Tag Archives: texas lifestyle magazine

Galen James

Standard

galen_b_188-e1487537810239-1010x365

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!

 

Blue Owl Brewing

Standard

courtesy3-e1459063890411-1010x365

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

Standard

arden-myrin2-e1461553727346-1010x365

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.

Austin Shakespeare’s Medea

Standard

Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle 🙂

courtesy1

Trade in the predictable rom-com at the movie theater for the twisted, intense Greek tragedy, Euripides’ Medea. The Austin Shakespeare Company is well-known for their free performances in the park every summer (this summer, get your blanket and picnic basket ready for Macbeth), but they perform all year at different venues. Medea will be at The Long Center through early March and it’s a MUST SEE.

Medea, portrayed by the brilliant, nationally-acclaimed classical actress Franchelle Stewart Dorn, is a woman scorned—her husband, Jason, is leaving her for a princess. To help with this transition, the king has decided to banish Medea—but she won’t leave quietly, that’s for sure.

I wouldn’t dare ruin the ending for you, so all I’ll say is get ready for an emotional roller coaster—this tragic tale is warped to say the least. But that’s what makes it so fascinating!

Dorn plays Medea with such ferociousness and elegance—you fall in love with her fierce, feminist character quickly. In fact, you’re still rooting for her while she’s plotting numerous insane schemes and violent murders.

Infidelity, friendship, family, revenge, death…Medea has it all.

Buy your tickets now! Eighteen dollars a piece is an awesome deal for this show, especially since the event is held in one of The Long Center’s smaller theaters, so the experience feels really intimate.

Fair warning though—this isn’t a “pleasant” or “romantic” story. Definitely not a first-date kind of feel. Medea is what all Greek tragedies are—shocking and horrific, but solid entertainment.

Austin Opera’s Of Mice and Men

Standard

courtesy1

Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

Combining a love of classic literature and amazing music—it’s not an easy task. I had my doubts when I scored free tickets to the final dress rehearsal for “Of Mice and Men” at the Long Center. Steinbeck and sopranos?! I thought skeptically. Didn’t seem to be a match made in heaven, especially since the novella deals so heavily with Lennie Small’s mental disability. I underestimated the Austin Opera—they skillfully and successfully conveyed all of the intricate themes of the book.

If you haven’t read “Of Mice and Men,” do so—right now! I’m not sure I would’ve enjoyed the opera if I hadn’t read the novella first—I definitely recommend reading, then enjoying the performance. But don’t worry, you have plenty of time. The novella is called a novella for a reason—it’s super short (but packed with amazingness). However, as I type this, I’m reminded that I went to the opera with someone who had never read the novella—and he still enjoyed it thoroughly! Maybe the English teacher in me can’t help but push reading on people. I will say, if you haven’t read the novella, the opera could be a little too slow for you. It’s not an action-packed plot or a twisted romantic drama—it’s a character piece.

Corey Bix, who plays Lennie, is making his Austin Opera debut with “Of Mice and Men” and wow—what a debut! It’s not only his insane vocals that will impress you, but simply his presence on the stage. You can’t take your eyes off him as he struggles through life on the ranch; you find yourself rooting for him so relentlessly. That’s how you know Bix’s performance was outstanding—Lennie is a character who you shouldn’t be able to help but love.

The orchestra was phenomenal, the props, backdrops, and costumes were perfect, and they even used a real-life dog and puppy on stage—I loved that extra touch (although, if you know the story, that might not excite you too much). Also, lyrics appear on a screen above the stage, which is helpful if you’re like me, and not always fluent in opera. Every effort made by the composer, director, and cast did not go unnoticed—it was flawless.

Austin Opera is currently selling tickets to only three shows—January 23, 28, and 31—so act soon!

 

About the author: Alysha Kaye is a high school English teacher in Kyle, TX and recent author—her debut novel The Waiting Room is available on Amazon and at BookPeople. When she’s not wrangling 9th graders, she’s blogging, reading, or exploring Austin.

For more, follow her on Twitter @alyshakaye7 or check out her website: http://www.alyshakaye.com

 

Norm of the North movie review

Standard

norm-1-e1452519342209

Originally written for and posted on Texas Lifestyle Magazine.

Christmas may be over, but there will still be one wintery family film showing this month—Norm of the North, a tale of a polar bear traveling to New York City to save his home, the Arctic, from an evil condo developer.

This past Saturday, the Slaughter Alamo Drafthouse opened early for a pre-screening of the Lionsgate’s movie. Drafthouse went all out in the best of ways, as they often do. Kids could not only make their own glittery snow globes, but they could also jump around in a giant, bouncy blow-up snow globe!

