Photo by Matthew Murphy

The city’s entertainment scene is heating up faster than recent temperatures, and we’ve got the agenda to prove it. Catch Broadway musical Hairspray live, see Walker Hayes in concert, or feast on the flavors of the African diaspora in honor of Juneteenth. Check out the top seven things to do in Austin this holiday weekend. For a complete list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, June 15

Broadway in Austin: Hairspray
High-volume musical Hairspray comes to perfectly-coiffed life on stage at Bass Concert Hall. Audiences can expect dazzling song and dance performances from beloved characters including teen star Tracy Turnblad, heartthrob Link Larkin, and a standout, incredibly charming guest performance by Drag Race alum Nina West as Edna Turnblad. These original songs won the hearts of generations and Tony Awards alike. Shows are scheduled through June 18. Get tickets at austin.broadway.com.

Friday, June 16

KASE101 and 98.1 KVET present Walker Hayes in concert
Country music singer-songwriter Walker Hayes performs live at Round Rock Amp as part of the venue’s outdoor concert series. The voice behind top songs like “Fancy Like” and “Y’all Life” comes to the Austin area in support of his recent album, Country Stuff the Album. For more concert information, check out Eventbrite.

Saturday, June 17

ACL Live presents Colin Jost
Comedian and actor Colin Jost is bringing his jokes and storytelling skills to ACL Live. Jost is best known for his co-anchor role on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update and has appeared in the films How to Be Single and Coming 2 America. Get more information about this one-night-only show on Ticketmaster.

The Austin Symphony presents E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in Concert
Experience the iconic, award-winning score from the blockbuster film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial live in concert at The Long Center for the Performing Arts. This production features a screening of the classic movie accompanied by a full symphony orchestra for an unforgettable cinematic experience. For ticket details, visit my.austinsymphony.org.

Sunday, June 18

Armadillo Den presents The Diaspora Food Festival
Celebrate Juneteenth by tasting the dynamic and diverse flavors of the African diaspora at Armadillo Den. Guests will be able to sample an assortment of dishes from local Austin vendors specializing in Afro-Latin, African American, Afro-Colombian, Jamaican, and Haitian cuisine. Admission to this food festival is free and open to the public.

Garbage and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds in concert
Co-headliners Garbage and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds make a stop in Austin at Germania Insurance Amphitheater. Both bands are touring in support of their albums, Garbage’s No Gods No Masters and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' Council Skies, respectively. Get seats on Ticketmaster.

Monday, June 19

Bass Concert Hall presents Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight in concert
Two of the most talented singers in R&B history grace the stage at Bass Concert Hall for a co-headlining evening of entertainment. Patti LeBelle and Gladys Knight share a plethora of chart-topping hits, Grammy awards, and decades-long career success that shaped Black music — perfect for a Juneteenth evening. Fans can expect a set list of both divas’ best songs such as LaBelle’s “If Only You Knew” and Knights’ “That’s What Friends Are For.” For more information, visit texasperformingarts.evenue.net.

National tour of Hairspray
Photo by Matthew Murphy

See Hairspray live at Bass Concert Hall this weekend.

Photo courtesy of KUT

KUT podcaster prepares Austin listeners for a more nuanced Juneteenth celebration

Miles In Their Shoes

KUT hits a sweet spot in Austin media — the same one that NPR, its parent network, is known for across the board. It has funding, but it also has freedom from lots of corporate interests, and this combination draws some of the best talents in radio as staff.

One of Austin's talents is Miles Bloxson, best known for hosting and producing the music industry podcast Pause/Play, and producing the Black community podcastBlack Austin Matters. Bloxson has the personality to get people talking, the journalistic sense to keep it efficient, and the local savvy — as a lifelong Austinite — to know exactly where to look to find important Austin stories.

This Juneteenth, the station is celebrating and diving into Black Austin stories by airing a standalone, single-episode podcast documentary by Bloxson titled "Juneteenth: Are We Really Free?" It's an impossible question to answer, but Bloxson and her guests grapple with it for 52 minutes, tying their answers to things as niche as Austin's different neighborhoods, and as broad as the economic model of the United States.

