sxsw

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Good morning. The National Weather Service says Austin’s in for a partly cloudy and cool day, with a high in the mid-60s.

Lead Story: This year’s array of South by Southwest conferences started this week with South by Southwest EDU, focusing on education.

One speaker yesterday was AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, who looked ahead at the changing challenges for public education.

Mobile Loaves and Fishes

Homeless people will be selling coffee, snacks and ice cream from push carts during South by Southwest. The local non-profit Mobile Loaves and Fishes is running the program. They call it Street Treats. (Not to be confused with this food truck that bears the same name.)

“We wanted to create a dignifying opportunity for these men and women to earn an income. We’re able to put them in a uniform, and they look really clean and presentable to the community," said Stephanie Asmus with Mobile Loaves and Fishes. She says this is the second year of their program.

flickr.com/joelanthonyvaldez

Cell phone companies are getting ready for South by Southwest, when thousands of smartphone-toting attendees will be putting mobile bandwidth limits to the test.

“What we’re doing is we’re adding capacity to all of the existing sites that cover that area,” says Bill Brickle, Verizon’s director of system performance for Central Texas. “We’re also adding coverage by adding portable cell sites, or ‘cells on wheels’ as we call them.”

Audio for The Austin 100 is no longer available.

It says a lot about SXSW's size and scope that this "sampler" of the annual music festival spans six and a half hours, but here we are: 100 songs by 100 artists worth discovering at this year's big event.

KUT News

Good morning. The National Weather Service says a Red Flag Warning in effect until 8 p.m. today. The windy, dry conditions mean a high risk of fire in Central Texas. The Travis County Fire Marshal is asking everyone to be careful and to avoid doing things like mowing, welding and outdoor cooking.

Lead Story: The nation is three days into those across-the-board federal budget cuts called the sequester.  And the Secretary of Homeland Security says some of the nation’s bigger airports are already seeing security-line waits up 150 to 200 percent because of immediate cuts to overtime pay.

[This story originally ran on Feb. 22, 2013, but still applies today.]

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the Valentine's Day cards that got returned with no forwarding address is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how music fans could and should approach SXSW, the gigantic music festival held every March in Austin, Texas.

SXSW

In little over a months the city will swell as South by Southwest takes over downtown Austin. And the over 200,000 expected festival attendees have no shortage of events to attend: Today, SXSW released its film lineup, totaling 109 features.  

Film Conference and Festival Producer Janet Pierson writes that this year’s lineup “embraces love and the need/search/desire for connection.”

Good Friday morning to you. Austin’s in for a warm and breezy weekend until a cold front blows in Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on.

“Though it’s only November, the springtime music conference that takes over Austin each year, South by Southwest, is already beginning to take shape.  Thursday, organizers released the initial lineup.”

“Austin-based singer-songwriter Darden Smith is working to do something about the thousands of service members affected by PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). …

Smith is the founder of a new program to help promote soldiers’ healing through music. Texas Music Matters’ David Brown reports from a camp outside Fort Hood, site of a recent Songwriting with Soldiers retreat.”

Good Morning. Once the clouds dissipate, Austin can expect warm weather with a high of 86, according to the National Weather Service. Here are some stories KUT News has been working on:

Three Austinites are suing the City of Austin, Travis County, the Austin Independent School District and Central Health for allowing tax breaks on what the plaintiffs refer to as “allegedly” historic properties.

AMLI Residential, builder of several high profile apartment communities in Austin, has announced it is going to build a mid-rise project in Mueller town center.

The popular Austin film, music and interactive festival is rolling out the SXSW V2 festival in Las Vegas in August. Rather than merely being an extension of the music and film events that take place in Austin, SXSW V2 is geared toward tech startups.

Texas Republicans have made limiting trimming the state budget an integral part of their mission over the last decade, but many worry the state has simply shifted the burden to local governments.   

flickr.com/photos/scelera

The Austin music industry festival that started in 1987 and has since grown to encompass film, the internet, the environment, and education is now expanding again. And for the first time, South by Southwest is looking beyond Austin City Limits.

The inaugural SXSW V2V runs August 11 to 14 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas and will focus primarily on tech startups.

“We think there’s enough momentum in the startup space to power a second event and not in any way weaken the things we’re doing in Austin in March,” says Hugh Forrest with SXSW Interactive.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

South by Southwest Interactive announced the bulk of its 2013 programming today – some 450 panels, discussions and events covering everything tech you can think of. The five-day tech festival has eclipsed its music counterpart in registered attendees in recent years. 

