Jazz festival planned for Willow Waterhole

March 17, 2014

The Willow Waterhole Greenspace Reserve will be the site of 10 hours of free live music Saturday, April 12, during the 2014 Willow Waterhole Music Fest.

The program, set for 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., will take place at the reserve’s south gazebo, 5300 Dryad Drive, behind Westbury High School.

Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy and Brays Oaks Management District are the festival hosts. This year’s event will build upon the jazz festival held last year, said Howard Sachs, past president of the conservancy.

“The music festival is even bigger and better,” he said. “It’s really important to give people an opportunity to discover the green space, and this is a perfect venue to do so.”

Performers at the festival will include: Gisele & Friends, performing Latin music; Kelly Dean Band, smooth jazz; Kyle Turner, a five-piece ensemble with tenor sax; Texas Brass Band, New Orleans jazz; Warren Sneed Band, traditional jazz; Luther & the Healers, Texas blues; and Mark Dini, fusion with pop rock and jazz mix.

Also scheduled to perform are bands from The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Westbury High School, Johnston Middle School and Parker Elementary School.

Guests are encouraged to bring their own blankets or chairs.

The conservancy, founded about 12 years ago, is working to transform the 239-acre Willow Waterhole Conservation Reserve into a park environment.

When it’s completed, it will have six stormwater detention lakes and public recreation space.

Working with the conservancy is the Harris County Flood Control District, which owns the land and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.

The conservancy’s next annual meeting, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 27, will feature a lecture by John Lienhard, host of “The Engines of Our Ingenuity” on KUHF-FM and professor emeritus of mechanical engineering and history at University of Houston.

“The last time he spoke about bayous, and that was the best-attended meeting in our history,” Sachs said.

The meeting also will feature an update on the Brays Bayou flood-control efforts from the Harris County Flood Control District and an officers’ election for the conservancy.

Earlier this year, the conservancy coordinated a community effort to rescue native plant species from the site of one of the reserve’s future detention areas. Houston Independent School District agreed to provide greenhouse space for the plants.

The conservancy is in the process of hiring a consultant to help map a design for the reserve’s recreational area, said Ralph Rieger, who has been serving as the conservancy’s president since April.

The conservancy has been awarded a $399,999 capital improvement grant from the city to create the recreational area, Rieger said. Once a consultant is hired, the conservancy will start developing ideas for it.

Some specific plans are already in place for the reserve improvements.

“We’re adding a pocket prairie to showcase species that were natural to this area,” Rieger said.

The reserve also will be the site of a small education center and a memorial site honoring flood-control engineer Jack Rafferty (1896-1940), a pioneer in developing flood-control projects.

The Jack Rafferty Gathering Area will comprise granite blocks and two plaques surrounding a large oak tree.

Another priority for the conservancy, Rieger said, is establishing strong working relationships and partnerships within the community. He said he has been getting to know the nuns at St. Catherine Convent, a nearby Vietnamese Dominican Sisters convent at 5250 Gasmer Drive.

For details about Willow Waterhole Conservation Reserve, visit www.wwgc.org or www.facebook.com/willowwaterhole.

Source: http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/bellaire/news/article/Jazz-festival-planned-for-Willow-Waterhole-5308752.php