It took Bloxson more than two months to compile these thoughts, interviewing up to 15 people. The documentary came out a year ago, but the station is re-running it, since it is just as relevant each year. Some things take time to sink in, too; The titular question hadn't even occurred to Bloxson until she talked to Stephanie Lang, who spoke with a nuance that made Bloxson question how free Black Austinites feel, despite their freedom on paper.

"It became a [question] of, well, does she feel free? Do we all feel free? What is freedom?" asks Bloxson. "I could assume that everybody was going to say yes — which I thought that they would — but when you started really digging into people's answers, it was like, oh, man, maybe we're not."

One of the voices a guest lends to the conversation belongs to Richard J. Reddick, a co-host of Black Austin Matters. Reddick talks about returning to his birth state of Texas after having been raised elsewhere, arriving with a vague understanding of Juneteenth as something that Black people celebrated, but being unsure of what it represented.

Reddick learned about the true meaning in a college course at the University of Texas — something that is being mirrored now across the nation, as people come face-to-face with the new national holiday for the first, or second time. As Bloxson points out in the podcast, Texans, who live in the state central to Juneteenth's founding, have a major head start in being familiar with the day of observation. But this may be at risk as critical race theory, and often anything tangentially related, comes under fire.

"I think that if you live here, it's our responsibility to learn about the history and the culture," says Bloxson. She is always full of questions: "What is the fabric of the city like what is the foundation of this city? How is the city built? What type of people lived here? What type of people still live here? And you can learn a lot about that listening to 'Are We Really Free?'"

Several guests talk about the types of events they attend on Juneteenth, or the traditions they grew up with. Austinites exploring these celebrations for the first time may find these reflections to be a useful primer before heading out to a parade or concert. Similar, those who come with preconceived notions from family and friends may hear something that differs from what they've come to expect from the day, prompting unexpected new traditions.

"I'm out in the community...and I also take time to really reflect. I'm quiet and still, as well," said Lang, the guest whose honesty made Bloxson question the reality of freedom. She draws a parallel to the more boisterous celebrations going on in across Austin and its suburbs. "And then I usually will go to a known plantation — usually ruins — in Austin, with friends, and we take white carnations ... and give honor to those that were enslaved in that space."

Bloxson's choice in guests both creates a unity and highlights how many different experiences people in one city can have. "It shows that we are all really one and even though we celebrate this holiday, a lot of us celebrate it in very similar ways," she says. "You learn something different from each person that we get answers from, and I think that that's a really beautiful thing — to get all of those perspectives from all of these beautiful Black Austinites."

Juneteenth will be a special day for Bloxson for another reason: the launch of her long-awaited personal podcast, Miles to Mogul. This series also focuses on people of color, with a much wider lens. In this podcast, Bloxson interviews artists, business people, and more visionaries she's met from Austin and beyond, about the "experiences, tools, and mindsets" that led to their success. One episode of the podcast from 2017 exists, but this time around, the host is a podcasting pro with some major projects already under her belt.

"Juneteenth: Are We Really Free?" will air on June 19th, first on KUT 90.5 at 9 am, then on KAZI 88.7 at noon. To listen to the podcast outside of these programming blocks, visit kutkutx.studio.

Photo courtesy of the Stay Black and Live Juneteenth Festival

Everything to know about Austin's 4th annual Stay Black and Live Juneteenth Festival


A weeklong celebration of Black history is returning to Austin with a focus on local organizations and people that are making long-lasting impacts in the local community. The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center is hosting the fourth annual Stay Black and Live (SB&L) Juneteenth Festival June 12-19.

The festival began as a livestream in 2020, and has since captured the attention of community members citywide, making it the cornerstone event for Austin's Juneteenth celebrations. SB&L's theme for 2023 is "Austin Family Reunion," centered around community kickbacks, cookouts, live music, and more.

In a release, Carver Museum director Carre Adams said the museum continuously aims to "honor the significance of Juneteenth" with their festival programming and education.

“We are incredibly proud to continue Austin’s Juneteenth celebration and tradition at our historic museum,” said Adams. “We invite the Austin community to join us as we commemorate this momentous occasion and bring Black history past, present and future to the forefront.”