Marquee names included among the festival's “Featured Sessions” include Univeristy of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers on innovation in higher education; Whole Foods founder John Mackey on “conscious capitalism;” Craigslist founder Craig Newmark on the future of journalism; video game developer-turned-space tourism advocate Richard Garriott de Cayeux; and “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory” creator Chuck Lorre.

The first Interactive keynote has also been announced for 2013: Matthew Inman of comedy website The Oatmeal.

flickr.com/lancecheungmedia

The second-annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Eco conference comes to an end today.

SXSW Eco is an offshoot of the wildly-popular SXSW festival that takes over Austin for a good chunk of March each year, and has since grown from its roots in music and film to encompass technology and education.

SXSW Eco is still a comparatively smaller affair, viewed against the whopping $190 million in estimated economic impact SXSW brings overall. But this year’s festival expanded its focus onto five themes: Scalable, ecological solutions; collaborations between disparate communities on global issues like climate change; advances in technology and design; green economics; and visions for an environmentally sustainable future.

The team with KUT News’ StateImpact Texas has been filing dispatches from Eco, starting with an interview with Michael E. Mann, a Penn State University professor whose work includes the iconic “hockey stick” graph showing a rise in global temperatures since the dawn of the industrial age – work that his made him a target of climate change deniers.

Good morning and a happy Friday. A cold front should blow in around midnight, meaning weekend lows plummeting into the 40s. Here’s some recent stories from KUT News.  

Here’s some more Austin and Texas stories folks are talking about:

  • As Voters Weigh Austin District Plans, a Question Lingers: Who Should Draw the Boundaries? (Statesman)

One of the two plans voters will consider Nov. 6 — switching the council from seven citywide members to 10 district representatives and a citywide mayor — calls for a commission of citizens with no paid ties to city politics to draw the district lines. Critics say that approach, added to the ballot by a citizens’ petition effort, has several possible pitfalls, including strict criteria that could disqualify too many people from serving.

The other plan — eight district representatives and three citywide seats, including a mayor — doesn’t say who would draw the lines, but the City Council would likely be involved. Detractors worry that would lead to the council manipulating the lines for political gain.

flickr.com/brotherM

Lawmakers Look at Retirement Plans

Texas lawmakers are scheduled to examine some retirement programs this morning – including the Employees Retirement System of Texas and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

The Texas House Committee on Pensions, Investments & Financial Services wants to know the viability of the plans as they are now. And they’ll look at what might happen to the retirement plans if they are switched from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans or some combination of the two.

TRS is the largest public retirement system in the state, with more than 1.3 million people are on the plan.

Assange’s Legal Threat to SXSW

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange threatened the South by Southwest festival with legal action if it proceeded with its planned showing of the documentary Wikileaks: Secrets and Lies in 2012. That's according to London’s The Guardian.

Courtesy SXSW

Tickets go on sale this afternoon for a music event being held in honor of a beloved member of the Austin music community.

SXSW Music Creative Director Brent Grulke passed away August 13 at the age of 51.

GrulkeFest is September 8 at ACL Live at The Moody Theater. Tickets start at $20 – proceeds will go to an education fund for Grulke’s seven-year-old son.

The line-up for the festival includes Doctors’ Mob, the Reivers and Wild Seeds.

Kelly Connelly for KUT News

Here's one heck of a lunch topic: Responding to a terrorist attack in downtown Austin during South by Southwest.

That was one of the noontime subjects city officials considered yesterday, in a workshop discussing their role in case of catastrophe – such as terrorism, an infrastructure collapse or a natural disaster.

Attendees, including the members of the Austin City Council, considered a range of worst-case scenarios. One was that SXSW attack: “It is a beautiful morning in Austin – bustling, with SXSW in full swing,” a planning scenario posited. “Without warning a large explosion rocks downtown Austin … Confirmed fatalities – 83; Injuries – 200+ (some key officials and staff are known to be among them.)”

"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.

Day two for NPR Music's team at South By Southwest started on a high note and hardly ever flagged. After the Wednesday night showcase ran to the wee hours of the morning, Thursday's opening event, a keynote address by Bruce Springsteen, didn't start until after noon, local time.

Photo by KUT News

Texas Challenges Voting Rights Act

Texas is challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act that requires the state to get pre-clearance from the Justice Department for any change to voting procedures. Yesterday Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed that petition to a three-judge panel in Washington.

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