Photo courtesy of the Red River Cultural District

Not sure anyone wants to hear about hot summer yet, but Hot Summer Nights will make it all worth it with the return of free festivals across the Red River Cultural District (RRCD) from July 20-23. The multi-genre festival offers something for everyone at 11 venues in the area, all within walking distance.

This is the sixth year for the decentralized festival, which the RRCD mirrors in the winter for Free Week. Hot Summer Nights was the originator, as the nonprofit’s first official district-wide event, which was planned to keep the gigs flowing during less busy months.

“Block out your calendars on July 20 through 23 as we all reunite for a summer celebration that not only offers festival-goers free access to some of Austin’s best bands and most popular venues, but also helps provide greater support for local venue workers and musicians,” said interim executive director Nicole Klepadlo.

Shows are booked courtesy of the RRCD in cooperation with each venue, meaning the performers get paid by corporate sponsorships and individual donations. Visitors can add to that pool by making a donation to keep the fun going.

Both an industry boon and a fun chance to get to know local bands from Austin and Central Texas, this festival keeps the Red River pocket of Austin at its best. Proceeds this year will go back to the RRCD for ongoing programs in “creative, service, hospitality, and production” sectors. The nonprofit has distributed $250,000 via more than 3,000 grants, and has paid for 300 gigs so far.

Participating venues from south to north, about half a mile apart, are:

  • Flamingo Cantina
  • Mala Vida
  • Swan Dive
  • Chess Club
  • Empire Control Room & Garage
  • Elysium
  • The 13th Floor
  • Valhalla
  • Stubb’s Bar-B-Q
  • Cheer Up Charlies
  • Mohawk

So far, this announcement only includes dates and venues; Participating artists and more updates will come in May. The festival is still looking for corporate sponsors. (Email nicole@redriverculturaldistrict.org.)

More information about Hot Summer Nights is available at redriverculturaldistrict.org.

Photo courtesy of I Live Here I Give Here.

Amplify Austin Day kicks off 24 hours of fundraising for local nonprofits


The biggest giving event in Central Texas kicks off March 1 at 6 pm, and runs 24 hours. The results of Amplify Austin Day, started by nonprofit I Live Here I Give Here (ILHIGH) in 2013, span seven Central Texas counties to support 700 organizations. The annual event has raised nearly $93 million to-date for local nonprofits, businesses, and initiatives all over the Central Texas region.

ILHIGH’s plan for 2023 is to reach $100,000 in donations for the Amplify Fund – with several Austin businesses joining in to help accomplish that goal. Amy’s Ice Creams is offering a new ice cream combo, “Central Texas Swirl,” and will donate five percent of sales from every Austin location to the Amplify Fund. Italian eateries Juniper and Uncle Nicky’s have agreed to donate 10 percent of their overall sales from March 1. Uncle Nicky’s will also donate 10 percent of its sales from March 2.

Large companies such as Google and NXP Semiconductors have donated $10,000 to the general ILHIGH Amplify Fund, while others have chosen to make donations to specific categories. For example, Juiceland committed $10,000 to support LGBTQIA+ nonprofits by donating 100 percent of net sales from all of its Central Texas stores’ net sales on March 2. The Shield-Ayres Foundation will match donations up to $10,000 for every nonprofit in the housing, shelter, and homelessness category.

In their own Amplify Austin Day campaign, the Red River Cultural District is offering three special giveaways for supporters that give between $10 and $50 with prizes valued at over $1000:

  • Red River Weekender ($10 to $20 donation for entry): a two-night stay at the Alexan Waterloo’s private guest suite, two general admission tickets to any 2023 Empire Control Room & Garage show and $100 bar tab, and a $25 gift card to Vaquero Taquero.
  • Moody Center Sleepover ($21 to $30 donation for entry): A two-night weekend stay at The Hotel Indigo Downtown, two general admission seated tickets to a 2023 Moody Center concert, and a $50 gift card to Italian restaurant Marinara Miracles.
  • Mohawk Madness ($31 to $50 donation for entry): a “Golden Ticket” that gives the winner and a guest free access to every Mohawk event, daytime and nighttime, from March 10 to 19, a Mohawk custom t-shirt, tote bag, and grinder, and a $50 gift card to Jersey-inspired pizza spot Hoboken Pie.