The festival will begin with a presentation on Monday, June 12 hosted by 2023 Grammy Music Educator Award winner and Desoto, Texas high school music teacher Pamela Dawson. The website states she will sing and use "negro spirituals" during her interactive session to inform guests about "African-American contributions to the sonic art form." Dawson's lecture will take place from 6-8 pm at the Boyd Vance Theater.

Below is a full weekend schedule for the festival:

Thursday, June 15
James Beard award-winning food historian and author Michael W. Twitty will take the stage at the Boyd Vance Theater from 6-8 pm. He'll discuss the eating habits and culinary practices of African Americans, and open a conversation about modern-day abolitionist movements.

Friday, June 16
Austinites of every age are invited to the festival's community kickback and dance party from 6-9 pm at the Carver Museum's Freedom Lawn. The party will be accompanied by high-energy music by DJ Cysum and DJ Dontizl. The event is in partnership with Creative Action, who will also set up a "sensory station" for attendees to express themselves with glowsticks, kites, bubbles, and more. A special performance by BodyRockATX will close out the event.

Saturday, June 17
The day will begin at 10 am with the annual historic Juneteenth Parade through Austin's Rosewood neighborhood. The parade route starts on East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and goes all the way to Rosewood Park.

Following the parade, visitors can gather for the Austin Family Reunion Cookout and Music Festival behind the Carver Museum from 3-6 pm. Veteran pitmasters will provide the delicious barbecue while Lady Joy and KAZI 88.7 DJs host the festivities. Attendees can also enjoy a vendor market, carnival games, workshops, and more.

Saul Paul will host the music festival from 6-9 pm on the Freedom Lawn, with performances by Distinguished Soundz, Stretch Muzik, and DJ Kay Kali. Headliners GAPX will perform at 8 pm.

Monday, June 19
Historian, Harvard law professor, and Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed will lead a Free Your Mind Conversation Series discussion about her book, On Juneteenth, from 1-3 pm at the Boyd Vance Theater.

Later that afternoon from 5-8 pm, the museum will host their final event for the week with their "Community Revival and Remembrance" ceremony in partnership with the Austin Justice Coalition. The closing celebration will pay respect to those who were victims of police violence in Texas.

More information about the Stay Black and Live Juneteenth Festival can be found on juneteenthatx.com.

Photo courtesy of Our Daily Bread Media

Bob Bullock Museum hosts Juneteenth documentary screening on June 4


To commemorate the significance of the first new federal holiday in nearly 40 years, a new documentary provides insight into the history of racism, slavery, and faith in America. Austinites can catch a special screening this summer at the Texas Spirit Theatre in the Bob Bullock Museum on June 4.

Juneteenth: Faith and Freedom will explore how the holiday originated in Galveston, Texas, and share the stories from descendants of formerly enslaved people. Host, producer, and pastor Rasool Berry guides viewers through his journey throughout the state, visiting historical sites and speaking with experts and the “grandmother of Juneteenth,” Opal Lee, who pressed Congress to recognize the holiday and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2022.

While working on the documentary, Berry learned just how powerful Juneteenth is to the people who were there to celebrate it for the first time at a church in Galveston. He said in a press release that those who were “closest to it understood their emancipation on spiritual terms.”

“To really understand that story, we need to grasp their perspective on their own emancipation,” Berry said. “The church is where the story starts, but that’s not where the faith component ends. The role of the Black church in establishing communities was really vital, I discovered.”

The film is directed by Ya’Ke Smith and is presented by Our Daily Bread Voices Collection. It received widespread recognition at film festivals, including the Austin Revolution Film Festival, Dallas International Film Festival, Milwaukee International Film Festival, and more.

Smith said in the release that it’s not possible to share the history of Juneteenth without faith at the center of it.

“It was in the songs sung, it was in the heart of everyone who escaped a plantation and ran towards freedom, it has always been the one thing that the oppressed had access to and that no one could take from them,” he said. “Faith for Black peoples was, is, and will always be the unspoken language of freedom and survival. It is the Juneteenth story.”

