12 Hours In Houston: Bun B & the Mayor, Caribbean Festival, Graffiti Kids & '80s Mania

"Tryna see how much paper that I might gain/ While I still keep it trill in what I write, mayne!"

-- Bun B, "Let 'Em Know"

I've been told by some that I live an interesting life. Concerts, dinners, photo shoots, dancing, art... you name it, I'm about it. I don't exactly know when this became my life, shit just happened.

One day I'm a four-eyed dork working in the accounting department, and the next I'm running all over town and beyond photographing concerts and music festivals, reviewing shows, eating barrio food and five course meals, and making friends with just about anyone who I encounter. This was my Saturday.

1 p.m. Two of those people are Bun B and Shea Serrano. Both of them have played a role in the ongoing development of my soon-to-be world famous career. My first-ever gig for The Houston Press was a Bun B & Friends show at Warehouse Live back in 2009. And for the first two years of working for the Press, Shea Serrano was attaching his words to my photos (actually, it was the other way around).

And now I'm proud to support them on their newest collaboration, Bun B's Rap Coloring and Activity Book. The pair held a book signing Saturday afternoon at the best record store in town, Cactus Music. Even Bun's homegirl Mayor Annise Parker took time to stop by for her own autographed copy. Both the official and unofficial mayor of the city holding it down for H-Town. Simply amazing.

2 p.m. After the book-signing, I drove through downtown on my way to my girlfriend's house. The Puerto Rican & Cuban Festival was in full swing, with beautiful Caribbean people dancing to salsa and merengue in between rain showers, waiting for salsero legends Willie Colon and Rey Ruiz to take the stage.

In the shadow of City Hall and the downtown skyline, this yearly festival has become one of the largest and most colorful cultural celebrations that Houston has the joy of hosting.

3 p.m.I rarely listen to music on the radio, instead relying on Spotify and Soundcloud to fuel my earworms. It is not unusual to skip between rap, country, Tejano, and salsa/tropical as I drive from one side of the city to the other. On this day, I visit a small Tejano bar in South Houston to pick up a few plates of BBQ, which reminds me of a mix I found online a few weeks ago by a Dallas kid named DJ Turo

6 p.m. After eating lunch, watching a movie, and taking a nap, I make my way over to the Kingspoint Mullet Graffiti Warehouse behind Almeda Mall. A weekend-long graffiti festival named the Meeting of Styles is taking place, and paint, mud, and smoke fills the air.

More than 120 graffiti artists from all over the country are on hand to collaborate and paint their creations. No graffiti jam is complete without music, and a boom box pumping old-school hip-hop grooves with the artists on one side of the art space, while a trio of freestyle rappers showcase their skills for the camera in the main room.

Outside, a long alleyway is flanked by graffiti boys and girls trying to finish their pieces before the sun sets completely. A newer-model Chevy Impala pops its trunk in the center of the commotion, banging underground rap and Dirty South hip-hop. My senses are overloaded on all sides, and this makes me smile.

More with Marco After Dark on the next page.

9 p.m.I stop by The Flat for a quick drink before a long night ahead. My amigo Eddie is spinning smooth and chill funk, soul and hip-hop tonight. He is known as DJ Chorizo Funk of Austin's premier DJ collective Peligrosa crew, and recently won the award for "Best Body Rocker" at the Best of Austin Awards.

I also run into the amazing DJ Sun, who tells me that he recently took over the place, and it shows. The old gal is sporting new paint and decor, and a spiced up lineup of residencies featuring himself and DJs Klinch, Good Grief, and Dayta. The crowd is as cool as the drinks being poured at the bar.

10 p.m. Next stop is Grand Prize. I always run into so many friends here, either on their way out to other shows, or sitting at the bar until last call. Many of my graffiti-writer friends are here relaxing after a long day of painting. I speak to Sloke and Supher about joining them in Miami for Art Basil in December, always hustling for the next gig and adventure.

The jukebox here is a schizophrenic mix of country, blues, soul and rock: hipster to the max, enjoyable without trying too hard. At least its not one of those horrible Internet contraptions spitting out Top 40 all night.

12 a.m. Boondocks is always a good bet, so I head over to check out the monthly "Trashed" party with Grrrl Parts. The upstairs is packed as always, with couples and singles dancing and sweating to "moombahton, baile funk, trance, Miami bass, house," and probably several other equally cool and obscure genres. DJ Gab-E really knows how to pump the jams.

An older black gentleman here tonight -- I see him at Boondocks often; he doesn't drink, and doesn't seem to know anyone else at the bar -- just stands near the DJ booth, vibing with the music and bobbing his head. And that's all right.

1 a.m.End the night at Barbarella HTX. Tonight is '80s night, and the place is packed. The owners seem happy yet a bit surprised at the new club's fast success, assuring us that the bar will be fully staffed soon.

Already this is one of the most eclectic places in Houston, with young people of all walks of life checking their attitude at the door and dancing for the sake of dancing while inside. Out on the patio, the transvestites look fabulous in their fishnets, and the smokers enjoy the nighttime view of the downtown skyline. The music meanders between Madonna, Tone Loc, Salt N Pepa, The Cure and everything in between. All '80s, all the time.

2 a.m. From the mayor to the King of the Trill, graffiti artists and DJs, my day was filled with food, friends, festivals, and fun... fueled by and inspired by my old friend.



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