live music

A few years ago, Austin was one of the homes of the annual Maker Faire, a two-day celebration of arts and crafts, creativity, and all kinds of do-it-yourself projects. The Maker Faire eventually stopped coming to Austin, but after a brief hiatus, the Austin Mini Maker Faire arrived to fill the void.

Aside from being only a one-day rather than two-day event, the Mini Maker Faire is "mini" in name only. It's still a huge event, with dozens of workshops, talks, hands-on activities, and performances taking place in the name of creativity and fun. The chief difference between the new mini fair and the old full-sized fair is that these days, most of the Makers actually hail from Austin or Central Texas locals instead of from the larger world.

This Saturday night at Bates Recital Hall on the University of Texas campus, the Austin Civic Orchestra is partnering with UT's Butler School of Music to present a free spring concert. Called the "Texas Risings Stars" concert, the event will feature four award-winning UT music students playing with Austin's own non-profit orchestra.

The first half of the concert will feature music students Benjamin Penzner, Grace Youn, Roman Yearian, and Eun-Mi Lee (no relation to the host of this program) leading the orchestra in selections of their choosing. For the second half of the presentation, the orchestra will branch out on its own, featuring two pieces chosen by orchestra director Lois Ferrari.

For the past few years, the band Mother Falcon has been operating a summer camp for young musicians. The many members of the band are still pretty young themselves, but when they were even younger, they spend their summers at various music camps, so the idea of starting their own seemed like a natural.

They aim to encourage creative musical thinking, guided by their camp motto, "Musicality over Technicality." During each week-long session, the students are divided up into bands with diverse instrumentation, where they'll hopefully encourage one another to experiment and broaden their creative horizons. Each sessions ends with a showcase concert by the kids, during which they'll play original songs, covers, and do a little jamming. 

Flickr user Jason H. Smith, http://flic.kr/ps/2pqMoZ

Update: South by Southwest announced this morning that Lady Gaga will perform at this year's festival. She's set to take the stage Thursday, March 13. The City of Austin had originally denied a request to have Lady Gaga perform, citing concerns that the Doritos venue wasn't big enough.

So, SXSW is moving that venue for one night to the Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater at Eighth and Red River streets.

Click here for details on how to get tickets.

Here's @SXSW's announcement on Twitter:

Original Story (Feb. 26, 2014): The city of Austin is denying a request to have Lady Gaga perform in a downtown parking lot during South by Southwest.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The Austin City Council had a long day at the dais yesterday, with a meeting that sputtered along for the better part of 15 hours.

"Stealth dorms," fee waivers, economic incentives, an officer-involved shooting, the MoPac sound wall and  even a proclamation for KUT's own Cactus Cafe. 

With that in mind, here's a rundown of the council action, and inaction, from yesterday.

flickr.com/nickstone333

If you were an emerging hip hop artist making beats in your bedroom and rapping with friends, would you pay $400 for a chance to perform on a stage before a nationally recognized rapper like Z-Ro? If you were a hip hop fan, would you feel ripped off if you bought tickets to a show and had to sit through hours of inexperienced rappers whose only qualification was having enough cash to get on stage? 

Those are questions confronting Austin's hip hop scene with the rise of pay-to-play, writes Morgan Davis for the local music blog Ovrld.com. The issue became particularly acute this past weekend when several people who claimed to have paid to perform at a Waka Flocka Flame show saw it get canceled

We invited Davis into KUT to talk about the issue of pay-to-play, which is scheduled to be discussed by the Austin Music Commission tonight

facebook.com/LearningSecrets

When you think of Austin’s "Live Music Capital of the World" status, what kind of music do you think of? Lots of genres may come to mind, but possibly not its thriving underground electronic and dance music scene. Tonight Learning Secrets – one of Austin’s longest running dance parties – celebrates their 10-year anniversary.

OK. But what is Learning Secrets?
 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

If you’ve been to Austin City Limits Music Fest, you’ve seen them. And while they’re not the band, they are on stage and they are very talented, in their own way.

They've worked with everyone from Wu-Tang Clan to Green Day, from Black Sabbath to Jack White. They even braved the harsh cold of President Obama’s 2012 inauguration this past January.

They’re the sign language interpreters of LotuSIGN, and you can find them emphatically interpreting bands' lyrics and sounds at performances across the country. And while there’s plenty of air guitar and air piano, LotuSIGN means business.

Hequals2henry/48 Hour Film Project, Inc/Tyler Pratt

In what is being called the first-of-its-kind alliance worldwide, Austin and Toronto, Canada have established what they are calling the Music City Alliance.

While Toronto is roughly four times the size of Austin, the city has been publicly looking at Austin’s model of success to promote Toronto’s music scene. Officials from both cities met during this year’s South By Southwest to begin talks about forming a partnership to promote economic growth.

Minza Khan for KUT News

While some high school students idle over summer break, the 55 teens at the Longhorn Music Camp are learning the art of mariachi music. 

