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

Country music legend Willie Nelson is out of a Denver hospital and feeling better. Denver NBC affiliate KUSA broke the news yesterday that Nelson was admitted to hospital, because he was "suffering from breathing problems due to the high altitude and emphysema,” according to an announcement made to the crowd gathered for a fundraiser performance at Castle Pines Village, a gated residential community about 25 miles outside of Denver.

But this morning, Nelson’s publicist says the 79-year-old is feeling fine and will be at the House of Blues tomorrow night in Dallas.

Photo by KUT News

The Creative Director for South by Southwest Music has died. Brent Grulke died this morning from surgical complications.

Grulke had worked at SXSW since its launch in 1987. He became the music festival's creative director in 1994.

In a 2005 interview with KUT's Jennifer Stayton, Grulke explained the best way to enjoy SXSW and not feel intimidated by the festivals mammoth lineup of bands.

"I always tell people that if there are a couple things that they really want to see - just find a couple of things that you really want to see," he said. 

Larry McMurtry is perhaps best known for novels like The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment and Lonesome Dove; but the author also has a career as a bookseller.

His store, Booked Up, spills across four buildings in his small hometown of Archer City, Texas, and houses nearly half a million rare and used books. But starting this Friday, McMurtry is holding an auction to whittle down that number — by a lot.

flickr.com/kevharb

The release of the 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival’s schedule grid wasn’t the only big Austin City Limits news today: Music festival producers are in talks with Austin officials to extend the popular three-day event by an extra weekend starting next year.

C3 Presents, the company that produces ACL Fest and other big events nationwide, would also donate some of the increased revenue it would gain each year, in addition to the amounts they already give, to help improve Austin parks.

“We’ve been discussing working with Auditorium Shores for almost two years,” Austin Parks and Recreation Director Sara Hensley tells KUT News. “It’s dusty, it’s truly muddy, there’s no grass there. For me, it’s just an opportunity to take a park area that’s just heavily used and make it a lot better and a lot more vibrant for the community and visitors.”

Vania Stoyanova

Deborah Harkness isn’t as well known as J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer. But with the publication of “Shadow of Night,” the second tome in her supernatural “All Souls” trilogy, that may be about to change.

“Shadow of Night” picks up right where her last book, “A Discovery of Witches,” left off, with heroine Diana Bishop and her vampire lover, Matthew Roydon, pulling off a daring escape. But she soon learns her escape – which sends her through time to 16th century England – poses additional threats.

Set in a supernatural world where demons, vampires and witches intermingle and overlap with the  historical figures Harkness studies as a professor, the “All Souls” trilogy has already been acquired by Hollywood. KUT News recently spoke with Harkness on her work, its reception, and what’s next.

The Austin Film Society is using a $75,000 grant to come up with a plan for incorporating another building into the Austin Studios campus at the former Mueller Airport.

The National Endowment for the Arts grant will go towards redeveloping the old National Guard building at Mueller into a space for the community and filmmakers to come together.

AFS Deputy Director Sarah Ann Mockbee says Austin has a vibrant film scene but, right now, it’s not that accessible to everyone.

Run–D.M.C. Reunion Headlines Fun Fun Fun Fest

Jul 10, 2012

In its second year at Auditorium Shores, underground music festival Fun Fun Fun Fest continues to grow. This morning, festival organizers Transmission Entertainment announced seminal New York hip hop group Run–D.M.C. will play the festival this fall. Fun Fun Fun Fest gets underway November 2.

Serendipiddy http://www.flickr.com/photos/40274854@N08/6568751975/

UT Regents meet Wednesday, and among the items they’ll consider is KUT’s request to purchase KXBT 98.9 FM Radio from Border Media Business Trust.  KUT management told us they have no comment at this time.

flickr.com/loudtiger

Two Austin public art projects were named among the nation's 50 best in Americans for the Arts2012 Public Art Year in Review.

James Edward Talbot’s “Your Essential Magnificence” on South Congress, and Chris Levack’s “Trilobite Shade” and “Iron Wave” for the Austin BMX and Skate Park at House Park were selected from hundreds of entries across the country.

Americans for the Arts announced its selected projects at their annual convention in San Antonio earlier this month.

flickr.com/annaustin

Comedian Dave Chappelle – who after massive success with his “Chappelle’s Show” TV series shunned the spotlight – is performing in Austin tonight.

Chappelle will be performing at the Paramount Theater at 8 p.m. tonight, in an appearance just announced this morning. After turning his back on his provocative comedy series in 2005, Chappelle has instead focused on standup comedy, often playing “secret” shows like this one just announced.

flickr.com/hayesandjenn

After an absence last year, the Austin Symphony Orchestra is returning to Auditorium Shores to ring in the Fourth of July.

The symphony announced today that it would host its 36th annual Independence Day concert along the shores of Lady Bird Lake – complete with fireworks – after the event was called off last year.

