The Vulcan Gas Company

Austin’s Vulcan Gas Company was only open for a few years in the 1960s.

But in that brief time the music venue showcased legendary acts like the Velvet Underground, Janis Joplin and Moby Grape.
It’s been revered as one of the early homes of psychedelic rock and helped pave the way for legendary Austin music establishment- the Armadillo World Headquarters.

Tonight, as the South By Southwest Music festival gets underway, the Vulcan Gas Company name has been revived – in a new location. 
Here’s a look back at its past and what the owners of its new incarnation hope to offer.

The interactive section of South by Southwest (SXSW) wraps up today, and for the first time it included three days of panels and discussions specifically focused on the integration of Latinos in tech.

The sessions were designed to make Latinos feel more comfortable in a field where they are underrepresented.

We hear a report from Veronica Zaragovia of KUT that for some Latinos, the results were less than satisfying.

"The Legend of Shorty"

In a film that premieres at SXSW Film, two filmmakers set out to do what authorities could not: find Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Authorities eventually did catch up with Guzman – just last month.

But directors Angus Macqueen and Guillermo Galdos were hot on his trail in their documentary “The Legend of Shorty."

KUT talked with Macqueen and journalist Anabel Hernandez about the film, El Chapo and what they say is the real danger in Mexico.

The task of building your very own toy, or robot, or radio can seem daunting for someone without much background in engineering. But a set of color-coded electronic bits that can be magnetically snapped together called littleBits is aiming to make creating your own electronics easy for everyone. It's like Legos, if only Legos could be connected into circuits that light up, move or make music.

"Circuits in seconds," promises the outside of the box.

Update: Edward Snowden made the case for online privacy in his South by Southwest video appearance today. 

Speaking via Skype, and superimposed over an image of the Constitution, Snowden said it needs to be easier for people to interact with secure data.

"If any journalist in the world gets an email from somebody saying, 'Hey, I have something that the public might want to know about,' they need to be able to open it, they need to be able to access that information, they need to be able to have the communication," Snowden said. "Whether they’re a journalist, or an activist, or even your grandma."

NPR has a live blog of Snowden's remarks you can read here.

Original story (10:55 a.m.): Edward Snowden is scheduled to speak via video from Moscow this morning at South by Southwest Interactive.

Snowden, the former contractor facing felony charges for leaking classified documents revealing National Security Agency surveillance, will speak to SXSW's tech community today at 11 CST. The conversation will be moderated by Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy & Technology Project and Snowden’s legal advisor.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden will speak via videoconference to the attendees of South by Southwest Interactive later this morning, and you can bet a much wider audience than just those here in Austin will be watching.

Kate McGee, KUT News

The side of the Recess Arcade Bar on the corner of San Jacinto and East Sixth Street looks a little different.

Artists Jordan Seiler and BC Biermann spent the entire weekend pasting an 84 foot long mural on the side of the building.

Sieler, based in New York, says the mural deals with ideas of production and consumption.

Courtesy of Sob Noisse

Adam Minnick came to Austin from Michigan about nine years ago to work in the semiconductor field – after his photography plans did not take off.

"Buzzard" is his first step into the film world. A world he entered when an old college buddy asked him to be the director of photography in the feature film he was working on. "Buzzard" debuted at SXSW Film.

KUT talked with Minnick about the film and his unlikely path to filmmaking:

Jess Pinkham

It’s the summer of 1985 – when teenagers carried boom boxes on their shoulders and poured pop rocks into soft drinks. For Austin-based writer/director Michael Tully – that summer is also all about table tennis – or ping pong.

“Ping Pong Summer” premiered at Sundance this year – and has been picked up for theatrical release. But before it hits movie houses, it hits SXSW Film.

Michael Tully talked with KUT about his film:

The story of Austin's various "Don’t Move Here" t-shirts is, in many ways, the story of Austin itself: the transformation of an undiscovered secret into something much bigger. 

While the "Don’t Move Here" meme certainly predates its first recorded t-shirt printing – not to mention the concept of a "meme" itself – modern history posits spring 1997 as the time it was first put to cotton.

