7 Best Bets This Weekend in Houston: Whole Lotta Love for Cars, Tunes 'n 420

Ezekiel Andrew reprises the role of Harlem musician Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, presented by Theatre Under The Stars.
Ezekiel Andrew reprises the role of Harlem musician Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, presented by Theatre Under The Stars. Photo by Melissa Taylor
Love is in the air this weekend, and you'll find celebrations of heavy metal, jazz, plants (both native and illegal), bad-a** cars, social justice through dance, and even an updated opera that puts a new spin on seduction, passion and guilt. Keep reading because there's a "Whole Lotta Love" going down in the Bayou City.

It's a story about immigrants and politics, about clashes over culture, race and equality. One look at today's headline news and the narrative sounds familiar, but Ragtime based on the book by E.L. Doctorow — is actually set a century ago. Three seemingly disparate experiences weave together with real historical figures in this musical portrait of early America, presented in Houston by Theatre Under The Stars. Ezekiel Andrew, a veteran as Harlem musician Coalhouse Walker Jr., returns in the pivotal role with book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. With a cast of 25, just about everybody in the audience will be able to identify with something in this upbeat look at the power of tolerance and understanding.

Performances are scheduled through April 28 at 8 p.m. Fridays and April 26, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 21, 7:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and 2 p.m. April 28 at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit $30 to $104.50.

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"'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings"
Graphic by Houston Symphony
Rolling Stone named Led Zeppelin the heaviest band of all time, and there's no denying their dominance in the '60s and well into the '70s. It's a 50th anniversary celebration over at Houston Symphony, and who better to conduct Music of Led Zeppelin than Brent Havens, a composer/arranger with credentials a mile long and who also conducted symphonic rock programs for the Doors, Pink Floyd, the Eagles, Queen, Michael Jackson, The Who, Whitney Houston, The Rolling Stones, U2, Journey, Elton John, David Bowie and Prince. Zebra frontman Randy Jackson has a deep well of songs from which to choose when he takes the stage on vocals, though we're burning candles for "Whole Lotta Love," "Stairway to Heaven," "Black Dog," and "Ramble On."

A performance is scheduled for April 19 at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit $39 to $99.

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Hawa (The Ride) represents the first time the Pilot Dance Project has collaborated with a national choreographer to produce a world premiere.
Photo by Ricarrdo Valentine, costume by Shane Ballard
Don't expect superficial themes of lollipops, fluff and rainbows. Interdisciplinary duo Brother(hood) Dance! have in the past created dance works that focus on freedom and incarceration, the challenges of being gay in a heteronormative climate, and a multi-sensory exploration into those who were lost to the global AIDS epidemic. Next up is a new evening-length work making its world premiere in Houston and presented by The Pilot Dance Project. Hawa (The Ride) takes us on a mythical journey with two horsemen, Jacko and Cavalier Spirit, in this Afro-neo narrative of resilience, discovery and transformation.

Performances are scheduled for April 19 through April 21 at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday at MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit $15 to $20.

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No green thumb? No worries. The Spring Native Plant Sale will steer you toward the right plants for our region, including this Tecoma stans (Esperanza).
Spruce up your garden safely with native grasses, flowers (including milkweed), shrubs and trees, then sit back and enjoy all the butterflies, bees and other pollinators that will be attracted to your yard and garden. The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center says this will be their largest Spring Native Plant Sale ever, as they're partnering up with Houston Audubon and the Houston Parks & Recreation Department with extra selections. Prices range from $4.50 for a four-inch plant to $30 for a three- to five-gallon plant and discounts are available for Houston Arboretum members. The 21-and-up crowd will want to stop by for a Plants & Pints Happy Hour this Friday between 2 and 4 p.m. for sips from Saint Arnold Brewing Company.

The Spring Native Plant Sale is scheduled for April 19 through April 20 at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway, just inside the 610 entrance gate. For information, call 713-681-8433 or visit

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Another tale of fire and ice. What really happened behind those closed doors? Ryan McKinny is the charismatic Don Giovanni and Ailyn Pérez is the vengeful Donna Anna.
(L) Photo by Simon Pauly Photography and (R) Photo by Rebecca Fay
Sometimes it's better to just tell the truth, and with a besmirched reputation Dona Anna (Ailyn Pérez) learns that lesson the hard way in Don Giovanni. Houston Grand Opera is coproducing this updated production with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Gran Teatre del Liceu, and The Israeli Opera in this surprising new interpretation that comes with a few surprises, including the finale. HGO Studio alumnus and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny is the charismatic Giovanni, intent on adding another notch to his belt; while tenor Ben Bliss makes his HGO debut singing the role of Anna's noble fiancé Don Ottavio, blinded in his steadfast loyalty for his betrothed. With music by Mozart, libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, direction by Kasper Holten, set by Es Devlin and video by Luke Halls; the opera is sung in Italian with projected English translation.

Performances are scheduled for April 20, 27 and 30 and May 3 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. most performances and 2 p.m. May 5 at Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit $25 to $270.

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The Partridge Family said it best, "Come on get happy."
Graphic by Steve March/Prestige Graphics
Come on get happy and let it all hang out by celebrating a mutual affinity for Mary Jane in the first annual International 420 Love Fest. Now we all know marijuana is illegal in Texas, but it's still cool to get together with like-minded stoners and dream about a different future, one where possession is decriminalized and everybody is mellow. In the meantime, join organizer Rising Son Productions and head out to Peggy Park for DJs, live bands, arts and crafts vendors, and international foods in this inaugural love fest.

International 420 Love Fest is scheduled for April 20 from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Peggy Park, 4101 Almeda. For information, visit $15 to $30.

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The 4th Annual Carpocalypse Car & Bike Show is a pet-friendly event presented by Houston Zombie Walk. A tip of the hat to top sponsor Bud Light.
Photo by Mike O Neil, Houston Zombie Walk
From the folks who brought us zombies and put the fun in Halloween, get ready for Armageddon. The 4th Annual Carpocalypse Car & Bike Show is where the baddest cars, trucks and motorcycles compete in 17 classes with killer trophies. Houston Zombie Walk has arranged for all kinds of fun: music, vendors, moonwalks, food trucks and beer, plus Pup Squad Animal Rescue will be on hand with adoptable besties. Hosting venue Harrisburg Arts Museum took top honors for Best Mural in Best of Houston® 2019, and that love of art continues with a live art competition. Plus, vehicle entry fees benefit the 2020 Too Ghoul For School Education Fund.

The Carpocalypse Car & Bike Show is scheduled for April 20 from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Harrisburg Arts Museum, 4200 Harrisburg. For information, visit Free to 450.
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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