The 24-hour virtual day of giving will begin at 6 pm on March 1 and end at 6 pm on March 2. More information about Amplify Austin Day and the nonprofits it supports can be found at amplifyatx.org.

Jackie Venson kicks off residency at Antone's, plus more Austin music picks for the start of January

Music Notes

New year, new you, new shows. Here are some local gigs you should try to get out for in the first part of January, from the return of the annual Free Week to month-long residencies you should definitely have on your radar.

FREE WEEK – January 2-7
Red River Cultural District’s annual FREE WEEK is currently underway. If you’re looking to participate, here are six shows that should be on your radar. For more information on participating venues, check out our previous coverage, or visit redriverculturaldistrict.org.

  • Thursday, January 5: The wild and heavy Tear Dungan will play the Mohawk with Big Bill, Megafauna, Bad Markings, Exotic Fruits, and Exercise.
  • Friday, January 6: Post punk act Urban Heat is headlining a bill at Elysium which will includesRosegarden Funeral Party and Curse Mackey. Soul rocker Chief Cleopatra is playing Stubb’s along with Blue Tongue and Midnight Snack.
  • Saturday, January 7: Indie stalwarts The Bright Light Social Hour will play at Empire with Shelly Knicks, Billy Glitter, Prixo, Foxtales, and The Selfless Lovers. Post punkers Sailor Poon are set to play at Chess Club with Being Dead, Orvy, and Transy Warhol. Psych pop band Annabelle Chairlegs will perform at Hotel Vegas with Queen Serene, Heavy Meddo, and Chuck (Emily NG).

Jackie Venson at Antone’s – January 7, 14, 21, 28
Guitar virtuoso Jackie Venson is set to kick off a residency at Antone’s this Saturday, January 7. Openers for each Saturday show are as follows: Kydd Jones for January 7, We Don’t Ride Llamas for January 14, The Tiarras for January 21, and Aaron Stephens for January 28. Each gig is $20. (And in case you missed it, Venson recently went viral.)

Ley Line & Buffalo Hunt at Antone’s – January 12
If you love great vocal work, then be sure to swing by Antone’s on Thursday, January 12 for a loaded double bill featuring the folk-leaning Ley Line and the versatile Buffalo Hunt. Tickets are $20.

Why Bonnie & Sun June at Antone’s – January 15
Two great up-and-coming indie acts are set to play Antone’s on Sunday, January 15. Yes, it’s a school night, but Why Bonnie and Sun June are certainly worth the effort. Redbud will open the show. Tickets are $18.

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4 Austin-inspired cocktail recipes to whisk you away from the Texas heat this summer


Now that summer weather has arrived in Austin, we can tell you’re thirsting for some new drinks to try. And with World Gin Day coming up on June 10, we’re sharing a few recipes from local Austin restaurants (and Austin’s favorite Topo Chico!) we hope you’ll enjoy.

The following recipes feature some of our favorite ingredients or mixers we’re loving at the moment. Whether your drink of choice is a cocktail or mocktail, we’ve gathered four bright and bubbly beverages to help whisk you away from the Texas heat. And if you prefer to drink them rather than make them, three of these lovely libations can be found on the seasonal summer menus at their respective restaurant.

Aba’s Rhubarb Rose Gin and Tonic
This cocktail was created by Senior Beverage Manager Thomas Mizuno-Moore.

