Austin 101 Magazine


  • Tom Morello Brings Solo Atlas Underground Tour to Emo’s Austin

    Coming to Emo’s Saturday December 15th, after his Dallas show, legendary rock guitarist Tom Morello brings his award-winning talents to Austin, this time on his own. The Atlas Underground Experience fall tour in support of his upcoming solo album, The Atlas Underground. The tour kicked off in NYC in October and has only a hand full of dates as he gets his feet wet playing his new songs live. The venues, and the tickets are exclusive. He wants to give fans “an intimate, exclusive opportunity to hear [the album] in its entirety before it’s released!”.


    Emo’s is definitely the intimate setting Morello is wanting. It seats (actually stands) only 1700 people and is one of the most iconic venues in Austin. The album is a collaboration  with amazing musicians like Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons),  Portugal The Man, Gary Clark Jr. (our local guitar legend), WuTangBig Boi, Killer MikeBassnectar, and more.  In a recent interview, he said he “wanted to make the Hendrix of now album” and create a new genre of music with some of his favorite artists. It’s something he’s been working on for years between all his other projects, including touring with Bruce Springsteen.

    Morello was ranked number 40 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” (Wikipedia). Well known for his unconventional guitar style, Morello is best known for alternative Rage Against the Machine, but we’ve been lucky to see him on stage with other amazing artists like Ben Harper, Soundgarden, Audioslave, Pearl Jam, and more.

    Although we miss Rage (RATM), we are so totally impressed with how Morello continues to expand and reinvent himself and his sound. He loves hard rock, blues rock, EDM, hip-hop, rap, you name it. He’s also pretty damn smart and has a degree from Harvard! Check out more on his site

    Wanna hear some amazing stories of his life and career and hanging with great music legends? This show is it! Plus, he’s selling signed copies of the new album! There are still tickets available for this show. Doors are at 7pm and tickets start at only $40.

  • Ryan Bingham Concert Photos One World Theater Austin
  • Gary Clark Jr. Jammed on Night 3 at ACL Live Concert
    by John Croxton
    Gary Clark Jr. is an Austin success story. A local boy made big. He’s a Grammy winning musician and has gotten so busy that we don’t have as many opportunities to see him anymore. So we simple must see the show. This one was rescheduled from earlier this year and was well worth the wait.
    In the not-too-distant past, Gary Clark Jr. and Eve Monsees were Austin High School classmates, learning to play guitar together and growing up in the Austin music scene. Wednesday night Eve and her band, the Exiles took the stage to open the final of Clark’s three-night sold out run at the Moody Theater. Monsees later joined Clark for the final song (encore “Don’t Owe You a Thang”), capping off a string a musical guests sharing the bright lights with Clark onstage over the three nights (including Jimmie Vaughn, Tameca Jones, Eric Tessmer, and Eric Gales).

    Clark played songs from his new album (“This Land”) releasing in early 2019 as well as old favorites (“Bright Lights”, “Blak and Blu”, “Ain’t Messing ‘Round”) and closed out his set with an electrifying version of his first charting single, a cover of the Beatles 1969 #1 hit “Come Together”. As he likes to do, he also got into some old blues, with songs from B.B. King (“My Baby’s Gone” and Albert Collins (“If Trouble Was Money”) among others.

    We heard about the 2 previous nights’ show and openers. But tonight’s show was special. Clark played until around midnight and didn’t seem to be slowing down. He took a short break before the encore and that was it. He brought on amazing guests including opener Eve & the Exiles, who he grew up with around Austin. How cool is that? In addition, guitarist Paul Walker was incredible, playing above his head and jamming like crazy. We love that Clark let’s local Austin musicians shine and is incredibly generous in the opportunities he provides.

