Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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.

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!

The circus: mejor que nunca!

Circo Hermanos Vazquez is back in town, set up in the Highland Mall parking lot, and it truly is “better than ever,” which is saying something!

The seats in the capacious and sturdy big top are more comfortable than ever. No bad seats are to be found. There’s an eight-person live band again this year to accompany the acts, and the volume is not too loud for anyone, including all the infants, toddlers, and older children at the show attended. There are porta-privies available as there are at most events in Austin, and there are also sinks with soap for hand-washing inside the tent near the food-service area. The lighting seems to be entirely LED and provides excellent illumination. The audience is allowed to take still pictures and videos, so long as no flash is used.

The artists without exception were most entertaining and the acts were smartly paced and well done. They included funny dogs, a beautiful liberty act with white and dark Arabian horses, Russian swing, balance performances, an ingenious act featuring diabolos or Chinese yo-yos, aerial shows, two outstanding clown acts, and more. We were spared the cliches of the “wheel of death” and the “motorcycle globe of death.”

There’s a fifteen-minute intermission, during which attendees may have their pictures taken with the beautiful dog-act lady and some of the featured canines, with the result printed on the spot. Following the circus, there were two other photo opportunities, with the clowns and with the beautiful dancing girls.

Remaining shows are tonight (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday) at 7:30 pm, plus Friday and Saturday at 6 pm and 9 pm, with the last performances on Sunday, April 13, at 2 pm, 5 pm, and 8 pm.

Prices are: adult general admission, $40.00; adult senior general admission, $35.00; children’s admission, $15; so-called “better seats” for adults, $50.00, and for senior adults, $45.00; with “VIP” adult seats going for $60.00. Radio 107.7-fm is stationed at Highland to give away free promotional items.

There’s no need at all to know any Spanish to enjoy this Circo Hermanos Vazquez. Safety announcements are made in English for those who need it; after that, words are completely unnecessary. See a few pix and unedited videos; go to the circus!

The box office is open every day from 10 am to 9 pm; tickets are also sold at Fiesta Mart.

John Mueller Meat Co.





This is just some of the signage at this wonderful BBQ place on Pedernales Street.

John Mueller Meat Co. was selling out of everything quite early in the afternoon yesterday.

We caught some brisket just in time.

There were walk-up neighbors dining under the canopy, along by SXSWers. Everyone was happy, and rightly so.

Texas Independence Day parade 2014

It was foggy and damp for today’s parade, but there was music for everyone: the Eastside Memorial band, the LBJ High School band, and a contingent from the 36th Infantry Division band of the Army National Guard complete with banjo and instrumentalists who sang. The Air Force J.R.O.T.C. from Del Valle was there; so were Shriners and a group of Vietnam veterans. There were no political candidates. The day was damp and overcast; spirits were bright. Search this site for recollections of other Texas Independence Day parades. See photographs and unedited videos and look for people you know.

Chuy’s parade: because kids need toys

Those who missed Chuy’s parade on Saturday deprived themselves of the sights and sounds of a happy occasion, complete with temperate weather, giant balloons, live music, good cheer, dancing and prancing, and the opportunity to donate toys to Blue Santa.

Among the delights were two pipe and drum groups, the Hill Country Plungettes, children on unicycles, the Austin Girls’ Choir, the airport float (a personalized plane with a face) decked out with wreaths and a Santa Claus hat, the Travis High School band and Rebelettes, the Veritas Academy drumline, Los Texas Wranglers, Miranda Gil, the Biscuit Brothers, Ruby Jane, the Hill Country Plungettes, the Summitt Lion & Dragon dance team, a contingent from the wonderful 36th Infantry Division marching band from Camp Mabry, and much, much more.

It’s not too late to donate toys or offer other assistance to Blue Santa; there are drop-off locations all over town.

See some videos and still images from the parade, and remind yourself not to miss that lovely informal fresh-air event next year.

Don Carlo: a grand opera indeed

Verdi's Don Carlo: Austin Lyric OperaHere for our enjoyment is a lush sonic treat in every respect, and a visual feast as well, with a fine orchestra, a lively chorus, and a uniformly excellent cast of singers in the leading roles, plus a production that fills the stage: Austin Lyric Opera has outdone itself with the current production of Verdi’s Don Carlo.

Don Carlo was staged as one of the musical events inaugurating the Performing Arts Center on the UT campus, but has not been performed here since.

At the Long Center on Friday, the temperature became chillier as the evening went on, so it’s best to dress for all conditions. Another reason to dress for comfort is that the performance lasts for three and one-half hours.

Tickets are still available for the two remaining performances (Thursday, November 21, at 7:30 pm; and Sunday, November 24, at 3 pm).

Anyone not able to attend in person may hear a live broadcast via KMFA 89.5-fm radio, beginning at 2:50 pm on Sunday, November 24.

This ambitious undertaking is also a strongly successful one and should not be missed! Anyone who loves music and theater is in for a great treat.

Princess Ida: Gilbert & Sullivan royalty

Don’t miss this musical and stage delight. Just five performances remain for the the Austin Gilbert & Sullivan Society production of Princess Ida: Thursday, 20 June, 7:30 pm; Friday, 21 June, 7:30 pm; Saturday, 22 June, 2 pm; Saturday 22 June, 7:30 pm; and Sunday, 23 June, 2 pm. All performances are supertitled. The venue is the lovely theater at Brentwood Christian School, 11908 North Lamar (see map).

Principal singers, orchestra, and chorus have never sounded better. Princess Ida serves up vivid characterizations and laugh-out-loud comedy. This is a three-act production. We attended the children’s matinee and, even though the show is a bit longer than usual, it held the attention of all ages from start to finish.

We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy a production of such wonderful quality, a theatrical pleasure in every way: music, acting, dancing, and wonderful stagecraft of all kinds. There are no bad seats and there are supertitles to assist the audience in following the rapid patter of many of the songs. These are far better coordinated with action on the stage than, say, those at the Austin Lyric Opera, where people sometimes laugh at a comedic action that hasn’t yet been sung or acted.

Princess Ida is obviously a labor of love, and the audience did love it. So will you.

Juneteenth parade 2013

It was a glorious day for Juneteenth festivities in Austin. A list of just some of the parade participants tells it all: city council membes minus one, Constable Danny Thomas, Margo Frasier, Kirk Watson, Andy Brown, fraternities, sororities, graduates of old Anderson High, Cheops Temple, church groups, more Austin bicycle police than anyone’s ever seen in one place, Spirit of the Drum, Greater Houston All Star Band, Austin All Star Band, the Manor Ace All Star Drumline, and a band we’d like to know the name of, KAZI radio, the king and queen of Huston-Tillotson University, car clubs, motorcycle clubs, the Wells Fargo stagecoach hitched with a team of six horses, Capital Metro, Fiesta Markets, H-E-B with its super-giant self-propelled shopping cart, and at least four riding clubs showing off beautifully groomed gaited horses, and much, much more, including representation from many City of Austin departments. The weather was beautiful and spirits were high, as toy-camera photos and unedited videos will attest.

Ramon Ayala at the Capitol

Ramon Ayala at the CapitolIn celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, yesterday evening there was a free concert in the Capitol grounds by Ramon Ayala y sus Bravos del Norte.

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.

We were so caught up in the moment that we didn’t capture many toy-camera photos or (unedited) videos, but we’ll never forget the magic. The Capitol grounds were made for gatherings like this!

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