D’Angelo

image     I can not recall the first time I heard D’Angelo, but his music was the soundtrack of my college years. He is one of the few artists that my college sweetheart and I could agree on. He was a traditional jazz head and had enough patience to deal with my limited exposure to soul music. I had opened my music collection from R&B and Miami Bass to a genre that fit more with my personality. Neo-soul became a genre that is one of my top choices of music ever since.

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Prior to the D’Angelo we know today, he made his first hit with the song “U Will Know” which was on the Jason’s Lyric soundtrack. D’Angelo has always stood firm not only on his talent, but also songs of substance. I racked my brain whether I had seen him perform before. I really can not recall. I have seen Angie Stewart twice and the last time I saw her was during the announcement of the Trayvon Martin verdict (literally in the middle of her set). I thought about that tonight only to eerily find out about news of violence in South Carolina after the concert. Artists like Angie and D’Angelo provides us with sounds to soothe us through these painful times.

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As soon as I arrived to Warehouse Live, I went into a peaceful zone. I was able to complete a 2 hour power nap, have a quick dinner, orthotics and comfortable pumas. I was ready for my journey. I arrived about 9:30pm and it took about 20 minutes for the set to start. Perfect timing because I would have been salty if I got there at 8pm (wisdom).

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The night was absolutely magical. I was happy I was able to see, despite it feeling like every tall man in Houston came to the show. It was quite warm but I didn’t mind working up a sweat for an artist that came to make you move. I also loved the diversity of the audience. We all have one thing in common, love of great music.

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Every single band member brought their piece of the pie. They all had talent and I loved the way the show ended, slowly dropping off to leave D’Angelo on the stage to serenade us while giving each artist an opportunity to be showcased. I did not want this show to end though I knew it would be only a matter of time before my knees would beg to differ.

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Thank you D’Angelo for passing through Houston. We love you. We are here with you through it all. Thank you for bringing all of you and we hope to see you again!

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Home at Ensemble Theater

I received an email advertising Ensemble Theater’s reading of Home by Samm Art-Williams. The reading was a national reading of 30 institutions paying homage to African-American Theater. Typically, I did not have a lot of time to research the show, but two things stood out, the actors and direction.

Cast of Home
Cast of Home

I have a talent for spotting  stardom, and I think my average is nearing perfect. My scout eye has been admiring Crystal Dickinson and Brandon Dirden (Houston’s own). I find it more interesting that they are happily married. The fact this reading would have them working together piqued my interest more. They both are stars in my eyes (even though I am late to the party).

My introduction to them began when I saw a show (somewhere) and read about Brandon in the Playbill. I believe he was being nominated for a Tony at the time. I kept scratching my head why I did not know him because he is my Morehouse brother. We have a lot of mutual friends but I do not remember him in school. Maybe I was in too many chemistry labs or stuck in the library pretending to study.

Crystal Dickinson and Brandon Dirden
Crystal Dickinson and Brandon Dirden

Crystal happens to be a friend of a friend…and when I saw our friend talking about her show on Broadway, I made a point to see the show (You Can’t Take It With You) when I was in NYC. The show was amazing. Though I was not familiar with all the actors (except James Earl Jones), I watched Crystal’s performance with a hawk’s eye. I was impressed. Yet, after the show, it rained like I was in a King Kong movie while in Times Square. I had to get out of there as fast as I could.

Crystal Dickinson and I
Crystal Dickinson and I

Yesterday, the storm warnings began for flash floods (a little irony), and I kept debating if I should see the show. I made the decision about 1 hour before the show because the rain had not begun. I did not have a ticket. Was working up until that point and had no clue what I would wear. I somehow pulled it together only arriving 10 minutes late.

I can not recall the last time I attended a reading. I am thinking at least 10 years ago when I frequented Hartford Stage. Readings can quickly lose your focus as it is bare – no costumes, props, etc. to add color to the performance. The show opened and I quickly realized this was going to be wonderful. The characters were based in Crossroads, NC and of course they would open in a gospel hymn (that was in key, I may add).

I thoroughly enjoyed Home. Though I was there to support Brandon and Crystal, I was pleasantly surprised that Samantha West was also talented. Though my thespian days are very foggy in my memory, I have a gift for analyzing theatrical productions. My six years of studying the art never left me. The content of the play was also well written, but unless you have actors bringing it to life properly, you lose much of the steam. This reading of Home was the best reading I have ever seen. It was one of the top shows I have seen at Ensemble. Though I took a risk of nearly floating in a flash flood, it was worth every bit.