    The lyric ‘knowin’ by the X on his hand’ refers to Gary as a young boy trying to get into Austin music clubs (such as iconic Continental Club) to watch his guitar heroes play, but so young he had to have the X because he wasn’t old enough to drink.
    Also, Sonic Highways was a season-long documentary on HBO, where each week they showed the recording of each song on the album in the city it was recorded in.
    final-0777(jerri starbuck)
    In the Austin episode, Gary Clark shows up at Studio 6A to record his guitar solo in ‘God as My Witness’, but without a guitar. Foo Fighters guitarist Pat Smear lets him borrow the guitar he brought, and that he had just bought for the solo. After Gary Clark plays it, Pat says “You can keep that guitar, it’s never going to do anything like that again” (meaning that Pat, a highly skilled guitarist himself, can’t touch Gary Clark’s talent). Really cool moment.
    You can view the ACL TV taping video of the song Foo Fighters recorded in Austin as part of their Sonic Highways album (God as My Witness), where Gary Clark Jr. joins them onstage.
    Check out the video. The song was recorded for the album at KLRU-TV Studio 6A in Austin, Texas and features blues rocker Gary Clark, Jr on lead guitar.
    View the 2018 show, night 3 setlist.
    If you haven’t seen GCJ live, it’s about time. You might be able to catch him at Austin’s iconic venue Antone’s where he is a part owner. Also, he heads out on a major 2019 US tour starting in March in Miami.
  • Legend Willie Nelson Returns to Tape Austin City Limits after 15 Years

    Willie Nelson is synonymous with Austin City Limits. He was the first performer to tape the ACL TV show 44 years ago in 1974, and his larger than life bronze statue is out front. You can also see tons of amazing concert photos of him inside the venue from ACL photographer Scott Newton. This ACL Live taping for the longest-running music television show Season 44  (produced by KLRU) marks his 18th appearance after a long 15 year absence. Although the location has changed (the original ACL venue was located on campus and was quite small), it’s still the best damn place for music you’ll find. The smell of weed filled the room and the smoke filled the air. If you were lucky, you caught the live streaming of the taping online.

    Willie Nelson. Courtesy of KLRU-TV, photographer Scott Newton

    The fact that Nelson is still going strong at 85 and still touring the country to his favorite spots is a natural wonder and he really is famously ‘on the road again’ all the time (I mean c’mon look at his tour schedule). He looks almost exactly the same with his signature svelt figure, long gray braids, and red bandana. He still loves his famous acoustic guitar (Trigger which he’s had since he was 13) with his red, white and blue strap. He looked a little stiff when he walked and you could see him working his hands often during the show. But otherwise, it was the same Willie.

    Nelson says “Well hello there, it’s been awhile”. He wore all black, including his black cowboy hat, jeans, t-shirt, and his puffer coat. He wore a cool necklace. When he took his hat off, the crowd cheered. He made us all laugh hard when he tossed his famous red bandana to a happy audience member, only to turn around to grab another one from his stash (this happened several times). He showed his famous mannerisms of holding one finger in the air throughout the show.

    Willie Nelson. Courtesy of KLRU-TV, photographer Scott Newton

    The set was brief, a little over an hour but in his classic style of continuous songs where they all seem to roll right into the next one. He played many from his enormous catalog and also songs from the Frank Sinatra tribute My Way, his new LP and the show was streamed online. He kicked off the show with ‘Whisky River’ then a guitar solo then ‘Still is Still Moving to Me’. Although known in the beginning for his country/outlaw style of music, Nelson is much more than that. We love the diverse sound, going from blues to ragtime to country in his classic style. He also did many covers of his legendary music friends including “This one’s for Waylon (Jennings)” as he rolled into. ‘It’s All Going to Pot’ and then Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me to the Moon’. And “Then one for Merle (Haggard)” ‘It’s all going to pot’ then ‘Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die’. Then he continued with several more covers- many of the songs were covers. His sister’s piano solos, his own, and harmonica were highlights. His biggest cheers and standing O come from hit songs at the end, ‘Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys’, ‘On the Road Again’, and ‘Always on My Mind’. He closed with his gospel style faves, ‘Will the Circle be Unbroken’ and ‘I’ll Fly Away’ which was awesome and longtime favorites from the beginning. We hadn’t heard many of these songs in years but the lyrics came back instantly to our brains. See the full set list from tonight at Setlist.

    We thought he would bring his family up during the taping but didn’t. His son Lukas Nelson recently did his own taping of the show and it was an epic experience with his band, Promise of the Reel (including brother Mika). No star-studded show with all his favorite friends (and trust us, there are many). He still loves the crowd interaction and audience participation (it’s mostly a sing-along the entire night) and he often holds his hands up to one ear as the crowd yells during key phrases in each song. He doesn’t talk significantly to the crowd and treats the tv taping like a regular concert but shares many a “thank you very much”. He is still incredibly humble and appreciative. He exited with a simple “Thank you Austin City Limits”. His smile is as iconic as his voice and beloved guitar.

