Life & Arts

Entertainment, live performance, food, cuisine, dining, theater, film, television, art, broadcasting, SXSW, and other arts and culture news in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUTX

KUTX held its third annual Map Jam festival this weekend, with nine bands playing across four venues in East Austin all day Saturday. This year's performers included the Golden Dawn Arkestra, Sip Sip, Leticia Rodriguez and Ruby Jane.

Lu Zeidan met her friend Qusay Hussein through her work with refugees at Interfaith Action of Central Texas, and they recently sat down together in the StoryCorps mobile booth. In 2006, when he was 17, Qusay was playing volleyball with three brothers and some friends in Mosul, Iraq, when a car bomb was detonated at the court. Dozens were hurt and 16 people were killed in the explosion. Qusay was severely injured, and later taken to a U.S. Army base for treatment. There, he was unconscious for twelve days, during which his family thought he was dead.  

Justin Sherburn and his band Montopolis have been performing live film scores for a few years now, creating original music for silent films and documentaries. For their next project, though, they're playing the music of another composer, the legendary Ennio Morricone. In fact, the project began with Sherburn's desire to pay tribute to Morricone and grew from there. 

He selected the 1916 silent film western 'The Return of Draw Egan' as a canvas, largely because it contains all the elements you'd expect to see in a classic western (gunfights, love interests, bad men trying to go straight). Then he decided to add an extra layer to the project, by changing the existing title cards to something a little funnier, creating what is essentially a Mystery Science Theater treatment for the silent film. Once he sat down to start writing some comedy, Sherburn came to an important realization: he's not a comedy writer.

Via flickr/megmccarron

The James Beard Foundation has announced the semifinalists for its coveted culinary Awards, and six Austin chefs and one new Austin restaurant have earned nods from the prestigious foundation.

Mark Buley and Sam Hellman-Mass of Odd Duck (Rising Star of the Year)

On this edition of In Black America, producer & host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Dr. James L. Hill, former senior vice president of The University of Texas at Austin and life-long educator, who helped the university make significant progress in the recruitment of students from underrepresented communities and build strong relationships with the East Austin community.

In this episode, hosted by Brian Ramos, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner talks about the genesis of the hit AMC show and its upcoming final episodes. Then Vince Gilligan talks about cutting his teeth writing for X-Files and the crazy origin of Breaking Bad.

Esther Garza and her fiance Patrick Brickley had a conversation recently in the StoryCorps mobile booth. They talked about topics including their family histories and the coincidences they've experienced over the years. They also talked about Esther's health. Nine years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer and is now classified as N.E.D., or No Evidence of Disease. In this section of their conversation, she shares a story of finding the strength she needed to deal with the disease.

Austin author Martha Louise Hunter recently published her debut novel, Painting Juliana. The book has elements of magical realism, but it was inspired by actual events in Hunter’s life.

Patrick and Marjorie Flanagan recently had a conversation in the StoryCorps mobile booth. Ten years ago, Marjorie was living in New Orleans and working as an art teacher at a public high school. After Hurricane Katrina, she relocated to Texas.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Octogenarian Roland Johnson plays the bass fiddle.

Tonight he played for his Valentine at a concert in their retirement community in North East Austin.

Johnson and his wife Elizabeth have been married for 65 years. They say music is one of the things that helped keep their marriage strong. Their love for music is so powerful that some of their children and even grandchildren turned out to be musicians too.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Austin's annual day of giving, Amplify Austin, announced today a new "Art by Amplify" initiative that organizers hope will increase participation in this year's event.

Today we're thrilled to announce that the winner of the Tiny Desk Concert Contest is Fantastic Negrito.

Houston Chronicle photo library

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late John Saunders Chase, the first African American graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and the first African American President of The Texas Exes.

Chase was a pioneering architect who broke barriers in Texas and elsewhere. He served as CEO of John S. Chase Architect Inc., a firm he founded in 1952 after graduating from UT-Austin as its first African American architecture student. He also was the first African American architect to be licensed in the state of Texas and the first to be admitted to the Texas Society of Architects and the American Institute of Architects’ Houston (TX) chapter. His architectural imprint can be seen globally. He was commissioned to design the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia.

Naomi Hanser recently interviewed her mother Suzette in the StoryCorps mobile booth, and Suzette shared many stories about her family. Her Polish father and French mother fell in love in Paris 100 years ago; he came to America in 1915 and she followed in 1916. By the early days of World War II, when Suzette was a child, they were living in New York and hoping to hear from their family members still in France.

100 Heartbreaks was originally performed as a one-woman show in Seattle some eight years ago. After that run, writer and performer Joanna Garner found herself, like her heroine Chalane Tucker, longing to play with a real-deal band. 

Following a move to Austin and some tinkering with the script, Garner's now starring in a new-and-improved, expanded version of the show. No longer a solo project, 100 Heartbreaks now features a full cast and band, under the direction of Jess Hutchison and musical direction of Peter Stopchinski.

Austin choral group Conspirare won a Grammy last night for Best Choral Performance for its recording The Sacred Spirit of Russia. The group, which formed in 1991, has been nominated five times in previous years, but last night marked its first win.

The winning record includes the group covering Russian composers such as Sergei Rachmaninoff and Alexander Gretchaninov. The album was recorded in Austin in 2013 at St. Martin's Lutheran Church.

Steven Webb and his husband Jeremy Stubbs recently had a conversation in the StoryCorps mobile booth. They talked about their lives growing up, their experiences coming out to their families, and their time together, including their recent wedding.  

March 2, 7 p.m. @ Paramount Theatre

Jad Abumrad, host of WNYC’s Radiolab, knows something about creative struggle. He’ll be telling the story of Radiolab and how he found his voice, with attention paid to all the horrible feelings involved in making something new.

Courtesy of Blanton Museum

UT-Austin's Blanton Museum of Art has acquired and will construct an original work by artist Ellsworth Kelly. The price tag for the construction is $15 million, but the work is more than a sculpture or an installation – it's a 2,715-square-foot building.

Kelly designed the piece, now titled "Austin," in 1986, and he hoped that it would one day be built in a public space. The work will feature a redwood totem sculpture, black and white marble panels and colored stained glass windows.

On this edition of In Black America, producer & host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Joe Sample.

Sample was a pianist, keyboard player and composer, who became a jazz star in the 1960s with the Jazz Crusaders and an even bigger star a decade later when he began playing electric keyboards and the group simplified its name to the Crusaders.

The Jazz Crusaders, who played the muscular, bluesy variation on bebop known as hard bop, had their roots in Houston, where Sample, the tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder and the drummer Nesbert ‘Stix’ Hooper began performing together as the Swingsters while in high school.

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