The event was completed by photos with this polar bear—Norma, “Norm’s cousin.” Norma also chose two kids from the audience to compete in a game before the film—they hopped on fake ice chunks to avoid falling in the water and won prizes to take home.

I wish I could say that the movie itself was as fun-filled and adorable as Drafthouse’s pre-show activities. Unfortunately, the film didn’t have the hilarity, amazing graphics, catchy music, or heartfelt emotion that most great kids’ flicks have.

Since Norm of the North stars the voices of Rob Schneider and Ken Jeong, I was expecting the clever wit of animated big-screen hits that also revolve around comedians becoming talking furry creatures, like Monsters Inc. or Shrek. Then I realized that Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks are simply the ruling gods of animation—no one can do it quite like they can!

The concept is great—a polar bear who’s growing up and finding his way in life decides to go an epic adventure with his three lemming friends. They’re determined to maintain the Arctic’s serene beauty, and therefore, also determined to figure out how to bring down the maniacal, money-hungry developer. If they fail, the Arctic will soon be filled with snazzy, modern condos and tourists.

Drafthouse was packed with kids of all ages, so you’d expect the laughter to get pretty loud during the movie, right? Well, it was oddly quiet for the entire film’s length. Maybe they were too busy eating French fries and cheese sticks, but unfortunately, I think it was just a tell-tale sign that the movie…wasn’t very good. I didn’t laugh once, and I usually love cartoons of all kinds!

Although I wouldn’t recommend the movie for you or your children over the age of eight, Norm of the North is definitely great for your youngest kids—in your really early years, you can’t go wrong with fart jokes and dancing animals.

About the author: Alysha Kaye is a high school English teacher in Kyle, TX and recent author—her debut novel The Waiting Room is available on Amazon and at BookPeople. When she’s not wrangling 9th graders, she’s blogging, reading, or exploring Austin.

For more, follow her on Twitter @alyshakaye7 or check out her website: http://www.alyshakaye.com

 

#Besomebody

Standard

besomebody

Originally an article of mine published in Texas Lifestyle 🙂

#Besomebody

Have you seen signs, billboards, bumper stickers, and tweets cryptically telling you to #Besomebody? I finally had to take the bait and research what I thought might be a silly and trendy phase or a creepy cult. As it turned out, #Besomebody is actually an AMAZING international, fast-spreading app that gives you opportunities to celebrate your passion—whether that be yoga, writing, painting, whatever!

You can visit the “Experience” page to view all of the available opportunities in your area (a scrapbooking class, a cooking course, a rock-climbing challenge) or you can be the one creating these chances, making money by sharing your passion!

Communications Director of the Austin-based start-up Matt Bennett describes it better than I can. He said, “#Besomebody is the world’s first mobile platform that connects people based on shared passions. It’s a Social Marketplace that enables you to learn anything you’re passionate about by booking Experiences with talented people around you. And, if you’re willing to teach, you can make money doing what you love by becoming a Passionary on our platform.”

Bennett became involved with #Besomebody just like I did—he was curious! He reached out to Founder and CEO Kash Shaikh (who formerly worked for Procter & Gamble and GoPro, is only in his thirties, and started #Besomebody as a simple blog about passion) and asked how to get more involved. Two years later, Bennett says #Besomebody has changed his life and allowed him to learn so much about himself. “I’m so thankful to have now stepped into my true purpose. I’ve learned that once you are clear on your vision, the how you get there doesn’t matter.  We keep following our passion, stay open to all possibilities, trust those around us and just know that we’re right where we’re supposed to be,” he said.

Bennett said that the app is right for anyone who wants to do what they love—and that’s everyone, right? I downloaded the app (it’s free!) and I became a Passionary so that I could post a “Self-Publishing 101” and “Editing/Workshopping” experience on my page. Meanwhile, when I search for experiences around me, I look for new and exciting things that my friends and I would love to do—like graffiti art, photography, and pottery sculpting!

Think your passion won’t be listed? There are over 850! And if you still don’t see yours, you can always add a new one. I scrolled through the B’s just now and saw Batman, Baton Twirling, BBQ, and Being Happy. Those are some great life passions.

About the author: Alysha Kaye is a high school English teacher in Kyle, TX and recent author—her debut novel The Waiting Room is available on Amazon and at BookPeople. When she’s not wrangling 9th graders, she’s blogging, reading, or exploring Austin.

For more, follow her on Twitter @alyshakaye7 or check out her website: http://www.alyshakaye.com