Tag Archives: austin

Mama K & The Shades

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Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

 

Mama K & The Shades are definitely a local must-see with their jazz-soul-R&B-funk combo of high-energy sound of a 10-piece band you have to see to believe. If you’re a night owl, catch them on the SXSW schedule: Maggie Mae’s Rooftop Bar on March 15 and Half Step on March 18, both at 1 AM.

White Light Exposure - mama k and the shades-1Mama K & The Shades have been together for almost three years and range from ages 22 to 62. Lead singer Kelsey Garcia says that they are much more than “just bandmates.”

“It seems like we’ve known each other forever—we’re family,” she said. “We’ve been playing together for long enough now that we’ve really developed our own true sound. We’ll always be influenced by 70’s and 80’s funk, but we’re not a replica; we’re our own thing entirely.”

Who exactly is this dime? Well, the vocalists are the leading —and only— lady Kelsey Garcia and Willie Barnes. The instrumentalists consist of: Johnny Storbeck (guitar), David Thacker (keyboard), Lee Braverman (bass), Chris Barnes (drums), Wesley Gonzales (percussion), Joseph Morrow (trumpet and flugelhorn), Dustin Hunter (tenor and baritone sax), and Donald McDaniel (trombone). Whew. Yeah—it’s a lot. Which means—big sound! Big sound does not always mean great sound, but in this case, it truly does. Somehow, they make ten people on a stage look and sound like every band should follow suit.

mama k -4Their first album, “Honey Made,” is dedicated to David McKnight, their original sax player who passed away two years ago. Their second album is in the works and will be out next year.

“He was the creator of the band, my best friend, and roommate,” Garcia said. “Whenever something was going really well, he used to always say, ‘Ooooh that’s honey made!’ [hence the album title]. Those were big shoes to fill, and we went without a sax player for a long time, but Dustin is incredible.”

If you’ll be at home avoiding the SXSW craziness this year, they’re also really excited to open for Big Freedia and The Soul Rebels at Mohawk on April 1. Or hey, need a vacation? Mama K & The Shades will be heading to Denver for their first out-of-state gig and the start of their first tour April 20! You get it—you have a ton of opportunities to check out these awesome local artists on their race to the top of the charts.

“Everyone’s passion is the music,” said Garcia, “and we just love sharing that with whoever we can.”

Galen James

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Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

Remember when music was recorded on tape—a few takes, in the moment, no digital sound effects with a million computerized edits along the way?

Galen James, who recently moved to Austin to be a part of the Live Music Capital of the World, remembers, and wants to recapture that purity.

“That’s how The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix did it—they were great musicians and I don’t want people to lose sight of that,” he said. “It takes a lot of work, and you have to be really solid, but it sounds a lot warmer—a band, exactly as they truly are.”

Galen is the real deal—he even worked with Doug Messinger, the guitarist for Van Morrison, to create his Pop-Jazz fusion analog tape masterpiece.

“We actually used the same tape recorder used by Pink Floyd for ‘The Wall,’” he said. “It took an entire year—and I also recorded the whole thing and put it up on YouTube. It’s easier to use a computer and a mouse and move things around—you can do a thousand takes just singing one line. That sort of thing doesn’t happen on tape. You have to rewind, manually turn up the knobs, and restart the whole thing over again.”

When he’s not trying to bring back the transparency of music, the Jazz Studies major is teaching piano, jazz theory, and voice lessons at Eastside Music on 5th Street.

He’s played on Rainey Street, at Lucky’s Lounge, Speakeasy, and more eclectic spots all over Austin—and is lining up more shows currently.

If you haven’t looked this guy up yet—do it! His style is truly hard to place, which is awesome—you’re not sure what genre you’re listening to, but the jazzy undertones are amazing. The only close comparison that I can make is Jason Mraz.

“All my music is about my life, which is one of the difficult things about it—there are a lot of emotions artists can tap into, which makes playing very difficult sometimes,” he explained. “But I like challenging myself, that’s why I recorded on tape.”

Galen has two albums out right now and is releasing a new EP this summer. You can find all of his work on Amazon, BandCamp, or purchase them at his next live show. Visit his http://www.GalenJames.com for more info!

 

El Talisman Coffee

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Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

 

The Alvarados are a lot like any other typical Texas family—they work hard, they play hard, but the most important thing in their lives is each other. Yuri and Johanna Alvarado are political refugees from Nicaragua—they moved to the U.S. as teenagers, escaping the Sandinista revolution and Contra war that followed. They beat all odds and created a happy and successful life, plus, they’ve raised two children, Johanna and Fernando.

The next step of their dream involves one of my favorite things in the world—coffee. El Talisman Coffee, straight from the Alvarado’s farm in the mountains of Matagalpa, Nicaragua is absolutely incredible. Johanna and Yuri are fifth and sixth generation coffee farmers—who still plant, prune, clean, harvest, and process by hand—which used to, of course, be the only way.

When I spoke to Yuri Alvarado, he said, “My favorite part of the job is growing the coffee in Nicaragua. I love the level of involvement required to produce good quality coffee. We tend to each of our 50,000 coffee trees individually. We still do all the work by hand, like our ancestors did over a century ago. Growing good quality coffee is truly a labor of love and I love doing it.”

You can truly taste that “labor of love” in every cup. And it’s not just me that thinks so highly of the smooth taste—El Talisman Coffee has been selling out all over Central Texas! They’ve recently been a hit at the Kyle Market Days, Barton Creek Famers Market (find them here every Saturday, rain or shine!), the Downtown Buda Farmers Market, Plum Creek Front Porch Days, Ten Thousand Villages of Austin World Fair Trade Day, and the Kyle Public Library.

“Working with my family has been by far the most exciting part of this experience,” Yuri explained. “It has been amazing for me to see Johanna and Fernando connect at a very deep level, with something our family has been doing for five generations. It’s been wonderful to see the amount of passion and energy each has brought to this endeavor.”

If you’re not sold yet, I urge you to go meet one of the Alvarados at one of the aforementioned markets—they are the friendliest humans on the planet, I promise you. A smile from them and a sip of their delicious coffee will make your day. While they work on getting their online store up and running, they will continue with farmers markets every weekend. As Yuri said, “We absolutely love having the opportunity to meet every customer personally!” Next time you need your morning caffeine, support local Texan families and check out El Talisman!

 

 

Pink Gloves

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Originally written for and published by TLM 🙂

I absolutely love the idea of a) a female-only boxing class and b) supporting an amazing cause while I work out.Pink Gloves Boxing (PGB) on Burnet in Austin combines those two awesome things (and yes, the gloves are really pink). Pink Gloves offers a tier program, drop-in classes, personal training, and private classes — with a percentage of all proceeds going to breast cancer research. Their website boasts about the 3 F’s: fitness, fun, and female empowerment!

Brenda Hull, owner of PGB Austin, got her start in boxing by branching off from her normal fitness routines to try something new.

It can be intense on the first visit, but by the end you will want your own gear. Courtesy photo
It can be intense on the first visit, but by the end you will want your own gear. Courtesy photo.

“I have always been into fitness and working out. after working with a personal trainer for many years I needed something different,” Hull explained. “I found PGB and  took some classes and fell in love with boxing, then the gym closed and didn’t find any other boxing classes i enjoyed. A few years after that I was searching for fitness jobs and certifications and found an AD for Pink Gloves and how they would be in Austin for a training camp. I signed up and after a few meetings with PGB central I bought the license and opened Pink gloves Boxing Austin in 2013.”

Since its doors opened in 2013, PGB Austin has been met with eager Austinites wanting to give it a try, but sorry fellas — this one’s for the women.

“Women have mostly had positive experiences at PGB,” Hull said. “One member recently stated, ‘I was so very pleased with PGB class tonight! I am hooked! Can’t wait to go back! It’s such an inviting group.’ Many women have met their best friends, who later became their bridesmaids, at Pink Gloves Austin. That is our goal — to create a positive, comfortable environment that you spend with family! I have gotten several request from men, especially the PGB husbands and kids. We are working on something for men and the kids of our Austin community.”

Don’t be afraid to give this gym a try. You’re walking into a welcoming environment, not the gladiator area. There won’t be any fists flying at your face, but you will get a workout.

They really seem to be building a positive bond in the gym. Courtesy photo
They really seem to be building a positive bond in the gym. Courtesy photo.

“We like to make everyone feel welcome so the trainers and members will introduce themselves and help you check in and get your hands wrapped,” Hull explained. “What has naturally happened is that a member will take the first-timer and go over what the class looks like and gives them a tour of our small space. Once class begins, a group warm-up begins where I tell my trainers to take this time to let your members know who you are. After warm-up, trainers go over each station and the punches and combinations are taught. Class begins and goes by WAY too fast! Class ends with abs circle. There is a question of the day that members answer and give the group an ab workout or stretch. This is the time where we hear from the members and gives them the opportunity to get to know each other a little bit more.

