ACL Live….Put Your Phone Away


Ok, I gotta respond to this, on taping days, I get hit with the same question, in different forms: Will u take some pictures of the band???… Or why don’t you ever take pictures of the bands???…

No, I will not and its a phone free environment. They are taping the performances for tv and there are professional photographers doing their thing. I actually relish tapings for this. Of course, the music is fantastic and the staff is great but the no phone thing is really awesome. Just doesn’t happen. Its like being transported to a time before everybody’s life revolved around their phone. You know., when we just did things to do them and were fully there … I am a slave to my phone, The Daze is my only fleeting excuse. So, I take pictures before and after, but I turn off my phone during the show.

The Echocentrics Are Back!


I like this band yall! They just killed a gig for KUTX. Adrian Quesada can do no wrong when it comes to music. I have liked every project, that I have seen, that he has been a part of…And yes, Mr. John Branch sings… And a drummer that has been the beats in many of my favorite bands, Mr. John Speice takes no prisoners… Many billions of years ago, I felt that they were going to go all the way. They disappeared from my radar.  The Echocentrics are back… We are going to be seeing and hearing more about this band.



BoKeys: just what I needed Fridaze

The Bo-Keys show at Antones was a treat for me last night. I am a huge fan of the Reverend. Call Me & Lets Stay Together are treasured albums that I go through from start tô finish frequently. They just have the flow. They never get old for me. So, last night during the second set, I recognized the beats. I’m still smiling now. There wàs room in Antones too. This town doesn’t go anywhere when there is împending rain disaster. Never has. Even now, when most folks aren’t even from here anymore. That said, go tonight, they have a roof at Antones! Tonight îs their third and final shôw. Soul music… get there

Supèr group plays continental club

imageLast night, I had the opportunity to visit the Continental club again for an amazing show, Casa Magnetica feat. Andrew Trube & Anthony Farrell w/ the Moeller Brothers. I also saw so many friends . The club always books the best shows but I wanted to make sure to tell the powers that be to book these guys again… please … Much shredding took plaçe, great beats and keys that transcend our space and time. Every member sang a solo. Super fun. Be somebody!

Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter – Bass Concert Hall – Austin, TX 4/21/2016


Green Room

the green room

Photo Source: IMDB

Tonight, The Green Room was screened at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar.  The edge-of-your-seat thriller was very well acted and very well put together.  The cast included Patrick Stewart playing the lead villian role as a Neo-Nazi club owner in Oregon.  It starts with a punk band performing at the club.  After the show, as they’re leaving the club, the bandmates find themselves in a bit of a situation that leads them to fend for their lives, trying and escape the club’s green room.  This one kept me pretty on edge the entire time and featured some really intense, gruesome scenes.  The choice of having the story play out in a punk rock venue played a really pivotal role in setting the movie’s gritty mood and tone throughout.  I definitely recommend going to see this one, if you haven’t already.  If you’re like me and love suspenseful thrillers that make you feel like your living in each situation yourself, go see this movie.

Maria MeSa rEturns to review Adrian Conner’s “Hush”

“Hush” is a daring and bold effort from Austin guitarist Adrian Conner. Adrian has been image out great original music here in Austin for many years, she’s not someone to be overlooked. I first discovered her with 2006’s “Adrian for President” release which I snobbishly expected to be awful, then stuck it in my CD player and was completely converted by the first track. I’ve been following her ever since, still digging what she does and I’ve never been disappointed. While she is typically known as a hard rocker (who will rock your socks right off if you see her live) this album comes off with a different feel that doesn’t seem to fit any one genre. This is a creative growth step for an artist who is capable of many things.
With this album, she lays all her cards on the table and steps into the acoustic realm. As most guitarists know, playing acoustically is like being naked; it shows all your flaws and weaknesses if you have any. Yet Adrian takes the challenge and shines like the professional you’d expect. She is the real deal, nothing to hide. This is definitely the best recorded example of her guitar work to date. What also needs to be pointed out is that the girl is a really good singer. She has a sweet voice that never sets a foot wrong anywhere, ever.
“Hush” features her great original songwriting, which to me is more meaningful than her guitar prowess. Most original songs are acoustic versions from her albums “BFD” (produced by Go-Go’s member Kathy Valentine) and “Be Your Own Saviour” (produced by Alex Lyon and Adrian Conner). Also included is a brilliant unreleased instrumental “Country Poontang,” which borders on bluegrass, a bit of a departure in style she has no trouble with. She then goes on to some brilliant covers, like Led Zeppelin’s Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, and Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing,” all acoustic which she nails completely. These are not easy covers, yet they all come off like she does this in her sleep.
“Hush” is a 3-piece effort featuring Armando Eric Reyes on very solid and in the pocket drums, and Melissa Carper on equally solid acoustic upright bass.
-Maria Mesa


