last year's Expressions of Faith festival was a definite success. Comedian Mo Amer took over emceeing duties just minutes before the festival kicked off, stepping up to keep the crowd chuckling between the acts. Traditional songs of praise were no doubt part of the fare, but these offerings were sandwiched between contemporary performances by spoken-word and hip-hop artists. There was even a Muslim boy band there to represent -- apparently, the love of metrosexual a cappella knows no bounds. Amer is back for this year's fest, but this time around the whole shebang is being produced by Envolve, a grassroots organization devoted to revitalizing the Islamic community. And the organizers have scored some national acts, including rapper Napoleon, who has spit at the mike on a couple of Tupac's albums -- and who no doubt will keep popping up on future releases by the hardest-working dead man in show business. And then there's Native Deen, a D.C.-based group of Muslim American rappers led by Joshua Salaam. "Any rapper or singer sings about where they come from," he has said. "We rap about our experiences, what we know: growing up Muslim in America." And we all know that ain't an easy thing. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, August 7. Zilkha Hall in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2400 or visit $10. -- Keith Plocek

Weird Science

People always say that alligator tastes like chicken. But science tells us the alligator was around long before the chicken -- or its egg. Think about it this weekend at the Taste of New Orleans Food and Music Festival, a two-day party devoted to all things N'awlins. You've got live music by acts like First Wave, Kenyah, the Zydeco Dots, Grady Gaines and Dawson's New Rage. You've also got plenty of food: jambalaya, crawfish, gumbo and, of course, fried chicken. Notice how it tastes like alligator. Noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, August 7 and 8. Captain Landolt Pavilion in Clear Lake Park, 5002 NASA Road 1. For information, call 713-554-3565 or visit $8 to $12. - Keith Plocek

Cosplay Ground

If you like pretending you're a high-voiced, huge-eyed cartoon, this weekend is your chance to walk around in your best Cowboy Bebop outfit without anyone batting an eyelash -- except maybe the Yukina look-alike to your right. Anime, the medium that brought you everything from Pokémon to tentacle porn, is huge enough to merit a professional academic journal, an online encyclopedia and now a three-day convention in Houston -- just 6,685 miles from Tokyo! The convention, called O-ChibiCon (local anime club ChibiCon is hosting), will feature a Bandai modeling contest, Anime Idol for those of us who want to be the next Megumi Hayashibara, screenings of anime, screenings of documentaries about anime, panel discussions, game shows, cosplay (this is where you get to put on that costume) and pretty much anything else having to do with Japan, minus reality. The fun starts at 9 a.m. on Friday, August 6, and continues until 7 p.m. on Sunday, August 8. Hampton Inn/Clarion Inn Hotel, 500 North Sam Houston Parkway. For information, call 281-419-1475 or visit $40. -- Julia Ramey

Before the War
A time when Anne Frank thought about sand castles

THU 8/5

With too-big shoulder blades and a gaudy bathing suit, Anne Frank stands on a beach, before the war, before the hiding, before the diary that would mark her moment in the global memory. The image is part of "Anne Frank: A Private Photo Album," opening Thursday at the Holocaust Museum Houston. Otto Frank's photographs of his wife and two daughters -- here's Margot taking a bath, there's Anne with some friends -- are ordinary, but hindsight makes their normalcy luminous. Our bias, of course, is to know the suffering that awaited the Frank family, and so the very idea that at one time Anne was thinking about sand castles and stuffed animals rather than prejudice and fear humanizes her even further than her writings have. The exhibition opens Thursday, August 5, and runs through December 31. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 5401 Caroline. For information, call 713-942-8000 or visit $3 to $5. -- Julia Ramey

Margs and Art

Local boy Cameron Sands -- born, raised and educated in H-town -- has a new exhibition, "Beginning Facades," on display at Noche Cocina y Bar. Most of the show's pieces feature abstract subject matter blanketed by a cloth or veil. "You don't know if it's reality or not," says Sands. Since there's a decent chance you'll be getting tipsy from one or more of Noche's excellent margaritas, that question may grow more profound by the minute. Thankfully, the artist will be there to explain from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, August 5. Works on view through September 20. 2409 Montrose. For information, call 713-529-8559 or visit Free. -- Julia Ramey

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