live music

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.

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.

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.

Photo courtesy

The news this morning out of Austin City Council is no news: A presentation from Austin Energy on its revised rate proposals won’t happen until approximately 3 p.m. The council breezed through its agenda this morning, but Mayor Lee Leffingwell said it was unlikely the presentation would be completed in time for council’s noon break.

In other news:

  • A $1 surcharge per taxi passenger passed unanimously. The charge would only appear during “peak hours” of 9 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. The charge was decreased from an earlier amount of $2.50, which would have stayed the same regardless of the number of passengers; action on a semi-related measure revisiting the number of passengers per cab was postponed.
Jeff Heimsath/KUT News

The Austin City Council convenes today, taking up a 35 item agenda. For y’all following along at home, that’s actually pretty short by council standards. Still, there’s a few items that should inspire spirited discussion on the dais:

  • Austin Energy’s Rate Revision: The duration of today’s meeting was undoubtedly shortened by the postponement of a second round of public comment on Austin Energy’s proposed rate increases. (Comment on the proposals lasted five hours last time.) Instead, heeding the feedback they’ve received on the rates, representatives from the city owned utility will be presenting “suggested changes” to their initial rate-raising proposals. Council members will be certain to pepper the AE presenters with plenty of questions.

How much sound mitigation can you buy for $40,000?

That a question the Austin City Council is poised to consider this week, as they consider a resolution that would enact a sound mitigation case study at a music venue downtown. It’s a signal of the importance of music to the city’s economic and cultural health, but also a symptom of the growing pains downtown is entering as more people move into the city’s urban core – and how the two can often be at odds.

The resolution before council this Thursday, Item 14, calls to change the name of the Downtown Venue Relocation Program to the Music Venue Assistance Program, and “initiate, fund, and oversee a sound mitigation case study of a relevant music venue in an amount up to $40,000 from the Downtown Development Fund.”

“What we really want to do is keep as many venues downtown as we can, because you want a concentration of music venues in a relatively small place so it’s walkable,” says council member Bill Spelman, sponsor of Item 14.  

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.

Photo by Miss Barbara

After five years in Waterloo Park, Fun Fun Fun Fest is moving to Auditorium Shores. The annual music festival, which takes place in early November, features independent and underground rock, hip hop and electronic music artists. Check out this recap from last year.

ACL Live in W Hotel
Photo courtesy Austin City Limits Live

ACL Live, the new Austin City Limits TV studio and music venue in downtown Austin, launched its new website and show calendar a week ago. Tickets are on sale today at noon for that initial round of concerts.