Life & Arts

Entertainment, live performance, food, cuisine, dining, theater, film, television, art, broadcasting, SXSW, and other arts and culture news in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

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On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents highlights of the 31st Super Bowl Breakfast, in which Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson received The Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award. Bart Starr Jr. and former NFL head coach Tony Dungy were also guests at the event.

In his acceptance speech, Watson talked about his family, his faith and his community.

Johnny Gill

Live music in Austin this weekend includes some disco legends teaming up with a local Latin funk band along with the Urban Music Festival bringing a roster of famous musicians including a former member of New Edition. We listen to music from those artists and more in our weekly chat with KUTX program director Matt Reilly.


Texas Monthly

Texas vintners are paying more attention to small details that add up to a better bottle of wine. Texas Monthly drinks columnist Jessica Dupuy speaks to us about why the state's winemakers are earning so much acclaim and talks about her favorite 30 Texas wines out of 150 she sampled. 


On this special edition of This is Just To Say, poet and novelist Carrie Fountain and KUT's Rebecca McInroy share Naomi Shihab Nye's poem "Kindness" and discuss the importance of poetry today.


On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Strauss Moore Shiple, project director with the South Carolina’s Olde English District, and Louis Venters, professor of African-America and American history at Francis Marion University.

The Best Songs Ever ... This Week, March 23, 2018

Mar 23, 2018
Shervin Lainez/Courtesy of the artist

The staff at our sister station, KUTX, scour the earth to bring listeners the best music. Each Friday, they share three of their favorite songs on Morning Edition.

"I moved to Austin in... '97, with the idea of making it to UT, which never happened," says Salvage Vanguard co-artistic director Florinda Bryant. "And ended up auditioning for Laurie Carlos and meeting Sharon Bridgeforth. That particular audition quite honestly changed the course of my life."

That audition was for the premiere run of Bridgeforth's con flama; Bryant was cast in the show under the direction of Carlos. Bryant didn't know it at the time, but getting cast in con flama set her on a path of arts education that she probably never could have gotten at a college. "[It] gave me an opportunity to explore my craft and become an artist that I didn't even dream was possible," she says. "Working in the jazz aesthetic and working under... two such strong mentors."

In the past couple of years, Salvage Vanguard lost its longtime theater space on Manor Road, and Bryant lost one of her mentors when Carlos passed away. "And I was like, 'okay, I need other artists to be being trained in this particular methodology so that I can continue to do my work,'" Bryant says. "So it seemed really natural to be able to bring this show into our season as a way of honoring my elders, as a way of honoring Laurie Carlos, who's now one of my ancestors."

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air Monday and Wednesday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.  

Walter Hokanson was recently joined in the StoryCorps mobile booth by his wife, Katherine. He shared some memories of his father, Jim, and talked about the long process of coming to terms with his death.  

Poet and novelist Carrie Fountain talks with poet Victoria Chang with about how her poem "Obit" allowed her to process the death of her mother.

Colin M. Lenton

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Amy Hill Hearth, journalist and author of Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York.

Hearth talks about Elizabeth Jennings’ refusal to leave a segregated streetcar in Manhattan, how the African-American community of New York came together to fight segregation in public transportation, and how a future president represented Jennings in court.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

SXSW Music often prides itself on its international flavor, but for some international bands, like Tijuana Bibles, it can be an expensive trip.

The Glaswegian post-punk band is in town for its first SXSW and will be playing a few shows throughout the week – just last night they played a showcase for artists from Glasgow at Hotel Vegas.

But all of that almost didn’t happen because of how much it costs to attend SXSW.

Montinique Monroe for KUT

The influx of 300,000 to 400,000 people to downtown Austin during SXSW requires an extraordinary amount of crowd control, both for event organizers and first responders.

Poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil talks with poet and novelist Carrie Fountain about reclaiming the power, beauty and wonder of a C-section birth through her poem  "Self-Portrait as C-Section Scar."


Bret Brookshire

For the past several years, playwright Kirk Lynn has been fixing Shakespeare one play at a time. "We started with Fixing King John, we have fixed Timon of Athens, and now we're fixing Troilus and Cressida," he says. "The aim is to start with the least-produced plays. Although, like anything, when you're digging in, you know, a band's b-sides... you find 'Oh my God, this is so beautiful!’"

"You know, the inspiration initially was [that] I was jogging and I was listening to the White Stripes play [the Robert Johnson song] "Stop Breaking Down," and I thought, 'This is so great. I wonder what Robert Johnson would think of this song?'" Lynn says. "And I thought, 'I really want to cover something.' And of course, covering something in theater just means adapting it."

Montinique Monroe for KUTX

SXSW is in full swing. And, amid the glut of free swag, wristband-only shows and viral experiential brand activations, there are hundreds of panels with pretty unbelievable names.

Take the quiz below to see if you can spot which ones are fake and which ones are real.

