Things To Do

The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Mardi Gras & a Caffeine Crawl

Photo courtesy of Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
All that glitters isn't gold, sometimes it's just really shiny plastic and that's exactly what these folks want.

Houston has long been a part of the Mardi Gras festivities and this year is no different. With it come the beads and the masquerade masks. The masks are beautiful, but the beads will get you into trouble every time. There are several routes to get you those shiny strings of beads that so many seem to covet this time of year; how you choose to earn yours is on you. However, you do have two events to earn your stripes beads at, one being the 106th Celebration of Mardi Gras in Houston, and the second at the Yachty Gras Grand Night Parade. Keep it classy, but whether they’re earned or bought, wear yours with pride.

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What will be bigger, the egos or the performance? Our money is on the performance.
Photo courtesy of Diamond Horseshoe Productions
Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra never shared the limelight but, through stage magic, they will now in Barbra and Frank, The Concert That Never Was. Sharon Owens and Sebastian Anzaldo come through as spot-on impersonators of Babs and Ol’ Blue Eyes — complete with costumes, live singing and a multimedia experience that captures the magic of these legacies. “It’s showcasing the male and female voice of the century. You get a lot of their songs as well as some comedy and dialogue. We poke a lot of fun at each other because we’re dealing with huge egos, but the music is timeless and that’s what the show is about,” Anzaldo says. All the favorites are on the set list: “My Way,” “That’s Life,” “The Way We Were,” “Somewhere” and “Don’t Rain On My Parade.” Don’t miss the end: The pair duet on each other’s music for a spectacular finish this Friday night.

8 p.m. February 17. Stafford Centre, 10505 Cash, Stafford. For information, call 281-208-6900 or visit $35 to $65.

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Photo courtesy of Jason Burton, The LAB
Houston is mega-underrated when it comes to designer coffee, says Jason Burton of the Missouri-based The LAB. “Houston is so special, and I’m a sucker for cities that are underestimated.” Burton is the creator of Caffeine Crawl, a jogging-, biking- and driving-based tour of boutique coffee, tea and chocolate establishments. The tour takes place in cities all over the country, and Houston is the only Texas locale for the crawl. “Austin receives a lot of Texas’s hype love, and the people of Houston seemed to want this more than Austin, so we went with Houston and it continues to grow each year,” says Burton. The 4th Annual Coffee Crawl in Houston is already sold out, so be sure to sign up early for future editions. However, at press time tickets were still available for the Super Bowl Throwdown – Latte Art Edition, a charity-geared post-crawl after party. So if your heart was set on the coffee more than the crawl, pick up your Friday night ticket for the after party, where you can still satisfy the taste of an espresso, latte, cortado or whatever your caffeine-based poison should be.

7:30 to 9 p.m. February 17. A 2nd Cup, 1111 East 11th. For information, call 832-962-7656 or visit $2 to $5.

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There is still time to pick your color-coordinating mask and bead necklaces.
Photo courtesy of Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Gambrinus krewe’s electoral process seems less contentious than ours, and the odds are certainly better. The royal court of five women and five men gather together on King’s Day. “They have a king cake and whoever finds the baby of the men is king for that year, same for the women,” says Kate Marx, who serves on the krewe’s board. She says it’s her husband’s fourth year as duke, and “he keeps trying to find that baby,” but hasn’t yet. The honor comes with a lot of glory: During this Saturday’s Krewe of Gambrinus Parade, the costumed krewe will toss more than 650,000 beads to 100,000 of their closest friends. “We have two huge semi truckloads of beads that come in from New Orleans for the parade,” says Marx. “If you want to feel like a rock star, join one of the krewes and get in the parade, because all of those people are hollering and screaming for beads.” Saturday night is the night to earn your weight in beads, so remember to get a good spot and keep your hands in the air.

6 p.m. Saturday, 57th and Seawall, Galveston. For information, visit Free to $11.50.

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Take the Mardi Gras celebration to the high seas at the Yachty Gras Grand Parade.
Photo by Darrell Picha
Shrinking violets don’t stand a chance in Clear Lake’s annual Yachty Gras Grand Night Parade, billed as “America’s largest Mardi Gras boat parade.” Sure, judging is based on all sorts of factors – theme, music, lighting, creativity and costumes — but it’s the enthusiasm that will take you over the top for the win. It was the hula-hoopin’, umbrella-twirling krewe of Cajun Seadation that snagged Best of Show last year. And whoever started that rumor about “no beads” needs to walk the plank. Maurine Howard, Ph.D., executive director of the Yachty Gras Foundation, assures us that the skippers are out buying beads and that people are already standing in line to catch them. Boats of all sizes participate — all it takes is proper insurance and an appropriately silenced exhaust system — which means we’ve seen everything from 100-footers to one brave soul in a rowboat. “It was really funny because he had a little lantern that was like a candle, and he just rode along and stayed off to the side,” says Dr. Howard. She says the boats line up in front of the Watergate Marina, then travel down Clear Creek Channel, past Clear Lake Shores, along the Kemah Boardwalk and then circle back to Galveston Bay. “They keep doing that route and they do three to four passes. It takes quite a while to do that many boats,” says Howard. The celebration and the energy-filled parade make this our best bet for Saturday night.

7 p.m. February 18. For information, visit Free.

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Photos courtesy of Houston Symphony
Hamilton’s gain is Houston’s gain. The Houston Symphony, while planning its POPS series, considered presenting a program of Stevie Wonder’s music. But then the soloist they had in mind, Joshua Henry, was cast as Aaron Burr in the Chicago production of Hamilton. No worries — the symphony went ahead and created R&B Mixtape, which features soloists N’Kenge and her opera-trained five-octave range, three-time Grammy Award nominee Ryan Shaw and three Houston-based backup vocalists delivering an invigorating program of soul and rhythm and blues, spanning James Brown and Motown to Stevie Wonder and Prince to Beyoncé and John Legend. “The POPS side of the symphony is a way to really spread our wings into all sorts of genres,” says Steven Reineke, principal POPS conductor designate. “We wanted to show off our R&B chops.” N'kenge, who once performed for President Barack Obama, will now grace her Houston audience with her range and style; the opportunity is there for you to close out your Sunday night with this soul-filled performance.

8 p.m. February 17 and 18; 7:30 p.m. February 19. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or $25 to $143.

Sam Byrd, Steve Jansen and Susie Tommaney contributed to this post.