The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Tributes to Bowie, Prince, Joplin

Looking at the weather reports makes us a bit unsure about this Saturday's AIA Sandcastle Competition, but we checked the American Institute of Architects’ website and Facebook page, and they have every intent of pulling off the 30th annual rendition of this popular event. So look to the skies, check for updates online and, if all looks clear, head out to East Beach for one of the top five revenue-generating events for the city of Galveston. Back in H-Town, we've got a double-header for anime lovers: Delta H Con runs all weekend on the west side, then bring your con badge over to the grand opening of Ooples Anime for an additional 10 percent off purchases Saturday only. We've also got some nice tributes to musical greats: David Bowie, Prince and Janis Joplin, courtesy of Miller Outdoor, Rec Room and the Alley.

Fans of the dearly departed David Bowie can still celebrate the music of his pop alt-ego Ziggy Stardust this Friday when Classic Albums Live re-creates, note for note, the exact musical inspiration that left many of us clamoring for more. Bowie’s album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, brought forth a musical revolution and transitioned the vividly wild persona of David Bowie into household vernacular. Craig Martin, founder of presenter Classic Albums Live, says the musicians playing onstage are no joke either. “We take the world’s best musicians and put them on stage to play the music. This is, by definition, classic music.” Their tour schedule backs up his statement: They play more than 140 dates per year, listing artists like Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen and many other beloved performers among their oeuvre, and have performed at both Carnegie Hall and Massey Hall. Need further proof? Their guiding motto is “we don’t want crap; we want brilliance.” It looks like another brilliant night on the hill this Friday, making this one of our best bets.

8:15 p.m. Friday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park. For information, call 281-373-3386 or visit Free. 

It’s hard to deny; Rec Room’s nostalgia game is strong. After a successful opening to the Monday night My So-Called Life reboot, co-founder Stephanie Wittels Wachs is keeping the party going with a tribute to a few recently fallen musical idols with Dead Rockstar Sing-A-Long Club. After Prince died, and then David Bowie, Wachs was passed an influential Slate article about the public mourning of famous figures. “[Our] public mournings now happen on Facebook and Twitter,” says Wachs about our social media compulsion. “It’s very reminiscent of Greek tragedy.” On a personal level, her brother also passed a year and a half ago. “He was a sort-of public figure; he was a writer on Parks and Recreation. I experienced that public grieving, and I thought it was so bizarre at the time.” Acknowledging the gravity of hosting (what is essentially) a public grieving, Wachs describes the resulting showcase as something closer to “a live extended music video.” She says there’s a loose but abstract narrative, and audience members will have songbooks in case they want to join in singing “Changes,” “Ziggy Stardust” and “Purple Rain.” A tribute to the Purple One and the Thin White Duke looks like another good pick for Friday night.

8 p.m. Friday. Continuing 8 p.m. Wednesdays to Saturdays. Through September 10. 100 Jackson. For information, call 713-344-1291 or visit $25. 

If you’re a fan of anime and Japanese pop culture, then the place to be this weekend is Delta H Con. Though smaller in scope than some of the big-name pop culture cons, it remains a well-organized and well-loved outing that is definitely worth the price of admission. New this year are mermaids, as in real-life mermaids. Really. Not joking. “I’ll have you know many animes feature mermaids,” says president and CEO Sarah Skrobarczyk. “Including My Bride Is a Mermaid.” Panels will be presented from poolside on safety and swimming with a fish tail. Also on the list is an expanded game room featuring systems from as far back as the Atari 2600, and, with a few notable exceptions, like Halo and Call of Duty, all appropriate for the PG-13 crowd. Voice actor guests include Aaron Roberts (Tokyo Ghoul, Black Butler) and Bill Rogers (Pokémon), as well as some of the best of Houston cosplayers, like Titan and Sake Kitty. The con is one of our picks for Saturday, and includes a concert by Jennifer Cihi, the original English-dub singing voice of Sailor Moon

10 a.m. to midnight Friday, midnight to midnight Saturday, midnight to 6 p.m. Sunday. Houston Marriott Westchase, 2900 Briarpark. For information, call 713-631-3061 or visit $25 to $250. 

If you love giant eyes, watch mecha warrior battles and know what the words “doki doki” mean, congratulations: You finally have a place to shop that's not Hot Topic. Ooples Anime, which bills itself as Houston's only store to focus solely on anime – Japanese cartoons – is having its grand opening this Saturday, though it has been technically open for two weeks. And Houstonians are clearly more than ready to get their anime on: On the event's Facebook page, more than 1,000 people have said that they're going to the grand opening, while more than 5,000 have indicated that they're interested. “It's insane,” said Devin Groff, an Ooples employee. “And so we've just been pulling out all the stops. Turning it into a mini-convention.” To accommodate everybody, Ooples Anime owner Franklin Moormann rented out a neighboring dance hall, where musical acts – including an anime cover band and a Japanese rock band – will play while anime voice actors sign autographs. In the parking lot, attendees can snack on treats from food trucks and listen to music blasted from itasha cars, or cars decorated with vinyl images of anime characters. Meanwhile, the Ooples store itself will be reserved just for shoppers. Cosplay is encouraged. Everything in the store will be 20 percent off for the grand opening day only, making this our other choice for Saturday fun.

9 a.m. to midnight Saturday. 6670 Antoine. For information, call 346-319-3866 or visit or

She died when she was only 27 of a drug overdose and even though that was 45 years ago, she has a Facebook page, an official website and a Twitter feed — all of them active today. Janis Joplin, the raspy-voiced singer from Port Arthur, who even after all her fame never did lose all the demons, is now — in her latest incarnation — the main character in A Night With Janis Joplin at the Alley Theatre. Her brother, Michael Joplin, produced the play as well as the recent documentary Janis, Little Girl Lost. “It’s an evening of Janis Joplin. She’s talking to the audience and she gets to sing along with some of her inspirations in music — Odetta, Billie Holiday,” Joplin said in a phone interview. Janis Joplin was renowned for her electric live performances at Monterey and Woodstock, and her brother and sister Laura wanted to recapture that and give audiences a chance to experience that live, Michael Joplin said. They hired Randy Johnson to write and direct. He said that casting for the show can be difficult, finding someone who can recapture some of his sister’s style. “It’s been an interesting task finding women who can let it rip. We ask the girls to bring out their inner Janis. To start singing real and honest, and it’s hard to find people who can do that.” With two performances this Sunday, Houston audiences can see how close they’ve been able to come with a song list that includes “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Mercedes Benz,” “Cry Baby” and “Summertime.” 

2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and August 28, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays and August 24. Through September 18. 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit $26-$85. 

Sam Byrd, Margaret Downing, Jef Rouner, Carter Sherman and Vic Shuttee contributed to this post.
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney