April 23rd, 2014 by Russ
April 20th, 2014 by Eric Swanson
Lafayette Louisiana’s Lost Bayou Ramblers had the honors of opening slot on Arcade Fire’s recent Texas dates. The two bands may come from opposite ends of the continent, Arcade Fire from Montreal Canada, and the Ramblers from south Louisiana’s Acadiana, but they still share a common culture: these are the two regions in North America to speak French as a dominant language. Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, wearing a Pope bobblehead mask, joined the band onstage for a version of The Who’s “My Generation,” sung in Cajun French of course.
April 14th, 2014 by Russ
Old Settler’s Music Festival Weekend, April 10-13, 2014. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE INVOLVED. This is probably one of the best festivals to attend, anywhere. As soon as you get there, it’s like heaven; friends old and new are everywhere, there’s great barbeque, the music is stellar and the weather is perfect. This all makes for a perfect festival experience. I am grateful to have been a part of this show for the past 13 years. This year, I saw Del McCoury, Jeff Bridges and the Abiders, and the North Mississippi All Stars on Friday night, and Saturday night I saw Robert Randolph and The Family Band, Shinyribs and Bighead Todd and The Monsters. One of the greatest experiences of this festival for me, was when they let me right up front to see The Dude. Also rocking out to Robert Randolph with my friend Jimmy was an unforgettable experience. The only thing missing was a river of chocolate, and then it would have been the festival of my dreams. See y’all next year!
April 8th, 2014 by Nickie Vliet
April 8th, 2014 by Russ
Golden Dawn Arkestra and Money Chicha blow us away at the Empire Control Room 4/5/2014. We bolted out of a happening party to enjoy a night of music from outerspace. It’s always nice to see our friends GDA play at a new venue, and Empire Control Room didn’t disappoint. They had a projector blasting trippy displays over the musician’s already colorful costumes and faces, which made for a very photogenic shoot. The GDA line up always seems to be growing, on this night front and center was our friend John Speice IV on percussion. John then joined his other group Money Chicha in an equally ravishing set, although we missed Adrian’s stage presence. We try not to miss it when both of these bands perform, not only are they all very good friends, but they are equally awesome performers. While we can’t post all of our favorite shots in this post, enjoy our GDA and Money Chicha at Empire Control Room slideshow, coming right up after this.
April 7th, 2014 by Russ
The Austin Music Award’s Best Rock Band, Quiet Company, plays an intimate set for us at a friend’s semi-annual house party, 4/5/2014. We all had a good time, chowing on queso and talking to our friends from all walks of life. We had to skip out early to catch our next group of shots, but this was a gathering we couldn’t miss.
April 7th, 2014 by Russ
Brownout presents “Brown Sabbath,” at The Mohawk, 4/3/2014. Brownout played an early set and then got the crowd warmed up for Brown Sabbath. Brown Sabbath is basically the members of Brownout with the addition of Alex “Ozzy” Marrero. The band transitions from Brownout to Brown Sabbath by donning a black wardrobe and rocking out to some old metal classics. Alex is a great front man that I haven’t seen take the lead in many years, but proves to be an awesome performer that is backed by my favorite band in Austin. Get out there and see Brown Sabbath while you still can, it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, but remember to bring your ear plugs and an extra pair for me, cause I usually forget mine.
April 2nd, 2014 by Brandon Engel
Richard Linklater is one of the most formally innovative filmmakers working today, and Texas is proud to claim him as their very own. He certainly was well represented at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin – he got to conduct a public interview with fellow Texas filmmaker Wes Anderson, an event which made for a crowd pleaser unto itself. Linklater also won the coveted “Lone Star” award (only given to Texas-born filmmakers) for his film Boyhood (2014), which is easily his most impressive accomplishment to date.
Boyhood was shot over the course of 12 years, and documents the intellectual, cultural, even biological development of a young Texas boy from the age of six to the age of 18. Ellar Coltrane stars as the child, Mason, and the film also stars Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke (who has appeared in several other Linklater films, including the superb Before Sunrise trilogy). Principal photography for Boyhood started in Austin in the summer of 2002, and continued right up until the young man had graduated high school.
