Every music scene should have a show like this weekly local hip-hop feast. Really, the rockers here need the equivalent: a show co-hosted by two guys -- club spinner DJ Chill and radio DJ/journalist/lore repository Matt Sonzala -- who know everybody and everything about the scene (note: Sonzala is an occasional Press contributor and the editor of this Best of Houston issue). They have a willingness to play records by anybody who brings 'em by, and the clout to score interviews with those who've broken big from the scene. The show is also on the Web, and it has interested listeners from all over the world. In the past year or so, Bun B has dropped in or called in regularly, Dizzee Rascal freestyled with the G.R.i.T. boys for a full half-hour live in the studio, scribes from The New York Times and London's Guardian have given the show ink, and Dennis Kucinich even dropped in for a campaign stop. Now, if only KPFT's higher-ups would give them back that extra hour they used to have.
The Houston offshoot of the fabled Austin Continental Club joins the ranks of The Godfather II and Superman II -- all are that rare breed, sequels that live up to the originals. Patrons hear local and national blues, country, soul and rockabilly acts at the funky bar, which offers old-school video games, kitschy neon signs and posters and, of course, Pabst, Schlitz and RC Cola in a can at the bar. Molly & the Ringwalds have turned Friday nights into a habit with their '80s covers, but regulars wonder if we'll ever see the return of Monday Night Bingo hosted by the El Orbits. If Kinky Friedman is elected governor, maybe the Texas Lottery Commission will have a change of heart.
Jennifer Wood, the choreographic engine behind Suchu Dance, has been toiling away crafting dance after dance for the past 11 years. It's been said that Wood doesn't make dances -- instead, she creates worlds where dance happens. She has directed ten full-length works and seems remarkably comfortable in the form. Her vivid imagination, combined with a natural sense of theatricality, makes for consistently compelling adventures. This past year, Wood's richly textured Roseburn took us to an imaginary tableau contest, and Maximal Schnapper conjured waves, gulls and all things beachy. Suchu's dancers are unique as well: full of personality, impish charm and organic verve. This past spring, Wood stretched her choreographic chops to collaborate with Infernal Bridegroom Productions on Medea. It was, without a doubt, a great match.
Okay, so Houston has some kick-ass museums. We've got the Menil, Contemporary Arts, Natural History, you name it. We're not hurting for good -- even great -- traditional museums. But only Houston has the NMFH, where the motto is "Any day above ground is a good one." From "fantasy coffins" to old-timey hearses, this homage to the dead-body business is rife with stuff you just aren't gonna find anywhere else. It's inexpensive, too, so why not pack the kiddos in the family truckster and spend a Saturday checking out creepy shit? Afterward, visit the gift shop, where, among other items, you can buy Undertakers Spring Water and a book of celebrity death certificates.
Readers' choice: Houston Museum of Natural Science
We define Museum District as being that area between Almeda to the east, West Alabama to the north, Rice Boulevard to the south, and Shepherd to the west, so if you think about it, there's a fair bit of competition for this sporty yet intelligent nightspot. Here's why we like it best: It's less of a meat market than the nearby Tavern; it's less cramped than T.K. Bitterman's; it has a better jukebox than the Harp; and it offers liquor, unlike the West Alabama Ice House. And it's both closer to all the major museums and a better place to watch a game than anywhere this side of PJ's on West Gray.
Burt Bacharach will forever be associated with the '60s. Tunes like "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," made famous by the velvet-voiced Dionne Warwick, defined urbane cool. They also do quite well in today's world of musical comedy, as Main Street Theater's production of Bacharach's Promises, Promises made clear. Spun by director Rob Babbitt into a lively froth, the musical, about corporate life in the '60s, featured a charming Joel Sandel as the much put-upon C.C. Baxter. There were also four stoogelike executives (is there any other kind?), played by David R. Wald, Mike Lovell, Robert Leeds and Terry Jones, who made life miserable for Baxter as he tried to get ahead in the dog-eat-dog world of corporate America. The goofy musical, about bad behavior in the high-rise world of big business, was just the sort of medicine our city of major corporations needed.
The undisputed college bar's college bar, The Ginger Man boasts a massive menu of magnificent microbrews. The CD jukebox has an eclectic selection, ranging from high-octane classic rock to London Calling. And as might be expected, conversation overheard here is as intellectually stimulating as it is slurred, but who would want it any other way?
What's wrong with classy every once in a while? This place provides a high-toned alternative to all those sports bars and trendy hipster hangouts that are so common. Elegant art on the walls, a knowledgeable bartending staff and a world-class selection of booze make Mugsy's an option for your inner social climber. So throw on your best duds, grab your best guy or gal, and head out for a highball.
Tamarie Cooper has become an institution in H-town. Every summer for the past ten years, she's treated the city to a brand-new musical episode of her ever-evolving, bust-a-gut-funny Tamalalia series, put on with the folks at Infernal Bridegroom Productions. And hip Houstonians have come to love her for it. Sadly, this year all the fun came to an end, when Cooper and her company of clowns put on the absolute last Tamalalia ever. So in tearfully fond farewell, we're giving the award for best original show to Tamalalia 10: The Greatest Hits Show. A smorgasbord of scenes from her previous shows, No. 10 reacquainted us with her love of bad '80s MTV dance moves, her obsession with bacon and her hilarious parade of embarrassingly dreadful boyfriends. While we're sad to see Cooper's series fade into the sunset at the relatively young age of ten, it's also exciting to wonder what she'll think of next.
Poison Girl's got a strangely schizo feel to it. Inside, the narrow bar and hipster/rocker clientele reminds you of a dive in Brooklyn's Williamsburg or San Francisco's Mission District. Outside, though, the whole vibe shifts Texas-ward. There are picnic tables loaded with glasses of Bock beer, pebbly dirt on the ground, lots of lush subtropical foliage...and the rear of Poison Girl -- that peaked white clapboard facade. What does it look like? You can't quite place it at first, but then it comes in a rush: Gruene Hall. Somehow, even though you're in the very heart of darkest Montrose, you feel like you're in the Texas Hill Country. That's one magic patio, folks.

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