Birthday Boy

Veteran H-Town rocker Stephen Wells has much to celebrate with his new project Birthday Club.

Daniel Ortiz
14_HouCityBookBirthdayClub_DOrtizPhoto_010618
14_HouCityBookBirthdayClub_DOrtizPhoto_010618

Letting go of childhood friendships isn’t easy. Just ask musician Stephen Wells, who grew up playing with his middle-school pals in the well known psych-pop band Featherface. The members went their separate ways after five years of making music. “It was scary,” says Wells, whose headful of shoulder-length dyed-blonde curly hair often peeks out from underneath a beanie, of the breakup.


But Wells used the painful experience to sculpt powerful songs. His indie-pop project Birthday Club released its six-song EP Lighten Up in 2016, having since played high-profile stages like a showcase gig at last year’s SXSW. And in March, it’ll perform during the inaugural In Bloom festival, formerly Free Press Summer Fest. (For more on the rechristened music blowout, see “Second Act,” at right.)

Birthday Club is ultimately a solo recording project, in which singer and guitarist (and avid skateboarder) Wells writes the music and lyrics in an intimate style influenced by British singer-songwriters like Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan. “I love ... how they sound so dark and personal, but then the strings and the way the songs are produced are cinematic and deeply beautiful and profound.”

When performing live as a band, Wells handpicks musician friends who he thinks will best fit the suite of songs. The result is an all-encompassing wall of sound that feels intimate despite the turned-up volume. “A lot of the songs were written by myself in a bedroom. I’m not necessarily imagining the songs being performed as I’m writing them,” he explains.

Wells says Birthday Club has been on perma-tour for the last year or so, noting a memorable gig at Philly’s Center for Art in Wood. A hundred people, sitting cross-legged and flanked by woodcarvings, took in Birthday Club’s sonic blitzkrieg. “We blasted them with sound and I felt really bad about that,” laughs Wells, “but it was weird and really fun.”

AT TOP: Houston rocker Stephen Wells steps out on his own with his indie-pop project. 

Art+Culture

SOUTH FLORIDA-BASED Italian shoe line Concetto Limone will make its Texas debut at a cocktail reception at Valobra Master Jewelers (2150 Westheimer Rd.) on Thursday, April 29 from 5-7pm. The evening of "All Things Italian" will transport guests immediately to the coast of southern Italian as they sip on Italian wines, Aperol Spritzes, Negronis and Limoncellos while feasting on an assortment of Italian hors d'oeuvres from Houston's beloved Tony's. Invited guests will have the first glance in Texas on the Concetto Limone line and the opportunity to purchase unisex styles on Thursday evening and all day Friday at a trunk show at Valobra.

Keep Reading Show less
Style

Pastries at Cafe Leonelli

CAFE LEONELLI IS now open inside the MFAH's Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, the stunning new wing that first opened in November.

Keep Reading Show less
Food

Abbie Preston Edmonson gives a special presentation this weekend

DESPITE SOME APRIL showers, there's still plenty of fun to be had! From art-centric and Earth Day activities to family-friendly fests, check out a rundown of the weekend's best bets.

LEARN FROM AN ARTIST Tune in tonight for an hour-long talk by ceramicist and Houston Center for Contemporary Craft resident artist Abbie Preston Edmonson about her creative process. She'll give a virtual presentation about her work and a special demonstration in her studio space.

Brennen's exec chef Joey Chavez (photo by Kimberly Park)

TAKE A VIRTUAL PAINTING LESSON OR COOKING CLASS Be inspired by the great state of Texas during a virtual painting lesson hosted by Honey Art Cafe on Friday night. For only $20, stream a two-hour virtual lesson and make a series of stylized mini paintings inspired by West Texas and Big Bend National Park. Honey Art Cafe also has supply kits available for purchase for beginners or artists low on supplies.

And if painting isn't quite your speed, see what you can cook up in the kitchen! Brennen's exec chef Joey Chavez leads a "date night" cooking lesson for couples on Friday at 6:30pm. Hosted at the restaurant, the socially distanced demonstration, which costs $150, includes a reception, followed by an interactive demonstration and seated dinner.

CELEBRATE EARTH DAY! Join the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center from 10am-4pm on Saturday for a fun- and information-filled day! Explore informative booths, nature hikes, fun displays in the Discovery Room, and Earth-friendly take-home activities. Or join Discovery Green on Sunday from 12-5pm, when the park will screen a series of short films about Houston's environment, host a panel about February's freeze, and showcase a live painting demo by local artists working on murals to decorate the park.

GO ON AN OUT-OF-THIS WORLD ADVENTURE Fifty-one years ago, the Apollo 13 crew splashed down safely back on Earth after their famously harrowing mission to the moon and back. Space Center Houston is celebrating that anniversary on Saturday, hosting two livestreamed panel discussions with current NASA experts as well as Apollo-era legends.And now through May 2, local NASA and Apollo 13 fans can check out the center's new spring exhibition, titled "Apollo: When We Went to the Moon," that looks at the legacy of the Apollo era through the lens of the engineers and astronauts who actually lived the experience.

FIND FUN AT THE INTERNATIONAL KIDS FEST Traders Village hosts Kids Fest on Sunday, with games, activities, interactive shows, live music, acrobats, magicians, clowns and more. Parking is $5, but the event itself is free, sure to keep the whole family entertained from 12-4pm.

People + Places