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

The Best Songs Ever ... This Week, Jan. 26, 2018

Jan 26, 2018
Bryan C. Parker

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.  

Nick Wagner, Austin American-Statesman

A new downtown restaurant specializing in "modern Mexican" is luring customers with its fine dining take on a cuisine with close ties to Texas.

Is a place that could easily run $100 a person worth the cash? We asked Austin American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam about his take on ATX Cocina


Mindy Tucker

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Patricia “Ms. Pat” Williams, stand-up comedian, actress and author of Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat.

Williams talks about her journey growing up in an illegal liquor house, being shot twice, selling drugs and turning her life around.

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

Justin and Rachel Clemens sat down together in the StoryCorps booth recently and remembered the birth of their son Baylor.

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

Tu Russo was born in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1964, during the Vietnam War. Her father worked in the justice system there, and when Saigon fell in 1975, like many government employees, he was sent to jail, where he would remain for many years. In 1979, Tu, her sisters, and her mother left Vietnam, hoping to reach America. She shared the story of their voyage with her son, Ethan Russo.  

Jessica Attie

In this edition of This Is Just To Say, poet and novelist Carrie Fountain talks with Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye.

Nye reads her poem "Burning the Old Year," and they continue to explore the idea of what we take with us and what we leave behind as we enter 2018 through W.S. Merwin's "To the Mistakes."


Rey Parla

Landmarks, UT's public art program, is set to unveil a monumental new work by painter José Parla. The mural, titled Amistad America, is the largest of his career, measuring 25 x 160 feet, or some 4000 square feet. 

"I had worked on several large-scale murals before, so I didn't have a fear of how to approach it," Parla says, "I know how to do it somehow -- there's something natural that happens in how I approach it. But this was even larger than anything else I had done before."

A work this large is not created quickly; Parla has been working with Landmarks for the past four years to create Amistad America. He first created a scale model, and even that was a large endeavor. 

"I made this model in my studio, which is not so small either -- it's six feet by twenty-four feet," he says. "So I... transformed myself into a very small person in my imagination and worked the mural from that perspective."

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

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

Bobby Patterson

With warmer weather this weekend, you might be looking to catch some live music. KUTX program director Matt Reilly shares some of his suggestions, including Dallas soul man Bobby Patterson, San Francisco's Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and a local band called Mopac. Check out what they sound like with the player below.   


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

Joe Shaffer, 85, recently sat down with his grandson, Jerry Smith. To Jerry, his grandparents are known as “Ayee” and BB. Ayee shared some memories and some advice.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents a tribute to the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Featured on the program are former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, former President Barack Obama, and D’ Army Bailey.

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

Luis Cepeda recently sat down with his wife, Alejandra Lima, and talked about when Luis, then an undocumented immigrant, spent eight months in an ICE detention center.

The Best Songs Ever ... This Week, Jan. 12, 2018

Jan 12, 2018
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUTX

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

Tomar & the FCs

Psychedelic cumbia, loud local soul music, story-telling singer-songwriters and more can all be heard this weekend in Austin. We get live music recommendations from Matt Reilly with our sister station KUTX 98.9.


Rance Elgin

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Bishop T.D. Jakes, senior pastor of The Potter's House and author of Soar!: Build Your Vision From The Ground Up.

Bishop Jakes talks about your life purpose, entrepreneurial drive and personal/professional satisfaction.

Amparo Garcia-Crow Unveils 'STRIP The Musical'

Jan 10, 2018
Kate Blaising

"I started developing it in 2009," says Amparo Garcia-Crow of STRIP The Musical, "and I was only focused on one character at that point, which was Candy Barr." 

Barr, the Texas-born burlesque legend, lived a troubled life that fascinated Garcia-Crow. "Her story is incredibly distressing and transcending," she says. 

Los Coast

No cover charge to see many local bands this week as part of Free Week, an annual event to acquaint Austinites with local musical acts. We hear about some of those shows and more in check in with KUTX program director Matt Reilly. 


Cornell Marketing

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. concludes his conversation with Dr. Noliwe Rooks, director of American studies and associate professor of Africana studies at Cornell University and author of Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation and The End of Public Education.

Rooks talks about the making and unmaking of public education, the corporate takeover of education and school choice.