“We were in the middle of just a terrible drought, and pretty much within the last two and a half weeks or so [before July 4, 2011], the fire marshal decided that fireworks would not be in the best interest of any event at that particular time,” Anthony Corroa, executive director of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, tells KUT News. The decision set off a reaction leading to the event’s cancelation, but Corroa anticipates an all-clear this year. “In the off chance that fireworks get canceled,” he adds, “the concert will go on regardless.”

If you see the new Wes Anderson movie Moonrise Kingdom, you'll hear background music from composers Benjamin Britten and Alexandre Desplat, as well as several songs from Hank Williams.

Photo by Paul Woodruff for KUT News

Red Hot Chili Peppers lead the line-up of artists and bands performing at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival. The official list was released this morning.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse, The Black Keys, Jack White, and Florence + The Machine are the other headliners.

The festival is October 12-14 this year.

The Complete Line-Up:

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Neil Young and Crazy Horse
  • The Black Keys
  • Jack White
  • Florence + The Machine

Photo by KUT Austin; lotto image courtesy aclfestival.com; graphic by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The 2012 lineup for the Austin City Limits Music Festival will be announced tomorrow. But, thanks to festival promoters and some silver-fingered Austinites, we’ve gotten a few previews of the lineup.

Over the weekend, festival fans started buying lotto-style scratch tickets for a chance to win passes and more. The tickets also revealed the names of attending bands. Each of the following bands were featured on the tickets, confirming their appearances at ACL this October (barring any cancelations, of course):

  • Quiet Company, Punch Brothers, Steve Earle, Bon Iver, Alabama Shakes, Freelance Whales, Kimbra, Barrington Levy, Jack White, Black Keys, Andrew Bird, Esperanza Spalding, A-Trak, Zola Jesus (via diffuser.fm)

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues

On Saturday, the Austin Poetry Society is kicking off its Poetry with Wheels contest. Open to anyone 18 or older, the winner’s poem will be posted on the placards lining the inside of Capital Metro buses.

"The Poetry with Wheels contest is not just for professional poets," the society writes on its website. "All members of the Austin community are encouraged to enter."

Although there’s no restriction poem topics or the amount of poems you can submit, the Poetry Society has four guidelines for submissions:

Photo courtesy Amy Gizienski, flickr.com/agizienski

Here’s a way to make your Friday workday more enjoyable: the Blanton Museum of Art has unveiled a new online database of the museum’s vast collection, containing records for over 17,000 works in the museum's collection. Almost all of the museum’s pieces have images on the database, and many feature historical information about the piece and the artist.  

It’s a dramatic upgrade from the previous Blanton database featured on the site, which only included images for some 150 pieces of art. 

New aspects of the database include an easy to use search feature, which allows users to search for works by keyword, artist name or nationality, period, or specific exhibition. It also features a portfolio of past exhibitions held by the museum, and more. 

Image courtesy Ace Books

Author Charlaine Harris may not be a household name, but her creation Sookie Stackhouse is. The spunky, problem-prone heroine of Harris’ supernatural fiction series – the inspiration for HBO’s hit series “True Blood” – is at it again in “Deadlocked,” the latest in the Stackhouse series.

Harris will be at BookPeople this Saturday, May 12 at 7 p.m. She recently spoke with KUT News about “Deadlocked,” achieving success after a tumultuous start, and her post-Stackhouse plans.

KUT News: “Deadlocked” is the twelfth in the Sookie Stackhouse series, correct?

Charlaine Harris: Yes, the twelfth, the penultimate book. I just felt like I had said everything about Sookie that I had it in me to say, and I really don’t like to extend the series when the heat isn’t in me.

Photo courtesy of Zirzamin's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/zirzaminnyc

In case you were wondering what Momo’s owner Paul Oveisi had been up to since the venue closed in late December, he’s been busy creating an Austin-themed venue in Manhattan.

Zirzamin, which is Farsi for “underground,” is located in a cellar bar in Greenwich Village and has a small menu that includes breakfast tacos (2 for $6), “Austin-style” chile con queso ($5), brisket tacos (2 for $6) and Lone Star beer.

“Ultimately, there will be music every night of the week. We'll certainly bring in some Austin acts but it's gonna be an eclectic mix of world music, funky ensembles, and surprise guests,” Oveisi told the New York City/Austin music blog IndieSounds. “It won't be predictable but it will be good.”

Author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, whose classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are became a perennial and award-winning favorite for generations of children, died Tuesday. He was 83.

Update at 2:30 p.m. ET: The news that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys has died has now been confirmed by the group's public relations firm.

Our original post:

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Outside Tyler’s clothing store on The Drag, anyone could try their hand at painting on a “Big Ass Canvas.”