Living in the world of developing AI, we are seeing more movies like this one pop up. Imagine if Siri had a baby with the film Her and you get a story of a man obsessing over AI he created and the downfall of preferring it to his wife, or the real deal.

Joe Larsen (Martin Starr) is borderline antisocial and graphs everything in his life, including his propensity for panic attacks. Joe works for a tech. company that is tasked with building an automated operator to interact with end users that call into a healthcare provider. The company is looking for a very specific voice. One that has compassion and empathy. Joe’s job is to build this automated system. After enlisting the help of his wife who, Emily (Mae Whitman) who has the right voice the project, Joe finds himself drifting further away from Emily and falling for his artificially created Emily who is not, in his mind imperfect. On the other hand Emily, is a budding actor/comedian and is finding that her new form of expression is not only freeing, but gives her an outlet to voice her frustrations about her failing marriage.

This film has some really touching and funny moments, even in the dysfunctional struggle Joe experiences with his obsession with artificial Emily. It punctures a fear that has been a laden concept for years. What if AI takes over? In this film, it’s a different kind of takeover, on an emotional level that is self-inflicted by Joe, versus how we typically think of AI taking over.

The only thing that wasn’t completely believable in Operator is the relationship between Joe and Emily. Complete opposite personalities, I don’t buy that Emily would not only date, but would marry Joe.

There are definitely some neat graphics and effects to show Joe’s graphs on a spectrum of emotions. The writing/directing is really great as well. Very organic characters on their own with very real things to say.

HBO Documentary Beware the Slenderman is freightening

Slenderman is like the modern day boogieman and if you aren’t familiar, he is depicted as a creepy, tall, faceless man. He’s a horror icon and has built up quite the following on the internet.

Back in May of 2014, two twelve year old girls  in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, lured their friend (Payton Lautner) to a park woods where she was stabbed by Morgan nineteen times, all in the name of Slenderman, who she believes guided her hand.

The documentary takes a Look into the lore behind Slenderman, there seems to be a cult following at this point.There is no shortage of videos, drawings, even multiple videogames, depicting this creature that has taken on a familiar form as a kind of splendor for young children and young adults.

Much of the documentary is focused around the children’s parents as well as the girls confessions or interviews with the detectives who worked their case. The scariest thing about this violence is that these two girls were flying under the radar when it comes to their parents knowledge or lack of knowledge. The notion that all this premeditated planning was happening right under their noses is hard to take for these unfortunate parents and their circumstance. To the efforts of fearing tablets being in the hands of children. Beware the Splenderman definitely wasn’t spinning that the internet is to blame, but it definitely defines what most people that are actively online already know, that you can/will find whatever you are looking for and if you are a socially struggling teen, like Anissa Weier, you can blur the line of reality and fiction and find videos, images, etc. that provide solace to these delusions.

Morgan and Anissa are standing trail for attempted first degree murder and if tried as adults, they could get up to 65 years in prison. Their case is still pending in the courts today.

Preacher Pilot Episode World Premiere

This was the most anticipated event for me at SXSW. Having read the Preacher comics some years ago, I knew that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg had been incubating this passion project for a long time.

After watching the pilot, I’m pretty dang excited for this series. The crowd was so pumped at SXSW, I could hear people salivating for more.

