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.

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Austin City Limits Taping – Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails had their Austin City Limits debut on Monday, November 5th at the Moody Theater. The band currently features a bass player, four multi-instrumentalists, two back up singers and Trent Reznor.  We all know that Trent Reznor *is* NIN and that’s evident during their live set. He’s definitely the band leader and his control of the set from center stage is evident. His band is a mix of old and new members. One of the back up singers in particular was impressive.

This was one of the most uncomfortable tapings that I’ve ever attended. Apparently, the air conditioning was turned off and then later restarted at the band’s request. It was way too hot. I guessing the band regretted that decision pretty quickly.

They played ten songs from the latest release, Hesitation Marks. “Sanctified” was the only track from Pretty Hate Machine. “In This Twilight” and “Survivalism” came from Year Zero. My personal favorite album is The Fragile and they played “The Frail” immediately followed by “The Wretched” and later, “The Big Come Down” and “Even Deeper”. They closed with “Hurt” from The Downward Spiral.

The episode will air sometime after January 2014. Check the schedule page for air dates.

Here’s the set list:

  1. All Time Low
  2. Sanctified
  3. Disappointed
  4. Come Back Haunted
  5. Copy of A
  6. The Frail / The Wretched
  7. Find My Way
  8. Various Methods of Escape
  9. Satellite
  10. Running
  11. I Would For You
  12. The Big Come Down
  13. Survivalism
  14. Even Deeper
  15. In This Twilight
  16. While I’m Still Here
  17. Hurt
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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.

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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.

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Austin City Limits Taping – Queens of the Stone Age

Waiting for QOTSA at ACLQueens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) had the honor of, as Terry Lickona put it at the start of last night, “kicking off ACL Festival” with their taping at Austin City Limits at the Moody Theater, the show’s home since Season 37.

QOTSA have had a rotating line up over the years with Josh Homme being the only consistent member from the days that the band started after the breakup of Kyuss in the mid-90s. That being said, the current line up has been relatively steady of late except for the addition of drummer, Jon Theodore. All of the current members have other side projects or came from success with other bands. Both Josh Homme and Alain Johannes played Austin City Limits before with Them Crooked Vultures in Season 35.

They stuck to mostly tracks from their new album …Like Clockwork with eight tracks coming from that album. They played four from 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, which is my favorite of theirs. I tend to associate particular albums with different parts of my life and that one always reminds me of the time right before my daughter was born. I was listening to it in the car at the time and particularly remember it going to and from midwife appointments.  “In the Fade” was the only track from Rated R and “Little Sister” was the only track from Lullabies to Paralyze. “Misfit Love” and “Make It Wit Chu” from Era Vulgaris. I understand why they’d focus on the latest, but I would’ve liked to see a few more tracks from both Songs for the Deaf and Lullabies to Paralyze. I agree with some of the reviews that I’ve read that the last two albums tend to be less driving than the two more recent efforts.

The episode will air as part of Season 39 on January 4th at 7pm on KLRU locally. The band plays the Austin City Limits Festival tonight at 7:30pm on the Bud Light stage and at the same time and stage next Friday as a part of the second weekend.

Set List:

  1. You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire
  2. Misfit Love
  3. No One Knows
  4. My God is the Sun
  5. I Sat By The Ocean
  6. …Like Clockwork
  7. In the Fade
  8. If I Had A Tail
  9. Kalopsia
  10. Little Sister
  11. Make It Wit Chu
  12. Smooth Sailing
  13. I Appear Missing
  14. Go With The Flow
  15. The Vampyre of Time & Memory
  16. Song for the Dead
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Austin City Limits Taping – Fun.

Waiting for Fun.

Waiting for Fun.

Fun. made their first appearance at the Moody Theater downtown last night.  This taping had the most kids in attendance that I think I’ve ever seen at any ACL show. I also noticed for the first time that they made multiple announcements that people need to be in their seats by the 8pm show start time and that they *really* don’t want people to have their cell phones out. This has been the policy all along, but they must be having problems with morons who either can’t pull themselves away from the bar or feel the need to try to take photos or video.

Fun. is perfectly suited for live audiences. Every other song is an anthem with plenty of opportunities for audience participation. They remind me a bit of Queen in that respect. Hopefully, the crowd singalongs will come through in the broadcast.

Nate Ruess has an impressive voice, another similarity to Queen. Unfortunately, it appears that he’s been having some voice issues and they ended up cancelling the today’s show in Florida with Mumford & Sons. I didn’t notice him struggling during the taping, so I’m glad that he was able to pull off the television show.

Jack Antonoff, guitarist for Fun.,  mentioned his love for Austin and that he’s played at Beerland, the smaller room at Emo’s, the larger room at Emo’s, the small room at Stubb’s and then outside at Stubb’s last year when they had their breakout singles from their second album,  Some Nights, which also landed them a couple of Grammys. The band was accompanied by three other musicians for the night’s broadcast.

I was only familiar with their singles. They played an even mix of material from both of their albums. My wife and I particularly enjoyed “The Gambler”, a song Nate Ruess apparently wrote for his parents.

Fun. will play the Austin City Limits festival on Friday, October 4th at 4pm on the AMD stage and Friday, October 11th at 4pm on the Lady Bird stage. The 39th season of Austin City Limits begins airing locally on KLRU on Saturday, October 5th.

