Archive for June, 2014

Juneteenth parade

Saturday’s parade in observance of Emancipation Day brought out the politicians, including Chris Riley, Sheryl Cole, Mike Martinez, Steve Adler, Kirk Watson, and more; Riley cruised by on a bicycle and Martinez walked the route in flip-flops. Police chief Acevedo traveled the route on foot as well.

The mood was festive, as always. Apart from the Wells Fargo team of four drawing a stagecoach, horses were few this year. Church groups, City departments, corporate sponsors including H-E-B, and small businesses were there. The most appreciated were the providers of music, including Spirit of the Drum, the Austin All Star Band, WAMM, and bands all the way from Hearne and Houston.

We usually watch from a spot across the street from the Fresh Up Club. This year we returned to the Gonzalo Garza Independence School, where we admired the butterfly garden.

There’s no way to capture the spirit, really, but these unedited videos and pix made the attempt.

Austin City Limits Taping – Tweedy

Austin City Limits - TweedyTweedy is in town tonight for a show at the Texas Union Ballroom. It’s Tweedy the solo project that includes Jeff Tweedy and his son, Spencer, on drums, not just Jeff. They’re backed by guitarist Jim Elkington, multi-instrumentalist Liam Cunningham, bassist Darin Gray and last night were joined by vocalists Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe from the Brooklyn band, Lucius. The ACL program pointed out that Lucius played the Bloody Mary Morning Party during SXSW 2013.

Tweedy is releasing a new album, Sukierae (sue-key-ray), on September 16th. This is his first solo album featuring 20 new songs. He joked that he had to wait 18 years to grow a drummer before he could go solo. I had decided to punt on getting tickets for the show because of the outrageous $80 ticket prices, but got to go to the Austin City Limits taping last night.

I last saw Jeff Tweedy solo at Hogg Auditorium in January of 2007. It’s one of the best shows that I’ve ever seen. Jeff Tweedy solo shows are typically an intimate affair. It’s just him and his guitar. He even eschewed the microphone for several songs at that show. The intimacy of those solo shows is somewhat lost with the backing band. It was also more difficult to get into the first three quarters of the show because it’s all new material that we’ve never heard. Jeff Tweedy commented on this and thanked the audience for sticking with him. His solo shows are also part stand-up routine with plenty of self-deprecating humor. He managed to squeeze a bit of that into his on stage banter, apologizing to Spencer more than once for possibly embarrassing the 18 year old as he spoke. There weren’t as many sing-a-longs in last night’s show but the crowd was encouraged to join in on “Slow Love”, one of the new songs from the forthcoming album.

This is the 40th season of Austin City Limits. Tonight’s show is an encore performance of Raphael Saadiq and Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. The Tweedy show at Texas Union Ballroom is sold out. They play Dallas’s Majestic Theater tomorrow night. Austin360 also has a review of last night’s taping.

Set List:

(Full band)

  1. Down From Above
  2. Diamond Light
  3. Flowering
  4. Summer Noon
  5. World Away
  6. Desert Bell
  7. Honey Combed
  8. New Moon
  9. Where My Love
  10. High As Hello
  11. Wait For Love
  12. Low Key
  13. Slow Love
  14. Nobody Dies
(Solo)
  1. Via Chicago
  2. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
  3. New Madrid
  4. Hummingbird
  5. You and I
  6. Please Tell My Brother
  7. Born Alone
  8. Jesus Etc
  9. Passenger Side
  10. I’m The Man
(Full Band Encore)
  1. Give Back the Key to My Heart (Doug Sahm collaboration from Uncle Tupelo’s Anodyne recorded at Cedar Creek here in Austin)
  2. California Stars
(Solo Encore)
  1. Misunderstood

H.M.S. Pinafore: this saucy ship’s a beauty

This production of H.M.S. Pinafore captivates. The orchestra’s bigger and brighter than ever (19 members counted), and so’s the chorus (28 members counted). Both the men and the women of the chorus excel, and for once the men get to dance more than the women. The orchestra is bold and bright, a true pleasure to hear.

Austin favorites Holton Johnson, Russell Gregory, Janette Jones, and David Fontenot reprised starring roles to great applause; Gil Zilkha as the captain and Carol Brown as Josephine, his daughter, shone. We attended the Sunday matinee that was preceded by a one-hour program for young people. H.M.S. Pinafore held the attention of children for the entire performance. There was no difficulty at all in understanding the snappy lyrics, so clearly sung, but there are supertitles above the stage for anyone who may find them to be a helpful supplement to the performance.

This show is crammed with songs that are not to be forgotten. Most are jaunty and funny; some are a bit more serious and are treated so (for example, “Refrain, audacious tar”). Pinafore will make happy people happier and will brighten the darkest day.

Remaining performances are: Thursday, June 19, 7:30 pm; Friday, June 20, 7:30 pm; Saturday, June 21, 2 pm and 7:30 pm; and Sunday, June 22, 2 pm. All seats are reserved; tickets may be purchased on line for pick-up at the theater (Brentwood Chistian School, 11908 North Lamar).

Thank you, Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin!

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