They also host an annual “Punch-a-Thon” benefiting Seton Breast Cancer Center. The Punch-a-Thon is not an actual fight (they say their real fight is against breast cancer), but rather, each team has to punch heavy bags for a certain amount of time. For every five dollars donated to your team, you have to punch for one minute.

If you’re looking for a new workout routine—something to spice things up a bit, get you in shape, and meet friends—Pink Gloves is for you! Give it a try—all levels are welcome (you do NOT need to know a single thing about boxing, I promise). Plus, there’s a killer Groupon deal right now—five classes for only $39! Get to punchin’ Austin ladies.

Brass Ovaries

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Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

 

Does your exercise regime need some spice? Treadmills can get really boring, elliptical machines can only do so much, and the same old same old gym scene can become monotonous. Brass Ovaries off East Manor in Austin is definitely NOT your run-of-the-mill workout. From “Twerk Fit” to “Pole Dancing 101,” your body won’t know what to think. You’ll reach muscles you didn’t even know you had. Plus, you’ll step out of your comfort zone, which is always a fun challenge!

The staff at Brass Ovaries really know their stuff. Courtesy photo
The staff at Brass Ovaries really know their stuff. Courtesy photo

“Brass Ovaries is a multi-functional aerial arts studio. We have been established for 9 years and have paved the way for every studio throughout Texas,” Bras Ovaries owner Haley proclaimed. “We are open to women, men, and trans-identified persons, no matter your age, shape, size, or fitness levels.”

I bought a Groupon to Brass Ovaries recently, mainly to defy my lame gym routine. Burlesque class was my favorite—kind of like a dance class (with a little more ooh-la-la). It was a blast—awesome instructor, fun music, and I left feeling sexy and empowered (I entered the room feeling nervous and embarrassed).

Pole class may have been difficult, but the results of persistence cant be argued. Courtesy photo
Pole class may have been difficult, but the results of persistence cant be argued. Courtesy photo

I hated Pole…but honestly, it was just because I have zero upper body strength. Seriously. I don’t think I could’ve lifted my body gracefully onto that pole if my life had depended on it. I was sore from trying though—don’t knock it ‘til you try it! It was an intense workout—I think it’d be fun to do with a group of girlfriends.

“We offer a wide range of services that include a world class training facility and staff, party planning, dance instruction, educational center, and a talented aerial performance group,” Haley explained. “We have an abundance of male students here at the studio. None of our classes are gender specific.”

All of the classes at Brass Ovaries are relatively small, which is great if you’re like me and need to watch or mimic the instructor 24/7. They offer such a wide variety of classes—there’s even aerial, yoga, belly dancing, and hoop!

It was a blast to get to workout with some of these fierce ladies. Courtesy photo
It was a blast to get to workout with some of these fierce ladies. Courtesy photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“To describe Brass Ovaries in 4 words….’Stop signs fear me,’” Haley touted. “Something like pole can be very scary to beginners. Sometimes people talk themselves out of it. They tend to say things like ‘I am not fit or sensual or skinny enough.’ These are just stop signs that people put up for themselves. Brass Ovaries helps by destroying those stop signs. Pole is an equal opportunity butt kicker. ‘Stop signs fear me,’ of course, does not pertain to the pole. Stop signs get in the way of individual goals, dreams, and desires. But with a set of ‘brass ovaries’, one should blast those stop signs right out of their way and proceed with extreme confidence.”

Give it a shot—especially if you’re feeling apprehensive at the very thought (that was me too). I promise you’ll love the change in pace. If, for no other reason, sign up for a class just because of their name…Brass Ovaries. Love it. Don’t we all have a pair of those, ladies?

Blue Owl Brewing

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Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

 

Austin and its surrounding towns are becoming a mecca for small-starting breweries, which we are not mad about here at Texas Lifestyle. In fact, we are starting a monthly beer series! Know of an amazing brewery that we need to cover? Let us know!

Blue Owl is first up—tucked away off East Cesar Chavez, they create five sour-mashed beers, and they’re all pretty great. New to sour-mashed? I was too—don’t worry, they’re not eye-popping sour, just a bit more tart than your usual draft.

Sour-mashing is a much faster process than barrel-aged sour beverages, so the product is a taste that’s closer to their natural state.