Set List:

  1. Out on the Town
  2. One Foot
  3. All Alone
  4. Why Am I
  5. At Least
  6. Pretty Girls
  7. Barlights
  8. Carry On
  9. The Gambler
  10. We Are Young
  11. You Can’t Always Get What You Want (Rolling Stones cover)
  12. Some Nights
  13. Stars
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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.

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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.

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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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Cinco de Mayo conjunto fest

The weather was perfect and the people were out to dance. Fiestas Patrias of Austin provided a full schedule of music and other activities on both days.

We attended on day two, the conjunto festival managed by Johnny Degollado. We were sorry to arrive just too late to hear the University of Texas conjunto and the violins from Lake Travis.

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!

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Gounod’s Faust: the Devil’s in the details

Gounod's Faust: Austin Lyric OperaThe 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.

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Circo Hermanos Vazquez: just two more shows

Learned pigs were new to us. All the acts were fast-paced and expert and some were quite novel. There were feats of strength and balance by two acrobats without props of any kind. A rapid roller-skating act within a very small circumference was astonishing, and so was a high trapeze act that was more about balance than about swinging; the audience scarcely dared to breathe during these. Liberty horses with a high quotient of Arabians were very pretty, and so were Bactrian camels and zebras. A woman on a braced pole was graceful in her strength. The little boys in the audience were especially mesmerized by a dual wheel-of-death act. A pair of bad-boy clowns and a Martian clown new to Earth were both really funny, both for children and adults, although the “undocumented” Martian undergoing an interrogation was for the grown-ups.

The tent is air-conditioned and there are molded-plastic seats affixed to the bleachers, all really very comfortable. There was an ATM machine for those who didn’t bring enough money for souvenirs. Refreshments included Coca-Cola, bottled water, palomitas/popcorn, nachos, algodones/cotton candy, alitas/chicken wings, and more. Little boys couldn’t resist the light swords, and little girls loved their lighted butterfly wands.

A live band of at least six accompanied almost all of the acts, at a volume that was sufficient but not too loud. Initial safety announcements were delivered in both Spanish and English; thereafter, all was in Spanish except for the act of the trained pigs, whose accompanying people spoke English followed by an announcer’s translation into Spanish.

The Web site for Circo Hermanos Vazquez does not appear to have been updated for this season’s new performers. It does announce performances for today at 6 pm and at 9 pm. The location is in the Highland Mall parking lot, with ample parking. Call 1-877-829-7839 to confirm current information.

More pictures are available; the audience is permitted to make videos and take still photographs so long as there’s no flash. And there’s a wonderful opportunity for souvenir pictures of children attending; during the brief intermission, the smallest children may be photographed atop a very small saddled pony and one of the learned pigs is available to be included in a photograph.

This is a circus for all ages and there’s no need to understand Spanish to love it, although that does help with some of the jokes!

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Zoppe Italian Family Circus





In one ring was an entire entertainment, as close as could be. The tent seating five hundred, in folding chairs and on bleachers, was set up on the grass just west of the Long Performing Arts Center, with handsome views in all directions, including downtown.

A little pre-show entertainment offered a foretaste of the delights awaiting. To the accompaniment of an accordion and a guitar and incorporating audience participation, we were especially entertained by the very youngest member of the family and the circus, performing with his father and others.

Once inside, in the aroma of sawdust, there were high wires, springboards, caparisoned horses, a unicycle, a continuing clown narrative, further appearances by the tiny and charming little boy working with his father, and a commedia dell’arte figure armed with a straight pin, who also seems to be the ringmaster, rigging supervisor, and all-round straight man.

Not to be forgotten are the aerial ballet on a rope high above the tanbark or the delightful performing dogs, who took a brief rest while two chickens did a trick.

There was an opportunity to pose with the pony for souvenir photographs. Those pulled from the audience to participate in the ring were all good sports, and one young boy who came into the ring definitely displayed the talent of a future performer himself.

The most popular souvenirs were toy conga-type drums, embellished twirling batons, and juggling pins (or clubs) and flat rings.

We did not see one bored or sulky child in the audience, which was rapt from start to finish, all ages enchanted by the performances.

Let us hope that the Zoppe Family Circus returns to Austin.

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Honk!Tx parade 2013: a thrill for the third year

Thank you, Honk!TX for parading again this year. Portable music that lifts the spirits and does not require protection for the ears is in scant supply and for that reason very, very welcome.

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.

We were so busy listening, marching, and watching that we took few pictures with the toy camera and not many unedited videos, either, but they are souvenirs of a wonderful day.

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Texas Independence Day on the Avenue

Spirits were high, ‘though the day was chilly. Celebrate Texas organized a fine parade. There were veterans’ contingents, a Shiner Beer van distributing Shiner lapel buttons, Lone Star flags for the little children, two contingents of lions and dragons, and much, much more, including two wonderful bands from Austin high schools: the Eastside Memorial Panthers and the Bowie High School marching band.

James and Annetta White of the Broken Spoke were the parade honorees. Spirits were lifted by the singing of an a capella choir, from the Cowboy Church. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas passed by on horseback. The Texas Cowboys startled a dog or two.

The Plungettes, with their plumbing gear, and the Beachers, with their lawn chairs, turned out as they do for almost every parade.

The Eastside Panthers marched with pride in t-shirts and shorts, despite the chill. The Bowie band turned out in full uniform, complete with plumes; the band seemed to be 150 strong. We loved them both.

Congress Avenue was intended as to be a processional way. See some unedited videos and recall the fun or see and hear some of what you missed. We love a parade!

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