Big Ass Canvas offered its first community canvas painting today, outside the Guadalupe Street store. The project encourages passersby to pick up a paintbrush and help fill a large canvas (8.5 by 6 feet). It was launched a week and a half ago by Zach Horvath and Travis Chafin.

Aside from the action on The Drag, canvases will also be available at spots on South Congress and the pedestrian bridge over Lady Bird Lake, as well as at a final celebratory event. Then, the four canvases will be auctioned off to raise money for Explore Austin, a mentoring program with an emphasis on the outdoors.

Photo courtesy of Austin Food & Wine Festival

Andrew Zimmern, the host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods (where he's made a name for himself eating exotic things like fermented beetle anus), heaped some praise on the local food scene at the Austin Food Festival this weekend. But while Zimmern is fond of many Austin chefs, farmers and restaurants, he saves the highest praise for Austinites themselves.

KUT: So tell us why you're here at this food festival in Austin.

Andrew Zimmern: "I think Austin has a very special food community in terms of diners. It's the diners and the Austinites that have created the atmosphere for all this amazing food here to flourish.

Every single person I've spoken to here at this festival, I think, gets it all wrong about Austin. Everybody puts the food and chefs first, and I think it's not chicken or egg, it's very matter-of-fact: the audience here in Austin is unique. They are willing to be experimented at, and they do not hold grudges against chefs that make mistakes or have failures, as long as that chef is willing to get back on their bicycle and start pedaling again.

Robert Caro writes obsessively about power. Fittingly, it's Lyndon Johnson — catapulted suddenly into the presidency "in the crack of a gunshot" — who consumes him.

The Passage of Power, the fourth volume of Caro's massive biography of Lyndon Johnson, is released this week. Caro has dedicated decades to meticulously researching Johnson's life, and the previous books in the series have been almost universally hailed as a significant achievement in American letters.

First Austin Food & Wine Festival Gets Cooking

Apr 28, 2012
Photo courtesy Austin Food & Wine Festival

Austin’s long been known as the Live Music Capital of the World. But these days the city’s also on the map for its food scene.  Today the first Austin Food and Wine festival kicks off at Auditorium shores. We sat down with Gail Simmons, a judge on Top Chef and a figure at Food and Wine magazine, about what’s on tap at the festival and why they chose Austin in the first place. 

KUT: What was it about Austin that attracted you and the festival here?

Gail Simmons: "Interestingly, I think both art and craft in Austin are alive and well. It's a young, energetic city, obviously partially because of the huge student culture here. And it's just full of great art and great design and great music. And it only makes sense that food would follow.

Over the last several years, we've seen a huge surge in great, creative young talent in the food world. There's been some great young chefs coming out of Texas, notably Tyson Cole at Uchi and Bryce Gilmore at Barley Swine just a year or two ago. Those are only two of them, certainly. But there seems to be a great energy here, a great mix of cultures and cuisines creating this signature style that Austin is really known for now.

The massive Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival came to a close in California on Sunday after two weekends worth of sold-out shows by over 150 artists.

One of those acts was the Austin, Texas, band Explosions in the Sky, which first played Coachella back in 2007 and has seen its profile grow since then.

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News.

Austin got its long-awaited glimpse at the new Willie Nelson statue on Friday.

The April 20th unveiling of the statue was captured by photographer Jeff Heimsath for KUT News. On hand for the commemoration of the eight-foot tall, one-ton statue was the Red-Headed Stranger himself, who treated the audience to a song.

Record Store Day is like a one-day-a-year time machine. On Saturday, April 21, independent record stores around the country will be mobbed by music fans anxiously lining up to get their hands on actual pieces of plastic with musical information etched onto either side. We can't help it. After spending the rest of the year getting access to just about any piece of music we want without ever interacting with another human being, Record Store Day brings out the collector in us all.

Next Monday, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, considered one of Major League Baseball's greatest catchers, will announce his retirement.

The news was first reported by the AP and confirmed today by the Texas Rangers, the team where Rodriguez made his debut.

Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star, won a record 13 Gold Golves. The AP reports:

Photo courtesy starz.com/partydown

In June 2010, cable channel Starz canceled Party Down after just two seasons.  The critically revered but little seen show, which depicted Hollywood hopefuls working dreary day jobs for a catering company, was co-created and co-written by UT grad (and former San Antonio high school teacher) Rob Thomas.

Tonight, Thomas returns to Austin to screen the show's unaired pilot.

Shot at Thomas' house, the pilot was used to sell the show to Starz network.  Besides Lizzy Caplan, the spot included the whole original cast, including Jane Lynch (who would eventually leave to join the cast of Glee) and Adam Scott (who got snatched up by Parks & Recreation). 

A lot of the songs on Kat Edmonson's new album, Way Down Low, have a timeless sound, due in part to her own timeless-sounding voice. But she isn't above revealing her influences: The song "Champagne," she admits, was crafted with a particular American songsmith in mind.

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