Saturday, September 17, 2011

ACL Festival 2011 - Day 1

Taking the Shuttle to Zilker

As I have for the previous five years, I parked in my usual spot and took the shuttles over to Zilker Park. Prior to leaving home, I had actually packed some rain gear, because it was very overcast. Usually unwelcome during ACL, rain would be a great relief from the drought we are experiencing.

Loading up at Republic Square

The Front Gate

Asleep at the Wheel

As always, there's only one way to start the ACL Festival, and this is with Austin's favorite adopted band, Asleep at the Wheel. Some would argue that one of the most influential events in Austin music history, was the Wheel's move to Austin from Oakland, in 1974, at Willie Nelson's urging.

All I know is that there is nothing like starting the morning with some Texas Swing, and covers of Bob Wills songs.

Asleep at the Wheel

Ray Benson, Jaason Roberts, and Elizabeth McQueen

Wild Beasts while it was actually raining

At the end of the Wheel's set, I walked down the hill to the Honda stage, where Wild Beasts was playing. As I walked, it actually started raining. It was short lived, but forecasts call for more rain this weekend. It is still badly needed.

I don't have much to say about Wild Beasts. They were a British Pop act that I did not find too compelling.

It's actually raining

Wild Beasts on the Honda Stage

Disciples of Christ

Heading over to the Pavillion formerly known as the WAMU (now Vista Equity), I caught a set by a kick-ass, gospel group, Disciples of Christ. Four very impressive female singers powered this music into the stratosphere. Impressive singing talent was on display, for those fortunate few at this sparsely attended set.

Disciples of Christ

The Secret Sisters

Continuing my orbit around the grounds, I was treated to the sound of two more female voices, singing in excellent harmony. A pair of sisters from the legendary locale of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, were seducing the crowd with their siren song.

Their music seemed to be the perfect complement to a hot, lazy late summer afternoon. My biggest regret was not catching their entire set.

The Secret Sisters on the Google+ Stage

Brandi Carlile

Hearing this band from afar, I immediately headed back to the AMD stage. As I got closer, I realized that this would be a real treat. One set was enough to make me a fan of Seatlle based, performer, Brandi Carlile.

She plays a rousing mix of Rockabilly, and Country influenced music, and played an impressed cover of Johnny Cash's, Fulsom Prison Blues. Not only is she a great front person, but her band was fantastic too.

Brandi Carlile

Meanwhile, over at the BMI Stage

Finally making it over to the BMI Stage, even though it's right near the Front Gate, I saw this interesting setup. A rotating wheel of glass, with alternating wedges being silvered, was mounted in this device. People would line on both sides, as it spun, and watch the really cool effect created.

Unfortunately, the video doesn't do it justice, since you get a strobe effect from the digital camera.

Bobby Long

I had seen this British Singer/Songwriter earlier in the year, at SxSW. He delivered a very engaging performance. It is unfortunate that he couldn't command a larger stage, to be perfectly honest.

Bobby Long

Francicsa Vanezuela

Francicsa was a very attractive Chilean singer-songwriter. She plays piano and sings, with music that is targeted towards an alternative, Latin Pop market. The band and the sound were good, and she herself is an excellent player.

Francicsa Valenzuela

Electric Touch

After getting some food, I checked out a British-American band, Electric Touch. They had a good sound, and presentation, but I didn't find the music very interesting.

Electric Touch

Kurt Vile and the Violators

Like the previous, and the next acts I'm writing about, I didn't find this group very interesting.

Cold War Kids

I found this band to be similar to the previous. Good sound, pop sounding songs, but not very engaging or interesting.

Cold War Kids

The Austin Skyline

I attempted to catch a few shots of the Austin Skyline from Zilker. The night time shots rarely come out well, so here's two from the daylight hours.

Austin Skyline

Bud Light and Skyline

Bright Eyes

These guys apparently have a big following. They were fairly derivative, reminding me of some 80's MTV pop band.
It was listenable, but not interesting, either.

Bright Eyes

Gary Clark Jr.

Even though Gary is from Austin, I had never heard him play. He's pretty damn good. It is not often that a Blues player can hold an audience of anyone other than Blues fans. Gary has no problems doing this.

Made a mental note to catch him in town, soon.

Gray Clark Jr.

