Jason Moran, a jazz pianist, composer and recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, is conjuring new sounds with help from the past. On Friday, Moran, a Houston native who serves as the artistic director of jazz at the Kennedy Center, will bring his touring “Fats Waller Dance Party” to his hometown. In 2011, Moran performed the show, which was commissioned by Harlem Stage, in New York for its first Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival. Waller, a Harlem Renaissance pianist, is regarded for advancing jazz music into the modern age with his “stride” style of playing, a variation of ragtime in which the bass lines require the pianist’s left hand to stride great distances on the bottom end, often very quickly. Moran uses Waller’s songs—his most popular are “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Honeysuckle Rose” as starting points for pieces that unfurl into Moran’s own compositions. A jazz combo from Moran’s alma mater, the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, will open the show. Perhaps in homage to Waller’s big personality, Moran will at certain points play with a huge puppetlike mask depicting Waller’s head over his own.
Discovery Green, May 16, 7:30 p.m., jasonmoran.com
Very, Very Strawberry
May is National Strawberry Month, and Pasadena, a suburb of Houston that calls itself the Strawberry Capital of the South, takes that seriously. The Pasadena Strawberry Festival, which was started in 1974 as an offshoot of the area’s strawberry business, made headlines in 2005 when its organizers earned a Guinness record for making the world’s largest strawberry shortcake—a 1,905-square-foot pastry. This year, the festival, in partnership with Kroger, the grocery chain, is trying to break that record. On Friday, the opening day of a three-day jamboree that includes a beauty pageant, a barbecue competition, and a mud volleyball tournament, organizers expect to assemble a 2,000-square-foot cake. After that, attendees can have their cake and eat it, too. And to finish it will undoubtedly take all of the roughly 45,000 people who are expected to attend.
Pasadena Convention Center and Municipal Fairgrounds, May 16-18, strawberryfest.org
Teeing It Up
The hometown hero of this weekend’s Byron Nelson Championship at the TPC Four Seasons Resort is twenty-year-old Jordan Spieth, a Dallas native and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. In April, Spieth tied for second at the Masters, and last weekend, he tied for fourth at the Players Championship. Perhaps returning to familiar turf will help him secure his second victory on the PGA Tour. But even if Spieth, the tour’s 2013 rookie of the year, does not pull it off, he could still get a win on Texas soil next weekend at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
TPC Four Seasons Resort, May 16-18, hpbnc.org
Start Your Engines
A street rod is more or less just another name for a hot rod, or a classic car modified and hopped up with a big engine to make it run fast—and loud. This weekend, the Lone Star Street Rod Association, which puts a premium on safety in a pastime that can put untrained drivers on the bad side of the final scene in Rebel Without a Cause, will celebrate its fortieth annual L.S.S.R.A. State Run, in Fredericksburg. This collection of more than 400 pre-1972 street rods will include games like washers and a toilet paper toss.
Lady Bird Johnson Park, May 16-18, lssra.com
Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium, is following in Carl Sagan’s footsteps with his National Geographic Channel television series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which he will discuss on Monday for his program “Astronomy Bizarre.”
AT&T Performing Arts Center, May 19, 8 p.m., attpac.org
Claim Your Steak
After a day of watching the 104 teams of backyard chefs compete at the Texas Steak Cookoff and Wine Festival, guests will get a taste at the 5 p.m. dinner call, when they can pick one of the chefs to prepare the twelve-ounce rib-eye steak that comes with the price of admission.
Downtown, May 17, 10 a.m., texassteakcookoff.com