Party on the Plaza Is Going Virtual to Benefit Houston Food Bank

Austin-based Grammy winners Grupo Fantasma will perform the benefit show
Austin-based Grammy winners Grupo Fantasma will perform the benefit show Photo by Sara Bork, courtesy of Hometown Social

Back in February, Houston First Corporation unveiled plans for the 2020 spring version of the popular live concert series, Party on the Plaza. Thursday night shows from late March to early May were scheduled to bring diverse music acts and Houston music fans to Avenida Houston.

The pandemic stopped those free live shows before they ever started, but the Party will go on. Houston First is teaming with KHOU 11 to present the Party on the Plaza Virtual Benefit Concert. Local dignitaries and music acts – including several from the originally-planned concert series – will appear on the Saturday, May 2 event. The concert will benefit Houston Food Bank.

“Thanks to our partner KHOU 11 and some very talented musicians, Houstonians will have the opportunity to safely enjoy great musical performances, and also help their neighbors during this critical time by supporting the Houston Food Bank,” said Brenda Bazan, president and CEO of Houston First Corporation, in a press release.

Deborah Duncan will host the event, which begins at 7 p.m. and will air on Channel 11 for an hour, with an extended digital stream on the station’s YouTube and Facebook pages planned. An array of area celebrities including Houston Astros’ star Alex Bregman, rapper Bun B, HEB president Scott McClelland and James Beard award-winning chef Hugo Ortega will join Duncan and Houston mayor Sylvester Turner for the event.

The show’s eight music acts include Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham, classic southern soul band St. Paul and the Broken Bones, funk and soul group Robert Randolph & The Family Band and Seattle pop act, The Dip. Those performers were all slated to perform live at Party on the Plaza this spring. They’ll be joined by local favorites, and Party on the Plaza veterans, Hayes Carll and The Suffers, as well as Austin’s Sir Woman and Grammy winners Grupo Fantasma.

Party on the Plaza is a long-standing Houston concert series and has brought a mix of national and local acts to area music fans over the years, whether at Avenida Houston or across downtown at Jones Plaza. The War and Treaty, Robert Ellis, Ghostland Observatory, Bob Schneider and Trombone Shorty are a handful of performers who’ve played the series since 2017, when it returned from an extended hiatus.

The May 2 show’s focus on Houston Food Bank comes at a critical time. According to press materials, the country’s largest food bank in distribution is working at a 150 percent distribution currently. Last year, the organization delivered 104 million meals to food challenged residents in 18 southeast Texas counties. It estimates it is distributing 750,000 pounds of food daily during the pandemic. Those interested in donations to the organization, its volunteer opportunities or assistance are encouraged to visit the Houston Food Bank website.

Party on the Plaza Virtual Benefit Concert, 7 p.m. Saturday, May 2, airing on KHOU 11 and station’s YouTube and Facebook pages.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.