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

Devin Pedde

"A Prairie Home Companion" debuts its new season this weekend, just months after longtime host Garrison Keillor signed off from his last update from Lake Wobegon. In his place is a new host and an even bigger emphasis on the show’s music.

Musician Chris Thile is a four-time Grammy winner. He’s one of the world’s preeminent mandolin players and has received a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. Now Thile has perhaps his biggest task ahead of him: taking the helm of one of the staple programs on public radio and convincing longtime listeners, it’s going to be okay.

ColdTowne Theater has been a mainstay of the Austin comedy scene for a decade now, offering improv and comedy shows seven nights a week and also teaching the art of improv to hundreds of students. But it actually had its origins in New Orleans -- that's where ColdTowne was born, in 2005. They performed together in the Crescent City for a few months and then, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, several members fled New Orleans for Austin.

Here, ColdTowne was reborn in what had been a storage room. "The first student group was four folks that were taught in the back of dusty storage room that later became a theater," says managing director Erika McNichol. "It was a pretty humble beginning."

"And now we have hundreds of students at any given session," adds executive producer Dave Buckman. "A modest empire."

To celebrate ten years in Austin, Coldtowne will present special programming all next week, with a weekend-long celebration October 20 - 23 (individual tickets are available, as are badges that will get you into all the shows. There will be parties, roasts, awards, and reunion shows, in which ColdTowne alums from around the nation will return to celebrate. "It's amazing and sweet and beautiful," Buckman says, "being able to look back at ten years of... hundreds of people's accomplishments."

ColdTowne Theater's Ten Year Anniversary is October 20-23.

JAY JANNER / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

An Italian restaurant in the Mueller Development is run by a chef who used to work at the nationally famous Franklin Barbecue on East 11th Street. What do Italian food and barbecue have in common? KUT's Nathan Bernier finds out from Austin American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam.


On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Rudy Jackson, Jr., Ph.D., founder and president of College Prep Professionals, LLC.

College Prep Professionals, is one of the Atlanta, GA region’s most experienced and capable college preparation businesses.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents a tribute to the late George E. Curry, a veteran journalist and civil rights activist who was considered by many to be a dean of the Black press died August 20, 2016. He was 69.

Born George Edward Curry on February 23, 1947, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; his mother worked as a domestic and his father was a mechanic. Curry's father abandoned the family when Curry was just seven years old, leaving him to step into the role of the man of the house, assisting his mother in raising his three younger sisters.

From the Texas Appleseed, this month's Get Involved spotlight non-profit:

About Texas Appleseed

As a nonprofit public interest justice center, Texas Appleseed works to change unjust laws and policies that prevent Texans from realizing their full potential. Our organization does this by anchoring a dynamic network of pro bono partners and collaborators to develop and advocate for innovative and practical solutions to complex issues. Through data-driven research, we uncover inequity in laws and policies, identify solutions for lasting change, and advocate for these solutions. When justice is beyond reach, Texas Appleseed provides the ladder.

With the 15th annual Austin City Limits Music Festival underway, KUT's Nathan Bernier learns more about the origins of the festival from Chad Swiatecki, who interviewed the ACL fest founders for Austin Monthly Magazine.


Alex Kacha

The hit Netflix series “Stranger Things” is a supernatural thriller set in the 1980s peppered with nostalgic pop culture references and scored with a synth-heavy soundtrack by the Austin band Survive.

This fall, several members of the Yawanawá tribe are leaving their home in the Amazon forest for the first time and traveling to the U.S. to share their culture and try to preserve it.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Soul music legend Candi Staton.

Staton just finished her sold-out, 'Young Hearts Run Free 40th Anniversary' concert tour of Europe and has now released her first gospel album since 2008 entitled  ‘It’s Time To Be Free.’

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Stephen G. Peters, founder of the nationally recognized Gentlemen's and Ladies Club programs, author, and superintendent-elect of the Laurens County School District 55 in South Carolina.

See 'The Totalitarians' at the Off Center

Sep 20, 2016

Theatre en Bloc's Jenny Lavery became aware of The Totalitarians shortly after it was first produced a few years ago. And in that short time, the political comedy has already started to feel less farcical.

"I knew that it was timely," she says, "but with current politics as it is, the play has become even more timely. Peter  Sinn Nechtrieb wrote a crazy, outlandish farce based on the Obama and Palin election cycle. But now with Trump and Clinton in the mix... it's now becoming more realistic."

A&E Networks

The recent remake of the groundbreaking 1977 mini-series “Roots” has been nominated for seven Emmys this year. To ensure accuracy in depicting the lives of enslaved people, the show enlisted UT-Austin history professor Dr. Daina Ramey Berry to read scripts, ask questions and ensure the production's accuracy – from word choices, to cloth used in costumes, to the breeds of on-screen horses.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Shanté Bacon, Founder and CEO of 135th Street Agency, a strategic communications and experiential marketing firm that specializes in campaigns reaching the youth consumer and business professional. They translate brand messages in a culturally-savvy yet socially responsible manner, while our experiential arm designs customer experiences that enhance the consumer's relationship with the brand.

Over the years, the creative minds behind Ethos have created many ambitious shows at the Vortex. They've filled that theater with performers, musicians, and dancers, creating large-scale shows on a relatively small stage. 

  From the Blanton Museum of Art, this month's Get Involved spotlight non-profit:

Blanton Mission Statement:

Founded in 1963, the Blanton Museum of Art is one of the foremost university art museums in the country and holds the largest public collection in Central Texas. Recognized for its modern and contemporary American and Latin American art, Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings, and encyclopedic collection of prints and drawings, the Blanton offers thought-provoking, visually arresting, and personally moving encounters with art.

Blanton Education Vision:

Our Vision: We believe that art matters. Our aim is to provide visitors with engaging and memorable gallery experiences that will motivate further exploration.

We make this vision a reality through the dedicated work of volunteer gallery teachers. Our volunteers make visitors feel welcome in the museum and introduce them to a variety of ways of looking at and experiencing art. A gallery lesson at the Blanton helps visitors develop visual literacy skills and make personal connections with art that can extend beyond their time in the museum.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Keith Corson, visiting professor of English at Rhodes College and author of ‘Trying to Get Over: African American Directors After Blaxploitation, 1977-1986.’

In 2014, Austin's Doctuh Mistuh staged the first local production of Silence! The Musical, the award-winning musical parody of the 1991 movie Silence of the Lambs. The show was a big hit with audiences -- as a parody of such a popular film, Silence! drew in theater fans, comedy fans, and movie fans. "We drew a lot of audience members in who weren't regular theatergoing audiences," says director Michael McKelvey. It was also a big hit with critics -- it didn't win quite as many B. Iden Payne awards as Silence of the Lambs won Oscars, but it came close.

In the time since, there's been interest from audience members (and from the cast as crew as well) in staging the show again. When some space opened up in Austin Playhouse's August schedule, the time was right.

"It's just a show [where] we all really enjoyed the experience, which is scary to say with this show," McKelvey laughs, "but we had a blast with it, so we said 'Let's do it again."

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Former Gov. Rick Perry is joining the new season of "Dancing With the Stars."

MARK RALSTON / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Juan Gabriel, who died of a heart attack yesterday, was a master craftsman of epic love songs.

He built sparkling bridges and choruses that transformed forlorn love songs into anthems. We've written an obit over here, but Juan Gabriel's music speaks for itself.

Here are four songs you should listen to now.

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