Archives for November 2019

Hoakum 4Lyfe

You’ve more than likely heard your Austin Music Minute maven tell this tale before: The White Ghost Shivers is one of the first bands your humble host saw when first arriving in Austin in 2002. They played to an audience of five – two of which were working the bar – at Beerland. They were shakin’ up a spell of hot jazz, swing, basically old-timey everything with a smart-ass punk rock delivery, and it was love at first listen.

Though your AMM host has been telling people “Don’t behave!” for decades, let it be known that the White Ghost Shivers were the main inspiration for taking that life hack to the airwaves. WOO.

Tonight, the White Ghost Shivers celebrate their 20th anniversary (what?!) with a big show at The Continental Club, 1315 S. Congress Ave. The music kicks off with a bang at 10 p.m.

Here’s to 20 years of shaking folks up, rattling floorboards and nerves, and even keeping it spooky. Like a big ol’ shiver down the collective spine. Show no mercy. Love you madly! So recommended.

-Photo courtesy of the artist.

Nightmare Forever

Your Austin Music Minute host was first drawn into the dreaminess of Nolan Potter’s Nightmare Band between spins of Strange and Secret Peoples (2018) and an earlier recording, The World Is a Peach Goodbye (2017). Then, along comes the band’s newest release, Nightmare Forever, a swirling fusion of psych/prog, pop/jazz/rock…and sweeping magic.

Nolan Potter’s Nightmare Band celebrates the release of their new LP with a show tonight at Hotel Vegas, 1501 E. 6th St., with a line-up includes Peach Almanac and Lord Friday the 13th. Doors at 9 p.m. Lose yourself in the madness. Recommended.

-Photography by Gabriel C. Pérez for KUTX.

KUT Weekend – November 29, 2019

A last-minute loophole could undermine a Texas law against surprise medical bills. Plus, Hill Country landowners say the energy company Kinder Morgan is lowballing them on land for a natural gas pipeline. And some Texas farmers going all in on hemp. Those stories and more in this edition of KUT Weekend!

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What’s In A Day?

When it comes to the holidays, how important is the day, psychologically, that we celebrate?

In this episode of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman, and Dr. Bob Duke talk about the importance rituals in marking time, and the way in which we can alleviate stress in our lives by understanding that things don’t always have to go the way the world, or Hallmark, dictates.

Texas Standard: November 29, 2019

No matter where you are, tis the season to be shopping. But if you’d rather be reading, or giving the gift thereof, you’re gonna enjoy this special edition of the Texas Standard. They are, as Stephen King once wrote, a uniquely portable magic. The quietest and most constant of friends, the most accessible and wisest of counselors, the most patient of teachers, wrote Charles W. Elliott. And a lot of them focus on or are written about the greatest place we know. This hour, we’re talking about books, albeit with a distinctly Texas accent:

Texas Standard: November 28, 2019

The Texas Legislature has recently taken up charges focused on mental health. Can those priorities maintain momentum into the next session? We’ll explore. Plus, mental health has been used in the same sentence a lot lately as mass violence. We’ll break down that connection. And as loved ones gather this holiday, one discussion point might be family history. Digging deep into what that means for one Texas family. Also, don’t ask don’t tell: it seems that’s still largely the policy when it comes to mental health at work. We’ll look at how to change that. All of those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:


Mikal Cronin sort of did the “typical artist thing” when the time came to pen his latest release, Seeker, as he explained in his Studio 1A performance this afternoon. He settled into a cabin in Idyllwild in Southern California for an entire month on his own, save for Ernie the cat. The peace and tranquility was exactly what Cronin needed for the inspiration to flow.

Cronin pushed himself out of any comfort zones, sonically and lyrically, to play around with different arrangements on his fourth LP. In addition to “Shelter,” featured on KUTX, other standouts include the ballad-rock blast “Caravan” and the singular, striking “On the Shelf” closing the album out.

