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

Photo by Jack O'Diamonds

Legendary bluesman Pinetop Perkins, who passed away in Austin yesterday at the age of 97, will be remembered in a tribute concert tonight at Antone's. Perkins would often play Tuesday nights at Antone's before his death Monday of cardiac arrest, according to club owner Susan Antone.

Photo by kurtz

From the Associated Press:

Grammy-winner Pinetop Perkins, one of the last old-school bluesmen, has died at his home in Austin,Texas. His manager said woke up with chest pains and died of cardiac arrest at the age of 97.  Perkins was a fixture of Austin blues clubs, playing regular gigs up to last month. He played the piano with an aggressive style and sand with a distinctive gravelly voice.

Pinetop Perkins performed live at KUT's studio 1A in 2007.  You can listen to that interview and performance here.

Record breaking numbers of music fans swarmed the city for South by Southwest over the last few days, leaving behind a trail of beer cans and empty potato chip bags.  Keep Austin Beautiful is now trying to convince 4,000 people to help clean up anything still on the ground by Saturday, April 9.

Photo by Nathan Bernier

The epic ten-day party that crashed down on Austin last week has grown to the point where it needs to be scaled back, according to City of Austin Music Programs Manager, Don Pitts.  "We need to curtail it, and I think dial it back some," Pitts said in a phone interview with KUT News.

"Some tougher standards should take place, and a lot of the events that we saw, the promoters or event producers were pretty inexperienced in handling those sizes of crowds," Pitts told KUT News.

Photo by Nathan Bernier

Work crews arrived this morning to 1103 E. 6th St. after a fire disrupted a South by Southwest party at Brocca Gallery on Tuesday. The Austin Fire Department says the blaze caused an estimated $100,000 in damage and was started by malfunctioning electrical equipment. The cause has been ruled accidental.

The fire also closed Fast Folks Cyclery next door. The owners posted on their Twitter account last night that their shop is okay.

Continue reading for pictures and video.

Photo by Nathan Bernier

Tech companies, ranging from independent iPhone app developers to multinational wireless providers, are competing for the attention of South by Southwest Interactive attendees who wander onto the trade show floor at the Austin Convention Center. Free beer and cotton candy are among the enticements, but once that traffic is built, is the message getting across?

Photo by Nathan Bernier

Non-profits are using tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Foursquare to grow their base of support, and at a South by Southwest Interactive panel this morning, representatives of those companies spoke about what's worked and what hasn't.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News


Creative use of social media helped market the return of Pee Wee Herman to a national audience, according to the actor who created the character, Paul Reubens.

Reubens was interviewed at South by Southwest today editor-in-chief Mike Sampson. The two had a wide-ranging discussion about Reubens' three decade career and recent comeback. At least 200 people packed into a room at the Austin Convention Center room to hear Reubens speak as himself, not in his Pee Wee character.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News


Would you pay $10,000 and set up a boxing ring in the Austin Convention Center to promote an iPhone game? For Sam Shahidi with RockLive in Irvine, California, it was a no brainer.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant emergency have derailed plans for many South by Southwest attendees who work for non-profit fundraising organizations. Even those outside that community have been riveted by the scale of the calamity.

Photo of website by Nathan Bernier

More than 3,000 people were killed last year in the Mexican border town of Ciduad Juarez. But 98 percent of the families can't afford the $300 required for a funeral, according to Judith Torrea, who describes herself as the only foreign journalist living in Juarez.

Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

Many people blog, but how many get paid for it? That was the topic of Melissa Lion's panel at SXSW Interactive.

The most important thing is never to accept offers to write content without charging a fee, Lion said. The problem is bloggers aren't asking for anything, and marketers are able to get content out of them for next to nothing. Lion says the only solution is to say, "No."

Image by Liang Shi for KUT News

A panel entitled "How Not To Be a Douchebag at SXSW" kicked off the SXSW Interactive conference this afternoon, featuring four SXSW veterans and and noted members in the tech industry.

The four speakers gave pointers to newcomers of the conference on how to behave properly without making a joke of themselves. 

"Don't be a pitch," said Amber Osborne, Vice President of Head of Lettuce Media, who commented that nothing was worse than being hit with a drive by shooting of business cards.

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SXSW has opened the gates to the wave of creative minds who will flood this city for the next ten days.  But for many Austin residents, SXSW means one thing: downtown transportation nightmare.

Image by Sarah Reynolds

The chairman of NPR’s Board of Directors spoke with public radio stations across the country this afternoon about the resignation of Vivian Schiller as President and CEO.  You can listen to that statement here.

Dave Edwards of WUWM in Milwaukee said in a teleconference that the decision to accept the resignation was a difficult one for both the board  and for Schiller.  Edwards praised Schiller’s work for the company and for the industry during her tenure at NPR.