For those who don’t know, Preacher is about Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a preacher who has recently returned to his home, a small town in Texas. Jesse struggling with what little faith he has, his inner demons, and darker past. Threaded between Jesse’s story, we are introduced to Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun who seems to embody this character through and through), a harsh/drunken vampire, whose introductory scene almost steals the show with acrobatics and well choreographed fighting on a jetliner. Tulip (Ruth Negga), a take no guff professional criminal, who gets creative with a corn cob while scuffling with a baddie in a car speeding through a cornfield.

Afterwards in attendance for a Q&A was producers/directors, Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, cast members Dominic Cooper, Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga, Sam Catlin (series show runner), and original comic/story writer Garth Ennis. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg discussed how casting was difficult and that they really wanted to get the characters right for the series.

Seth Rogen talked about how meetings for Preacher started back when Superbad was filming and originally HBO was slated to pick it up, but the idea was considered to be too much for the public at the time. Over the years, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg weren’t sure how, or if Preacher would ever make it to the screen due to lack of interest for quite some time. Originally they considered a mini-series or even doing a trilogy film.

Now that television is ready for it, Preacher will join AMC’s impressive catalog in May of this year. I can tell that this is going to blow up, so get your copies of the Preacher comics while you still can.



keanuI was fortunate enough to attend the world premiere of Keanu at The Paramount Theatre. The crowd was revved up when Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele hit the stage to introduce the film. Their onstage presence is unbeatable. I would have enjoyed watching them interact with the crowd all night.

Keanu, which I wrongfully assumed was blatantly about Keanu Reeves, follows an adorable kitten with the same namesake as the actor. When Keanu ends up on the doorstep of Rell (Jordan Peele) and then goes missing soon after, Rell enlists the help of his cousin, Clarence (Keegan Key), to help him find his lost feline friend. Catching wind that Keanu may have ended up in the hands of a gang (led by Method Man), the two end up infiltrating said gang (The Blips, rejects of the Bloods and the Crips gangs) and from here, these two educated or affluent black men resort to posing as gangsters toting the N word and various four letter words. Unfortunately, the played out theme of racial stereotyping take the reins for the rest of Keanu.

As a work in progress, Keanu was entertaining enough, but there were scenes that dragged on a bit. Knowing the style of Jordan Peele and Keegen-Michael Key, it’s hard to tell if this is just unedited improvised takes that may be cut down in the final film, or just the style of the film which feels like a very long Key & Peele sketch comedy routine. Even as a long sketch, I feel like these two are much more capable than the confines of this script and do the best they can to work inside of it because the dynamic between these two actors shines through even on the big screen, but it isn’t enough to make this movie stand out.

Don’t Think Twice

don't think twiceComing back full circle after watching the documentary about Del Close earlier in the weekend, and a film seemingly inspired by Del Close and his improvisational movement, Don’t Think Twice is written/directed by the comedian (among other things), Mike Birbiglia. Taking a stab at portraying the trials and tribulations of an improv troupe and how to deal with making it or not in the competitive world of comedians, Don’t Think Twice delivers some smart dialogue and well-crafted performances from the cast.

Miles (Birbiglia) is a teacher, mentor, and kind of a leader of an improv troupe out of NY called, The Commune. Composed of 30 somethings who are barely keeping it together in their lives and with their group, we get a glimpse of their struggles. With cast members including Keegan-Michael Key, Kat Micucci, Gillian Jacobs, Tami Sagher, & Chris Gethard, the performances and chemistry are sweet and also sour at moments.

Mike Birbiglia’s character does not show much in the way of training or teaching. Besides charming and luring his naïve students into his dorm-like loft, he doesn’t carry much weight in the film or add too much to the other characters lives. The focus of the film revolves around one of the team members hitting the big time working for “Weekend Live” a carbon copy of SNL and how that success affects the group as a whole and his personal relationship. With this, Don’t Think Twice does not feel completely crafted. As an ensemble cast, there are snapshots of character development, but it feels staggered and minimal at best.

This film definitely seems personal and there is a lot of discussion about being a loser, having menial jobs, or barely paying bills that is a real burden for creative minds that don’t quite make it. Mike Birbiglia has perhaps seen this along the pathway of his career and I would have liked to see a fully fleshed out story.