The screening of Juneteenth: Faith and Freedom will take place on June 4 from 1 pm to 2:45 pm at the Texas Spirit Theatre inside the Bob Bullock Museum, along with a discussion session led by Berry, Smith, and Executive Producer Mary Beth Minnis. The session will be moderated by Virginia Cumberbatch, a racial justice educator and community advocate.

More information about the documentary can be found on thestoryoftexas.com.

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R&B singer Mélat epitomizes the independent Austin music experience in new album

local releases

Even though Mélat is always busy — appearing in seemingly every major community showcase — she hasn't released a new album in four years. That is, until today.

Canon Metis: Wiser Than Gods and Mortal Men — with an appropriately grandiose title for the R&B singer's prodigal return — is out on September 29, with 14 gooey tracks incorporating everything from trap beats to gospel harmonies. It follows up 2019's After All: Episode One, with similarly spacious orchestrations and a little more confidence this time around on the songwriter's part.

"I feel like [after] going through COVID and all the things that have happened in the past four years ... it's the dawning of a new era for me," says Mélat. "I feel like I've shed a significant amount of fear, and doubt, and all these things that as humans we have to work to get off of ourselves. It feels like a new beginning for me."

The title of this "foundational" album, in Mélat's words, reaches back to two EPs that the singer has since grown out of, but represented a similar feeling of self-definition as her first-ever releases. First was Canon Aphaea, then Canon Ourania; Both referenced Greek goddesses. This time, Metis — Zeus' first wife, a Titan goddess, and the embodiment of wisdom — was the inspiration.

M\u00e9lat Canon Metis: Wiser Than Gods and Mortal MenThe album cover ties in "Easter Eggs" from Black woman-owned brands: fashion by Savage X Fenty, Black Girl Magic wine by McBride Sisters Wine Company, and an Ethiopian necklace referencing the singer's heritage.Shot by Marshall Tidrick

The subtitle comes from humbler origins than it sounds; probably something she read on Wikipedia, Mélat says, but definitely borrowed nonetheless. The quote also gives a name to a track in which the singer speaks semi-candidly about false idols and the wisdom to duck away from the judgment of "mere mortals."

"I'm like a lot of people in that I can be my worst my own worst critic," she says. "I hate my speaking voice, but I put it on the album [because] my gut was telling me, no, this needs to be said. There are songs that were cut from the album [that were part of] the plan the whole time."

Much of Mélat's local pull comes from her transparency about being an independent artist, which she discusses often on social media and will surely expound upon more when the Austin chapter of Women in Music launches later this year, with her on the leadership team. Nothing about working without a label is foreign to Austin musicians (although the landscape is slowly growing), and the singer confirms that she doesn't "know any other way to do it," but hints of that freedom shine through some tracks.

"Canon Metis," the opening track, pieces together a sort of trailer for the rest of the album with atmospheric synths and spoken announcements by disembodied femme voices — a softly futuristic approach. But "Lambs to Lions" and "The Now" deliver nostalgia via backup vocals and instrumental stylings, while "I.D.M.T.L.Y. (Freestyle)" pares things down to a simple phone recording that the songwriter and her close collaborator, sound engineer, and manager, Pha The Phenom, chose not to develop any further.

No through-lines were questioned. Nothing needed to be justified, except to each other. Both have gotten into meditating, anyway, so it's all about feel.

"I feel like I've gathered all this wisdom," Mélat says. "You can't really trust the quote-unquote gods, which are the shiny things that will distract you ... and you can't really worry too much about the judgment of others, because everybody's just human. I need to do what feels right for me."

There is no tour planned to promote the album yet, but given the singer's track record, it won't be long until something is on the books. A music video for "So Help Me God," incorporates AI technology via Kaiber AI, will be released on October 4.

Listen to Canon Metis: Wiser Than Gods and Mortal Men on your favorite streaming platform.

Unique art sale champions thousands of works by Austin artists who may not have homes

art everywhere

The streets of Austin reveal a vibrant artistic spirit if you know where to look. Art From the Streets (AFTS), a nonprofit uplifting unhoused artists, invites art lovers to discover this local creativity at the annual Art Show & Sale on October 21-22.