    Willie Nelson. Courtesy of KLRU-TV, photographer Scott Newton

    We have been fortunate to cover Willie many times over the last few years, including at his Luck Ranch for Luck Reunion, many concerts, the Beto political rally, and various music festivals. But this one was incredibly special. We hope it’s not his last ACL taping. We don’t know how much longer we will be honored with his presence and we try to soak up as much of him as possible every time. Regardless, we don’t think any other Willie concerts will go down in history as special as this one.

    The band consisted of drums (Paul English), bass guitar (Kevin Smith), harmonica (Mickey Raphael), percussion (Billy English), piano, (his sister Bobbie Nelson is an icon herself), he holds his cup up to cheer her into her amazing solo. He often gives the band ample time to shine during solos. (which gives him a little break). There were a few times when his rhythm wasn’t in sync with the band, but mostly everything went smoothly.

    If you missed this one in person, don’t worry, Nelson has his annual string of shows back at ACL for New Year’s.

    You won’t want to miss this special show when it airs. See the info and the schedule for airing the show (sometime in 2019) at KLRU.


  • Simple Minds Concert Review

    The biggest band to be exported from Scotland brought us back to the eighties again. The show at ACL Live in Austin was in support of their Walk Between Worlds (2018)-their 18th studio album, on the heels of the surprising success of Big Music (2016). It’s their first full tour in over 25 years.

    final-0133Jim Kerr has still got it. Sexy. He was full of energy, profuse sweating, from major dance moves and killer poses. He was so limber and fit, he jumped around and twirled the mic stand, he got down on the floor in several poses-awesomeness. These fans were die hards from the beginning, you could feel it. Some travelled far. Texas was lucky to be added to the short North American tour.

    See all our photos from the show on Austin 101

    The band took a short break after the first set and changed into dry clothes then played a second full set with most of the hits being played near the end or encore.

    Kerr shared fun stories throughout the night including the one where he was on a flight and the lady next to him most certainly remembered him as they guy from Simply Red! He was super engaged with the audience and really connected with everyone.

    final-0129They brought us back to a simpler time of fun music and coming-of-age movies like “Breakfast Club” with a #1 hit on the soundtrack (that they originally didn’t even want to do). So many fun sing alongs and we were surprised we remembered all the words from iconic songs like “Don’t You”, “Alive and Kicking”, and “Love Song”.  Our favorite “Promised You a Miracle” was especially awesome. They only played a few songs from the latest album, which people loved, but really made them happy to play all the hits we used to dance to.

    We loved the simple set with cool light bright backdrop and the band dispersement with several guitars that really got picking! Really cool white light beams and at times, a completely black set. We especially loved the kick ass female drummer, Cherisse. Kerr gave shoutouts to lead Charlie as the ‘guitar hero’. The backup singer, Sarah Brown came front for a song and blew us all away. Strong and soulful, she stole the show for a moment.

    SM-NA-tour1200Like U2, this band has been going for 40 plus years and seem to continue to reinvent their sound and their vision.

    Set 1
    The Signal and the Noise
    Love Song
    Let There Be Love
    Up on the Catwalk
    Sense of Discovery
    Promised You a Miracle
    The American
    Hunter and the Hunted
    Stand by Love
    Dirty Old Town (Ewan MacColl cover)
    Set 2
    Theme for Great Cities
    She’s a River
    Walk Between Worlds
    Honest Town
    Someone Somewhere in Summertime
    See the Lights
    All the Things She Said
    Don’t You (Forget About Me)
    New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
    Book of Brilliant Things (Lead vocals by Sarah Brown)
    Once Upon a Time
    Alive and Kicking
    Sanctify Yourself

  • Blue October with Kitten Concert Photos

    diego donamaria

  • Andy Grammer with John Splintoff & Leroy Sanchez Concert Photos

    by Diego Donamaria

  • Loverboy Concert Photos from HEB Center Austin

  • Rick Springfield Concert Photos HEB Center Austin

  • Buzzfest Concert Photos Houston 2018
  • Simple Minds Bring 80’s Throwback Concert to Austin

