Friday, October 28, 2011

Live music review: Concrete Blonde and Johnette Napolitano impress at new Emo's

Do you remember the hit, Joey by Concrete Blonde? Last night, the Los Angeles-based alternative act from the 80's, made an appearance at Austin's newest venue, Emo's East. The amazing thing about their leader and vocalist, Johnette Napolitano is she still has the same sultry, smoky voice she did over 20 years ago.

Continue reading on Live music review: Concrete Blonde and Johnette Napolitano impress at new Emo's - Austin Concerts |

Monday, October 24, 2011

Live music review: All My Friends packed ND for return gig after year absence

LCD Soundsystem tribute band, All My Friends performed their first show since disbanding last year to a packed house at the ND at 501 Studios Friday. It was a glorious evening of dance-punk and DJ sets kicked off by Chris Heckendorn (AMF vocalist) on the decks followed by Ricky Jean Francois who were quite good. After AMF's set which included some surprises, DJ Richard Gear kept the party going until the venue closed with some classic 80s and 90s tracks. From the size of the crowd, our assesment is Austin music fans were thrilled the band decided to reform. 

Continue reading on Live music review: All My Friends packed ND for return gig after year absence - Austin Concerts |

Friday, October 21, 2011

Weekend music preview: All My Friends | Battles | Hacienda | Zombie Uprising

A bye week for the University of Texas football team this weekend means there are a ton of Festivals happening in Austin. The Gypsy Picnic Tailer Food FestivalThe Austin Film Festival and the Texas Book Festival are all happening over the first "real" weekend of Fall. Along with an event-packed schedule, there are so many great shows over the next couple of days; our live music preview only scratches the surface.

Continue reading on Weekend music preview: All My Friends | Battles | Hacienda | Zombie Uprising - Austin Concerts |

Monday, October 17, 2011

Texas Rangers back to back: The World Series with hope for a different result

For the second consecutive year, the Texas Rangers have played their way into theWorld Series by easily defeating the Detroit Tigers at The Ballpark at Arlington 15-5 on Saturday to win the American League Championship Series 4-2. Although Texas lost to the San Francisco Giants in last year's Series, before last season the club had not won a post-season game since relocating to Texas from Washington, D.C. in 1972.

Continue reading the story on CultureMap Austin.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Weekend music preview: Utopia Fest | The Soldier Thread | Nightfever Vol XVII

This weekend the live music options are as diverse as Austin. There is alt country, psychedelic rock, indie rock, cutting edge DJ tracks and Latin tunes all on tap. Friday, Utopia Fest, a different kind of music festival begins and Grateful Dead cover to beat all cover bands, Dark Star Orchestra is slated to perform at ACL Live at the Moody. Saturday, fans have a choice between and all-acoustic show featuring The Soldier Thread or the Nightfever Vol XVII J Boogie album release party. We are going to try to hit both shows because we dislike having to choose between the two. Sunday, arguably the greatest Latin percussionist alive, Texas-born, Poncho Sanchez will be in town. 

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Weekend music preview: Calm Blue Sea | Boxing Lesson | White Denim | BB King

After spending most of last week out of town (and feeling a bit left out) it seemed appropriate to pen another weekend preview with all the great live music on tap in Austin. There is an exceptional double-bill, The Boxing Lesson and The Calm Blue Sea on Friday. Saturday our favorite local, progessive, rock band, White Denim is performing and Kebabalious is picking up the tab. Possibly the most famous blues guitarist alive, B.B. King will grace the ACL Live Moody Theater stage Sunday. Even a novice music fan could accidentally stumble upon a great show in the "Live Music Capitol" over the next few days. 

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What was I Doing Fasting for Ramadan?

Yantra Interfaith Mandala

With Rosh Hashanah just ending and Yom Kippur approaching, I have had a chance to reflect on my experience fasting one day during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. The idea for the interfaith, online group fast was the brainchild of my friend, Amanda Quirishi whose work in finding common ground among members of various faiths encouraged the event. She also urged participants to share their experiences on Twitter which is where I first heard of the event.

Q as she is commonly known on the internet is a prolific writer and social media specialist who uses her online influence to connect folks together in new ways like the dawn til dusk Ramadan observance she organized. Q warned us we would run through a gamut of emotions while fasting and we should reflect upon those who routinely battle hunger.  The primary purpose of the month-long observance in Islam is to understand what it means to live with hunger and appreciate the bounty most of us enjoy.  A few other things happened as well…

After carefully setting my alarm, for 5am in the morning (before the sun rose), I slept though the alarm and missed my opportunity to eat a meal before my day began.  I was not to drink water, brush my teeth (that was gross) or even drink the water in the shower.

 I thought, “I am Jewish, I have fasted for Yom Kippur before, this will be a snap…I think”

I could not have been more wrong.  First, Yom Kippur allows us to break the fast at sundown after one day of fasting. The dawn to dark rule actually makes for a longer fast.  Reform Jews like me often drank water even though it was officially not allowed.  It was a challenge fasting in strict Islamic tradition while attempting to go about my day like it was any other. By mid-morning, I was already wondering if I could make it until the sun went down after 8pm that evening. I had a couple of stories to write, a client meeting and a game to cover for the newspaper that evening. 

How the heck Muslims do this for an entire month, I wondered? One day fasting was a trial. An entire month? Now THAT is commitment to your faith. Already, I had a newfound respect for Islamic folks. They must have a deep understanding of human suffering that non-Muislims could only imagine.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, various participants were comparing notes with each other and offering support.  Participants shared their experiences on Twitter in real-time at Q’s suggestion. She hoped the online encouragement and support would make it easier to negotiate the day while running on empty. 

Here are some examples I pinched from Q's Blog:

I had a similar experience

Seeing others having the same thoughts helped somehow

While the tweets above demonstrate the physical difficulties of fasting while trying to carry on a work day, the mental demands seemed greater. I found myself reflecting upon others experiences more. The homeless folks at traffic intersections begging for money, vagrants downtown waiting outside Caritas and comparing their lives to my own rather blessed one.

I realized once again, the differences between people were far less significant than the similarities. Our religions, cultures and values as human beings are rather close in ideology regardless of religion or race. 

This is a realization one often arrives at after traveling overseas for any length of time. The exercise had it's intended effect. I marveled at the Islamic people around the world who did this for an entire month. One day of Ramadan was a trial enough for me.

 In the end, I found myself covering a preseason football game as the sun set over Central Texas. I wandered down to the snack bar and ordered a water and hot dog. Not sexy, but it was just about the best thing I could imagine at the time. 

Thanks to Amanda Quirishi, Jennifer Jones, Holly from Seattle, GenevieveJaime Weaver and Sarah Vela for sharing the experience with me. 

Have you ever fasted for religious purposes? What was your experience like?