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by Sachyn Mital

2 Jun 2017


Rhiannon Giddens began her Freedom Highway tour at a surprising place. Sing Sing prison in New York. There, she addressed the inmates (and the NY Times reporter) and performed songs from the new album, describing the prison as “perfect for what this album is about and the sort of social consciousness and activism that surrounds this record.” The album highlights Giddens’ earthy-roots music and her original, often political lyrics (her previous solo album post-Carolina Chocolate Drops was a covers record). She doesn’t shy away from issues political, historical or contemporary, racial or social.

As Giddens tour continued, she arrived at somewhere a bit more glamorous, Lincoln Center, for the final show of the 2017 American Songbook series. She had performed in the series twice in the past few years, and this was her biggest show at Lincoln Center yet, in front of a sold-out crowd at Alice Tully Hall. Her backing band included multi-instrumentalists Dirk Powell and Hubby Jenkins, Jason Sypher on bass and Jamie Dick on drums, as well as her sister Lalenja Harrington providing back-up vocals and her nephew Justin Harrington rapping a song near the end of the powerful show. As Billboard noted, “Giddens’ vocals—which reveal her extensive operatic training—were front-and-center on such show highlights as Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman” and Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You,” which gave the originals a run for their money; and the Mack Gordon-written “Underneath the Harlem Moon,” which Ethel Waters recorded in the 1930s. “There’s a lot of good stuff to be found,” Giddens said of the last song. “It makes all the digging worthwhile.” Photos from Giddens performance, as well as upcoming tour dates, are below.

by Brice Ezell

17 Oct 2016

Photo: Official ACL Poster by
Jules Buck Jones

It is not until the end of the second weekend of Austin City Limits 2016 that I realize just how otherworldly the experience of the festival is. Even for a local Austinite like myself, the trip to the Zilker Park festival grounds takes over an hour, and once in the tree-lined confines of the park I feel that I am in another world. Moving in between concerts, local food vendors, and scores of people intoxicated on music and substances, I don’t realize just how much I’m removed from my daily routine. When I wake up on Monday morning and remember that I no longer need to make the journey out to Zilker Park via city bus, suddenly my internal clock goes right back to normal. Life moves at a slower pace than the hour-by-hour schedule of a music festival.

Still, in the post-festival daze that a friend of mine who attended the festival describes as “festival withdrawal”, I don’t feel removed from my experience of the ACL itself. ACL flew by quickly, but it didn’t fail to leave lasting memories. Here are some of mine from the second and final weekend of this year’s festival.

by Sachyn Mital

11 Oct 2016


The 5th annual Global Citizen Festival continued the success of past iterations by generating support for a variety of international social causes. Through actions and commitments driven by the public, either with intent to attend the free show or through a prompt from a performer (notably Rihanna asked her fans to call Canadian PM Justin Trudeau to boost funding for foreign health programs), Global Citizens are making measurable impact.

As the GCF press release notes, “these commitments and announcements are worth $1.9 billion, and are set to reach 199 million people, and put the world on track to achieving the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Global Citizens will continue to use these commitments to hold governments and businesses accountable to deliver on their promises in the years to come.” Some specifics follow select performance highlights and a few photos.

by Brice Ezell

10 Oct 2016


By the time the final day of the final weekend of Austin City Limits 2016 rolls around, I realize just how well-oiled the machine of the festival is. Just about every set is on time. The lines for food and merchandise, while predictably long at peak hours, are never so slow that waiting in them is prohibitive to experiencing the music. Because Austin traffic moves centimeter by centimeter, the shuttles to the festival are slowed down, but they are free and efficient.

Those who don’t like doing many of the things that attending a music festival requires – standing to get a good view, being out in the hot sun for several consecutive hours – won’t be sold on ACL or any festival like it. Provided one is adaptable to those elements, however, she’ll find ACL to be a high quality music experience. I know that well after this weekend, the scorching sun and occasionally claustrophobic crowds won’t be the things I remember. Cannons of fire shooting in sync to the beats of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Prinze George’s underrated afternoon set, and an incredible view of the Austin skyline as Radiohead takes to the stage: I don’t have to think hard to see the things I’ll take with me after this weekend.

by Brice Ezell

9 Oct 2016


Early into Saturday of Austin City Limits’ 2016’s second weekend, the crowds are noticeably less dense. Whether this is because much of the audience is recovering from a post-Radiohead bender following Friday’s stellar headlining performance or because people are looking for ways to avoid the heat beaming down square on Zilker Park is unclear. But those who made the time to come to ACL early on Saturday are rewarded with a wealth of fine performances. Sure, there’s a lot of humid heat to bear, but this is Austin: sweat is part of the price of admission.

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