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The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 5 All-Ages Venues


The chasm dividing Houston music and Houston art is shrinking; more and more arts venues are teaming up with local musicians and/or DJs to add rhythm to their gallery opening nights. The CAMH, adjacent to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), is a perfect example. Besides showing contemporary alternatives to that of the mostly historical offerings of its elder sibling, the CAMH has been known to boogie down some nights; on special occasions, they invite DJs to spin inside its walls.

The CAMH even hosts music-themed exhibitions. Take, for example, Friday's anticipated performance by Jamal Cyrus in a series entitled TexasFried Tenor. His performance is part of a larger series entitled Learning to Work the Saxophone, proving that music and modernism can be bedfellows.

5216 Montrose Blvd., 713-284-8250, www.camh.org


The grass is the greenest at the family-friendly venue. Those aren't just cool, free, year-round concerts you'll get to see if you bring your lawn chair, children and pets to Discovery Green. It also hosts dance classes, fitness classes (Zumba!), writing workshops, movie screenings, recycling events and right now until January 27, ice skating!

1500 McKinney, 713-400-7336, discoverygreen.com


Its musical offerings are more Rachmaninoff than rock, but every now and again Miller Outdoor Theatre throws a curveball into the musical lineup: On Sunday, November 3, Miller had the honor of hosting guitar musician Benise's En Fuego concert and, just a week later, Israeli artist David Broza.

The current trend of mild, breezy weather (Houston winters are the best!) means that now is the perfect time to attend Miller's outdoor digs. Bring your kids, buy a batch of delightfully greasy (albeit a bit overpriced) concessions around the corner, then bury yourself in a chair or, if you arrive a little later, on the green grass

And like its commercial says, Miller Outdoor Theatre "is always free!"

6000 Hermann Park Dr., 832-487-7102, www.milleroutdoortheatre.com


What's better than daily music? Free daily music, where everyone from the kids to the dog is invited, and the only thing you pay for are food and drinks. That's the appeal of MKT Bar, a venue within a venue. Those not yet familiar with Phoenicia Foods, downtown's behemoth of a grocery store owned and operated by Houston's Tcholakian family, may not know about its adjoining bar, dubbed Market Bar (MKT for short).

While Walmart conveniently houses a banking center, a nail shop, eyeglass store and even a McDonald's feet away from its one-stop amenities, Phoenicia's MKT Bar turns a mundane grocery-shopping trip into a hub for great music and decent food. In addition to a menu of items, you have the option to shop at Phoenicia Foods and eat your purchased items at the bar.

Thinking about it, it may be a bit small-minded to mention MKT as a bar, despite the name and the fact that there is, in fact, a bar inside. What makes the place is the city's hottest DJs spinning, to "Tasty Tango Tuesdays" -- free tango classes! -- to Sunday's Jazz Brunch, featuring local jazz greats (Tianna Hall, Kristine Mills) who are happy to serenade you as you get full off the best in breakfast/lunch delicacies. MKT has recently announced its Saturday guest DJ nights. Eat, drink, hear great music and catch up on your grocery shopping: Is there any other place as rewarding?

1001 Austin, 832-360-2222, www.mktbar.com


Best of Houston Winner, 2012: For those who believe that the young brain should be exposed to all sorts of culture, Houston's one-stop spot is Super Happy Fun Land. Husband-and-wife team Brian Arthur and Olivia Dvorak -- who, in 2008, moved the now nine-year-old project from a Heights-area house to its current East End spot -- continue to bring in the sublime, the bizarre and the wrecked.

Along with touring acts like Nautical Almanac and Tatsuya Nakatani that carry quite a bit of heft in the DIY scene, the venue presents interesting and original local acts that range from jet-aircraft-loud noise to broken folk. Of-age folks can kill time between sets by draining a can of Lone Star (for a donation). Under 21? No worries, dude. Along with the oversize Cabbage Patch Kids statues to admire, there's also the left-field art gallery to check out.

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3801 Polk, 713-880-2100, www.superhappyfunland.com

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