Sara Bareilles

As I was eating dinner, I could hear this Grammy nominated singer-songwriter on the Austin Ventures stage. She is fantastic, and will return on a bigger stage in the future. In addition to be an exceptional vocalist, she is also a very good piano player.

Sara Bareilles


I knew that I wasn't a Kayne fan, so I headed over towards the AMD stage to watch Coldplay. Well, I can cross them off of my list. I guess I'm not much of a Coldplay fan, either.


Exhausted, tired, and having sore feet, I headed out about three quarters of the way through Coldplay's set, and got on the shuttle. I really need to pace myself, and probably won't get back until around 2PM on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Return to Forever IV at the Moody


I bought the tickets to this show with the same crew that I attended the RTF Returns show with in 2008. This was the first of three, RTF reunion lineups, that have toured since then:

  1. Chick Corea, Stanley Clark, Lenny White, Al DiMeola
  2. Chick Corea, Stanley Clark, Lenny White, Bill Connors
  3. Corea, Clark, & White

Unfortunately, the latter two tours did not come to Texas, but I have seen Chick perform twice since then, once with the Five Peace Band, and playing solo piano. I really enjoy Chick's playing, so I was very anxious to see this show.

We convened at Franks, before walking down to the Moody Theater for the show.

Zappa Plays Zappa

The opener was Zappa Plays Zappa. The lineup was very similar to the show I saw at Stubbs, two years ago, with the obvious addition of a new keyboard player.

The current lineup includes:

  • Dweezil Zappa - Guitar
  • Scheila Gonzalez - Saxophone, Flute, Keyboards & Vocals
  • Pete Griffin - Bass
  • Billy Hulting - Marimba, Mallets & Percussion
  • Jamie Kime - Guitar
  • Ben Thomas - Vocals & Trumpet
  • Joe Travers - Drums & Vocals
  • Chris Norton - Keyboards & Vocals
Zappa Plays Zappa

Set List

The set was similar to the Stubb's show two years ago. As usual, Dweezil had two special guests, with Chick Corea joining the band for one song, and then Eric Johnson, coming out later. I may have missed a song or two, but the set list was basically, as follows:

  • Don't you ever wash that thing?
  • Pajama people
  • Fifty fifty
  • Big swifty
  • King Kong - with Chick Corea
  • Don't you eat that yellow snow
  • Saint Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast
  • Willie the Pimp - with Eric Johnson

Everything ZPZ played was well executed. I liked the new keyboard player, and even enjoyed the vocalist's singing more this time around. When Chick sat in with the band, the soloing was amazing, and he spent considerable time trading 8's with Dweezil. Even Eric Johnson was prepared, and his appearance with ZPZ was much better than what he delivered at Stubbs.

Return to Forever IV

The lineup for RTF IV is new, with two new players who have never played with the band before. In addition to the core lineup of Corea, Clarke, and White, RTF IV also includes:

  • Frank Gambale (of Elektric Band fame) - guitars
  • Jean Luc Ponty - violin (need I say more?)

Set List

The Set List was a mix of classic RTF songs, along with an individual songs written by JLP, and Stanley Clarke. There's not much to say other than this was a fantastic show.

I will say that JLP to the mix was akin to RTF a la mode. The apple pie was already really good, the ice cream pushed it over the top!

  • Medieval Overture
  • Senor Mouse
  • Sorceress / Shadow of Lo
  • Renaissance
  • After the Cosmic Rain
  • Romantic Warrior


  • Spain
  • School Days

All in all, it was a stupendous night of prog and fusion goodness.

ACL Badge Pickup

It's that time of the year again. Since I was already downtown, I swung on by Zilker and picked up my wristband. Of course, this was the earliest that I've ever done this. The Zilker gate wasn't even fully up, yet.

ACL Wristband Pickup

Sunday, September 11, 2011

NFL 2011 Week 1 - Ravens vs Steelers

Nest 512 was in full roost at the Tavern, and is almost 60 strong, now. What better way to start off the season, than against our hated division rivals, the Steelers? Everyone, both pundit and fan alike, was expecting a close game.

Imagine our surprise then, when the Ravens delivered a 35 - 7 knockout punch.
Things went so well for the Ravens, that I have not heard a single peep out of my normal Steeler antagonists, here in Austin.