It was then that Austin pop-rockers The Wannabes minted a batch of merch bearing the slogan.

Yogi Berra's famous quote – "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded" – has never really applied to Austin's South by Southwest festival.

Yes, there are crowds galore. But people keep coming: in 2012, the number of registrants increased by 15 percent over the previous year.

But now an Austin-based ad agency has developed an app for locals who might be looking to avoid the SXSW masses. It lets you know where people aren’t.

Courtesy of Participant Media

The annual South by Southwest film festival kicks off in Austin today. The 10-day fest features more than 89 world premieres and a total of 133 feature films. Janet Pierson heads SXSW Film. And it’s ultimately her job to weed through the thousands of submissions to come up with the slate of film offerings.

Janet Pierson stopped by KUT to talk about this year’s lineup.

On What Makes a Good SXSW Film:

"It's a total picture that we're looking for. You know, you look for a lot of things. Original voices is a big deal, something that surprises you, something that really works - that has a depth. We look for a transformational experience. We want to be moved somehow."

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

It takes a lot of manpower to put on a festival, especially as one as big as South by Southwest.

"One thing that I don't think a lot of people realize is that there's like 200 people that have full time jobs at South by Southwest," says SXSW cofounder and managing director Roland Swenson. "During the event there are hundreds of more temporary workers that we hire."

When it comes to volunteers, Swenson knows there's a lot – even if he's not quite sure of the number.

"You know I think there's going to be over 3,000," he says. "I don't have a precise count, but that's for 15 days of South by Southwest." 

Austin Kleon

One of the largest gatherings of creative minds is happening right now in Austin, but how can you become a valuable part of that community without sucking the life out of it or annoying other people with your relentless self-promotion?

Don't be "human spam" or a "vampire." That's the advice of Austin Kleon, a local artist and writer whose book "Steal Like an Artist" spent six months on the New York Times best-seller list.

"There's basically the people who want to take all the inspiration, and then there's people who want to flood you with their own thing that they're shilling," he says.

South by Southwest Interactive is the technology-driven part of the annual Austin-based festival for digital, film and music and it starts on Friday. An expected 30,000 people will take part in the interactive and film week that precedes music, and they love it for the spontaneity and the chaos. They also hate it because of the chaos — parties on every corner, marketing handouts at every turn and a sprawling program of panels, screenings and speakers that span at least a dozen city blocks in the heart of Texas.

Flickr user Jason H. Smith,

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.

Edward Snowden will speak at South by Southwest Interactive via videoconference next week. The man who leaked details about the extent of National Security Agency surveillance is currently living in Russia under asylum.

If you don't have a badge, you can still hear Snowden on Monday at 11 a.m. because the Texas Tribune will be offering a free live stream of the session. Snowden will be interviewed by the American Civil Liberties Union's "principal technologist" Christopher Soghoian.

Every year, more than 2,000 acts swarm to SXSW — and every year, NPR Music painstakingly handpicks 100 of the music festival's best discoveries for a downloadable six-hour sampler. We call it The Austin 100, and it's virtually guaranteed to contain something you'll love that you didn't know existed.

For the next 30 days, you can download The Austin 100 from this page — either song by song, or with one click, in its 839 MB entirety — as well as stream it as a continuous mix, both here and through NPR Music's various mobile apps.

This year, the City of Austin is planning to cover over $750,000 worth of fees and services for South by Southwest . 

The proposal, which the Austin City Council is set to vote on Thursday, includes up to $274,320 worth of fee waivers – ranging from $30 sound permit fees to $89,000 worth of litter control services. Any fees already paid by SXSW would be reimbursed to the company. The city would also authorize payments for $481,324 worth of city services – the bulk of which is $340,000 in additional police costs.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

For the first time ever, the City has stopped accepting permit applications for the week of South by Southwest before the actual application deadline.

The application cut-off announced this morning applies to all temporary use, temporary change of use, and music permits. 

Multi-day permit applications have a deadline of one month before the event, so the city’s early cut-off only shortened that application window by one day.