  • KT Tunstall Concert Photos ACL 3TEN Austin

    Tina Berard

  • Cherub Concert Photos from Stubb’s Iconic Venue Austin

    Diego Donamaria

  • Photos: The B52s rocked Tobin Center in San Antonio

    by Nick Berard

  • Legend Nick Cave Concert Photos Dallas

  • Aaron Lewis at Iconic Billy Bobs Venue Photos


    denise enriquez

  • ACL Music Festival Review

    Besides the constant threat of weather issues (that mostly didn’t transpire except for a minor late start one day and hot and humid 90’s), the festival seems to be a huge success. Although we heard many fans express some disappointment in this year’s lineup, many came from far away to see amazing musicians from around the world across many genres. Check out the festival lineup ACL Fest. Politics and social consciousness were big themes at this year’s festival. From Chvrches to The National, everyone was talking about this critical time in our country, with mid-term elections right around the corner. and a tight Senate race in Texas. Hoping to get young voters to turn out, almost many artists used their platform (similar to Taylor Swift recently) to try to make a difference. Our goal was to get to as many stages and acts as we could, despite having to weave through a packed crowd of over 75,000 people, we made it to tons. In addition to the main festival, there were tons of great ACL Late Night Shows this year and we caught several. Check out all the photos on Austin 101.

    Day 1 Highlights

    Our short list included: Asleep at the Wheel, Gang of Youths, Alvvays, Golden Dawn Arkestra, Greta Van Fleet, Khalid, Odesza, Brockhampton, The National, Lovely the Band, Mikky Ekko, Bishop Briggs, David Byrne.

    By far, headliner Paul McCartney was the biggest draw and highlight of this year’s ACL Festival. Fans showed up hours early to get a good spot to see an icon of the Beatles. He played epic Beatles songs plus a little from his new album. Egypt Station was released in September and saw Paul score his first US #1 album in 36 years.
    The next best thing we saw was David Byrne, who many hadn’t seen in years, but we were fortunate to cover recently in Houston. A music legend in his own right and founder of Talking Heads. Always interesting and controversial, Byrne is still on fire and as provocative as ever. “Once in a Lifetime” and all the oldies and some of the new stuff was awesome. Byrne plays barefoot holding a model of a brain and has a full band and singers behind him. He went back and forth between playing guitar and just singing. We loved the unique choreography with his band. We heard fans talking about this set the entire festival. It was the highlight for many, including fans from Colorado that came to the fest to see him after attending his show in Denver.


    Khalid (Robinson) was a fan fave as he’s a local boy made big. From El Paso and blowing up in the last year (not to be confused with DJ Khaled), we love any opportunity to see this kid. He has a sweet, soulful voice far beyond his years (19). The set was a highlight for many young kids and a true sign of a festival focused on including many music genres to appeal to a wide population.

    We knew the word would be out on young Michigan rockers Greta Van Fleet-sure enough it was impossible to get close to the stage on this one. We were lucky enough to cover their show at Stubb’s this year and they will definitely be on our BEST SHOWS OF 2018 list. These young guys, brothers and friends, have been called the ‘post millennial Led Zeppelin‘ since they sound exactly like them.  They say they truly bonded initially on blues music. Lead Josh Kiszka is compelling and haunting, and the brothers on guitar are master shredders-incredibly talented and they’re so young! These guys will be headliners sooner than you think. Next to Byrne, GVF was one of our top picks.

    final-9341jerri starbuck

    The National was another huge draw for tons of fans who hadn’t seen them in years. Without Sir Paul, these guys might have been festival headliners. Another band of brothers and friends, their indie rock sound is unique and critically acclaimed. Although lead Berninger seemed to be a bit out of it at times, the set was definitely a highlight and we love how animated and engaged he is. He jumped into the crowd on several occasions and ran to both sides of the mega stage so that all the fans could get a close up of him. It included tons of new and old stuff and the crowd went crazy. We love that he’s passionate about politics and philanthropy and that they use their platform for good. He made several references to the upcoming elections, “It’s up to you guys”.


    Bishop Briggs (Sarah Grace McLaughlin)  is a rising star and we were lucky enough to catch her at SXSW in Austin this year so we knew she was special. This British rocker has a great presence and fun but haunting appearance and is definitely one to watch. Many have called her a huge 2018 breakout artist. Her set was very popular and showcased here blended music style of pop, folk, rock.