Linklater has claimed in interviews that he became fascinated with the idea of a project that would, in essence, cinematically distill childhood – not any one part of it, necessarily, but the whole thing. In a way, the film pays homage to French New Wave director Francois Truffaut, who employed a similar technique in his entire body of work, and spent twenty years chronicling the life of the character Antoine Doinel (played in five separate films by Jean-Pierre Leaud), starting with The 400 Blows (1959) and culminating in Love on the Run (1979). Linklater’s approach is still distinct, however, if only for the fact that he condensed 12 years worth of footage into a single, self-contained viewing experience.
And while the film is unique in several ways, it feels like a logical extension of the rest of his body of work. It’s a dialogue driven script, similar to his early, low budget, talk-heavy features Slacker (1991) and Dazed and Confused (2004), which both deal with intellectually adept and functionally challenged young people in Texas. They don’t suffer from a dearth of ideas or creative impulses – they just can’t seem to do much more than talk about them. Both films, but Dazed and Confused most specifically, also deal with the sort of ennui and existential crises which come with establishing yourself as an adult. The film also contains elements of what made the seminal Waking Life (2001) so stimulating: the conversation itself is enriched with some sort of unique visual component, which, in the case of Waking Life is achieved by a means of digitally rendered animation which makes natural footage look somewhat dreamlike. In the case of Boyhood, the interesting visual hook is of course the “time-lapse” like effect of seeing the characters grow gradually older over the years. The film relies heavily on dialogue, and some of the most effective moments of the film are achieved by the juxtaposition of segments where the young Mason is conversing with his parents during different stages of his life developmentally.
Linklater has been a source of pride for the Texas creative community for many years now, and his recognition from SXSW this year has further solidified his reputation as a stellar contemporary filmmaker. In fact, stats culled from Viral Heat, the social media aggregator, reveal that Linklater has been getting a lot of play in the social media realm recently:
Let us hope that this film, and his participation in SXSW, will help to advance his career even further. He may not have the populist box office drawing power of someone like Wes Anderson, but that may very well change in coming years, and it’s high time that Linklater gets the attention and praise he has always deserved.
Article by Brandon Engel
March 31st, 2014 by Russ
Chicken Strut performs at C-Boys Heart & Soul 3/29/2014. We usually go check out Chicken Strut at their residency at Guerro’s every last Sunday of the month 3-6pm. Chicken Strut is made up of a few of our friends, including Michael Hale on drums/vocals, Neil Pederson on keys, Josh Perdue on guitar/vocals, and Bobby “Giant Man” Perkins on bass. These guys own the funk, they are always in top form and are some of the best players at what they do. Make sure you get over to Guerro’s on the last Sunday of the month to catch them strut their stuff. They are starting to play in more venues all over town with some guest appearances, so go see what the struts all about.
March 25th, 2014 by Russ
The final night party of Flipnotics 3/24/2014.
Last night was an amazing experience. The crowds were thick with everybody wanting to catch one last groove before the coffee shop closed. I waded my way through many people to see the music first hand. Most of the acts that were playing were unfamiliar to me, but they collectively blew my mind every set. There was a lot of love for the music room of Flipnotics last night. A few stand out performances for me were, the guy on the accordian/trumpet, the bass player (most of these musicians were in all the bands that played), and Erik Hokkanen. Erik Hokkanen is by far the greatest fiddle player I’ve ever seen. Many guest stars stopped by to play one last song, including our friend Kevin Russell from Shinyribs/The Gourds. Last night we had 2 guest photographers, cover artist Fonty Fox and local writer and comedian, Owen Egerton. A highlight of the night was watching Fonty start a bidding war over the Flipnotics sign. I did not plan to stay the whole night, but when the music kept going, so did I.
March 24th, 2014 by Russ
The RESENTMENTS live at The Saxon Pub 3/23/2014. One of my favorite Sundaze evening pastimes. KGSR did a live radio broadcast of THIS VERY show, “LONESTAR STATE OF MIND.”
March 20th, 2014 by Russ
March 15 marked the day I was brought into this world 94 long years ago! But I only feel 19. Of course I got to celebrate my birthday surrounded by friends. We went to The Dogwood on W 6th Street to watch Papa Mali perform, followed by Jimmie Dreams and Shinyribs. Great music, and cookie cake, what more could a man ask for? Thank you to Papa Mali, Robb Kidd, Matt Hubbard and Jimmie Dreams for the special birthday shout outs.
