This Week's Houston International Festival Highlights

Beyond the ill-fated Flamingo Gardens Houston Showcase stage (see Racket, page 63), there is still a fair bit of quality music to see and hear at iFest. Here's a rundown of the highlights of week one.

Saturday's lineup on the Budweiser Music Stage commences with a Royal Indian Parade and continues with the sort of diverse lineup that has made this a can't-miss event over the years. Hard rockers Stone Coyotes follow the procession (see below), and are followed in turn by Indian classical/fusion singer Vishal Vaid, blues belter (and daughter of local hero Johnny Copeland) Shemekia Copeland and Texas treasure Delbert McClinton, who will be accompanied by Teresa James. As with every other day at the fest, the EV1 Center Stage will play host to Bollywood and bhangra dance extravaganzas, just as the H-E-B Cultural Stage will kick off the first of four days of spotlighting Indian cuisine, dance and fashion.

Sunday's Bud Music lineup is another good one, with former Grupo Ka-Che front woman Mary Frometa kicking things off with new group Mary's Band, followed by L.A. Latin/groove/world fusionists Ozomatli, bluesy world troubadour Taj Mahal (whose name if not musical style is singularly apt here) and Zap Mama, the Belgian/Congolese African-infused neo-soulstress and pal of the Roots and Erykah Badu. Elsewhere, day two's highlights include deep Creole zydeco band (and iFest perennial) Nathan and the Cha-Chas, and Rick Lee and the Night Owls, one of the rare instances in which a worthy local act takes the Flamingo Gardens stage. (Nothing says "Houston International" quite like a Fifth Ward-bred Chinese-American blues shredder.) There's also a strong assortment of local folkies (Kimberly M'Carver, Jack Saunders, Bill Ward and the Moe Hansum Band) on the Kerrville Folk Festival Songwriters stage.

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John Nova Lomax
Contact: John Nova Lomax