    Golden Dawn Arkestra was one of the most colorful sets. They played to a packed Titos stage. The costumes are incredible and resemble intergalactic meets ancient Greece. Freakishly long nails. Party eerie, part belly dancing, the lead vocals are stunning. It’s  a big band with dancers for a little stage- brass, guitars, tambourine, xylophone, dj, etc. The music is transcendent and a bit psychedelic rock and fits perfectly with the ‘Keep Austin Weird’ theme.

    This was our first time seeing Mikky Ekko (John Stephen Sudduth) and it was awesome at the small BMI stage. A guy with tons of soul, cool hair, the girls were swooning. Best known for his collaboration with Rhianna on “Stay” he is making a name for himself this year and we will see much more of this guy.

    final-0496Asleep at the Wheel and Ray Benson are always a highlight. Having been one of the original influences for ACL Fest, they play every year on Friday. They bring their local Texas sound (they live in Austin) and keep the Texas roots and country/swing alive and well at the fest. Read our interview with Benson HERE.

    We thought the Silent Disco was an interesting and odd choice for a headlining slot but fans seemed to enjoy dancing around with their headphones on to a DJ with glowing lights.

    10x10.7_acl.lnv2_-80f1d0d2-800x800Day 2 Highlights

    Some of our Day 2 picks included local Jackie Venson, Verite, Chvrches, The Wombats, The Breeders, Sofi Tukker, Japanese Breakfast, Brandi Carlile, San HaloNellySt. Vincent, Metallica. We were also pleasantly surprised by artists that weren’t on our radar before: Blood Orange, Naked Giants,  Residente, and Sweet Spirit. St Vincent and Metallica were probably the biggest draws we saw Day 2. Mon Laferte, IAMDDB, SupaBwe & Cuco made their mark as breakout artists, “ones to watch”.

    St. Vincent (Annie) was challenging to get close to the stage for since fans camped out for hours to get in front. Annie was stunning as usual with her gorgeous short tight red outfit, knee-high boots, sleek hair, and perfect makeup. The stage was set far back so some fans couldn’t see Annie if they were on the sides. We were a little surprised she wasn’t on a bigger main stage. She started in some fog and cool lights with great videos behind her that reminded of Talking Heads. She played some faves including “Pills” and “New York” and tons more. Her guitars are stunning and the robotic choreography is memorizing. The faces of the drums and keyboard were a bit creepy with their pantyhose heads, but other than that, the set was incredible. We like she can joke about a glitch with her gloves during “New York” which she changed to “Texas”. We love she shouted out to Beto (running for Senator against Cruz), Congress Ave, and ‘mother f***ers’.

    Metallica made so so many fans happy by being a hard rock, metal headliner that many haven’t seen perform in years. People got there hours ahead and the only competition for this major band in that slot was Justice and the Silent Disco. The boys performed in true fashion with epic guitar shreds and high energy vocals you could hear across the park. They played 2 hours of hard-hitting music, including all of their beloved classic anthems like “One”, “Nothing Else Matters”, “Seek and Destroy”, “Enter Sandman”, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and many others and spared no detail on their massive stage & lighting setup. There were even fireworks.


    Japanese Breakfast- This was a fun surprise. Michelle Zauner has a unique presence on stage.Plus the name is awesome. The music actually fits the album title, “Soft Sounds from Another Planet” as it’s very etherial. We love that Zauner is not Japanese at all, but Korean and jewish.  It’s hard to define the sound but she sounds a bit synth pop and a bit emo. We love that she plays guitar and sings. The band is great. Her outfit and her style were super cute and sexy with tatoos, bright pink makeup, bra, and shorts. Backup vocals could be stronger. These guys filled up a decently large stage and will me moving up quickly.

    Sofi Tukker-  a musical duo based in New York consisting of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern. It’s kinda EDM but these guys are super original. We kept hearing great buzz about them and they packed the small Tito’s stage spilling far out into the festival grounds. Everyone was trying to get a glimpse. He was on synth and drums and vocals, she on guitar. Super sexy persona and outfit with guitar moves made to look phallic, and amazing colorful outfit and set, she totally engaged with the crowd and used all parts of the stage to connect. They sing in Portuguese which makes their sound and set even more alluring and mysterious. Fans loved EDM faves play “Best Friend” & “Energia”. It was by far one of the  funnest sets of the fest.


