For some mysterious reason, most people’s musical knowledge of the YMCA begins and ends with the dance routine depicted here and probably the last wedding you attended. But Houston’s newest outpost of the 163-year-old service organization, located at 5801 West Orem, wants to change that. The West Orem Y is trying to position itself as a community fine-arts center for the area extending from Fort Bend County and Missouri City to Stella Link, so among other things, every other Saturday it’s hosting evening concerts open to all ages.
Tomorrow’s “Jazz Family Night,” though, won’t have much jazz. DJ Jaime will spin some salsa grooves, and local musicians Eric Kaposta (singer/guitar), James Rose (drums), Earl Gillian (piano), Larry Evans (bass) and former War vocalist Tweed will play the blues and, perhaps, some zydeco. “I asked [Tweed] if she could stretch into zydeco, and she said, ‘That’s a stretch,’” laughs KCOH Night Train DJ Natalie J, who will emcee the evening along with West Orem Y executive director Kelly Raglin, who has a musical background himself.
Children 8 and under will have their own area, where Kaposta and some of the other musicians will conduct a brief music-appreciation session. Admission is free from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., and after that it’s $8 for YMCA members and $10 for non-members. The biweekly concerts are a prelude to “The Event,” the Y’s black-tie gala scheduled for January 19. Natalie, who’s also helping Raglin book the shows, says the first Saturday of every month will feature classic jazz (possibly including visits from national artists like Houston native Joe Sample), conscious hip-hop (both Christian and secular) and spoken-word artists.
“It’s quite cool,” she says. “We just really need the community to come out and understand what’s available to them now. I don’t think that branch has even been open for nine months.”
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For more information, call the West Orem Y at 713-726-1606. – Chris Gray