When Downtown's Angelika Film Center closed under cover of night one August weekend last year, it felt like the final nail in the coffin of both the increasingly vacant Bayou Place and the indie film scene in Houston, leaving us just River Oaks Theatre and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, for screenings. But in swept leading man Robert Redford, who even in his seventies is still playing the knight in shining armor. His Sundance Cinemas announced this spring that the former Angelika would mark the company's third theater location, reviving Bayou Place's potential as an entertainment district. Following renovations, the new theater is scheduled to open November 1.
Pianist Jade Simmons has added yet another credit to her already impressive résumé — international arts ambassador. A first runner-up at the Miss America competition in 2000 with a masters degree from Rice University, Simmons long ago proved that she is beautiful and smart. A recording artist for E1 (formerly Koch Classics) and one of only a handful of female African-American concert pianists, she is unquestionably very talented. And as the founder of the Impulse Artists Series, she is a generous mentor and guide to young, emerging musicians from around the world. In 2009, Simmons hosted the first-ever Webcast for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; this June she went off to Russia for two weeks to host the Webcast for the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. She represented the United States before an international audience of an estimated million-plus viewers (and looked gorgeous while she did it). Simmons has become more than an advocate for Houston's arts scene; she's our arts ambassador to the world.
"Curmudgeon" may not be quite the right word for Don Walsh. The Rusted Shut front man can be effusive and quite friendly, especially when we run into him at a show or in his random, rambling phone calls to our office that always seem to happen on Friday afternoons. Put him onstage with his long-running heavy-metal noise-rock band, though, and suddenly Walsh is as surly as they come. Rusted Shut's genre, as listed on the band's Facebook Page, is "FUCK YOU." Trust us, it fits — out of the dozens of acts we saw at this year's Free Press Summer Fest, the best time we had all weekend was watching Walsh flog his guitar and scream "Kill! Kill! Kill!" for several minutes. Now if that's not curmudgeonly, we don't know what is.
Sometime over the past year, plus-size singer and previous Best of Houston® winner YouGenious either decided that he was no longer content merely to be Houston's "Misfit of R&B," or that although Shakespeare may have said all the world's a stage, it was up to ­YouGenious to prove it. So he and some friends founded GoREALah soul, "Houston's only professional party crashers." Combining trespassing with high-spirited performance art, YouGenious and his posse — which usually includes a cameraman (of course) and DJ Juan 1, clad in a bear costume and toting a boom box hooked up to an amplifier — have shown up unannounced to events ranging from public-access TV studios and art openings to Free Press Summer Fest, to hilarious effect. Like their YouTube commercial says, "We go hard or we go home...and as you can see, we ain't at the crib." Hire them to crash your next party at www.gorealahsoul.com.
Photo by Mai Pham
The old Tony Mandola's space that abuts River Oaks experienced a dramatic makeover when Charles Clark and Grant Cooper birthed Brasserie 19 in a whirl of glossy whites, sparkling brass, modern fixtures and old-school charm. It's everything an updated brasserie space should be, with an impossibly long, marble bar and casual seating that almost belies its elegant menu. The food is so good, in fact, that preening, polished River Oaks ladies willingly endure the heat and humidity at a patio table for the Brasserie's mussels in Belgian ale and pan-roasted duck.

Best Of Houston®

Best Of