arts eclectic

Musician Peggy Stern created the Wall Street Jazz Festival in 2004 in Kingston, New York. That fest, which lasted for many years, focused specifically on jazz bands with female bandleaders. After moving to Austin in 2013, Stern decided to create a similar festival, but with one key difference: the focus was expanded from just jazz to something a little broader.

"This one is more eclectic," says Stern, "in that we're presenting Western swing music... Brazilian music and salsa music, and jazz." The decision to create a more diverse festival seemed natural to Stern once she'd spent a little time in Austin.

"I've become more eclectic since I'm in town," she says. "I'm playing Western swing music. When in Rome, do as the Romans. And I love it, actually. It's a whole new field for me that I wouldn't have gotten into if I hadn't moved to Austin, so I'm really happy about that."

If you go to two different performances of Battle!, there's a pretty good chance you're going to see two very different shows. And that's by design. Created by Jeffery Da'Shade Johnson, Battle! will feature a rotating lineup of performers, and will also evolve over time based on conversation with and input from the audience. 

After its Broadway debut in 2005, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was nominated for a half dozen Tony awards (it won two of them), and quickly became a popular musical worldwide. It's toured America and has been produced in, among other places, Hong Kong, Oslo, Mexico City, and Jerusalem. So when the members of Sam Bass Theatre had a chance to put the show on in Round Rock, they jumped at the chance.

"What's really great about Putnam County," says Sam Bass board president Brett Weaver, "is that you have the laugh moments and you have the serious stuff, and it goes back and forth [between] really funny, silly dances and then really serious internal dialogues."

This weekend, the Palmer Events Center will host Maker Faire Austin, a two-day celebration of creativity and DIY culture. Hundreds of folks from the Central Texas community and beyond will come together to show off their works, share tips and advice, and just generally enjoy the Maker life.

"I think Austin Opera is the highest-potential opera in the U.S. right now," says Annie Burridge, the newly-appointed general director for Austin Opera. "We have an outstanding artistic product."

As part of her mission at the opera, Burridge hopes to keep producing quality work while reaching a new and larger audience. She acknowledges that opera isn't the primary style of music that people associate with Austin, but adds with a laugh, "Now, I hope to change that."

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