Join Mikal Cronin at his show tonight at Barracuda, 611 E. 7th, on an excellent bill including songwriter (and fellow Ty Segall bandmate) Shannon Lay, and ATX-based band Mean Jolene. Doors at 8 p.m. Get there early to catch all three. Very recommended.

-Photo courtesy of the artist.

Texas Standard: November 27, 2019

Flu season is back in full swing… and some experts are concerned about one especially vulnerable population. Why they’re not getting shots- today on the Texas Standard.

The man behind a 3D gun blueprint company is taking the reigns again after a brush with the law. We’ll explore the legal grey area.

Landowners in the Texas Hill Country continue to fight plans for a pipeline- what they’re up against.

Plus, a language update that was 75 years overdue. The new art exhibit meant to challenge what we mean by communication. And the little-known story behind one word also used as a measurement.

The Distance In Smoots

By W. F. Strong

Shakespeare told us that “some have greatness thrust upon them.” Such was the case for Oliver Smoot. He was born in Bexar County, Texas, and there was nothing in his formative years to predict the events that would push him into international prominence.

Oliver was a fine student and his academic strengths got him into MIT in Boston. It was there that he was pledging a fraternity and his pledge class was given the ridiculous task of measuring Harvard Bridge, which connects Boston to Cambridge, in some new way. The bridge was half a mile long.

His group of pledges decided fairly quickly that since Oliver was the shortest among them, five-foot-seven, they would use him as their “ruler.” Late one night, they laid him down on the sidewalk of the bridge and moved him slowly, one body length at a time, making a mark on the sidewalk at his head every time they moved him. Took five hours because the police dispersed them and they had to sneak back later.

Once completed, they totaled all the times they had moved him and it came to 364.4 times – plus an ear. They decided to immortalize this new unit of measure as a smoot, after Oliver’s last name. Thus the bridge was 364.4 smoots (and an ear) long. You can even see the smoot measurements on the bridge today, no doubt pleasing MIT that Harvard Bridge is eternally branded by the university and pleasing to me that a Texan was used to do it.

Even when the Continental Construction Company reconcreted the sidewalk in 1987, they made the slabs in smoot lengths to commemorate local lore. It’s wonderful to see Work that into a conversation that everyone can work in harmony for a common cause when they want to.

In the category of truth is stranger than fiction, Oliver Smoot eventually became the Chairman of the American National Standards Institute and President of the International Organization for Standardization. He was in charge of weights and measures. How’s that for a perfect fit?

The crowning compliment to the glory of the smoot as a measurement was when the fun-loving geeks at Google, no doubt many from MIT, decided to include the unit of measure in Google conversions. It’s true – try it. In the Google search window you can get any distance converted to smoots.

Distance from Cut n’ Shoot to Dime Box: 112,913 smoots

It’s 5,640,000,000 smoots from Texas to the Moon.

You can even determine how far you boot scooted to George Strait at the dance hall last night. Convert your steps into smoots.

I think it is also fitting to have this relatively new unit of measure – now legitimized in many dictionaries, including the American Heritage Dictionary and the Urban Dictionary – brought to us by a native Texan. After all, Texas itself, as I’ve noted before, has long been a unit of measure. For instance, you could fit 25 Massachusetts into Texas. And, in case you were wondering, Texas has a total area of over 240 trillion square smoots. today.

Sir Woman: “Speak”

You’ve seen and heard Kelsey Wilson at the front of her folk group Wild Child and as a major voice in the Adrian Quesada-coordinated supergroup Glorietta, but over the course of 2019 she’s begun to shift her focus towards becoming a new authority in soul singing with her project Sir Woman. Wilson’s inherently kind character is still there, albeit obscured through an air of intense passion and insane control over vocal dynamics, placing this Studio 1A veteran amongst jazz royalty like Etta James, Aretha Franklin, and Amy Winehouse.

As Wilson has revealed more and more about Sir Woman, she continues to melt hearts and fill venues with her robust singing, which you’ll be able to hear in the comfort of your home on her debut full-length Party City, out next year. Sir Woman plays at Palmer Events Center at the tail end of next month for the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and just dropped an infectious electronic R&B-style single ahead of Party City, “Speak”!

