Life & Arts

Arts and Culture
1:00 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

Austin's Shearwater Soars With 'Animal Joy'

Shearwater's new album, Animal Joy, comes out Feb. 14.
Amy V. Cooper Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 9:18 am

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

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Arts and Culture
4:12 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Watch Austin Filmmakers' Rejected Super Bowl Commercial

A certain sporting match is occurring this weekend, and viewers wil

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Arts and Culture
12:05 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Cinema Weekend: Horror, Supernatural and Familial

A triptych of chilly flicks blows into Austin theaters this weekend. Among the new releases: Indie-horror auteur Ti West’s “The Innkeepers;” “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” an austere drama anchored by Tilda Swinton; and “The Woman in Black,” released under the storied Hammer Films franchise with an up-and-coming young actor named Daniel Radcliffe. (Maybe you’ve heard of him?)

Austin audiences have had a few chances to catch “The Innkeepers” previously, having screened at South by Southwest and the Alamo Drafthouse’s Fantastic Fest. The follow-up to director West’s well-received “The House of the Devil,” “The Innkeepers” shares a similar retro-horror sensibility to his breakout film. Two slacker clerks at a storied northwestern inn investigate reports of workplace hauntings on the weekend the inn is slated to close. Suffice to say, mysterious visitors check in, nerves slowly fray, and plenty of things begin to go bump in the night. Light on gore and long on tension, “The Innkeepers” is certain to keep audiences unnerved.

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9:05 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Top Morning Stories 2/2/12: SXSW Wristbands For Grabs, Spicewood Water Woes

A 2011 SXSW attendee pleased with his wristband collection. Wristbands for SXSW Music 2012 go on sale this morning.
Photo courtesy

SXSW Wristbands For Sale this Morning at 10 am

South by Southwest begins wristband sales for its music festival this morning. Purchases can only be made online to people with an Austin area zipcode:

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3:29 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

SXSW Film Lineup Announced

South by Southwest will be here before you know it, and here’s another sign of the impending takeover: Today, the festival released its lineup for SXSW Film, including 65 world premieres and ten U.S. premieres.

High profile picks include the reboot of “21 Jump Street,” starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and Ice Cube. The comedy has been named a “Centerpiece” film; SXSW Film producer Janet Pierson tells The Austin Chronicle she went into the screening “with total skepticism,” but came away impressed, calling the film “a real social commentary.”

Also receiving special designation as closing night film was “Big Easy Express,” a documentary on a train powered concert tour spearheaded by indie revivalists Mumford & Sons (which included an Austin stop.)

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Arts and Culture
12:13 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Picture This: Art Input Needed for African American Center

The African American Cultural and Heritage Facility is slated to open this summer.

If you had to pick 100 iconic individuals, who would you choose?

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Arts and Culture
2:53 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

Drafthouse Takes Oscar By the Horns With 'Bullhead'

We noted last week the buzz surrounding “Bullhead,” a moody Belgian noir acquired by the up-and-coming distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse.

And with today’s Academy Awards announcements, that buzz cranked up to full blast: “Bullhead” has snared a Best Foreign Language Film nomination, and Drafthouse Films has copped a distribution coup.

“Bullhead” director Michaël R. Roskam says in a press release that "It feels like going to the world championship!" And Alamo Drafthouse/Drafthouse Films CEO Tim League notes, “Roskam is an incredibly exciting new director. We are so happy that the Academy thinks as highly of him as we do!"

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4:36 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

SXSW Interactive Awards Finalists Are Here

A picture snapped on an iPad at the 2011 SXSW Interactive festival.
Photo courtesy

The signs are everywhere that South by Southwest is nigh. But here’s one that doesn’t involve the rejiggering of sound permits: Finalists for the SXSW Interactive Awards have been announced.

The awards are divided into 15 categories: Activism, Amusement, Art, Business, Classic, Community, Educational Resource, Experimental, Film/TV, Motion Graphics, Music, Personal, Social Media, Student, and Technical Achievement.

Meant to recognize up-and-coming websites, applications and digital projects, the closest thing to a widespread name in the categories is Storify, which lets users combine social media updates into newsworthy narratives.

And in another sign of the burgeoning importance of the festival’s tech component, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell is leading a delegation of Austin start-ups to the UK this week.

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Arts and Culture
11:55 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Groovy: Matt McConaughey Reprises ‘Dazed’ Character in Music Vid

"Dazed and Confused" fans wondering what happened to Matthew McConaughey’s iconic character David Wooderson can fret no more: Apparently he’s been wandering through some upscale night club in slow-motion.

That’s what’s McConaughey’s character is doing in the clip for “Synthesizers,” a song from Butch Walker and the Black Widows. It seems as if McConaughey’s Camaro-rock character’s been dumped there in countenance to the superficial glam of his surroundings. Or as Walker laments in the song’s opening bars:  "Everybody's writing songs with synthesizers /But I don't have a synthesizer.”

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5:08 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Cinema Weekend: Cows on Drugs, Deep Space, and Non-Sparkling Vamps

Two limited release features open in Austin this weekend, while a third installment of a violent fantasy series caters to its fans.

The Alamo Drafthouse is having another big weekend, with two notable premieres. While "Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission" has screened in Austin during South by Southwest, it begins a limited theatrical run tonight at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar.