March 20th, 2014 by Russ
The Official SXSW Tribute to Lou Reed, 3/14/2014, presented by Richard Barone and Alejandro Escovedo. Front and center at The Paramount Theater, I saw all these amazing performers make tribute to the late Lou Reed. The highlight of the night was when Sean Lennon came out onstage and rocked out. What an unforgettable night.
March 20th, 2014 by Russ
Well SXSW 2014 is over and we’re finally starting to feel normal again. We want to share with you what a fun night we had at the Austin Music Awards 3/12/2014. It was truly a night of seeing friends, old and new. It seems as though all our friends were up on stage winning awards, like Gary Clark Jr. for Best Blues Set, Warren Hood for Best Strings Player and Emily Gimble for Best Keyboard Player, just to name a few. Or performing for the audience: Ephraim Owens, Alejandro Escovedo and Lucinda Williams. Also backstage we got to talk with Bruce Hughes, John Branch, Jody Denberg and of course the lady of the night Margaret Moser. We tried to be in four places at once just so we didn’t miss all the action. But the highlight of the night was hearing Gary Clark Jr. say he was moving back to Austin, because New York City just isn’t cutting it. They always come back.
March 14th, 2014 by Bradley Gastwirth
For the love of rock and roll and Tokyo, Big In Japan is somewhere between The Spice Girls and Josie and the Pussycats movies. I expected it to be more like witnessing a band like Devo make love to Godzilla, but we can’t always have what we want.
Big in Japan is a semi-fictionalized movie about a real band out of Seattle, Tennis Pro (Sean Lowry, Phillip Peterson, & David Drury), who aren’t very popular in their hometown, so they decide to go out and travel to Tokyo, Japan to find their fan base.
The elements I really like about Big In Japan is that the band hangs out at the same places in Tokyo. It’s not flashy like Lost in Translation, showcasing the bright lights and quirkier aspects of Japan. The band makes friends as they travel along and if this is somewhat of a documentary based on their actual experiences they had in Japan, it seems like the surf-rock trio have a lot of gusto.
Even though Big in Japan has its moments, ultimately it’s quite obvious that these rockers are not actors, which director John Jeffcoat (co-writer/director of Outsourced 2006), admitted before the film premiered at SXSW. Unfortunately, most of the humor is lost in the film and the jokes that are delivered fall flat due to the writing and/or character delivery. However, there are some more serious, tense scenes in the film that come through in a believable way. In one particular scene, the characters are unexpectedly caught in a frenzy caused by an earthquake; perhaps to emulate the emotions felt after the real life Tsunami that hit Japan, oddly enough falling exactly two years from the films premiere date.
Phillip (Phil) Peterson is also worth mentioning, kind of like a lost puppy dog, his story is more carved out in the film. Phillip actually came on stage at SXSW just prior to the film premiere to play the audience beautiful compositions on a Cello. It is obvious that he is very talented as a composer and producer.
I had higher hopes for Big In Japan, but I think it’s a celebration of the bands hard work and showcases Tennis Pro’s genuineness through their music which plays throughout the film. I hope that these guys get some more recognition as a band.
March 14th, 2014 by Bradley Gastwirth
Have you ever been interested in competitive puzzling or did you even know it exists? Well it does, and although it might seem like a puzzling topic for a documentary, Wicker Kittens is one of the most adorable documentaries I’ve ever seen.
Wicker Kittens follows around four different teams of four (three challenger teams and one winning team) preparing for the worlds largest annual Jigsaw Puzzle competition in St. Paul, Minnesota. Wicker Kittens explores the nerdiest side of the Jigsaw puzzlers and their meditative sport. From the different personal effects of some of the players (puzzle piece jewelry, ottomans, vanity plates, coasters, etc.) to each teams differing strategies, Wicker Kittens will make you smile as a heartwarming tale. Sometimes it’s nice to have a light documentary, like other nerdy documentaries, Wordplay and King of Kong, Wicker Kittens will attract all types of audiences. With the competitions only lasting 20-40 minutes in length, it’s impressive watching people put together 5,000 piece puzzles in a matter of minutes.
Even if you don’t really care for puzzles or their fans, you will most definitely be a fan of Wicker Kittens. Get out and see this when it comes to a theater near you.
March 12th, 2014 by Russ
Pono music panel 3/11/2014 at the Austin Convention Center, ballroom D. We got to see Neil Young at SXSW 2014, he was running a panel on behalf of Ponomusic.com. Seeing Neil Young is always exciting and this is a project he is excited about. Knowing nothing of Pono music before the panel, I am now ready to buy one of these new high quality music players. Get more info on kickstarter.com.