Their Voices

Merciful Heavens eschews the fancy language and keeps things pretty cut-and-dry when describing their band. In a nutshell – here’s your three-piece rock ‘n’ roll outfit, nice to meet ya. But something bigger extends beyond the basic formula, where rock and blues cross paths on an open plain, striking a chord in the middle of all the chaos and confusion. There’s a stark beauty in this stylistic simplicity, like a flickering candlelight in the dark that suddenly looks like some kind of beacon.

Give a listen to “Voices” (featured on today’s AMM), about the imaginary conversations one has with friends who are no longer on this earth. Are they so imaginary? Sometimes they’re so vivid that they keep you alive.

See Merciful Heavens tonight at the Mohawk, 912 Red River, on the inside stage, featuring Lefty Parker opening at 9 p.m. Merciful Heavens plays at 10 p.m., followed by Altamesa at 11 p.m. Three times the awesome. Recommended.

-Photo courtesy of the artist.

Texas Standard: November 26, 2019

Mergers. Layoffs. Cuts to coverage. We’ll take a hard look at challenges to the newspaper industry and how it’s affecting Texas- today on the Texas Standard.
Hemp to eat, hemp to wear, hemp as medicine. The agricultural product seems to offer unlimited possibilities. But the hype may be moving faster than the infrastructure.
Plus, a new book about Texas politics in the late 20s and early 30s just might offer some parallels to today. What we can learn from “The Biscuits, the Dole and Nodding Donkeys.”

And, a look at the real impacts of deportation.

Slow Farm: “All I Need”

You might not know much about Slow Farm, but honestly, at this point in time…nobody really does. You may however be familiar with local producer Chris “Chron” McDowell (of Solar Shield, 5-D, etc.), who, despite his knack for minimalist, boom-bap-style hip-hop beats, has a great ear for country. Thus with this new Austinite quartet, we’re introduced to a pasture of bright and folksy Americana-inspired sounds, featuring a balanced blend of acoustic and electric and favoring rhythm strings over a traditional drummer.

Today Slow Farm has corralled their first herd of tunes into their debut album, Better Luck, and although their plans for a release show in town are still in the works, you can listen to the whole dang thang right now, and add “All I Need” to your personal country compilations!

A New High In Low

It was the ultimate ’90s supergroup for many an industrial music fan. Hell…it was a supergroup, period.

All the talent driving Pigface made the band into something sonically overwhelming, in all its raw and twisted glory – a hell of a dark life force taking over any stage in whatever form the band happened to be in on any given night. Al Jourgensen (Ministry), Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Martin Atkins (Public Image Limited, Killing Joke), William Rieflin, En Esch (KMFDM), Genesis P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle), Lydia Lunch, Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys)…the list is far too vast for this post, but even this handful of names might give you some idea of the range and depth of collaboration throughout the band’s existence.

On today’s Austin Music Minute, (which features the track “Burundi” from the 1997 double-disc release A New High in Low) there’s another badass Pigface contributor you heard about: Curse Mackey, standout solo artist in electronic-industrial music; darkwave/indie/industrial DJ; contributor to My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult; and a mover and shaker in Evil Mothers. All of it. Yet fans do know Mackey as a Pigface vocalist – which is extra badass and makes tonight’s performance all the more enticing.

Don’t miss Pigface taking over Elysium, 705 Red River. It’s an early show, with doors at 8 p.m. So recommended it hurts.

-Pigface featuring Curse Mackey by Rick Casados Photography.

Texas Standard: November 25, 2019

2020 doesn’t seem so far away anymore. As Election time nears, we’ll take a look at Texas’ political landscape and priorities. Also, breaking down the effects of a rollback of rule changes put in place to prevent another deadly explosion like the one in West, Texas. Plus, appropriate for this week, what do we have to be thankful for in the energy industry? At least from one perspective. And we’ll introduce you to an odd couple: an avid hunter and a vegan. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Clarence James: “So Cold”

Although he’s a relatively new name to the Austin music scene, vocalist Clarence James has a lot going for him. James only began playing live sets in 2019 but in that short time he’s already accrued the confidence of a major label icon.

