Memorial Park Performances
Houston Arts Alliance Local Roots, Global Culture Stage
Presented by the HAA Folklife + Traditional Arts Program
This year’s Bayou City Arts Festivals mark a new collaboration with the Houston Arts Alliance's Folklife + Traditional Arts Program. Working together, these partners will present the Local Roots, Global Culture Stage. Focusing on the diverse musical traditions that find a home in the city, performances will feature styles ranging from straight-ahead Texas honk tonk and buoyant zydeco to Nigerian highlife and Huastecan son music from Central Mexico. All performers are Houston-based and celebrate the music of their cultural community.
Mark Halata and Texavia: Saturday, March 23 @12:00 PM
Accordionist and bandleader Mark Halata has been playing Czech dance music since he was a teenager. Growing up he visited the dancehalls and church bazaars where the music continues to be popular to this day. The Texas Czech repertoire that he plays with Texavia is dominated by polka, waltzes and two steps and most of the songs are still sung in Czech. The group’s sound is heavy on the traditional but like any respectable Texas polka band, they’ll play a country tune or two.
Lady Beatrice Ward: Saturday, March 23 @ 1:00 PM
A native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Lady Beatrice Ward fronts one of the hottest quartets in Houston today. Her lead vocals are accompanied by the “Angelic Voices”, and backed by a rock-solid four piece rhythm and blues ensemble. Known for their fluid a cappella singing and soulful gospel repertoire, Lady Beatrice Ward & Angelic Voices have carried the torch of gospel music since 1982. She performs in church programs and special events throughout the region.
Trio Control: Saturday, March 23 @ 2:00 PM
This is a classical trio huasteco which brings together a violin, a huapanguera (an 8 string rhythm guitar) and a jarana huasteca (a small 5 string guitar). Mexico has a vast array of musical styles associated with specific regions and son Huasteco, the music that Trio Control performs, is one of the most popular. The music is unique to the geographic region of the mountainous range known as “La Huasteca” and is characterized by driving minor chords and high nasal vocals. All three musicians learned to play at an early age as a part of family life and have, after arriving in Houston, continued to play the music from their native state of Hidalgo.
Texas Johnny Brown: Saturday, March 23 @ 3:00 PM
The Houston blues man extraordinaire is truly one of the legendary figures in both the local and national scene. Though a native Mississippian, Brown began his professional career in Bayou City playing in Amos Milburn’s band in the mid-1940’s. He recorded as a leader himself and also went on to play and tour with Ruth Brown, Junior Parker and Bobbie “Blue” Bland. His enduring impact on the Duke/Peacock Record label, where he served as studio guitarist, is heard on the recordings of these same artists during the 1950s and 60s. Brown is also a writer of unforgettable blues tunes, authoring Bland’s memorable hit, Two Steps From the Blues, and the classic There Goes the Blues.
Conjunto X: Saturday, March 23 @ 4:00 PM
The group takes its name from the fact that all of its members are from “Generation X”, these gentlemen, however, have been making music for at least half of their lives. While they might be described as self-taught, they have in fact learned the musical style and traditional conjunto repertoire by admiring and imitating the playing of family members, close friends, and legendary musicians performing in the genre. Conjunto X plays regularly throughout the community at social and cultural events, local icehouses, and in festival settings.
Melloh Rhythm: Saturday, March 23 @ 5:00 PM
Based out of Houston, they have been playing together since 2008. As a former guitarist for world renowned afro-pop artist Femi Kuti, Melloh pioneered the Nigerian sound in the Lone Star State after settling in the city. Whether playing highlife, juju, sakara, or afrobeat, Melloh’s band moves seamlessly among these popular genres, taking the stage at most of the major Nigerian events held in Houston and throughout the Southwest. This is a rare occasion for the general public to experience the breathtaking soundscape of Nigerian music that Melloh & the King’s Rhythm perform.
Rajarajeshwary Bhat: Sunday, March 24 @ 12:00 PM
A third generation musician in the Carnatic tradition, Rajarajeshwary Bhat performs this style of devotional music associated with southern India. She was recruited by theSwarayalam Arts Forum in 2004 and moved to Houston to teach at the request of the local Indian community. She currently has a very large group of students that she works with throughout the city. She also travels internationally to perform and teach, and was recognized last year with a national teaching award for her instructional work in North America. Rajarajeshwary Bhat is a world renowned master in this genre of vocal music.
Disciples of Christ: Sunday, March 24 @ 1:00 PM
Honoring a long family tradition of gospel music making, the vocalists in the Disciples of Christ are two sisters and their daughters. Sisters Arlene Bell and Shirley Benson grew up singing in the church and in a family group. As adults, they carried the tradition on to the next generation by recruiting their daughters Shaniece Benson and Candice Jackson These native Houstonians continue to share their music with audiences across the state of Texas.
Mariachi Imperial: Sunday, March 24 @ 2:00 PM
Three generations of musicians from the same family form the backbone of this venerable ensemble. Active for over three decades, Mariachi Imperial performs the classic repertoire of rancheras, boleros and baladas from the Mexican tradition. Founded by the Longoria family patriarch in Houston, Texas, the group cut its teeth in the standard way, playing serenatas and quincineras at homes and churches across Houston. Now considered one of the finest mariachis in the city, the group has traveled the country and internationally with their music.
Miss Leslie and her Juke-Jointers: Sunday, March 24 @ 3:00 PM
This ensemble delivers straight-ahead Texas honky-tonk in the Houston style, crafting songs and covering standards that reflect the heart break and heavy lifting of contemporary life. The sultry blend of Miss Leslie on fiddle and Ricky Davis (longtime Dale Watson band-member) on pedal steel guitar brings together a rough-hewn country sound with unpretentious, emotional lyrics. Her last two CDs were lauded locally by the Houston Chronicle and nationally by Spin magazine.
Umbrella Man: Sunday, March 24 @ 4:00 PM
Headed up by local music icon Nick Gaitan, Umbrella Man is a quintessentially Houston band that mixes and matches the variety of Gulf Coast genres that find a musical home in this region. The group’s thumping bass, bright reed-y accordion and ringing steel guitar blend in surprising but always recognizable ways. Country, rockabilly, zydeco and conjunto are all part of the sound and song writing and the swinging, dance-oriented traditions that infuse their repertoire.
Step Rideau & the Zydeco Outlaws: Sunday, March 24 @ 5:00 PM
A native of Southwestern Louisiana but a longtime Houstonian nonetheless, Step Rideau is one of the strongest representatives of the nouveau zydeco sound. Fusing traditional la la music with the super urban vibe of contemporary Houston, Rideau performs at dancehalls for large crowds who take the opportunity to dance the night away. A popular group on the Creole Catholic circuit of church dances, The Zydeco Outlaws play Houston regularly, but also throughout the Gulf Coast region.
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