    The Breeders– with lead vocals and guitar -music legend Kim Deal (The Pixies) brought a huge crowd of indie fans to the fest and wowed the crowd with stories about music legend Kurt Cobain who listened to her music and was a fan. They even toured together in the 90s. She has some killer guitars too with great memories and history. There’s a good story about her stolen guitar too. This band has been playing together 30 plus years and are still rockin’ and drawing big crowds. We love that she gets political and also candid about struggling with addiction and wanting to help others. The set was filled with the fave sing-along songs that took the alt rock fans back in time and the Seattle sound.

    Brandi Carlile- although she plays in Austin a lot, we check her out every time. We love that she speaks out and gets political too. She made comments about Kavanaugh and how critical it is to get out and vote in the midterms. Although she has a new album, most fans were singing along to all her favorites. She’s an amazing multi-instramentalist, playing piano, guitar, and vocals. She plays with a full band, brothers on guitar, drums, keyboards, and some strings. For weekend two, fans were lucky to see Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready play with her and surprised everyone playing Zeppelin covers. The two are from Seattle and the legendary music scene there.

    Nelly brought the party to the huge HomeAway stage on day 2, opening up with “Country Grammar” he came out guns blazing in his UT football jersey celebrating the team’s big win. The star attracting all ages, had teens and parents dancing together to “Cruise”, “Ride Wit Me” & “E.I.”. It was a super fun, high-energy set.

    The Deftones got off to a rocky start with apparent audio/sound issues on the first song. They quickly recovered and promptly had the fans rocking to favorites “Diamond Eyes”, “Digital Bath”, & “Knife Party” at the massive American Express stage.

    Bazzi filled the HomeAway stage with his R&B influenced pop, to the delight of throngs of young female fans. The sun was out and it was still hot when he performed but that didn’t stop the crowd from packing in to get a glimpse and groove along to his songs.

    Sweet Spirit’s Austin native front-woman Sabrina Ellis killed it on the BMI stage. Although Sweet Spirit is relatively new, the following is there and they showed up to support their debut at ACL.

    Mon Laferte knew her audience when the Blues/Pop/Rock singer already had the Honda stage crowd in the palm of her hand, she drove it home with Selena’s “Si Una Vez”. Her Latin sound mixed with punk undertones was a festival stand out and a great discovery for new fans.

    Verite’s pop sound had young fans swarming to the HomeAway stage where she performed “Nothing” in a gorgeous pink suit. Her set was full of energy and she confidently demanded attention from center stage as well as from behind her keyboard.

    Day 3 Highlights

    The last day of ACL Weekend 1 did not disappoint. Perhaps the weather did a bit, but certainly not the music. A large part of the crowd that was in full attendance during Friday and Saturday stayed home because of the less than positive weather forecast. Needless to say, our favorite bands provided all the motivation we needed to take a chance on the weather and have a great time. There were so many bands we included in our preview, Youngblud, Arizona, Phoenix, Arctic Monkeys, Travis Scott, Sylvan Esso, Camila Cabello (who we just show with Taylor Swift), Houndmouth, Tinashe, Lisa Loebe, The Revolution (Prince), Elle King, Janelle Monae, XAmbassadors, and local fave Shakey Graves.

    There were so many great bands on Day 3 but these are some of our favorites. One of the top buzz bands we wanted to see- Alternative-pop group Arizona (no relation to the state) brought their synth masterpieces and their dance-along-the-way pop songs to the festival. The undeniable catchiness of their songs made these guys so much fun to listen to. We love “Freaking Out” and “Cross My Mind”. We also got to cover their ACL Late Night Show.

    Parquet Courts showed us that your music can be spunky and passionate without seeming overly sentimental or sticky emotional. The relief of listening to a band that makes you jump up and down and lift your hands and rock side to side is so life-infusing. Lots of fans at this one. Despite being in Austin recently, it was a set on our short list.

    XAmbassadors brought their hard-hitting rock sounds along with a message of unity and support for sexual assault survivors. You must know that they are one of my favorite bands from this year’s line up and I couldn’t wait to see them perform. I loved every second of their set. As you looked around the crowd, it was clear that the high energy, sing-along-to-every-song energy was shared amongst all of us.