Thank You Del: The Story of the Del Close Marathon

delDo you know who Del Close is? I didn’t until I saw this documentary and most people who have ever held interest in comedians and improvisation probably haven’t heard of him either, until now. Described by some as the father or originator of long form improvisation, Del Close was responsible for training, teaching, and mentoring famous comedians like: Bill Murray, Chris Farley, Harold Ramis, Amy Poehler, and among other spots had a large influence at The Second City Theater in Chicago for around a decade. Del was also one of the founders of The Harold structure used today in long form improvisation.

Every year the UCB or Upright Citizens Brigade holds an improvisation marathon or festival to celebrate/remember Del and what he accomplished in the realm of long form improvisation. In this documentary by Todd Bieber, among seeing all of the different groups that attend this annual tradition, the audience is introduced to an upstart improv group from Michigan, “Hi Let’s be Friends”. With their minimal experience in improvisational comedy,  they end up at the UCB theater in Chelsea, NY to perform in front of a larger group as part of the marathon. People from all around the world come in each year to demonstrate their improvisational chops. One Interesting segment to the documentary focuses on ethnicity/sexual identity/gender and how it differs for each person who performs in improvisation troops, or how these topics can be taboo, but shouldn’t be on stage. The ideology of allowing your whole self to come through and take risks, which seemed in line with Del’s overall philosophy and his intended legacy to the art.

The documentary was crafted over three years with archival footage of Del and the actors he trained, as well as the marathon over the past few years. Besides paying homage to this influential and cantankerous man, the documentary also highlights some really funny moments with UCB and what they do best, improvisation.



Teenage Cocktail

MV5BYTU5YzA2YTEtMWQyMy00NDAxLTg0MzUtZjY4ODkxZDRjZmIwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTExNzE4Mzc@._V1_UY268_CR70,0,182,268_AL_Teenage Cocktail may be one of the most honest modern flicks I’ve seen about exploring and eventually exploiting sexuality and the empowerment that can be gleaned from those early experiences. Teenage Cocktail may be likened to films like Thirteen or even Spring Breakers. To say that it is portraying modern teenage girls suffering from “affluenza”, would not give the film or characters enough credence. Does it have elements of petulance and entitlement seen from teens? Sure, but it also shows the fearlessness of being that age and living for the moment with no concern for tomorrow.

If nothing else, Teenage Cocktail starts off as a budding love story between two friends. Annie (Nichole Bloom) and her family are new to a small town. Having trouble making friends at her new school, Annie discovers Jules (Fabianne Therese), and the two quickly become intertwined in a very intimate way. What starts off as a very light film with milkshakes in a diner, Teenage Cocktail quickly turns into something riskier and dangerous. Annie and Jules feel stifled by their small town and make lofty plans to flee to New York together. In preparing for this journey, they need money in a big way and go about making it by setting up a webcam. When their lives intersect with Frank (Pat Healy notably from Cheap Thrills), a creepy online fan, things get fairly dark.

The leading ladies really steal the whole movie with their dynamic and display of acting chops. Annie’s parents are also notable characters that get fleshed out in the film. Instead of being overbearing parents coming down on her, they fall more on the spectrum of hands off parents trying to relate by being cool, yet are left in the dark because of Annie’s shut out teenage tendencies. This was a nice change from what has traditionally been seen in movies about troubled teens. There is one scene that is fairly awkward to watch with Annie and her father, who discovers what Annie and Jules have been getting into online, but the overall image is somewhat ambiguous or up to interpretation. Teenage Cocktail also stands out for me because Annie and Jules may be troubled, but they aren’t completely clueless. They get in over their heads and fall down the rabbit hole, but their overall teen angst and drama is minimal to the story, which in turn makes them more complex or interesting characters to watch.


The Greasy Strangler, not so slick

greasystrangler_posterWatching The Greasy Strangler was kind of equivalent to spending 90 minutes ripping off one crusty greasy Band-Aid over and over again. It teetered between disgusting, magnificent, and boring. There were over-the-top moments where I found myself guffawing and almost choking on my delicious beer. There were also too many drawn out segments where the audience was waiting for something interesting to happen in order to move the pencil thin story along, it kind of hobbled. This was definitely not the SXSW opening night film I was expecting, but it was what I deserved.