Image courtesy mirsasha

Alamo Drafthouse fans who snapped up last week's enormously popular LivingSocial deal of $9 for two movie tickets from Fandango are patting themselves on the back right now. That's because the local food and film franchise announced today in a news release that it is partnering with the web-based movie ticketing firm.

Image courtesy cliff1066 at

Fifteen previously unknown short stories by Dashiell Hammett have been found in the archives of UT's Harry Ransom Center.  Hammett, who penned such classics as "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Thin Man" is considered by many to be the father of the American "hard boiled" detective fiction.  The discovery of the new stories by Andrew F.

Photo by KUT

The City of Austin could launch a "creative industries ambassador" program to promote the works of local musicians and artists outside the city, and further market Austin's brand as an artistic Mecca. Two city council members, Laura Morrison and Mike Martinez, held an afternoon press conference today to announce they are getting the ball rolling on the idea.

Photo from the Sam Shepard/Johnny Dark Correspondence Collection

 Texas State University in San Marcos is adding to their Whittliff Collections on Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Academy Award-nominated actor Sam Shepard. The new Sam Shepard/Johnny Dark Correspondence Collection will include personal letters, photographs, taped conversations and a homemade film which documents the friendship between the two men over many years.

Image courtesy City of Austin and Google Maps

Artists have an extra seven days to get their act together and write a proposal to create public art at the new the African-American Cultural & Heritage Facility. The building will be constructed at 912 East 11th Street near Branch Street.

Sixth Street
Image courtesy atmtx

The cops just sent out a news release saying New Year's Eve will be another "No Refusal" night. Austin Police officers will forcibly extract blood from any drunk driving suspect who refuses a breathalyzer.  The policy will be in effect from 9 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Saturday.

It shouldn't come as a big surprise to anyone, given the APD's penchant for launching "No Refusal" initiatives anytime there's a major holiday.  More than half of the traffic fatalities over the past year have been alcohol related, according to police.

Not that you would ever consider drunk driving, of course. But you may want to plan ahead if you plan on going out for New Year's Eve. Calling a cab after midnight on NYE is notoriously difficult in Austin.  Wait times can be up to 2 hours, if you can even get through to a dispatcher.

Image courtesy of the family of Susan Bright.

The term “force of nature” can be overused. But Susan Bright’s friends say, in her case, that description may not be enough.

The poet, publisher and Barton Springs advocate lost a short battle with cancer Wednesday morning. She was 65.

Bright was also the founder of Plain View Press. It’s a publishing house for local authors, and it has turned out over 350 titles so far.

Irene Pickhardt was a friend of Bright, and remembers her deep involvement in community issues.

Maddox Reax

Dec 28, 2010

The slaying of Austin drummer Bill Maddox, a drummer who played for local guitar legend Eric Johnson, is getting top story treatment from local media.  TV stations have been calling the Austin City Limits TV show today, which shares an office with KUT, and asking for B-roll of Maddox's ACL performance from 2001. Expect to see glimpses on tonight's newscasts.

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

What better way to get one's mind off the recent cold weather than to think of the coming warm spring and the annual colorburst that is wildflower season?

Well...don't get your hopes up too high, according to a senior botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Photo by KUT News

Ever notice how the volume on your TV seems to get louder when the commercials come on? The US Congress sure did. And earlier this month it passed the CALM Act, which orders the Federal Communications Commission to figure out how to make it stop.

Zilker Tree
Image courtesy jmtimages

In case you haven't been able to explore all the Christmas lights in Austin, here are some YouTube videos of local light displays from this year. Should you feel inspired, you can follow this map to see more great light displays in person.

Round Rock resident John Storms has received a lot of attention for his LED display that is synced to music. It was featured nationally on Good Morning America and Storms was interviewed locally on Fox 7.

Here are some of his sequences.

The city had to cancel the Trail of Lights this year because of budget cuts, but there is another event going on in its place.  It's not quite the Trail of Lights, but it is bright, it's holiday-themed, and it's next to the Zilker Tree.

Flipped ON Christmas runs through December 23rd. It's an "extraordinary, world-class, light and sound experience that's being produced by Austinites," according to spokesperson Jennifer Hill Robenalt.

Gibson Les Paul 1955 with Patent Applied For Pickups
Image courtesy Gil Hembree

It's one of the rarest guitars in the world: A 1955 Gibson Les Paul with Patent Applied For Pickups.  The guitar has been appraised at $500,000, according to its owner, Austin resident Gil Hembree. It has some of the first-ever humbucking pickups, a type of electric guitar pickup that was invented in the mid-50s and used widely ever since.

The KOOP logo
Logo courtesy KOOP

The Austin city council passed a proclamation today to recognize KOOP radio's 16 years of public service broadcasting in Austin. KOOP delivers an eclectic mix of music and public affairs programming, all created and run by station volunteers.

Kim McCarson is the station's executive director, one of its few paid positions.  She says KOOP is the only cooperatively run station in the US.