Fortified by delicious brisket from Live Oak Barbeque, we very much enjoyed seeing the crowd assemble. Many could not resist dancing on the Capitol lawn as we heard such favorite hits as “No mas un puno de tierra,” “tragos amargos,” “casas de madera,” “un rinconcito en el cielo,” and many, many more.
As always there was much meeting and greeting. Congressman Lloyd Doggett took the stage and spoke briefly to great applause. Big news is that, in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, Ramon Ayala y sus Bravos del Norte will give a free concert in the south grounds of the Capitol, from 6 to 9 pm on May 15. Here are the FAQs for the event.
Henry Zimmerle and his conjunto have played many times at this event and are always a treat to hear. Our great favorites are Los Dos Gilbertos, and they never disappoint.
When we left, between 6 and 7 pm, people were beginning to pour in and there was already a crowd. Toy-camera photos and unedited videos can never come close to capturing the delight of this festival. How wonderful it is for Austin to enjoy this wonderful annual event, made for all ages!
The Austin Lyric Opera orchestra sounds better and better and the cast of singers is outstanding. We are privileged to enjoy a memorable production of Gounod’s Faust.
All begins well. Faust has the opening of the opera to himself, and Jonathan Boyd sings beautifully and compels attention. The scene-stealer throughout is Mephistopheles, and Jamie Offenbach commands the audience from his very first entrance. The silent-screen-villain business is made for him. Once the soul-selling bargain is complete, we first meet the soldier Valentin and then his sister, Marguerite, soon to be the object of the attentions of the rejuvenated Faust. The character of Valentin is essential to the plot and Hyung Yun is an example of the excellent casting of this production. Jan Cornelius, our Marguerite, is a fine physical actress and has a beautiful voice, employed to full effect. From Siebel (Claire Shackleton) and Marthe (Cindy Sadler) to every member of the chorus, the singing is delightful.
The music never loses its enchantment, but the embodiment of the plot on stage becomes a bit peculiar, even ludicrous at times. Satan and the three devilettes in red wigs, the tableau vivant in which the figures become animated, the insane asylum, and more just cannot be properly described, but must be experienced in person. Several members of the audience near us really couldn’t completely stifle their laughter, and that’s understandable. In addition, what began seeming to be a sensible utilitarian set and production design required two quite lengthy scene changes behind a closed curtain in the final act. The projection of various words in bad typefaces added nothing praiseworthy, either.
At any rate, there’s one remaining performance, today at 3 pm at the Long Center, and tickets are still available. KMFA radio, at 89.5-fm, will broadcast it live, with commentary beginning at 2:30 pm. The music is sung in French and supertitle translations are shown above the stage proscenium. There are excellent reasons for the immediate and continuing popularity of this opera. It’s always a treat to hear it played and sung so beautifully.
Even the many dogs along the parade route looked happy. Children appeared to be happier still.
Every group in the parade was a delight, and there was some wonderful musicianship. Among the extensive list of those in the parade, there’s no way to pick favorites, really, but we truly did love the Biohazard Brass Band, a super-sharp military aggregation, here all the way from Fort Sam in San Antonio.
Look for Rudolph’s Christmas tree lot at the corner of South Lamar and Bluebonnet; the big red-and-white striped tent protecting the Fraser firs and all the other trees catches the eye right away, even though the signs are still being put in place. This image shows new ornamentation for the sales booth. I don’t know whether we were the first customers today, but we certainly enjoyed our choice of the very freshest trees, aromatic and drinking water right away when set up ready to be decorated. There may be less expensive trees in town, but no friendlier welcome or better quality is to be found than at Rudolph’s.
The jazz band performed first, and then the 36th Infantry Division concert band, which appeared to be the jazz band plus many additional musicians. Another configuration of the band marched in the Congress Avenue parade earlier in the day. These are musicians of the highest ability. There can be no finer setting for music than the outdoor terrace at the Long Center for the performing arts, with its spectacular view of the downtown Austin skyline. The capacity audience was delighted from start to finish by the spirited and stirring music. Also heard was a traditional recitation piece called “A Toast to the Flag.” The jazz program included the best performance of “In the Mood” that I’ve ever heard. We were treated to a Filmore march (“Americans We”) and two Sousa gems, complete with piccolo embellishments (“Washington Post” and “Stars and Stripes Forever”). Musician and vocalist SPC Bonnie Wellington sang a moving “America the Beautiful.” Austin is indeed the live music capital of the world. The toy-camera images and unedited videos do not come close to doing justice to this occasion.
On the eleventh day of the eleventh month, it was a glorious day for a parade to observe Veterans’ Day. As always the valiant Cardinal band from Del Valle marched and played, and all welcomed the returned 36th Infantry Division Band. The image here shows the flag flying from a crane near the start of the parade, which began on the bridge and proceeded up Congress to the Capitol. Other diversion was provided by a picturesque person on a bicycle who did a good bit of shouting and told a police officer (at a rather high volume and close to the officer’s face), “It’s not against the law to yell.” Pictures of the parade taken by a toy camera and unedited videos convey only a bit of this spirited event.
Congress Avenue was made for parades; the Welcome Home, Iraq Veterans parade was made for Congress Avenue. On July 7, we marched up Congress Avenue to the Capitol grounds and then we returned on foot all the way back to the downtown side of the bridge. Many of us followed the wonderful band of the 36th Infantry Division of Camp Mabry, which sounds better than ever. It’s been a long time since we were privileged to hear this outfit. What spirit the band brought to the occasion! Five brass Sousaphones! Trombones out front! Mere pictures and videos cannot capture the event, but they’re souvenirs to remind us of the day and all the volunteers who created the tribute. Thank you!
This year’s Juneteenth parade brought together the largest number of club riders on gaited horses that most of us have ever seen in one place at one time. Missing dignitaries were Austin mayor Leffingwell and council-members Riley and Cole. The elected officials drawing the greatest positive response at our viewing point across from the Fresh Up Club sign were the county judge, the county sheriff, and precinct constable Danny Thomas. Only one marching band turned out, the Greater Houston All Star Band. The percussionists of Spirit of the Drum made lively music, and the ladies drawing sweet music from the pans were most welcome. Volunteers seeking voters to register were having a degree of success. We talked to four of them and saw more; they were covering the entire parade route. The best prize seen was a bouncy soccer-style ball bestowed on a child very happy to receive it. We came home with a new supply of souvenir fans to take to other free Austin hot-weather events and to cool us in the yard when we escape the non-air-conditioned confines of the house this summer. Toy-camera photos and unedited videos give only a hint of the always joyous occasion of the annual Juneteenth parade.
The current special train goes on to San Marcos, where the mayor will greet its arrival and a band will play. Thereafter, it will spend a few days in San Antonio for Fiesta, before moving on to Houston and, eventually, to New Orleans.