This young up-and-comer will sweep you off your feet with his mature sense of lyricism and stunning vocal techniques, heard most recently on a single released just last Friday, “So Cold”!

Higher Ed: Be Grateful For The Frustration That Can Come With Learning. You’ll Learn From That, Too.

“Thank you” may not always be the words that come to mind when struggling through a difficult lesson or dealing with a mountain of homework in school. But in this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton discuss the role that gratitude can play in learning and education.

Ed firmly believes that those two little words can play a big part in enhancing learning – especially when the going seems tough.

“What if that frustration actually ended up being kind of a positive? What if we became grateful for being frustrated, as a state?” asks Ed. “The truth is, I think that gratitude is such a powerful mindset to move us in a positive direction.”

Ed maintains that expressions of gratitude have a ripple effect on all manner of work in and out of school.

“If we can embrace gratitude and be thankful for any aspect of life or any aspect of one’s work, it uplifts us,” says Ed. “It allows us to be more creative, to be more innovative, to see things more clearly, [and] to look for opportunities and potential.”

For some people, expressing gratitude feels difficult. Ed understands where that comes from says the benefits are worth the effort.

“It’s a vulnerability, and we don’t like being vulnerable. We don’t like to put our feelings and our heart on our sleeves,” says Ed. “But, we have to remember that we are human. To embrace our humanity is a great gift to ourselves and to others. And one way to embrace our humanity is to show appreciation and to express gratitude.”

Listen to the full episode to hear more about the benefits of being grateful. And hopefully. you will be thankful for a new puzzler.

This episode was recorded on Oct. 22, 2019.

Charles Whitaker (Ep. 51, 2019)

This week on In Black America, producer and host John L. Hanson, Jr. speaks with Charles Whitaker , journalist and newly appointed Dean of the Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University.

Bring the Heat

Imagine making a kind of debut that leaves the crowd shook, in all the best ways. Urban Heat Island Effect made such an impression at a Hot Summer Nights show, so…yes. The heat was due to more than just the weather.

Featuring the talents of core members Jonathan Horstmann (BLXPLTN, V3CO) and Kevin D. Naquin (Blastfamous USA, NGHT HCKLRS), the band’s startling musical presence emerges from a rush of darkwave, rock and electro-futureshock firing all the synapses off like missiles. The Horstmann/Naquin collab was meant to be. Add Pax (Dark Palaces) and Jessica Alexander (Bike Problems) to this mix, and you’ve amped up the firestorm.

The band’s been working on new material with producer/musician Jonas Wilson, to be released through Wilson’s label Mr. Pink Records. But you can get a spectacular preview of what’s to come when Urban Heat Island Effect plays tonight at the Mohawk, 912 Red River, on the inside stage, for their cassette single release show following Twin Peaks on the outside stage. Hong Kong Wigs and Glass Grapes join the Heat on the bill.

Doors at 9 p.m. Recommended.

-Photography by Christopher De La Rosa.

Make Belief

It. Was. Awesome. Relive the magic and hear for yourself.

Bali Yaaah blasted eardrums with the latest from the much-anticipated EP Make Belief at their recent KUTX After Hours performance in Studio 1A. It resonates and rumbles with psyched-out, synthed-up pop/rock under a vast umbrella of influences too numerous to name – dreamy, trippy, classic, fuzzy, and otherworldly/cosmic. Is that a thing? Could very well be now.

Don’t miss Bali Yaaah at their EP release show tonight at The Electric Church, 5018 E. Cesar Chavez. Strange Lot (o.m.g., check out their KUTX pop-up session) and The Gary are on the bill. Ether Wave Light Show adds to the ambience in a major way. Doors at 9 p.m. So recommended.

-Photography by Amarachi Ngwakwe for KUTX.