OK, OK, onto the beers. Blue Owl makes 1) Spirit Animal- a sour pale ale, 2) Little Boss- sour session wheat, 3) Professor Black- sour cherry stout, 4) Van Dayum!- sour red ale, and 5) Dapper Devil- sour raspberry Belgian strong, their winter seasonal.

I’d definitely recommend stopping in for a brewery tour and scratch-off tasting card—it’s an awesome deal and allows you to figure out which sour-mashed is for you. The brewery is super cute, too. I know, I know, breweries aren’t supposed to be “cute,” right? Well, whatever, this place is cute—quaint seating, tiny decorative plants, owls everywhere (not live owls…yet). I’m especially a fan of the small, lit-up patio area.

However, there’s good news for those of you who’d rather enjoy a drink at home—Blue Owl is now canning their concoctions. You should be able to find them at any grocery store, but they sell fast!

Put a new spin on your typical after-work happy hour, weekend BBQ, or nightcap. Blue Owl’s sour-mashed beers are so fresh and unique—you’ll love the change from the ordinary.

Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival

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Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

 

This past rainy week in Austin served up some of the most amazing comedic performances—were you able to catch a show? If not, make sure you get a ticket (or fan badge) next year—you won’t be sorry. Four days, ten venues, and over 90 performers—wow.

Headlining this week at the Paramount Theatre was Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, Anjelah Johnson, Kevin Smith, and David Cross. The big-timers sold out pretty quickly but were still a steal at about $40 per ticket on average.

I was more interested in the smaller venues—I wanted to sit as close as possible to the laugh-creators and honestly, I’ve found that less-advertised performances are usually the most amazing experiences. That definitely proved to be true.

First up was Stars in Bars at Antone’s Nightclub on East 6th Street. Local comedian Matt Bearden hosted, and the night started off strong with Martha Kelly, also Austin-based, who’s known for the FX show “Baskets.” Her dark, hilarious anecdotes about her beloved cats passing away were perfect.

Jon Rudnitsky, who’s new to the SNL cast, added not one, but two “dance routines” to his stand-up. If you love Chipotle, you’ll love his burrito-maker moves. Another SNL cast member, Colin Jost, wasn’t on the original line-up, but decided to make a guest appearance I guess! His and Jon’s eight to ten minutes were way too short for me, but I’m not 100% sure if that’s because they were terrific (they were) or if they were both drop dead gorgeous. Something to consider.

Brendan Walsh, Greg Liedtke, and Dana Gould added their own quirky witticisms—the entire night was honestly a blur of sidesplitting laughter, including the closing act, The Sklar Brothers (Wild Hogs, Entourage—trust me, you know these hysterical twins).

But the person who absolutely killed it? Arden Mylin, known for her many panelist contributions to the Chelsea Lately roundtable. She SLAYED (and I would usually never use that word, because it reminds me of the students I teach, but it works here). I especially loved when she called out the obnoxious couple in front of me (who sits in the first row if they’re going to loudly talk the whole time?) and lamented about wearing Spanx. Then she commented on my Instagram post. Then she quoted my tweet. Ok, I’ll stop gushing now.

Next was the Goddamn Comedy Jam at The Parish on Dirty 6th, a place I tend to avoid, but I’m glad I didn’t that night! Josh Adam Meyers hosted, and might I add, made his entrance by grabbing a man in the front row and kissing him, rocking out with the two “roadies” (whose job all night was just to jam out and get the crowd pumped),  and forcing another man in the third row to admit what race he hated the most. Quite the first three minutes.

Goddamn Comedy Jam is all about mixing comedy with music—which is genius, especially since this is the Live Music Capital of the World. Each comedian has to perform their stand-up and then perform a song of their choosing! Such an amazing idea. Joe DeRosa sang the hell out of a Queen song and Janeane Garofalo went with The Monkees—both were more than “funny”  beforehand as well of course.

Matteo Lane stole the show for me—his jests about being gay, Italian-Mexican, and single in New York were hilarious. Plus, he sang Whitney…in the original key!

Brad Williams was the headliner for a reason—he absolutely won me over (I stereotypically thought at first that all his jokes were going to be about being a little person…I know, I’m the worst). You may know him from Comedy Central, but now I’ll forever know him as astounding an entire venue with his sex advice and Kid Rock performance. After Williams’ killer version of “Bawitdaba,” Meyers made all the comics come back on stage to do a final performance together—“Hey Jude.”

As you can see by my overflowing enthusiasm about this past week, Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival is something you simply can’t miss next year. I’ll be smiling about these shows for weeks to come.