• Weekend Recs: Santaland Diaries, The Nutcracker, Miracle on 37th Street

    WHAT: David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries
    WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m.
    WHERE: Zach Theatre
    ADMISSIONS: $18 student tickets one hour before showtime with I.D.

    Zach Theatre’s company is bringing to life popular author David Sedaris’ real-life story of working as Crumpet the elf at Macy’s one winter season. Known for his book “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” Sedaris’ stage adaptation is hilarious with a touch of insanity. The play is on stage until Jan. 7.

    WHAT: Natividad, La Pastorela
    WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m.
    WHERE: Mexican American Cultural Center

    A contemporary musical comedy based on a traditional Native American and Latino yuletide play, La Pastorela tells the story of a modern day family and their leaps and bounds. The play shows Thursday through Jan. 17.

    WHAT: The 49th Annual Production of the Nutcracker
    WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m.
    WHERE: The Long Center
    ADMISSIONS: $12-$71

    Sugar plum fairies, toy soldiers, the mouse king and Clara — December and the winter holiday is not complete without a production of Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet score, “The Nutcracker.” The enchanting two-act production put on by Ballet Austin debuts Saturday and is ongoing until Jan. 23.

    WHAT: The Miracle of 37th Street
    WHEN: Ongoing
    WHERE: 37th Street between Guadalupe and Speedway

    For more than 20 years, the residents of 37th Street has transformed their block with over-the-top lighting, holiday sculptural and yard decorations. The street will be blocked off for visitors to freely get lost in the cheery Neverland.

  • Weekend Recs: Blanton, Ghostland, GWAR and Holiday Trees

    WHAT: Free Thursdays at the Blanton
    WHEN: Today at 10 a.m.
    WHERE: The Blanton Museum of Art

    Every third Thursday of the month, the Blanton Museum is free to the public. Take advantage of some art today and check out the museum’s permanent galleries and latest exhibitions. For more information on these exhibits, check out The Daily Texan’s coverage.

    WHAT: Ghostland Observatory at ACL Live
    WHEN: Friday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m.
    WHERE: Moody Theater
    ADMISSION: $20-$50

    With high demand for shimmering sonic band Ghostland Observatory, ACL Live is giving fans an extra night of the local duo, known for their funky, poppy compositions of electronic beats. The first 300 fans of Friday’s show will receive an invitation to the band’s after-party.

    WHEN: Friday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.
    WHERE: The Marchesa Hall & Theatre
    ADMISSION: $18-$20

    Heavy metal satirical rock band GWAR is thrashing out and stomping Austin’s grounds at Marchesa Hall this Friday. Complete with over-the-top sci-fi costumes, obscene lyrics and controversial themes to its acts, the night with GWAR will be anything but ordinary.

    WHAT: Holiday Tree Lighting at The Domain
    WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
    WHERE: The Domain

    With more than 6,000 lights, 400 ornaments and a 5-foot star topper, the Domain will light its 40-foot Christmas tree Saturday night. The all day seasonal affair will include a performance from NBC’s “The Voice” finalist Nakia.

  • Weekend recs: Thrive Austin, Magic Flute, Art Cow

    WHAT: Thrive Austin
    WHEN: Friday, Nov. 11 from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
    WHERE: Pine Street Station, 1101 East Fifth St.
    ADMISSION: $12 advance, $15 at door

    Celebrating local businesses and artists, Thrive Austin Festival is a day full of music, workshops and goods. The lineup includes performances from Rattletree Marimba, Atash and Minor Mishap Marching Band and there will be classes on how to live sustainably.

    WHAT: Anarchy Championship Wrestling
    WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 12 at 5:15 p.m.
    WHERE: The Mohawk
    ADMISSION: All ages, $8

    The feisty men and women of Anarchy Championship Wresting will be duking it out in the sixth annual Lonestar Classic on Saturday on the outside stage of the Mohawk.

    WHAT: The Magic Flute at the Austin Lyric Opera
    WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.
    WHERE: The Long Center
    ADMISSION: Starting at $19

    The Austin Lyric Opera is bringing the Magic Flute, Mozart’s famous fairy tale fantasy, to life this weekend. The two-act opera illustrates a twisted plot and acomplex story of light versus darkness.

    WHAT: Austin Art Cow Auction
    WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 13 at 6 p.m.
    WHERE: ACL Live
    ADMISSION: $25

    The 40 painted cows that have been grazing around the city will be moo-ving to new homes. The herd will be auctioned off at any where from $500 to $10,000. All proceeds will benefit the Superhero Kids at Dell Children’s Hospital of Austin.

  • Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011: T Bird and the Breaks Q&A


    The sound and groove of local indie band T Bird and the Breaks is something like the brilliant brain child of James Brown, Bootsy Collins and Little Richard. With strong reverences to New Orleans and the coolness of old school hip-hop, the originality of T Bird and the Breaks makes lumping them into a category not easy. They themselves can't even do it, hence why the band created their own genre, "chunk music," to describe their energetic and saucy blend of funk, rock and hip-hop. 

    T Bird and the Breaks recently released their latest full-length, Never Get Out of this Funk Alive, and the band will be playing on the blue stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest on Saturday at 2:05p.m. 

    The Daily Texan exchanged emails with lead vocalist Tim Crane about their latest album, the origin of "chunk" music and the dynamic of the group. 

    The Daily Texan: In your first webisode, you talked about how you ventured by Amtrak from your home-state of Massachusetts to all of the coasts. Aside from Austin's live music scene, what else factored into your decision to settle here? 

    Tim Crane: Brisket. My boy from back home had moved here and was working at Ruby's BBQ, so I got me some delicious smoked brisket on the hook-up.

    DT: T Bird and the Breaks is comprised of a lot of local talents; I had the pleasure of working with singers Jazz Mills and Stephanie Hunt, who is also in the band Cowboy and Indian, for our multimedia music series. Since there are a lot of "breaks" for those who are also in other bands and projects, what is it like to get everyone together for rehearsals or shoots? 

    Crane: It can be a full-on migraine getting everybody together. Some people are chronically hard to get hold of, but once we start playing it's worth all the headaches in the world!

    DT: You all always look like you're having so much fun on stage. I can't help but wonder, however, what's the band biggest goofball moment off stage?

    Crane: Goofball moment, huh? Too-Bad (John Allison, guitarist) is pretty goofballs 100 percent of the time.  Hanging out with him is kinda like if Hunter Thompson was a host on Sesame Street. 

    DT: If you had to personify the band's sound, look and attitude into a beverage (alcoholic or not), what would it be? 

    Crane: It depends on the night! It could be Steel Reserve to Courvoisier!

    DT: This goes into "chunk music," which you described as equal parts funk, rock and hip-hop with a side of girls and brass. Now, did you create this term and genre? Can you describe more about this new blend and especially explain the add-on of girls and brass? 

    Crane: Yeah, I guess we coined "chunk music.” Well, y'know, there are ladies and a horn section in The Breaks, so that's a big part of the sound, but mostly it means it's all about the feel. It doesn't matter if it's a little fucked up, if the groove is right. People will ask 'what type of music do you play' and it can get old trying to pick between genres that we don't quite fit into, so we made our own.

    DT: There are strong soul, funk and rock scenes here in Austin, but hip-hop is still a small pool. Why do you think that's the case? 

    Crane: Is it a small pool? I feel like I hear some good local shit on KAZI. 

    DT: About your new album —what was the writing and recording process like for your latest LP, Never Get Out of this Funk Alive

    Crane: Wow, that could take days to answer. Our first album, I feel like we had a bunch of songs that we played, went into the studio and recorded them. This second album, there was a different approach and we worked a lot of different ways. First-off, we had been putting out singles on 7" 45rpm every month so we had a good little cache of tunes there. But also, being in the studio so much for the singles, we began to build songs in different ways which I think contributed to the album's diverse, more-original, sound.  Also, Sammy P (drums), who produced the album with me, has really got his engineering chops up by this point and that allowed us to spread our wings sonically. And writing, I wasn't as concerned with being able to play every track live.

    DT: What was the inspiration behind it? 

    Crane: Everything is everything.  Songs can be inspiration, inspiration can be breakfast.

    DT: One of my favorite tracka on this new album is the last song, "Monkey on the Tree." The song has so much sex appeal! The song is about a man chasing after a woman. So I wanna know, did he get her? 

    Crane:“Monkey Ina Tree?” Well, it's not exactly true to life, but yeah, I got my girl. She goes to UT.

  • Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011: Black Lips Q&A

    Matured from their younger days of vomit, blood, urine and nudity-ridden stage performances, The Black Lips have especially proven since the release of their acclaimed sixth album, Arabia Mountain, that there are more up their sleeves than outrageous antics. From their refined and bold sound and lyrics, to the their cleaned up front-page close-up in Spin's July issue, to the band's calm but powerful performances, the Atlanta, Georgia natives have finally found their center.

