A tireless campaigner for his own vision of a utopia marked by peace and togetherness, Pete Seeger's tools were his songs, his voice, his enthusiasm and his musical instruments. A major advocate for the folk-style five-string banjo and one of the most prominent folk music icons of his generation, Seeger was also a political and environmental activist. He died Monday at age 94. His grandson, Kitama Cahill Jackson, said he died of natural causes.


Austin blues-rock guitarist Gary Clark Jr. led a select group of artists representing the Live Music Capitol of the World at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

Clark’s song “Please Come Home” was named the Best Traditional R&B Performance. Clark was also nominated for Best Rock Song. He didn’t win, but Clark can take solace in knowing he competed against bands including Black Sabbath and The Rolling Stones. (“Cut Me Some Slack,” pairing Paul McCartney with the remaining Nirvana lineup, won.)

Kerrville Folk Festival

Though Ray Benson's been the de facto musical ambassador of Austin now for decades, he admits that by stepping out as a solo artist for the first time in more than a decade, he's just now getting to do what he always dreamed of doing when he started out in music as a teenager.  

"I didn't think I was good enough," he confesses.  

Benson's new album, "A Little Piece" seems to offer ample evidence he's good enough, at least if the critics are to be believed. In fact, Tom Semioli of the Huffington Post places Benson's new recording up there with the likes of breakthroughs like Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" and Willie Nelson's "Phases and Stages."

George Brainard, Austin, TX

Texas singer-songwriter Steven Fromholz died after a hunting accident this weekend near Eldorado, Texas. He was 68.

The Schleicher County Sheriff's Office told the Associated Press Fromholz was shot when a rifle discharged as it fell to the ground while being transferred from one vehicle to another.

Steven Fromholz was well-known in the Austin music scene and among fans of 1970s outlaw country. He was named a Texas Poet Laureate in 2007.

Laura Rice, KUT News

For many people, most days would not be complete without music. Whether it's exercising to your favorite playlist or jamming along to the radio on your way home for work. 

But how much do infants get out of music? And are there types of music that babies prefer?

A professor at the Children’s Research Laboratory on the University of Texas at Austin campus is trying to find out.

The remaining members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot have been released from prison in Russia, a few months short of serving their full two-year sentences for "hooliganism" — a charge that the band's supporters say was just a trumped-up effort to quash free speech.

Aside from racial and ethnic slurs, there aren't many words that prompt a more immediate and visceral response than "hipster." Many associate the term with craft beer, smugness and, of course, Brooklyn. Modern-day hipsters have inspired a huge number of Tumblrs, memes and trend pieces in the media.

It may seem like hipsters sprang up out of nowhere sometime in the late 1990s, but the original hipsters were around several generations before that. And they were strongly associated with another uniquely American phenomenon — jazz.

Fans of Arcade Fire might be feeling a bit of culture shock. The group has been called the world's most successful indie rock band — but its new album, Reflektor, explores the Haitian roots of band member Regine Chassagne.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with gospel recording artist Earnest Pugh.

Pugh has experienced success he only dreamed of just a few short years ago. With the release of the project, "Rain On Us," and its title tune, Earnest Pugh was heard on Gospel radio stations nationwide and was catapulted to super stardom in the Gospel music industry. His smash hit single “Rain On Us” escalated to the #1 position on Billboard’s Top Gospel Singles Radio Chart and became the sixth most popular song of 2010.

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.

Ben Johnson

Many people the world over are inspired by the 'Austin sound.' But Dallas native and composer Ben Johnson found his inspiration in the sounds of Austin. Literally.

In fact, "The Sounds of Austin, Texas" is the title of his new album – a collection of impressionistic pieces inspired by his adopted hometown, where he studied music in college. Johnson considers his latest album a collection of love songs to Austin. 

Johnson mixes field audio recordings from sites all over the Austin area with his own custom piano compositions, each dedicated to a particular place.  

Jenna Macaroni

When you were in high school, wouldn’t you have loved to have a cool band play in your gym? I remember trying to get the band Karp to play my high school in the 1990s, but the teacher who sponsored the student council balked once he heard what they sound like. Instead, they spent the money on a Top 40 video dance party with fog machines. 

But last night, Anderson High School in Austin ISD did what my high school could never do: They hosted a secret show for the French dance-rockers Phoenix. (While considerably more accessible than any post-hardcore band, it's a remarkable achievement nonetheless.)

“Seriously how the hell does Anderson book Phoenix to play a gig at their school and Pflugerville gets Granger Smith #injustice,” tweeted one envious teen.

“Phoenix at Anderson? Lucky bastards,” said another.

Indeed. So, how did it happen?

Learning an instrument, especially as adults, provides us with a type of "brain food" that can help to protect our brains against damage. Experiencing music together is also an important part of being human.

We like to be in sync. Experiencing live music with others, whether you're playing an instrument or not, provides a certain synchronized relationship that boosts our feelings of togetherness and enjoyment.

Chrislyn Lawrence

Almost 30 years ago, Sam Baker was traveling on a train in Peru when a terrorist bomb exploded, nearly killing him. After countless surgeries and years of therapy, Baker worked out not only what it means to survive, but to thrive.

He describes his new album, “Say Grace,” as part of an ongoing healing process.

Antone's Nightclub Put Up for Sale

Sep 17, 2013

Antone's Nightclub proprietor Frank Hendrix announced today he is offering his club for sale. Named for departed blues booster Clifford Antone, the club’s long been synonymous with Austin music, despite changing locations over the years. Its current location on East Riverside is near a relocated Emo’s Austin, another longtime club Hendrix helped run before selling earlier this year. “I’m like the guy who runs a doughnut shop,” Hendrix tells the Chronicle. “After a while he doesn’t like doughnuts anymore. After all these years, music has changed from being my love to a laborious job.”

“My life is music, and in some vague, mysterious and subconscious way, I have always been driven by a taut inner spring which has propelled me to almost compulsively reach for perfection in music, often – in fact, mostly – at the expense of everything else in my life. – Stan Getz

Stan Getz brought a lush, carefree future into the collective imagination of post-World War II America with tunes like “The Girl From Ipanema“. But in his own life he struggled with addiction and lived recklessly in juxtaposition to the possibility and light he offered through his music.

Update: Shortly after Ian Dille’s Slate article appeared online, he received a handwritten apology from Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler.

The band's PR company “forwarded me a handwritten note from Win Butler apologizing for the graffiti and explaining that it was supposed to be put up in chalk or water-soluble paint,” Dille tells KUT News. “And somewhere along the line, someone started using spraypaint. He said it was hard to control all the small details of such a large project.” (Read the letter below.)

I grew up in a town of about 6,000 people in rural Kansas back in the '70s and '80s. I've never romanticized it much, though it was certainly a simpler time and, for better or worse, it's where I learned to make some sense of my life. The world you inhabit when you come of age in your teen years has a way of digging its claws in you. As the years pass, no matter how far you try to get away from it, it stays with you. The people, the places, the sounds and even the smells become a part of your DNA.