A spoof of sorts on the suspense/horror genres, with plenty of unsolicited nudity one does not want to see. The Greasy Strangler follows Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels), a leathery and cantankerous man, who lives with his shy and lonely son, Brayden (Sky Elobar). Within the first scene, Ronnie denies to Brayden that he is the greasy strangler. Admitting he is a “bullshit artist”, it’s fairly obvious, he is indeed the greasy strangler. Not to mention, the giant vat of grease in their house, or that Ronnie requires all of his meals and drinks to have “more grease”, or even the fact that he turns into a greasy naked monster and strangles people throughout the film. Perhaps the real meat of the story revolves around the father and son relationship and their separate and multiple sexual exploits with Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo), whom they both profess to love. Janet just seems to enjoy having sex with both men, period.

The overacting in the film is funny at first, reminiscent of Stela shorts or Wet Hot American Summer even. The dialogue sometimes goes on in a painful manner, but at some point comes back around to become funny again. There was definitely over usage of the prolonged fake laughter gag and there was definitely no shortage of flatulent humor, nasty food play, and half/fully naked men running around. The line “Bullshit artist” can be heard at least twenty times in the movie. Also, the costuming choices were interesting and the soundtrack was harrowing yet cheesy with odd cat synthesizer sounds.

Writer/Director Jim Hosking (Segment “G is for Grandad” in ABC’s of Death 2) has a pretty twisted idea of family dynamics and sharing significant others, but if you like watching grown men run around all greased up with flaccid prosthetic penises, you’ll have a couple of more chances to catch this odd film. I just tried to appreciate it for what it was trying to accomplish. I’m still not exactly sure what that was though…



Maria Mesa returns to preach the glory of the Golden Dawn Arkestra’s new album “Stargazer”

Golden Dawn Arkestra

image“Spiritual” is the first word that hits me with this wonderful hybrid of sounds. “Powerful” might be the second. “Joy and rapture” is in there as well. What we’re dealing with here is a remarkable and rare thing, and we’re so lucky to have this in Austin. Born of the intergalactic stardust handed to them from the soul of Sun Ra himself, then rinsed in the blood of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, this immense gift has landed in very capable modern hands here in our home town. What an amazing thing we have received. It’s a wall of sound with a powerful groove that just doesn’t stop. This is natural and organic music, it’s transforming, it’s what you want. This will help you let go of the BS of normal life and put you in a better place for a glorious hour or two.
While there are many reasons now days I look at Austin and think about how it just ain’t as cool as it used to be, the “Golden Dawn Arkestra” is a glaring example of how Austin is still getting it right, hitting a nail square on the head that no other town would even think of. Breathe in the good, exhale the bad; if you’re here- you’re still in the right place.
“Stargazer” is the second release and first full length album from GDA. The title track opens slowly, and then bursts wide open in grand anthemic fashion. The horn section and vibes begin swirling dramatically over a tight rhythm section thick with percussion. The bass line in this track really drives the song and is an absolute classic. It pushes everything forward, and compels you to do something meaningful, something great. It will put you in another place, a place you want to be.
The album proceeds through a super tight series of songs featuring the powerful polyrhythmic intensity you’d expect from a 15 or so piece “Arkestra” of Afrobeat disciples. Each song has a different mood and vibe, a different thing to say. This is an all-star band of high-powered Austin talent whose members play in other bands you know and love. I’ve been a fan of world and Afrobeat music for decades, I understand the traditional sounds and rhythms being played here, and these cats are really on it.
Seeing GDA perform is a visual spectacle to behold. In true Sun Ra fashion, they are not from this planet. If you are also not from this planet (given the current state of things I don’t think I am either) they will make you feel right at home. Costume designer Echo Higuchi is a professional clothing designer who puts her talents to good use. Everything on stage is glorious, everything glitters and shines, visuals are a high priority with these guys.
Members of GDA include leader/founder Topaz McGarrigle aka Zapot Mgwana ( vocals, keys, sax), Laura Scarborough (vocals, keys, vibraphone, hoops), Alex Marrero (congas, trap set), Joseph Woullard (sax), Brad Houser (sax, bass), Greg Rhoads (bass), Josh Perdue (guitar), Matt Hubbard (trombone), John Speice IV (percussion), Zumbi (trombone), John Michael Branch (guitar), Brendan Bond (trumpet), Robb Kidd (trap set), Echo Higuchi (dancer, costume design), India Jade Gail-Shockley (dancer), Rose Barnett (dancer & costume design), Malika (alto Sax) and many others…
-Maria Mesa