Happy Hour

Tonight I met a friend for Happy Hour and we had a bit of difficulty getting to a spot. Most of my favorites on my list were going to be difficult to get to because of traffic. I was excited to try out Eleven Eleven only to find it out it was closed. We settled for Rosemont Social Bar. Cute concept but the service was lacking. We went next door to Uchi and the wait was an eternity…so we settled for Paulie’s.

It doesn’t take much to satisfy the Bohemian in me. They had me at the wooden cases for their ipads/cash register. I love white decor at restaurants and there were plenty of white lines for me to at least pretend it was clean. I initially had a hard time finding a warm vegetarian meal….then after looking the menu 50 times, I finally saw panini. At last.

When the giganormous panini came out, it was already too much for me to eat (though after eating one half,I felt I could eat more…but had to suffocate my inner big girl). I was just in Atlanta where I had “normal” serving sizes. Eating in Texas, you forget that there is a regular size…then Texas size. Which Texas size becomes your new normal…which is actually abnormal.

I enjoyed my meal and hope that my leftovers make it until tomorrow. What also caught my eye was Camerata next door. It was a great wine spot a few doors down and also owned by Paulie’s. I see they have classes coming up and they all seem to be centered around wine. There is even one around Cider. Uhm, did the memo go out about my obsession with a good cider. Yummy!

So, though we did not make it to happy hour, I was pleased with my final destination. Another one of those hidden gems in Houston that I have literally passed on Westheimer 100 times. I am always excited to discover new places that make me feel like I have been there all my life.

Summer has arrived

June is coming in with lots of clarity, focus and warmth. Three of my favorite things. Unlike in the Northeast, summer in Houston is more similar to winter. Though activities pick up, many have a tendency to stay indoors until the evening because of the heat. We go into a mode of hibernation. Hence, this is a great time to catch up on things that spring flings may have thrown us off schedule (we had a beautiful spring despite all of the allergy issues).

I am grateful that we have a few days with no rain. I am sad I will miss the Free Press Houston concert and Caribbean Heritage Celebration this weekend. Yet, with the end of school, I am happy I don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn. This is my time of reflection and planning and optimizing on the best things to do in Houston.

Don’t forget to check out the calendar to see events added daily.

National Small Business Week Reception with Walker’s Legacy

May 4, 2015
Contact: info@walkerslegacy.com

Walker’s Legacy & Google Celebrate Women of Color for National Small Business Week

(Washington, DC) – In an effort to celebrate the achievements of the fastest growing entrepreneurial segments of in the country – African American and Hispanic women – Walker’s Legacy, a national women in business collective founded in 2009, is proud to partner with Accelerate with Google to host programs to support women of color in business throughout the country for National Walker’s Legacy Day, May 7, 2015.

Established in 1963, National Small Business Week recognizes the contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout the country, formalized through Presidential proclamation.

Today more than half of all American’s owning or working for a small business.   According a report by the Minority Business Development Agency, diverse women-owned businesses are the fastest growing entrepreneurial segment in the country accounted for 2.2 million of the 5.8 million minority-owned firms in the US, 186 billion dollars in gross receipts and 1.2 million employees.
In total, the organization will host nine programs throughout the country including Chicago, Washington, DC, Houston, Atlanta and Los Angeles among other markets.

“African-American and Hispanic women are making great strides in entrepreneurship throughout the country, our goal for National Walker’s Legacy Day is to bring greater attention to our role as business owners and economic contributors to the US,” stated Natalie Madeira Cofield, Founder, Walker’s Legacy.

To attend the Houston reception, please visit http://bit.ly/1OVRcHu for more information.

About Walker’s Legacy: Established in 2009 and named in honor of Madam C. J. Walker, Walker’s Legacy serves as one of the largest entrepreneurial associations for women of color in the country.

About Accelerate with Google: Google is committed to making the web work for small businesses. That means making the web and all of our tools for businesses more accessible and useful. Accelerate with Google supports businesses in communities that are underrepresented on the web, growing diversity and inclusion in Google’s user, customer and partner base.

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Tiny Boxwoods

Yesterday, I was calling a friend for her birthday. She was on her way to Tiny Boxwoods. She described the restaurant to me and kept harping on their cookies.

I went to their website last night and was at first in awe. Then I became angry. How did I miss this gem. A beautiful garden, great food and awesome cookies. This sounds like Nirvana .

There are a couple of movies on the lawn events left that I hope to attend. We only have a small window before the heat and mosquitoes arrive. I can’t wait.

Update: Finally went. I am officially in love. Food was amazing. Ambiance was perfect. I saw stars, heard birds…forgot I was in Houston. The hostess Abby was absolutely on point with customer service. Meat and cheese board is FANTASTIC. The cookies….dangerous! Donuts too!