    Best known for their hits "Bad Kids" and "Modern Art," Black Lips are no strangers to Austin, having played at Austin City Limits last year and South By Southwest countless times. The band will be playing on the black stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest on Sunday at 7:30p.m. 

    The Daily Texan exchanged emails with bassist and singer Jared Swiley about good and bad times in Austin, working with music producer Mark Ronson and their Southern roots. 

    The Daily Texan: This is definitely not Black Lips first time in Austin. Y'all were here in April with Vivian Girls for a show at Emo's and other times for ACL and South By. What has been your best and worst moments in this city? 

    Jared Swiley: Yes, we are very familiar with Austin. My worst experience there was the first show we played at SXSW, which was probably 2006. I tried this old wrestling move called "icing" where you make a small incision on your forehead and it produces a lot of blood. I was drunk so instead of a small incision I made a huge gash and lost about a liter of blood and had to spend the night in the hospital and made my friend cry. On a good note, I at least had a place to sleep. The other guys all had to sleep in the van.

    My favorite moment was when we played ACL I think and we got 200 hamburgers from McDonalds and threw them into the audience. People were throwing them and eating them. GZA, who is vegan, was standing by my amp onstage and got hit with one. It was the closest he had been to meat in a decade.

    DT: You guys gained quite a following back in the day due to your crazy, out-of-control performances. You guys were inspired by GG Allin, but were there any other influences in regards to your live performances (Gwar, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop)? 

    Swiley: We respect GG Allin for his dedication, but we're like kindergartners compared to him. Iggy was definitely an inspiration.  My main influences are pure entertainers like Little Richard and James Brown and Chuck Berry. They played amazing music and really put on a show. I like Jerry Lee setting his piano on fire, I like Lux Interior giving head to the mic, we just wanna give it our all. You are up on stage and you owe it to the audience. Otherwise they can just go and see a 3-D movie.

    DT: People and critics have been saying that your performances have been less "chaotic" and "more reserved," would you agree?

    Swiley: That just depends on how you judge the performance. If you had seen us in 2003 or 2004, then you would have seen vomit and piss, but no music. Now we have a balance. We know how to make songs and don't have to resort to performance art techniques. The shows are still crazy compared to everything else that's going on.

    DT: There's that infamous London stage invasion that was all over YouTube. The invasion reminded me of the hardcore punk scene back in the '80s with CBGBs and how audience members could jump onstage and interact with the band. Is that something you try to do with your shows when you can, or do you just see what happens with every performance?  

    Swiley: I like that that happens. It doesn't happen all of the time, but it happens most of the time. You can't force it. It has to be natural. Primal instincts of the masses. I always hated when bands would ask/tell everyone to move forward and get closer to the stage. You can't tell them what to do. They do what they feel like doing, and if they don't do what you want then it's your own fault.

    DT: You worked with Mark Ronson for part of your latest album, Arabia Mountain. How was the recording process and working with Ronson? 

    Swiley: Working with Mark was absolutely magical. We just really clicked with him. It was everything we had done before and he came in and sprinkled that magic fairy dust on us.

    DT: Have you guys already started working on your seventh? What can fans expect? 

    Swiley: We have started recording our own demos and getting the pre-game on. We are always working towards our next venture.

    DT: Currently, what is the band inspired by? 

    Swiley: I hear amazing new music everyday and am constantly inspired by music made decades before I was born. I'm listening to the Lonesome Drifter as I write this and it makes me want to get back to my roots and do a country album. 

    DT: Atlanta has such an eclectic music scene. Did Atlanta's musical culture have any influence on the band? Are there any collaborations you would want to do with any of them (say maybe an Outkast/Black Lips split)? 

    Swiley: Growing up in Georgia had a huge influence on us. Country, gospel, soul, hip-hop — music is all around there. I grew up in a gospel church and that had a big influence on what I do. To this day I've never seen people freak out at a rock show like they do on Sunday morning speaking in tongues and drunk in the Holy Spirit. I've tried to recreate that but it's all in vain. That being said, doing something with Andre 3000 would be amazing. Or Goodie Mob. 

    DT: Lastly, as Southern gentlemen, how have you guys balanced being the crazy punk rockers that you are to being charming men? 

    Swiley:You can do both at the same time. We aren't crazy all the time. In fact we are probably the nicest guys you'd ever meet. That's just how we were raised.