Carnaval Austin best party of year February 27, 2016





1/15-1/16 The New Mastersounds

the new mastersounds 2                the new mastersounds

On January 15 and 16 we headed to the Parish to see the New Mastersounds perform two nights of music.  They never repeated a single song through each of the 2+ hour sets.  It was a funky night of music including a few songs with George Porter.  I was surprised at the beginning of the two night stint when they stepped on stage and I found out that these guys were from England.  It was fascinating to me considering that they played American funk jams really really well, better than most Americans.  It was a great night of people watching.  With some of the friendliest staff in Austin, the Parish is always a great place to see a show.

new mastersounds 1

1/9 – The Alejandro Escovedo Experience: The Leonard Cohen Influence

alejandro 2               alejandro

On January 9, Russ and I headed over to the Moody Theater to check out Alejandro Escovedo’s Leonard Cohen Experience.  It was also Alejandro’s birthday.  He shared the stage with many really great musicians, a couple of them including Elias Haslanger on the sax and Julie Christensen on back up (sometimes lead) vocals.  They were singing the music of Leonard Cohen and Leonard Cohen influenced songs of his own.  It was a terrific night of tribute to the great songwriter.  After the show, we headed backstage to sing Happy Birthday to Alejandro.  Leonard Cohen’s songs hold a pretty sacred place in the world of songwriting and to see a tribute like this and to get to hear his words reworked by various musicians and actors (Robert Patrick even did a few songs/readings) was pretty awesome.


Israel Nash at Stubb’s – 11/12/2015

israel nash

Stubb’s was where we headed on November 12th to see a SOLD OUT show put on by Israel Nash and his band. It was my first time at Stubb’s indoor venue. I’ve been outdoors, but this had a much more intimate feel to it. It was like he was playing in a living room. I’d heard Israel Nash on a few KEXP sessions a few months prior and thought he was great, but until I saw him live at Stubb’s I never knew just how much of a badass this guy really is. His songwriting is some of my favorite at moment. His psychedelic brand of Americana is mind bending. He stepped on stage with a 5 piece band and totally rocked the show from beginning to end. It was Israel with a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, and a pedal steel player.  They set a great setting for his songs. He made you feel like you were at his ranch in Dripping Springs with each song that he played. I always have a lot of respect for artists who can completely give themselves to a performance, leaving the underlying emotion to drip from the stage at the end of the set. Israel Nash definitely didn’t disappoint me in that respect. You felt his words, you felt each riff, you felt the band playing off of each other throughout each song. He played his new album, Israel Nash’s Silver Season from front to back along with a few songs from previous albums. The show really hit me pretty hard and I was not expecting it at all.  It actually prompted me to go out and get a copy of the album. (I recommend you do the same, especially if you’ve never heard these guys before.) The album is still in really heavy rotation on my drives to and from work.


The dynamic range of sound in his set was amazing.  The band would go from a full-on, heavy instrumental part of a song, all the way down to just Israel Nash and his acoustic guitar. His lyrics were the aspect of his music that stood out the most to me. They’re simple, straightforward and cut deep when they have to. They’re poetic, completely multifaceted and abstract at other times. Above all they’re really honest, and raw.   The psychedelic americana sound behind it all really made the songs either shine or rust (in a great way), whichever passion he was looking for at the moment. His show made me a definite fan of him and his band. Some standout songs from the set that night were “LA Lately”, “Strangers”, “Rain Plans”, and “Mansions”. I highly recommend you check these guys out the next time they play in Austin.

israel nash1