• Top 20 Austin Musicians

    Editor’s note: The following music and videos contains explicit content.

    On August 29, 1991, Austin City Council members passed the resolution that named Austin the Live Music Capital of the World. Now, 20 years later, the music scene here is still booming, and arguably better than ever. To help celebrate the anniversary, here’s a list of the top 20 Austin musicians, including native musicians and non-native, notable artists who have help contribute to the burgeoning scene:

    Erring on the side of weird, ArcAttack started using Tesla coils to literally make electric music in 2008 and hasn’t stopped producing nerdy, viral hits.

    Formed in 2005, Balmorhea weaves dynamic post-rock melodies that pull you in and leave you feeling serene. The band plans to kick off their Midwest tour this month.

    Ben Kweller
    Although he was originally born in San Francisco, the folk singer-songwriter still happily makes music out of his home in Austin near Zilker Park.

    The Black Angels
    If you think Austin psych rock ended with The 13th Floor Elevators, think again with this Austin band that hit the scene back in 2004 and have gone on to play everything from the Austin Psych Fest to Lollapalooza.

    Blue October
    Yeah, we knew them before they got big. Originally from Houston, Blue October banded together in 1995 and then brought their rock to Austin in 2001. The band still frequently performs around Austin, including ACL Live this past April.

    Bob Schneider
    Despite touring nationally, Americana folk rocker Schneider has stuck to the small stages and is a regular at the Saxon Pub down on South Lamar Boulevard. According to his MySpace, he says he still has about 600-700 unwritten songs ready to be recorded.

    Daniel Johnston
    Going back to the late ’70s, Johnston has been an all-around Austin renaissance man from his music to his iconic Jeremiah the Innocent art that greets everyone with a simple, “Hi, How Are You?”

    Explosions in the Sky
    The term “post-rock” can’t capture the dramatic, self-described “cathartic mini-symphonies” of Explosions — a band that got its start over a couple of slices of pizza 12 years ago, according to their MySpace.

    Ghostland Observatory
    This contemporary Austin-based music duo, formed in 2004, brings the funk with a hip, contemporary electro twist. Ghostland Observatory continues to play music and has performed on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and at Coachella.

    Guy Forsyth
    The epitome of homey, Austin dive bars, singer-songwriter Forsyth oozes that bluesy rock sound that’s come to help shape Texas music. Additionally, he’s played Austin City Limits Music Festival twice and opened for the likes of B.B. King and Ray Charles.

    Janis Joplin
    Before becoming the rockstar she’s still known as today, the Texan profiled her back in 1962. “She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levi’s to class because they’re more comfortable and carries her Autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song it will be handy. Her name is Janis Joplin.”

    The Octopus Project
    Described as a hybrid ‘indietronica’ band, Octopus Project has been entertaining the capitol of Texas since 1999 with everything from Theremins to electric plug masks. The band has even perked the attention of ’80s cult band Devo, performing with them at last year’s Moogfest.

    Okkervil River
    It’s been 12 years since indie rock band Okkervil River took the stage at Steamboat in Austin and have since gone on to release six studio albums and perform with other indie sensations, including The Decemberists and The New Pornographers.

    Robert Earl Keen
    Born in Houston and graduated from A&M, country musician Keen springboarded his career in Austin back in ’84, then moved back in ’86 because he was inspired by the Texas landscapes and residents, according to CMT.

    An indie-rock perennial favorite, this band played the Austin scene for roughly seven years before they gained widespread acclaim for their album, Girls Can Tell.

    Stevie Ray Vaughn
    The late, great electric blues guitarist Vaughn, an Austin music epitome, honed his skills here in the ’70s and was one of the first musicians to help put Austin on the map. His statue still overlooks Lady Bird Lake.

    The Sword
    Since 2003, The Sword has rocked Austin, the Lone Star state and the world with their doom metal ballads. Often compared to Black Sabbath, the band recently wrapped up their North American tour.

    Townes Van Zandt
    Singer-songwriter Zandt is another Austin country folk favorite. Although he was already famous by the time he moved to Austin in the ’80s, he continued to build his notoriety as he battled depression, drug abuse and alcoholism in between writing songs.