Ezekiel Robert Castro, a lecturer at the University of Texas’ Butler School of Music and director of UT’s Mariachi Ensemble, created the first ever mariachi camp at UT for students entering grades 10 through 12.

KUT News

No more leaks: the full Austin City Limits Music Festival lineup is out. 

Sure, British rock band Muse had accidentally confirmed their performance during an interview with a Montreal radio station. Over the weekend other band names like Portugal. The Man, Neko Case and D’Angelo appeared on beer coozies and Topo Chico bottle caps around town. And last week cheeky ads were placed in the Austin Chronicle (“For a little Fun. Call 555-ACL-FEST”).  But just after midnight this morning, the full lineup was finally unveiled.

Tamir Kalifa, Texas Tribune

Although the crowd of clubs and concert halls on Austin’s famous Sixth Street is just a few blocks from the state Capitol, the worlds of live music and policymaking seldom meet.

But this session, lawmakers are considering subsidizing live music.

KUT News

Popular park and festival spot Auditorium Shores could close for a whole year if the Austin City Council approves a proposal from the Parks and Recreation Department.

The changes include an improved irrigation system, new turf grass and an enhanced off-leash area for dogs. The cost would be shouldered via a $3.5 million donation from the Austin-based promoters C3 Presents. The company has worked out similar deals to improve the grounds at Zilker Park, which hosts C3’s Austin City Limits Festival.

Singer-songwriter Willie Nelson was born April 30, 1933, in the small farming community of Abbott, Texas. His early interest in music came about through singing in church, and he wrote his first song at age 7. By age 9, he'd begun playing in a local band; after high school, Nelson served briefly in the Air Force and studied at Baylor University. In the mid-'50s, he worked as a disc jockey in Texas and Washington state, played in honky-tonks and continued to write songs.

flickr.com/winemegup

Rain or shine, the annual St. Elias Mediterranean Festival is kicking off this weekend.

The festival, now in its 80th year, promises Mediterranean delights from Lebanon, Palestine, Greece, Eritrea and Romania. According to the festival, “Gyros, Kibbee, Baklava, Spanakopita and Mici are only the beginning as you feast outdoors on delicacies from the Orthodox world.”

Along with a feast of foods, the festival will offer shopping in a festival marketplace, dance demonstrations and children’s activities at the Kid’s Oasis. Music and live dancing will be provided by Laand Greek Ensemble.

flickr.com/kevharb

The release of the 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival’s schedule grid wasn’t the only big Austin City Limits news today: Music festival producers are in talks with Austin officials to extend the popular three-day event by an extra weekend starting next year.

C3 Presents, the company that produces ACL Fest and other big events nationwide, would also donate some of the increased revenue it would gain each year, in addition to the amounts they already give, to help improve Austin parks.

“We’ve been discussing working with Auditorium Shores for almost two years,” Austin Parks and Recreation Director Sara Hensley tells KUT News. “It’s dusty, it’s truly muddy, there’s no grass there. For me, it’s just an opportunity to take a park area that’s just heavily used and make it a lot better and a lot more vibrant for the community and visitors.”

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

It being election season in Austin, you’ve likely heard some candidate singing the city’s praises – or blasting Austin’s inclusion on various Top 10 lists as a sign of increasing cost.

KUT News likes to compile the city’s latest Top 10 accolades – but take it one step further, into a Top 10 list of our own. You can see our previous Top 10 list here.  

As we wrote then, to get a gauge of just how many Austin-happy rankings are floating around, we look for “best cities” rankings including Austin over the last few months. And from that, we compiled this meta-master list, a Top 10 of the city’s most recent Top 10 rankings ranging from the apparent, to the arbitrary, to the really, really arbitrary. So without further ado:

1. You grow up so fast!: No surprise here, but Austin’s growing, and growing fast. Forbes ranks Austin Number One in its April 18 study of “America’s Fastest Growing Cities.”

The massive Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival came to a close in California on Sunday after two weekends worth of sold-out shows by over 150 artists.

One of those acts was the Austin, Texas, band Explosions in the Sky, which first played Coachella back in 2007 and has seen its profile grow since then.

"I do music for women," said Timbaland, onstage at the Parish in Austin, Texas on Thursday afternoon to debut tracks from his as-yet-untitled and unfinished new album, likely coming this fall. "Y'all determine everything," he added, gesturing at a hoop earring-clad fan standing at the lip of the stage.

A silent disco at a music festival last year in Gdynia, Poland

Wireless headphone technology now makes it possible for people to have a dance party just about anywhere without large amps and speakers blowing away the entire neighborhood. The “silent disco” phenomenon has been growing over the past several years, and the City of Austin is now considering it as one option to help tackle the controversial issue of sound permits.

The Live Music Capital of the World stands out among its peers as being relatively tolerant of loud music. As Community Impact News recently pointed out in this chart, Austin allows venues to generate up to 85 decibels of sound on weekends, while San Antonio caps music at 63 decibels. Portland, Oregon seems almost sleepy by comparison, with its 60 decibel limit.

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