Tuesday, December 20, 2011

37th Street Lights: Wonder is Still There

by Jonathan Spindel
The lights on 37th street have been illuminating Austin since the 1980's and this year is no exception. Although several houses have changed owners and the street isn't as bright as in years past, the neighborhood still glows with Austin spirit. Check it out and support the residents who are working to keep the tradition alive.

Lit-up geodesic dome with interactive installation.
House band "Money Well Spunt" plays funky holiday tunes amid a crowd of celebrants and shiny metal dinosaurs.

"Wonder is Still There" -- go out and see it for yourself.

Avoid parking or driving near 37th street; instead, try to come from 38th, find a spot on a side street, then walk through the neighborhood. See map below for ideal starting point.

View Larger Map

Saturday, December 10, 2011

TXF Board in the RGV Part 3: Meeting & Reading

by guest blogger Moira Porter

Sunday morning we awoke and gathered to share a scrumptious breakfast of quiche from City Cafe (McAllen) and fresh fruit.  A brief board meeting gave us an opportunity to discuss fundraising scholarships for young people accepted to UT Austin's College of Fine Arts that would be matched dollar for dollar by the college. 

We welcomed Rita and Beto Conde to the house and settled in for a special reading by the author of the recently published America Down By the River, a collection of short stories and poems by Beto Conde.  Beto's reading took us back in time to El Jardin, a barrio of San Benito, in the 1950s where young boys growing up in the between space of Mexican homes and Anglo schools are mesmerized by the mystery and knowingness of the way the world is, as explained by Chencho the pachuco.  We felt the lush chill deadliness of a single-file line in a Vietnamese jungle.  And were brought back to humanity with Los Vecinos, where the antics Don Bruno arriving home in the middle of the night interrupt a young boy's sleep, and Brownie the German Shepherd, plays a critical comedic role.  With hugs all around, we get on the road. Hasta luego.  Nos vemos. - Moira

Moira Porter is Chairperson of Texas Folklife’s Board of Directors

We really did come to work: we held a board meeting.  Really.

Beto Conde shares his collection of short stories.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

TXF Board in the RGV Part 2: Don Chilo's

By guest blogger Susan Morehead

After enjoying a scholastic Conjunto Festival at La Joya High School (more on that in another post,) we lingered to talk with Roel Flores, whose moving paintings of life and work in the cotton fields form the exhibition “La Labor,” and his wife Epifania, whose mother taught her to make perfectly round tortillas, a skill she shared on video with Texas Folklife. Then we reconvened at Don Chilo’s Bar and Grill down the road in Peñitas for barbecue and more music. 

Don Chilo, whose real name is Cecilio Garza, is a singer/songwriter and band leader of such note that he was inducted into the Tejano Roots Hall of Fame in 2005. He treated the Texas Folklife visitors, whose ranks now included new board member Armando Sanchez and wife Eva of Houston and local board members Amancio Chapa and Betto Ramirez with wife Grace and eldest daughter, to heaping plates of food (this trip was an eating marathon!) and some amazing performances.

Don Chilo and friends took the stage, set the toes of locals and guests tapping, and then backed up several star performers who double as teachers in La Joya ISD: Rogelio Escobedo (trumpet and vocals) teaches junior high students mariachi; Myra Garcia (powerful vocals) teaches mariachi at La Joya High; David Soliz (guitar and vocals), who teaches English in La Joya school district, sang a 1930s Lydia Mendoza song with Don Chilo and stayed late to sing more. Don Chilo’s daughter, Lori Jean, treated us to a song, and a young comedian from the area, Raymond Orta, was so clever and funny portraying his grandfather’s language advice that he ranks as a story teller as well as a comic. His young brother seems to be following in his footsteps. 

We loved the music, the comedy, the food and the camaraderie – and we can’t wait to go back!

Susan Morehead is a founding board member of Texas Folklife.