Joyful Noise

After a run of tough times, the Tontons and their frontwoman Asli Omar are back, with a new record on deck and a happy new perspective in mind.

Todd Spoth
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A couple of years ago, The Tontons’ stylish, freespirited lead singer Asli Omar, 27, was included in a Visit Houston campaign that featured the young singer alongside a cast of other H-Town trendsetters like rapper Bun B and fashion designer Chloe Dao. Ads for the campaign ended up running in publications like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and there’s still a massive poster from the campaign at Intercontinental that Omar sometimes finds herself staring up at when she travels. “Every time I fly American Airlines I see myself and it’s weird,” she laughs. It’s reminder of how hectic and high-energy her life was at the time, and how things have changed.


At the time of the campaign, Omar and her bandmates Tom Nguyen and brothers Justin and Adam Martinez — guitarist Andrew Lee has since joined the group — were living most of their lives on the road as touring musicians and performing at venues all over the nation and at big-name festivals like SXSW. In one year alone, the indie-rock group pulled off 250 live shows. But last year, the sultry-voiced singer and her bandmates were forced to slow their pace when Omar experienced a serious health scare — the details of which she has decided to keep personal — that temporarily grounded the band and brought them all back home to Houston. “We were getting to the point where we were completely self-sustained,” she says, “and we were playing at better festivals and in better time slots. Then a lot of sh*t hit the fan all at once.”

The artist took some downtime to heal and try some new things — she’s done a little touring with another act, Chicago’s brother-sister reggae-pop duo Wild Belle, with whom she performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon —and started recording the Tontons’ third full album, which is slated to drop in January. The band’s change of pace and subsequent change of perspective has had a profound impact on their new music.

“It’s much more optimistic and hopeful,” says Omar, a former art student who still enjoys painting, as well as tooling around the Museum District on her bicycle. “Its lyrical content is much more aware and less selfinvolved. Going through everything I did last year has changed the way I see the world in such a drastic way that it couldn’t help but be reflected in the new music that I’m making.”

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.

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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.

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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.

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