Art from the Streets sale

Photo courtesy of Art From The Streets

Onlookers look through hundreds of unique art pieces by unhoused Austinites.

Art From the Streets has announced its 31st Annual Art Show & Sale at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar, best known for its holiday market. This two-day event will showcase thousands of original artworks from unhoused and at-risk artists in the Austin area, from compelling portraits to vibrant abstracts, all while supporting an amazing creative community.

Attending this event gives the Austin community the special opportunity to meet these artists, hear their stories, and purchase their one-of-a-kind creations, with 95 percent of the art sale proceeds going directly to the artists themselves.

In turn, it provides platform for the artists to proudly display their works, coming into the arts scene in an official, marketable capacity. It brings visibility to their skills and lets them earn income from their passion.

"We believe that these artistic endeavors form a pathway to self-determination, and we invite the Austin community to join us this October in supporting these artists by making connections and purchasing some amazing art," said AFTS executive director Kelley Worden in a press release.

Volunteers form the backbone of AFTS by assisting with a wide range of tasks, from facilitating art creation sessions to helping with exhibition setup and more; the funds that AFTS collects through donations and art sales are directly funneled back into supporting these volunteers' efforts, providing art supplies, covering exhibition costs, and supplying other resources needed to uplift the unhoused artists in the Austin community.

The 31st Annual Art From the Streets Show & Sale will be held at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar from October 21-22. Attendance is free and open to the public, with a suggested $5 donation at the door to help support AFTS' mission of empowering unhoused artists. RSVP on Eventbrite.

Tasteful Austin ice cream shop starts crowdfunding to scoop up new cities

Tastes Like Profit

We're not sure how many licks it takes to get to a popular Austin ice cream shop into new markets, but a crowdfunding campaign gives fans a chance to find out.

Lick Honest Ice Creams, known for interesting, mature flavors (without getting too serious), has launched a campaign via MicroVentures that will allow onlookers a chance to support the business with small investments of $100 or more. Ice cream never goes out of style, and the company is hoping to appeal not just to repeat customers, but anyone who thinks the sweet treat has growth potential.

Although this could be a long-term holding, the root idea is to eventually trade back the stake for a financial gain once the company has grown. In less than two days (since the campaign launched on September 28), Lick has already sold stakes worth more than $66,000 from 90 investors.

“This isn’t just an investment in terms of capital," said CEO Anthony Sobotik in a news release. "It’s an opportunity to own a piece of your favorite ice cream shop, shared memories, and a piece of Lick’s future. By investing, you’re supporting our dream and commitment to spread the Lick experience further, enabling Lick to support family-owned farms in a more significant way, and ensuring more people can truly know what they’re licking."

The ice cream shop has been in Austin since its inception in 2012, and now operates three stores in the area, plus stores in San Antonio, Houston, and College Station. The total store count is currently at eight, with a ninth coming to Houston's Autry Park "soon," according to the website. The release states intentions to use the crowdfunding to "build more scoop shops and expand into new markets," but does not specify which cities the brand is eyeing, or even if they are in Texas or farther away.

Some of the flavors pay homage to their Texas roots, like "Caramel Salt Lick," "Hill Country Honey & Vanilla Bean," and "Texas Sheet Cake." It is easy to see where ingredients come from, as suppliers are listed on the menu. Seasonal flavors right now include creative twists like "Back Porch Iced Tea" and "Fig & Fromage," sticking to Lick's script of interesting and local ingredients. The menu also includes a small number of dairy-free flavors.

“From our first scoop shop opening in 2011 to where Lick is now, it’s been an extraordinary journey. We’ve now served over a million scoops, and with each one, we’ve shared our commitment to and love for thoughtfully crafted, ethically, and sustainably-sourced and produced ice cream,” said Sobotik.

“But beyond just charming your taste buds, our flavors tell stories," he continued. "Those are the stories of favorite dishes, the family and friends we shared them with, and the farmers we work with. It’s a special connection that ice cream grants us, and it’s what really makes this our story, not just Lick’s story.”

More information and links to contribute to the campaign are available at microventures.com.