KUT has long been recognized by both listeners and public-radio peers for its attention to local music, and since last summer the station's news department has done its share with Texas Music Matters, a weekly series hosted by former Marketplace moderator David Brown. Though the days Matters airs vary, it can be heard during Morning Edition Eklektikos, and the evening shifts of deejays Paul Ray and Larry Monroe. Expanded versions of Brown's reports are also available online in podcast form, at www.kut.org/site/PageServer?pagename=texas_music_matters. "[Podcasts] allow me to play big chunks of music," says Brown, a 25-year veteran of public-radio news. "You can't play an entire song in a six-minute story where you're also providing context and history and background." When the subject warrants, Brown has lengthened his show even further, as with last December's hourlong documentary on Townes Van Zandt, which combined interviews with Van Zandt's son J.T. and wife Janine with interviews and performances originally recorded on Monroe's program. "I don't think I've ever been as satisfied with something I've done in radio as I was with that Townes piece," Brown says. With upcoming episodes featuring What Made Milwaukee Famous and a look at SXSW, Brown says his main challenge is meeting the high standards of Austin's music-savvy fans: "People really know their stuff here, and that raises the bar for me."
Matters of Fact
Austin groove ensemble Blaze is in full swing, Ephraim Owens' and Phillipe Vieux's nimble horn solos spiraling above the fluid foundation of drummer Brannen Temple, bassist Yoggi, and DJ NickNack. The setting, however, is a long way from the Elephant Room: it's an assembly at East Austin's Kealing Middle School and the local quintet shares the stage with sets from the drama department's production of The Wizard of Oz. Kealing's ID badge-wearing students are enjoying this midday clinic courtesy of local nonprofit Anthropos Arts, which stages 15-20 such performances per year and arranges private music lessons for low-income kids. "I was coming up in the scene, playing with bands at halfway houses, and I thought, 'The kids need to see this too,'" says Atash and Mandible bassist Dylan Jones, who founded Anthropos in 1998. While Temple explains the importance of rhythm to jazz, Jones says the kids are often more interested than they let on. "Some will sit there and not react," he says, "but they'll ask me for weeks afterward, 'When are those guys coming back?'" Right now Jones, also the band director at KIPP Austin College Prep charter school, hopes to drum up more private donations to go along with contributions from the city of Austin, Texas Commission on the Arts, and Applied Materials. "A $300 donation takes a student through the whole year," he notes. At the end of that year, Anthropos students show off their newfound skills with an ACL Festival performance and year-end concert at Stubb's. "To watch them go from playing one note to ripping a solo over John Coltrane next to Ephraim is amazing," says Jones. Contact Anthropos at 512/468-4369 or email@example.com.
GigWatch: Fresh off a residency at Hollywood's infamous Viper Room and rotation on hipster-approved Indie 103, airy modern rockers Oliver Future visit from sunny SoCal tonight (Thursday) at Stubb's, with copies of their new Bear Chronicles EP and Things That Go Pop in tow. Saturday, long-running roots-punk wits Basin Street begin a six-month hiatus after their Room 710 show so their bassist can rest his carpal tunnel-afflicted fingers; it's your last chance to hear pearls like "Mullet" and "Down at the White House" until it's really, really hot outside. The Total Foxes open. Finally, Sunday, Austin's favorite Capitol signees return from a West Coast miniresidency for a special Beerland show. A very, um, sound idea.
SXSW's latest get should bring a smile to faces not generally accustomed to doing so: Morrissey, the original Pope of Mope, will sit for an interview with Rolling Stone's David Fricke March 16 at the Convention Center, and preview some pompadoured tunes from new album Ringleader of the Tormentors (shouldn't that be Tormented?) at the Austin Music Hall later that night. SXSW is seeking cashiers to sell single-ticket admissions at music and film venues and merchandise at the Convention Center; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hard to believe it's been three whole years since the perpetually smiling face of Red River, "Handsome" Joel Svatek, died from injuries sustained in a collision with a drunk driver. But the calendar doesn't lie, and many feel Svatek's stomping grounds haven't been the same since. "I haven't seen anybody replace him in the sense of the personality that he was," says Joe Sebastian, Svatek's former roommate and vice-president of the Handsome Joel Foundation, the nonprofit founded by friends and family to raise awareness about drunk driving. "There's been a few people in the scene who may have the same level of renown, or be somebody everybody knows," continues Sebastian, "but not in the same positive way." Luckily, enough people have made it a point to remember Handsome Joel consider the abundance of "I (heart) HJ" tattoos that neither he nor his legacy are in danger of being forgotten. The Foundation's Safe Ride Program, which provides cab vouchers to those unable to drive home, has been operational for a year, and now counts 15 downtown bars among its ranks. "We provided over 100 rides home in the past year," notes Svatek's mother, Katherine Ward, who hopes more bars come aboard after SXSW. The foundation's latest project is raising its profile through events like Friday's benefit at Elysium with Dixie Witch, Suplecs, the Bulemics, Brewtality Inc., and a 9pm set by Holy Happy Hour Charlie. "It's a big comfort to me that after three years, people still care so much," Ward says.
Bars participating in the Safe Ride Program as of Jan. 31:
Casino el Camino
Club de Ville
Hole in the Wall
Red Eyed Fly