Archives for March 2019

Higher Ed: Learning To Discern Your True Calling

Many people may regard “vocation” as a job, employment, or occupation. But the word’s Latin root (vocare meaning “to call”) speaks to a deeper definition related to a passion or true calling. In this episode of the KUT podcast “Higher Ed,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton explore the concept of a “calling” in life, and how we can learn to be attuned to that message within us.

When Jennifer was an undergraduate student in college, she was certain she was going to become a psychologist. When Ed was an undergraduate student, he was certain he was going to become a lawyer.

Well, neither one of them followed the path they thought they were going to pursue. What happened along the way? Did something go wrong for both of them?

Quite the contrary, Ed would argue. He says one of the ways to discern a true “calling” in life is to remain open to opportunities when they present themselves.

“We can’t be so intellectually stubborn as to think that the thought we had when we were eight years old is also going to be the exact same thought we’re going to have when we’re forty-five. That’s just not right,” says Ed. “The point of a high-impact educational experience that’s all about intellectual and personal growth is about challenging those basic assumptions.”

If this exercise of discernment feels like a struggle, Ed is quick to point out there is not necessarily only one path for each of us waiting to be discovered.

“You might pick the right one that generates enormous happiness. You might pick another one that generates a lot of happiness, and maybe there’s another thing you could have done that would have made you more happy or more satisfied,” Ed says. “You have to come to peace with all of that and realize there are there multiple pathways.”

At the heart of determining one’s true calling?

“Optimize your own personal satisfaction,” Ed believes.

That may sounds good in theory, but what about the reality of earning a living and paying bills? Listen to the full episode for further discussion on the tension between pursuing a passion and the realities of life.

No puzzler this week! It is still on an extended Spring Break but will return next week.

This episode was recorded on Feb. 23, 2019.


Today’s the big day. Songwriter William Harries Graham brings his new album, Jakes, into the world. The title is a nod to a certain neon sign you’ll see in the back room at The Continental Club on South Congress, where Graham has had an ongoing residency, and where he’s performed with several other artists in countless shows. All the great memories under one roof, marked by that neon glow…

Graham’s latest release, produced by Grammy Award-winner Stuart Sullivan, is an ethereal trip winding through hushed tones, hues, and slow burn build-ups into dramatic, dreamscape rock.

Graham celebrates the release of his new album with a show tonight at Cosmic Coffee & Beer Garden, 121 Pickle Rd. Several special guests will join the party this evening, including one Jon Dee Graham, along with Jeremy Nail, Amy Cook, Kacy Crowley, Suzanna Choffel, Matt the Electrician, Abra Moore, Bobby Daniel, and Chris Searles. The party starts at 9 p.m. Recommended.

-Photography by Gabriel C Pérez for KUTX.


Grupo Fantasma is entering its 19th year as a band, but for a large portion of that time, they’ve been unfairly pegged as a Latin band. In reality, that’s only one part of the story. So on their new album, they took things to the next level.

American Music: Volume VII is an excellent representation of what they’re really about: Mixing multiple styles and sounds, a wide range of influences…mixing roots. This is the approach that makes their sound consistently universal, and always outstanding.

Better yet, you need to experience it live. Join Grupo Fantasma for their big album release party tonight at the Mohawk, 912 Red River, featuring performances by Tomar and The FCs, and Bourgeois Mystics. Doors 8 p.m. If it hasn’t sold out yet, it may well be sold out very soon. Recommended.

KUT Weekend – March 29, 2019

Texas Senate budget writers agree to spend an extra $9 billion on public education and property tax cuts. Plus, local entrepreneurs look to change the face of Austin’s startup scene. And why everything in Austin is covered in green gunk right now. Those stories and more in this edition of KUT Weekend!

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Texas Standard: March 29, 2019

A surprise stay of execution for a condemned man on Texas’ death row, and the possible ripple effects for religious liberties nationwide. We’ll have the latest. And do you remember the case of the Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple? Now Texas lawmakers are taking steps to protect licensed professionals from charges of discrimination against the LGBT community. A move shaping up to be a broader culture war at the capitol. Also, Amazon betting big on Texas: minus incentives. Plus a conversation with Steve Earle about Texas music legend Guy Clark and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

This Song: Jenny Lewis on “Govinda Jai Jai” by Alice Coltrane

“Music is energy and music can be healing…music has so many different purposes, but at this stage in my life I’m looking for something that’s a little bit nourishing or just like a slight clue to the universe.” — Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis’ 4th record On the Line is a collection of songs that tackle love, lust, relationships and death. Lewis recorded the album in Capitol Records Studio B  with a band of legendary instrumentalists — Benmont Tench on keys,  Don Was on bass, and Jim Keltner on drums with contributions by Ringo Starr and Beck.