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Arts and Culture
4:50 pm
Mon January 16, 2012

The Panopticon Shot Bar: SceneTap Uses Cameras to Survey Nightlife

Smartphone app SceneTap uses cameras and facial recognition software to assess the male-to-female ratio in Austin nightclubs.
Photo courtesy

So this is the way we live now: a new mobile application is coming to Austin that rates bars. But instead of relying on user-submitted data like Yelp, it has a network of cameras in participating nightclubs feeding real time information on a club’s capacity and demographics.

That’s the idea behind SceneTap, launching across several Austin bars this Friday.

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Arts and Culture
4:43 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

Texas Artists Wanted To Create Public Art In Seaholm District

Photo by City of Austin

The City of Austin says it will pay up to $166,000 in costs and labor for someone to create a piece of “exterior art that is engaging for families and children” near a bridge that will become part of the Seaholm District redevelopment project.

The bridge, as you can see in the image above, will link Shoal Creek Trail to West Avenue via Second Street. The City of Austin’s Art in Public Places Project, which has been doing this kind of thing since 1985, says applicants should focus on meeting these criteria:

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11:59 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Well Wishes for John Aielli

Photo by KUT

John Aielli has hosted KUT's Eklektikos for decades. He was hospitalized Wednesday for a heart attack. John's prognosis is good and he is expected to recover soon. KUT has a thread going on our Facebook page and Spike Gillespie set up a blog called Get Well Soon John!

[View the story "Well Wishes for John Aielli " on Storify]

1:19 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

What’s the Deal With These New Air Jordans?

Nike's Air Jordan Retro XI Concord went on sale today across the country.
Photo by Nike

Updated at 1:18 p.m. The arrival of Nike’s newest shoe, the Air Jordan Retro XI Concord, brought crowds of people and police to Barton Creek Mall and Highland Mall last night. One police officer was injured, KXAN reports. Some people suffered minor injuries, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Several shoppers said they were pepper sprayed by police.

“Nobody was doing anything bad. We were just getting close to [the store] and they started spraying mace, and [I] got mace all over my eyes," Jalen Hall told KVUE. "I was pretty angry."

People lined up at stores across the country, and ABC News reports that police were called to stores in Indiana, Florida, Texas and Virginia. The Detroit Free Press says one man was arrested at a mall, accused of inciting a riot. One person was arrested after reportedly firing a gun into the air where 3,000 people were lined up at a store in California's Bay Area. 

So what’s the deal with these shoes, apart from the fact that they bear the name of basketball hall of famer Michael Jordan?

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9:47 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Austin's Musicians Caught In Conundrum

A musician performs at the Bat Bar during SXSW 2011 in Austin, Texas.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 11:01 pm

Sixth Street in downtown Austin, Texas, is one of the city's premiere live music districts. Guitar-shaped Christmas decorations hang on light poles, and the street is alive with bands and bars. Tonight you can hear ­­­­­­­­Austin Heat at the Thirsty Nickel, Mike Milligan and the Altar Boys at Maggie Mae's, or you could catch Misbehavin' at the Dizzy Rooster.

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5:28 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Sexy Sax Man Video Includes Cameo By NPR's John Burnett

Sergio Flores created an internet meme called the Sexy Sax Man by sporting suspenders, a mullet and a saxophone and playing the hook to George Michael's 1984 hit "Careless Whisperto unsuspecting patrons inside laundromats, shopping mall food courts and Ross Dress For Less. 

A video making the rounds online today shows the Sexy Sax Man doing his thing at popular spots around Austin. You can watch it above.

We had to mention this obscure piece of trivia about the video: It includes a two second cameo by NPR national correspondent John Burnett. He was playing harmonica with the band at Victory Grill when Sexy Sax Man hit the stage. John is the guy with a short-sleeved gray shirt on stage standing behind Flores. The section of the video starts at 1:20. 

As with most pranks, it's not quite as funny when everyone is in on it, but check out some of Flores' older videos for a taste of the humor that made him popular. 

Arts and Culture
2:26 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Briscoe Center Gets Dunne Papers

Journalist and writer Dominick Dunne (right) waiting in the media area during the murder trial of Phil Spector. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History has acquired the papers and manuscripts of the author who died in 2009
Photo courtesy

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American Studies at UT-Austin has acquired the papers of writer, journalist and frequent Court TV host and contributor Dominick Dunne.

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4:31 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Willie Nelson’s Bassist Dan “Bee” Spears Dies

Photo by Master Sgt. Lee Roberts, USAF

Dan “Bee” Spears, Willie Nelson’s bass player for more than four decades, has died at the age of 62. Spears’ girlfriend Dee Pearce said Spears slipped and fell while exiting his motor home near Nashville on Thursday night and died from exposure to the elements, KXAN reported.

Spears was born in San Antonio on August 11, 1949. He started playing bass for Willie Nelson at age 19, according to this birthday note on Nelson’s website.

We called Ray Benson, frontman of Asleep at the Wheel and a close friend of Spears for 38 years, to get his reaction.

“I’m just shocked. It’s not something you expect at all,” Benson told us. “But to paraphrase an old friend, Warren Zevon, ‘Enjoy every taco,’ because you just don’t know.”

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12:16 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Bruce Springsteen to Keynote SXSW Music Conference

Photo by Lord_Henry

Organizers of Austin's South By Southwest Music Conference and Festival announced the keynote speaker for 2012. It's the biggest catch yet for the 26 year-old event.

It was a well-kept secret but SXSW organizers revealed Bruce Springsteen will be the music conference's keynote speaker in March.

"After the death of Clarence Clemons, it marks a new chapter. So doing something like this which you know, it's an event where he can kind of assess his career; makes tons of sense," said Ann Powers, NPR Music critic and correspondent.

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