    Last but certainly not least, was headliners Arctic Monkeys. This is a band that has evolved and has reinvented itself ,both musically and artistically. We wanted to see what their new sound felt like. The band played songs from a long history of hits and the crowd loved it. They have recent music in 2018 (“Four Out of Five” is sweet) but we love their old stuff the most. We love that their music can be experienced not just in the sound, but in the rhythm as well. It was clear to see that they are still at the top of their game and they were an amazing way to bring the festival to a close.

  • Review: Once Musical at Zach Theater Austin

    Once opened September 19, 2018 and is currently running at Zach’s Topfer Theater. We first saw the movie a few years back and when we heard the musical was coming to Zach, we had to check it out. It’s a perfect story for Austin as it’s about a struggling musician who almost gives up on his dreams. It’s set in Ireland and filled with tons of emotion and a great story of love, family, and friendship. The film written and directed by John Carney, was based on the music of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (who perform in Swell Season). It was a great little indie movie, a sleeper, that did well. The soundtrack is awesome and the main track, “Falling Slowly” is a highlight.


    ‘Based on the 2007 Academy Award®-winning film, Once is an enchanting, modern love story about the complexities of relationships and the power of music to connect us all. Once tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music’ (

    5-ZACHTheatre_ONCE_8626_PhotoCredit_KirkTuck.jpgThe male lead. “Guy”, Corbin Mayer, had a powerful voice with a great range- great highs and lows. Very, very difficult and rare. He reminded me of Ethan Hawke-who lives in Austin-and totally mirrors the lead in the movie as well. At times, the female lead, “Girl” Olivia Nice‘ character resembled music legend Carole King (minus the thick Czech accent). They both write and play beautiful songs. When Nice sat at the piano, it was beautiful. There was a full ensemble of musicians with several guitars, strings, accordion, sax, drums, and more. We especially loved all the strings, and the lead violinist also sang and was a standout. Everyone played, acted, and sang.


    The set was very simple and the scenes are mostly in the bar where they work, and the roommate-filled apartment, and the shop. We would’ve loved a little more set change but it made sense. The band came out and played and there was a soft open, and for a moment we weren’t sure if the show had started. At times the story was a bit confusing and hard to follow, especially between the two leads. Was it a budding friendship or did they have a relationship in mind? She seemingly saves him from his own demise and depression, pushing him and inspiring him to pursue his dreams. There were times it felt a little slow, or long (but it worked well and followed the film). Adding complexity to their situation was that she had a daughter and the estranged husband lived far away. They both came off bad relationships to find love and adventure (we think) in New York. They recorded an album which we assume, leads to their success and happiness.

    It’s obvious now why Once received 8 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The show runs through October 28th. We love that theater in Austin is fantastic and yet affordable. Tickets start at $25. Check out more info at Zach Theater.


    Corbin Mayer – Guy

    Olivia Nice – Girl

    Ben Hulan – Billy

    Scotty Roberts – Da

    Christabel Lin – Ex-Girlfriend

    Beau Moore – Andrej

    Ginna Doyle – Reza

    Johnny Newcomb – Svec

    Cami Alys – Baruska

    Anya Gibian – Bank Manager

    Luke Linsteadt – Emcee/Eamon



    Dave Steakley – Director

    Allen Robertson – Music Director

    Cassie Abate – Choreographer

    Donald Eastman – Scenic Designer

    Susan Branch Towne– Costume Designer

    Serret Jensen – Hair and Makeup Designer

    Sarah Maines – Lighting Designer

    Craig Brock – Sound Designer

    Scott Groh – Properties Designer

    Catherine Anne Tucker – Stage Manager

    Megan Smith – Assistant Stage Manager

    Diane Irwin – Assistant to the Director

  • Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson on Austin, ACL Fest, and being Texan

    Benson has been busy for decades. He puts out an album about every two years (26 albums, 10 Grammys, and many awards) and tours over half the year-a life he agrees with a chuckle, is not for everyone. He takes a little time off here and there but doesn’t for-see retiring. When asked how he does it, he answers simply, “coffee”. He has a new album, “New Routes” and is hosting The Texas Dance Hall Tour in November-saving the history and legacy of epic music venues is a passion.  Since he was the original inspiration into the ACL Music Festival, we thought it was perfect to chat with him this week. He plays every year on the main stage on Friday. Here is what he shared with us (in his unforgettable deep bass voice).