From Jeremiah Program, this month's Get Involved spotlight nonprofit:

Jeremiah Program - Transforming Lives Two Generations at a Time

Jeremiah Program offers one of the nation’s most successful strategies for transforming families from poverty to prosperity two generations at a time. Jeremiah’s proven, holistic approach begins with establishing a supportive community for determined single mothers to pursue a career-track college education. Through a combination of quality early childhood education, a safe and affordable place to live, empowerment classes, and life skills training, families find stability and a path out of poverty.

Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman

A new Spanish restaurant opened on South Lamar Boulevard this summer, promising to add to the city's limited selection of Iberian cuisine. Does it deliver? We asked Austin American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam about his review


Cornell Marketing

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Noliwe Rooks, director of American Studies and associate professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University, and author of Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation and The End of Public Education.

Rooks talks about the making and unmaking of public education, corporate takeover of education, and school choice. 

"I was just trying to remember how long I've personally been doing this New Year's Eve show. I think this might be my tenth one in a row," says Hideout Theatre co-owner and longtime performer Kareem Badr. "I enjoy doing it so much that I've dedicated every New Year's Eve to going and doing these shows."

Their "Big Bash" New Year's Eve show is a longstanding Hideout tradition, but this year they're kicking the holiday celebration up a notch or five by doing a full week of holiday-themed improv shows.

Taylor Johnson

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Michael Hurd, director for the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture at Prairie View A&M University and author of Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School Football in Texas.

Hurd talks Prairie View Interscholastic League, black high school football in Texas, and the players who made their way into the National Football League and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"Oh, from such humble beginnings," says co-founder Kevin Collins about the first-ever Blue Genie Art Bazaar. "We just had some space on the East side ... and our friends in the arts community were always struggling to find spaces to show work. And we had a big space, so we just put some walls together and sort of threw it together like a party."

La Pastorela, the traditional Christmas play about the journey of a group of shepherds who are following the Star of Bethlehem to visit the newly born Christ child, has been performed in Mexico for centuries. 

"It was done originally by the Spanish priests, and it was done as a morality play to remind people that angels and demons exist and that they can influence their decisions," says La Pastorela director Alexis Arredondo. "And it worked its way to Mexico, and from Mexico it worked its way into Texas."

CSPAN screengrab

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents a tribute to screen and stage legends Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Davis died on Feb. 4, 2005. He was 87; Dee died on June 11, 2014 at 91.

Davis and Dee talk about their careers, the civil rights movement, race-conscious issues and family life.

"The Interactive Deep Dive is a nine-month intensive that is bringing together people from all across the country and as far away as Spain," says Deep Dive director Jeff Wirth, "to become next generation leaders in the field of applied interactive story and performance."

The group is about midway through the nine-month process right now, with artists and researchers working together to learn more about the field of interactive storytelling. The hope is that this research will someday impact the way virtual reality and digital worlds are created, and how people interact with those worlds.

ELVERT BARNES PROTEST PHOTOGRAPHY / FLICKR

In honor of comedian and human rights activist Dick Gregory, In Black America concludes an encore presentation of an interview and keynote address marking the 50th anniversary of the Sweatt v. Painter decision, which successfully challenged the "separate but equal" system of segregation.

The program originally aired in May 2000.

Gregory died on Aug. 19, 2017. He was 84.

"We started about 25 years ago, working with the homeless, just directly serving sandwiches and kind of reaching out in the community," says Art from the Streets executive Director Kelley Worden, describing the early years of the organization founded by Heloise Gold and Bill Jeffers. "And as they connected and reached out, they brought pencil and paper ... and found out that there were some amazing talents living on the streets."

"The very first play I ever wrote, in 2015, was -- it's a long  title -- People of Color Christmas: The White Elephant in the Room," says playwright and actress Christine Hoang. That show only ran for one week ("Because that's all I could afford," Hoang notes), but that was long enough for the show to catch the eye of some folks from the Asian American Resource Center, which eventually led to a revival of the show this year, sponsored by Austin Museums and Cultural Programs. 

"So now, this year... ColorArc Productions is presenting this new iteration of People of Color Christmas to Austin audiences for free," says Hoang. "And we are touring the cultural centers of Austin."

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