    Indie pop-rock band Voxtrot may have disbanded last year in June but not before garnering the praises of SPIN and Pitchfork over their seven-year career.

    Willie Nelson
    Acclaimed Texas singer, songwriter never hesitates to stop by Austin or be stopped for possession while on the road. Last year, Second Street was renamed “Willie Nelson Boulevard” and a life-size statue of him to be placed in front of the new ACL studios is in the works.

  • Weekend Recs: Paula Poundstone, Do-It-Yourself, Hot Sauce Festival

    The popular improv comedienne and regular NPR panelist is in town to promote her first book, “There’s Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say” with a set at the One World Theatre.

    WHAT: Paula Poundstone
    WHERE: One World Theatre
    WHEN: Friday at 7 p.m.
    HOW MUCH: $20-60 show alone; $55-95 with dinner

    A curated collection of local artists with complimentary beverages provided by Circle Brewing Company.

    WHAT: The Austin Series, Part 3
    WHERE: Gallery Black Lagoon
    WHEN: Friday at 7 p.m.
    HOW MUCH: Free

    Electronic music group Bubble Gum Mafia host their first Austin show, a dance party where participants are encouraged to dress as their favorite video game characters. Full bar for 21+.

    WHAT: Pixel Invasion: An 8-Bit Party Inspired By Video Game Classics
    WHERE: The North Door
    WHEN: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
    HOW MUCH: $5 before 10 p.m.; $10 after 10 p.m.

    Learn to build and maintain vegetable and rain gardens with gardening experts and take an optional tour of the Zilker gardens. Open to beginners and longtime gardeners alike.

    WHAT: Green Garden Do-It-Yourself Day
    WHERE: Zilker Botanical Gardens
    WHEN: Saturday at 9 a.m.
    HOW MUCH: $10 (registration required)


    Local stores and independent boutiques offer significant markdowns and new merchandise ranging from men and women’s apparel to jewelry and home furnishings.

    WHAT: Le Garage Boutique Sale
    WHERE: Palmer Events Center
    WHEN: Saturday at 11 a.m.
    HOW MUCH: $10 a day (two-day event)

    The 21st annual Hot Sauce Festival features over 350 entries homemade, professional and commercial. The festival also has raffle prizes and proceeds go to the Capital Area Food bank of Texas.

    WHAT: Austin Chronicle’s Hot Sauce Festival feat. The Bright Light Social Hour
    WHERE: Waterloo Park
    WHEN: Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
    HOW MUCH: Free with a healthy, nonperishable food items or a cash donation to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas

    The Upper Decks kicks off its first Sunday night movie series with Gangster Month, featuring classic Italian mob films screened alongside a spaghetti and wine meal. This week’s film is “Goodfellas.”

    WHAT: Sunday Night Movie Series: Gangster Month and Spaghetti Dinner
    WHERE: The Upper Decks
    WHEN: Sunday at 9 p.m.
    HOW MUCH: $19.95 for film screener, spaghetti dinner for two and a bottle of the house red wine

  • Indie local band Boy+Kite shares music experiences, advice

    Boy+Kite features the musical stylings of Darvin Jones, Chris Mietus, Giuseppe Ponti, and Beth Puorro. The band’s debut album, Go Fly, is currently available at Waterloo Records’ listening stations. (Photo Illustration)
    Boy+Kite features the musical stylings of Darvin Jones, Chris Mietus, Giuseppe Ponti, and Beth Puorro. The band’s debut album, Go Fly, is currently available at Waterloo Records’ listening stations. (Photo Illustration)

    Released less than two weeks ago, local indie alternative rock-pop band Boy+Kite’s debut album Go Fly is already riding high on reviewers’ top listens. Pronounced “boy plus kite,” the band has been especially well-received locally — Go Fly is currently on stand at one of Waterloo Records’ listening stations and the band has an upcoming performance at “Dia De Los Toadies” in New Braunfels in August.