    Ray_KT_Dennis__Josh_Photo_by_Patrick_Carnahan_500_375_s(Shorefire Media)

    What do you think of all the huge changes in our city?

    I think it’s inevitable and the town has changed quite a bit. It’s a combination of things- decrease in affordability of real estate, the type of people who come to town is different, the traffic. I had to sell my studio after 27 years. Compared to L.A. and other cities it’s still a great city. My grandfather bitched about the cost increase of things from 1920 to 1970, but I focus on things that can help our quality of life- solving traffic problems with mass transit and highway improvements, remote work, etc. There are solutions. I would love to have the train (Metro rail) go to the airport but might not happen in my lifetime. There are good things though, I love Central Market and Whole Foods- my neighbors started it-with access to great organic food.

    You started out your career in iconic Austin venues like the Broken Spoke, Threadgills, Gruene Hall.

    Yes, I started in 1973 at the Armadillo, Broken Spoke, Shoal Creek Saloon and were the first touring act at Gruene Hall in 1975. The first place, which is gone now (last month) was Hills Cafe on Saint Elmo road in South Austin. It’s important to preserve the remaining venues and it’s why we’re doing the Texas Dance Hall Tour. They need help with repairs.CM-TDHT-1-1-2024x1171

    We still love playing the Moody Theater (ACL Live), Broken Spoke, etc. and we were the first show to play ACL Live. It’s sad that some of these great venues might not be around.

    What’s the story on the Nashville vs Austin music scene and are we losing great songwriters and musicians?

    Yes, we are brother and sister. Both have a great variety of music of different genres. Nashville has the infrastructure for the writer, and Austin doesn’t. If someone is good and can break into the mainstream, they can get a publishing deal and get some money and hit the big time. There are 12 publishing companies there. Here, it’s more for the solo artist and bands doing it on their own. There’s a benefit of doing it on your own and doing it your way.


    Love the new album cover and the Avett Brothers song.

    Yeah, we have a new band, new members, we change them out like Fleetwood Mac (laughs). Katie is our new fiddle/vocalist. We started by doing a demo in the studio and then decided to make an album. It’s based on swing music, some folk, rocknroll. The album was actually done and then they sent us this song (“Willie Got Their First” an ode to Willie Nelson by Seth Avett), and I sent it to Willie, he loved it. We were in town at the same time and recorded it and added it to the album (released in September). Check out the songCheck out the band.

    How did your sound start and how has it evolved?

    A hundred people have been in and out of the band. We are basically a string band with fiddles, steel guitar, bass drum, sax, clarinet, vocals with rhythms based on swing and 40s music and rockabilly and we put it all together. We’re a little Willie, Andrew Sisters, Buck Owens, and Merle Haggard. Everyone who comes in the band adds their own twist to our songs and we keep evolving-as long as we can convince talented people to come on the ride. (Why wouldn’t they?).

    We recently covered the Beto-Willie rally in Austin. Do you get involved in politics and events?

    I’m the one who introduced Beto  to Willie. I texted him and said this guy is good and we first jammed at COTA at Willie’s 4th of July Picnic this year. I had to be in California during the rally for my sons wedding and there was no way I could miss that. Read more on Beto and his momentum for Texas Senator.

    Beto Willie concert9-2018 WillieDiego Donamaria

    On being Texan

    I moved to Texas to become a Texan. There are some things that are purely Texan, that one can learn. We are an oil state with a strong economy because of it. We are aware of that. But Texas includes all type of people and values. You can be a vegetarian, and still have Texan qualities (pride, manners, helping neighbors, kindness, southern hospitality) and we have a unique and diverse outlook of fairness, equality, inclusiveness, independence. You can be a writer or an artist- with UT we attract creative people from music, literature, film, and art. Rouchenberg (Robert) is from Texas. The history of Texas is important and that of Mexican Americans. Michener came here to write his famous book (Texas). I met him and it’s a good book. His books are all based on history, with some fiction.

  • X Ambassadors Photos at ACL Festival

    Diego Donamaria

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