In this episode Jenny Lewis describes the effect that hearing  “Govinda Jai Jai” by Alice Coltrane while on a road trip across California with Jim James and Gary Burden had on her spirit  and on her approach to her new record.

Listen to this episode of This Song

Hear Jenny Lewis’ new record “On The Line”

Watch “On the Line Online”

Check out Jenny Lewis’ Tour Dates

Listen to Jim James’ episode of This Song


Running For Office

It seems every week a new candidate is announcing plans to seek office in 2020. That was the inspiration for this Typewriter Rodeo poem.

Dexter Story: “Gold” (featuring Sudan Archives)

Composer. Music Director. Producer. Call him whatever you want but there’s no doubting the musical genius behind L.A.’s Dexter Story.

Between pursuing his Ph.D in African Studies & Ethnomusicology, participating in community outreach, producing albums and playing a management role for Snoop Dogg, Story somehow finds time for his own songwriting. Story’s brand new full-length, Bahir, picks up where his debut Wondem left off in Story’s personal exploration of African music. Based on Story’s time there, Bahir incorporates nearly a dozen different styles ranging from Ethio-groove to Somali soul and features an insane lineup of international talent.

You can hear Bahir in full now and if you want a look at one of those fresh features, enjoy a track vocally embossed by Sudan Archives, “Gold”!

Photo: Farah Sosa


Perhaps the tales are as old as time, but really…the adventure never gets old.

Altamesa spun an intricate web of intrigue with mysterious stories about a brooding, wandering soul in their collection of singles, which culminated into the full-length release, Idol Frontier. He was in the shadows, tortured but driven. Naturally, your Austin Music Minute maven was hooked like a goth on Bauhaus. How would the story end?

Perhaps it hasn’t ended yet. In the meantime, experience that great music live at Altamesa’s show tonight at Hole In the Wall, 2538 Guadalupe. The bill includes San Marcos band Christian Sparks and the Beatnik Bandits, and a set by Dinner With Matt Gilchrest. The music starts at 9 p.m. Recommended.

One more thing: Should you happen upon Altamesa front man/songwriter Evan Charles, get that fella a beer and wish him a happy birthday.

-The thinkers. Photo of Altamesa by Precious Parker for KUTX.

Texas Standard: March 28, 2019

A tipping point at the border and pessimistic projections about the possibility of tragedy amid record numbers of asylum seekers. We’ll have the latest from El Paso where migrant families are being fenced into a makeshift shelter under a highway bridge. Also, a Texas mother files a federal lawsuit seeking 125 million from the Weather Channel after a tragedy involving storm chasers. Plus, Apple: the latest to enter the streaming wars, but are we already in over our heads when it comes to movies on demand? Also Hamilton comes to Texas and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Bill Baird: “Strigidae”

A decade and a half into his extensive multi-media mania, Bill Baird still impresses listeners just as much as he weirds them out. Currently calling Oakland his home but with deep roots in Austin and San Antonio, Baird has created renowned installations in both California and Texas, was a key member of SOUND Team and once went under the moniker Sunset.

Now writing and releasing under his own name, Baird has earned international praise for his vast discography, with records that push the sonic envelope of psychedelia and veer into the realm of experimentation. Baird’s latest endeavor combines his bold songwriting with viscous soundscapes and a live installation to create the album Owl and its visual counterpart The CubeOwl came out late last year and today you can officially purchase it on vinyl! If you’re not sold on the analog quite yet, maybe the modular midpoint from Owl will do the trick. Here’s “Strigidae”!

The Replication Crisis

A psychological study with null results is less likely to be published than one with surprising results, so it’s no wonder researchers tailor and conduct experiments with a preferred outcome in mind. So why is it so difficult to replicate a popular study around the time of its initial publication?

In this episode of Two Guys on Your HeadDr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke  discuss the replication crisis.

Night Glitter Groove

Austin nonprofit Kids in a New Groove is another extraordinary example of the local music community and several other dedicated volunteers showing support for the community-at-large. The organization provides Central Texas children living in foster care with one-on-one mentoring through free music instruction. And this week, they turn to music lovers like you for support through their KING Concert Club music series.

Up next on the list of awesome Austin artists: Psych/synth-pop outfit Night Glitter, who perform for the KING Concert Club tomorrow night at Empire Control Room, 606 E. 7th St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Remember that this and other KING Concert Club shows are pop-up concerts exclusively for Kids In A New Groove supporters. To find out how you can attend, visit their website for details.

-Photo of Night Glitter by Barbara FG Photography.