March 12th, 2014 by Bradley Gastwirth
Everything you’ve ever wanted (or not wanted) out of a film about cults or fanatics, you can get it with Faults, if you have faith. A Quirky, intense, tragic, and darkly humorous film, Faults will leave you with an eerie feeling that the power of persuasion can cultivate any intended response and at the same time it can be a hazardous to ones health.
The story begins with Ansel, (Leland Orser) a self pitying, down in the dumps caricature of his former self. The type of man to steal batteries out of a television remote from a hotel room (which he does), a dolly, towels, and even wire hangers. Ansel is an author, but his special niche lies in seminars intended to deprogram individuals that have been brainwashed by cultists. Ansel looks haggard, tired, and it is obvious that life has not been so kind to him by the time we meet up with him. At his hotel conference promoting his new and seemingly unpopular book, Ansel is approached by Evelyn (Beth Grant) & her husband, who are desperate to get their daughter back who has been brainwashed by a cult called “Faults”. Ansel is reluctant to take on the case because the last time he attempted to deprogram someone, it failed miserably and left him with all of the guilt for this proposed failure. However, Ansel is in debt, due to taking on the expenditures of self-publication with the help of his seedy manager. Reluctantly, Ansel agrees to take on the job. After kidnapping the couples daughter, Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and taking her to a motel to start the deprogramming, Ansel finds himself questioning his own beliefs and we have to wonder, who is deprogramming whom?
What is free will? What is failure? These are two prominent questions proposed in Faults that builds quietly in Ansel until it crescendos into an unhealthy clamor. Although the SXSW crowd seemed to laugh quite a bit, I found it was uncomfortable laughter. The film has a cultist quality linked to group-think themes, coupled with Ansel’s overgrowing instability, which at times feels rushed and underdeveloped, but is executed well by Leland Orser’s acting. The beauty of the film relies on bringing desperation into the scenery and how vulnerability makes us susceptible as humans to unexpected moldings.
Faults is a dark tale and is another great film I’ve seen at SXSW for the films selection. There is a tinge of supernatural elements with divine intervention sprinkled in (or is there?), so that makes for interesting storytelling. Even if you do not find it to be a great film, you will do not have free will and you WILL like it.
March 12th, 2014 by Bradley Gastwirth
This may be my favorite movie so far at SXSW Film. Well it’s hard to pick one, but it’s up there. It’s reminiscent of the anxiety felt from Midnight Express (1978) with the Soundtrack straight out of the 80′s. It’s a gritty film that doesn’t disappoint with where it ends up.
Co-written, Co-directed, and starring Angus Sampson (Actor from Insidious 1&2), this film is pretty brutal in multiple senses of the word. A theme that seems to keep creeping up during SXSW so far, is showcasing dark subject matter with humorous (intentional or not) devices thrown into the mix. I don’t want to call The Mule a dark comedy, but it definitely has dark tones. This is the second impressive film I’ve witnessed thus far from Australia (The Infinite Man reviewed earlier as another must see).
Angus Sampson’s character, a simple sap working at a television repair shop in 1980′s Melbourne Australia, is tasked with heading to Bangkok, Thailand with his oldest friend to smuggle back heroin by swallowing 20 condoms filled with the white dust. He gets himself into a pickle (this is where the anxiety from Midnight Cowboy comes in to play) in an intense scene where he has to get through customs successfully. Well let’s just say, things end belly up and he is detained by the police unofficially for more than 10 days. The police want him to work out his crap, literally.
The Mule is full of betrayal, suspense, and a little bit of mayhem, but Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, The LOTR Trilogy) has to be the best contribution to the film. Playing one of the detectives in charge of watching Sampson’s character in a hotel for the 10+ days, he has never unfolded a character to discover such a likable sleazebag.
The Mule will get laughs, but even with the fat trimmed away, it is a fantastic film at its core to uncover a compelling story about drug trafficking and the underbelly of Melbourne and its corruption. The direction and acting alike is very top notch and again, I have to say that this is a must see at SXSW. If for nothing else, there is one revolting scene in the The Mule that made me look away which is always a feat for someone with an iron stomach. Get out and see it and you won’t be sorry. Dig the music playing at the credits.