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin this January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air Monday and Wednesday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.  

Gene Rodgers is an outdoor adventure enthusiast and self-described ‘argonaut’ who was paralyzed in an accident forty-five years ago at age seventeen. He was joined in the StoryCorps mobile booth by his longtime friend Dennis Borel, the Executive Director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities. Gene shared some memories of his life and adventures.

Ones To Watch: Knox Fortune

Mar 11, 2018

Chicago’s Knox Fortune is a producer and singer who’s made a name working with a lot of hometown artists, even earning a Grammy for his singing on Chance The Rapper’s “All Night.” But Knox Fortune’s solo work is starting to turn heads too.

Ones To Watch: Erika Wennerstrom

Mar 10, 2018

All this week, KUTX profiles the Ones To Watch: seven must-see artists at SXSW 2018.

You might not know the name Erika Wennerstrom, but since 2003, she’s led the Austin-by-way-of-Ohio band Heartless BastardsThis month, she’s taking a break from the band to release her solo debut, Sweet Unknown.

Ones To Watch: Superorganism

Mar 9, 2018

All this week, KUTX profiles the Ones To Watch: seven must-see artists at SXSW 2018. Photo by Jordan Hughes.

You’d think a band with eight members living on three different continents wouldn’t really work out. But Superorganism does things a little differently. They write songs via email, a process that the teenage singer Orono says comes pretty easily.

Ones To Watch: Lo Moon

Mar 8, 2018

All this week, KUTX profiles the Ones To Watch: seven must-see artists at SXSW 2018.

A few years ago, Matt Lowell had a stack of songs he had written for a solo project. But then he met Crisanta Baker and Sam Stewart, and the instant connection between the three musicians led to the creation of Lo Moon. Lowell’s songs ended up benefiting from the extra input.

Host poet and novelist Carrie Fountain talks with poet Tarfia Faizullah about how the loss of her sister in a car accident influenced her poem "West Texas Nocturne."

Domingo Farias

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Elijah Watson, news editor for the New York-based black culture website Okayplayer. The word "woke," is an African-American colloquialism that is now defined as "aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues."

Watson talks about William Melvin Kelley, the man who coined the word "woke," how the word came about and why he took on this project.

Ones To Watch: Mélat

Mar 5, 2018
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUTX

All this week, KUTX will profile the Ones To Watch: seven must-see artists at SXSW 2018. 

Mélat is an Austin-based artist who’s influenced by a little bit of everything: Ella Fitzgerald, Mariah Carey, even the Ethiopian music she heard around the house growing up. It makes for an interesting mix on her latest album Move Me II: The Present.

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin this January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air Monday and Wednesday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.  

Lucille Harrell recently sat down in the StoryCorps mobile booth with Joni Rogers, a longtime family friend. Joni asked Lucille, who is 93, to talk a little about  growing up in Victoria, Texas during the Depression.

"It was started a few years back, and it's basically highlighting the history of Indians in America and their immigrant journey over to the United States," says Pooja Sethi of the Smithsonian exhibition Beyond Bollywood.

"I actually went a few years ago, when I was at my husband's cousin's wedding," she continues. "And I came out really emotional, because ... it was our history for the very first time. And I realized that Indian-American is a whole separate culture. I mean, you have India and you have America, but this is the first time that an exhibit actually told me that I'm a culture."

Lisseth Lopez

The staff at our sister station, KUTX, scour the earth to bring listeners the best music. Each Friday, they share three of their favorite songs on Morning Edition.  

Matthew Odam, Austin American-Statesman

The slow smoked barbecue famous in Central Texas is slowly spreading nationwide and beyond, but the entirely different barbecue out of Korea has already attained worldwide popularity.

Austin has a handful of restaurants specializing in the cuisine, and we spoke to Austin American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam about his review of one of them: Charm Korean BBQ.


Get Involved Spotlight: Travis Audubon

Mar 1, 2018

From Travis Audubon, this month's Get Involved spotlight nonprofit:

Travis Audubon was founded in 1952 by Central Texans who recognized the vital connection between conserving wildlife habitat and the ecological balance necessary for healthy, sustainable, and habitable communities.

Our vision: Inspiring conservation through birding.

texasrangerregister.org

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Christine Nix, assistant professor and program coordinator of Criminal Justice at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and the first African-American woman Texas Ranger.

Nix talks about being the first African-American woman hired by the Rangers, spending time in the Army Reserves and her 25 years in law enforcement.

"This actually didn't originate with me," says playwright Reina Hardy about Agent Andromeda: The Orion Crusade. "It originated as a devised piece. And normally people think of devised work as quite highbrow and... arty and a bit strange. Our show is definitely strange, but it's also wild and sexy and fun and hilarious."

Hardy actually came on board after being approached by director Rudy Ramirez, who himself had been approached by the aerial art group Sky Candy, who were looking to create a sci-fi sex comedy aerial show.

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