Texas Standard: March 27, 2019

When it comes to health care, now what? An unexpected move by the Justice Department to side with Texas in fighting the Affordable Care Act, we’ll have the latest. Also, days after that fire was extinguished at a chemical plant near Houston, losses and lawsuits are starting to mount. And greyhound racing is legal in Texas. But some wonder for how much longer, after a complaint about a wave of injuries to dogs and questions about oversight. Plus the team at Politifact double check a claim about Texas child care workers. Do only 11% meet quality standards? All that and more when today on the Texas Standard:

This Song: Warren Hood on “High Hill” by Uncle Walt’s Band

In the early 70’s Uncle Walt’s Band, the acoustic trio made up of Champ Hood, Walter Hyatt and David Ball came to Austin, TX from Spartanburg, SC. The band brought with them a unique acoustic sound that melded folk, jazz, blues and pop.  Though the music of Uncle Walt’s Band never caught on nationally, it continues to inspire countless Texas musicians like Lyle Lovett and Shawn Colvin.

Listen as Warren Hood, Champ Hood’s son, describes how hearing the song “High Hill” gave him a deep appreciation for the music of Uncle Walt’s Band while helping him process his grief around the loss of his father.

Listen to this episode of This Song

Check out the re-release of “Uncle Walt’s Band”

Check out the Tour Dates for That Carolina Sound

See Warren Hood’s Tour Dates Here


Listen to Songs from this episode of This Song


Brandon Wayne DeMaris: “Shooting Stars”

With well over a decade of experience as an industry professional and production extraordinaire, Austin’s Brandon Wayne DeMaris has helped players get the push they need and he only recently began to share music of his own. DeMaris’ therapeutic songwriting was stylistically influenced by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers but definitely has a unique sound on the upcoming record Brave Bones, due out next Friday. The album makes use of some of Austin’s most talented artists including David Messier in DeMaris’ backing band and features from Akina Adderley, Ray Prim and Grace Pettis, not to mention DeMaris’ own production expertise.

The release show for Brave Bones is Wednesday, April 10th at Antone’s and if you want to get a jump on DeMaris, check out his dream realized on the album’s penultimate track, “Shooting Stars”!

So On It

File this in the “you just never know” department. It was about three years ago that UK artist Ella Mai was posting covers of songs on Instagram, never guessing that these covers would catch the attention of producer DJ Mustard, who signed Ella Mai onto his label. Following a number of EP’s, last year she released her bold R&B self-titled full-length debut.

Thus, we have “The Debut Tour.” Ella Mai performs in Austin tonight at Emo’s, 2015 E. Riverside Dr. The bill includes opening performances by Kiana Ledé, and Lucky Daye. Doors at 7 p.m. So recommended.

-As of this writing, Ella Mai’s show tonight is SOLD OUT.

-Photo courtesy of the artist.

Texas Standard: March 26, 2019

Many highway checkpoints inland from the border are closed as border officials try to deal with a new surge of migrants from Central America, we’ll have the latest. Also, rural electrification transformed the lives of millions of Texas. Is it time for something similar for broadband? We’ll talk with the Texas lawmaker pushing to get the rest of Texas wired. Plus for the first time since 1940 there’s a new dental school for Texas. But how’s Texas Tech planning on keeping its newly minted dentists where they’re most needed? And fighting words: the Mueller report and how we’re talking about it. All those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Grupo Fantasma: “Let Me Be” (featuring Tomar Williams)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know who Grupo Fantasma is. The Grammy-winning KUTX favorite has been together for nineteen years and currently numbering at nine onstage and in-studio, they bring some serious heat to the table. This weekend Grupo continues their discography with American Music, Vol. VII a fresh iteration of Fantasma with a lot of the band’s signature sounds peppered in.

Catch Grupo Fantasma tomorrow afternoon at Waterloo Records, Thursday evening in Studio 1A for KUTX After Hours and Friday night for the release show at the Mohawk. Spice up your Tuesday and indulge yourself with one of the album’s most vibrant tracks (featuring Austin’s Tomar Williams), “Let Me Be”!

Here It Comes

You feel the weight of the world in Jason Pierce‘s vocals, each glimpse of vulnerability, every aching thought, in your journey through Spiritualized‘s latest release And Nothing Hurt. The beauty of that alone should draw you in.

These are genuinely heartfelt observances of an artist who worked very much in solitude to produce and finally complete the album. And Pierce is the first to admit, he had quite a few paralyzing moments of, “What…the hell…am I doing?” as working on the album became more complex and he tackled each part on his own. But onward. The resulting gorgeousness – fragility – is mind-blowing.

Many powerful or prolific artists are sometimes crushed by the weight of their own vision. Not Pierce. He’s described his songwriting process as obsessive, meticulous…time-consuming, and his focus is not on the most logical way to complete an album. But it all has to come together, connect. And also he’s realized that, even if what you’re trying to achieve on a certain track is something specific, the music itself takes on a life of its own and takes it somewhere else entirely.

This is one not to miss. Spiritualized is in Austin for a performance tonight at Emo’s, 2015 E. Riverside Dr. Doors open at 7 p.m. Recommended.

-Image courtesy of the artist.