    After meeting in a hot tub at a friend’s birthday party in February 2009 and bonding over the recent break-ups of their former bands, singer-guitarists Darvin Jones and Beth Puorro’s friendship quickly went from trading mixtapes to brainstorming song and lyrics to forming Boy+Kite. Following their three recorded songs for the 10-track LP, the duo were joined by drummer Chris Mietus and bassist Giuseppe Ponti, completing what Puorro describes as the right mix.

    During The Daily Texan’s weekly music blog series “The Basement Tapes,” the Texan spoke to the band about its formation and the new album.

    The Daily Texan: I recently saw Go Fly on Waterloo Records’ listening station and was so ecstatic. What is it like to be a local band?
    Beth Puorro
    : All of us have been in bands. I have been in bands for years and Austin is just saturated with artists. There’s just a lot of musicians, so it’s good on two levels. The fact that you get to play with some really great musicians — you have to weave through some really bad musicians­ — and then there’s all these bands trying to play the same places. You get to play good stuff, but then there’s always a ton of it. I feel with us, we just got the right mix. It’s like sometimes you just get the right blend of people together and it works ...
    Darvin Jones: Chemistry.
    Puorro: Chemistry. I feel like this time, for me at least, it is the right mix.

    DT: So what does that mix include?
    Chris Mietus
    : I think our personalities. We all get along really well and that makes it really easy to work together. We’ve all been through the pace, just in terms of being in bands for so many years that we’ve all sort of kind of gone through the growing pains. Now that we found kinship in the music, we are able to get pass all those little weird ego things that happen in bands where everyone’s got to be the writer or the star guitar player or whatever. We’re all sort of humble and just pretty low maintenance in terms of getting along. Past experiences I think have conditioned us to be that way.

    DT: So Darvin and Beth, you two met in a hot tub and that’s how it all started ...
    : That’s what’s crazy. It’s true. That’s how we met. I think when we started we were like, ‘Let’s do this crazy band’ and at least for me, it’s let’s get together and see if we can write well because I was brokenhearted over a band breakup. Like with any breakup, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, but at the same time it was hard ... I just needed to play with someone and it just happened [to be Darvin].

    DT: And how did it go from a duo to a foursome?
    : We didn’t want to be a duo, you know. We wanted to be a band after we started realizing that our music was good. When you get just two people, to me it gets kind of acoustic and I think we both really wanted a drummer and a bass player that’s really talented with layers and just added a dynamic to the music.
    Jones: And I think that we just got to a stage in our writing, to evolve to what we are now, we needed to bring in other people.
    Puorro: And it wasn’t just like let’s find a drummer or find a bass player ... it was like a specific kind of drummer and bass player, one that was tasteful. When Chris came in he was just really tasteful and he listens and he adds to the music and Giuseppe is the same way. He doesn’t just come in with root notes, he comes in with melodies.

    DT: OK, so what was the inspiration behind Go Fly?
    : I would say life, personally. I think for me the inspiration was just music, loving to
    play music.
    Giuseppe Ponti: Yeah, pretty much. We all love to play music and without doing it, we wouldn’t be happy.

    DT: What do you think makes you stand apart from other local artists?
    : I don’t think we are necessarily going ‘Hey, the Strokes are popular, let’s play songs that’s like them.’ I feel like that happens a lot. This is my opinion: Bands do well ... and 20,000 other bands try to be just like that band. And I don’t think you can pin us down and say we sound like ‘blah, blah, blah.’

    DT: What are some mistakes you guys have made in the past you know for sure you don’t want to repeat in this band?
    : Play music for money. That’s the worst thing I’ve ever done as a musician. Like a hired gun. I used to do that for a living, play bass. I was miserable.
    Puorro: Bands that he wasn’t into like, ‘Would you come play for me and I’ll pay you $50.’
    Jones: I have a good one. I’ll never go to L.A. for a record deal without knowing that the owners of the record company are heroine addicts. That’s a past mistake I’ve made that was a lot of fun.
    Puorro: Don’t sleep with other band members. That’s a big one.

    Printed on Monday, August 8th, 2011 as: Boy+Kite shares insights, experiences