½ oz lime juice
¼ oz honey syrup
½ oz Fruitful Mixology rhubarb liqueur
¾ oz Brockmans Gin
¾ oz Hendrick’s Flora Adora
2 oz tonic water
Rosebud tea, for garnish


  • Combine lime juice, honey syrup, Fruitful Mixology rhubarb liqueur, Brockmans Gin and Hendrick’s Flora Adora in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake until cold.
  • Add tonic water to the shaker, then strain over fresh ice in a double old fashioned glass.
  • Garnish with rosebud tea and enjoy!

Blueberry Sparkler Mocktail by Topo ChicoBecause everyone needs a good go-to mocktail recipe in their life.Photo courtesy of Topo Chico

Blueberry Sparkler Mocktail by Topo Chico
This beverage might not be gin-themed, but it does make a great refreshing mocktail. If you don’t have Topo Chico Sabores on hand, you can substitute it with sparkling water.

1 Blueberry Topo Chico Sabores
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ cup water
½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon slices and additional blueberries, for garnish

Blueberry Syrup Directions:

  • In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the blueberries are soft and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the blueberry mixture to cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Once cooled, use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the blueberry mixture into a bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the solids and set the blueberry syrup aside.

Mocktail Directions:

  • In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 ounce of the blueberry syrup, and lemon juice. Fill the shaker with ice and shake well until chilled, about 15-20 seconds.
  • Fill a glass with ice and strain the mixture into the glass. Top off the glass with Blueberry Topo Chico Sabores (or sparkling water) and give it a gentle stir to mix.
  • Garnish with lemon slices and additional blueberries, if desired. Enjoy your refreshing Blueberry Sparkler!

Tillie's seasonal summer cocktailThis colorful cocktail is a lively take on a gin martini.Photo courtesy of Tillie's at Camp Lucy

Empress Gin Martini by Tillie’s at Camp Lucy
This martini recipe was developed by Paolo Lazarich, the mixologist for Abbey Row Restaurant at The Old Bell Hotel in the United Kingdom. Fun fact: Camp Lucy owners Kim and White Hanks also own The Old Bell Hotel, which is rumored to be England’s oldest hotel.

3 oz Empress 1908 Gin
1 oz dry vermouth
Splash of lemon juice
Lemon and rosemary for garnish


  • Add the Empress 1908 Gin, dry vermouth, and lemon juice to a glass and stir gently.
  • Garnish with a lemon wedge and a sprig of rosemary. Enjoy.

\u200bSummertime Spritz by Dean's Italian Steakhouse There's nothing like a summer spritz.Photo courtesy of Dean's Italian Steakhouse

Summertime Spritz by Dean's Italian Steakhouse
This recipe is geared toward a mixologist who enjoys the little details that make a cocktail so unique, such as making their own oleo saccharum or curating the perfect flower as a garnish.

½ oz lemon juice
½ oz strawberry oleo saccharum
¼ oz Aperol
¼ oz Giffard Abricot
1.5 oz Zephyr Gin
2 oz Brut champagne
1 each cocktail flower


  • Combine all ingredients except Brut champagne into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously, about 15-20 seconds.
  • Fill a wine glass with ice and add the Brut. Fine strain the cocktail into the glass.
  • Garnish with the cocktail flower

Extravagant estate in West Austin hits the market for $4.25 million


An imperial estate in the Lost Creek neighborhood of West Austin has become the latest addition to the city's stabilizing real estate market. The property was listed at $4.25 million.

The magnificent three-story home was originally built in 2009, making great use of Austin's Hill Country views that can be seen from every single room. The home spans 8,215 square feet on just over two acres of land, surrounded by lush trees and enclosed with a private gated entrance.

Natural light floods the inside of the home, highlighting intricate details and complimenting the high ceilings. The home boasts five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and three half-baths. The primary suite is reminiscent of an upscale resort, containing its own spa-like bathroom, walk-in closets, and access to a private balcony.

In the kitchen, the 60-inch wolf range is an aspiring chef's dream. The area has plenty of space and storage with its rich brown cabinets, a sub-zero refrigerator, a cabinet-mounted wine rack, two sinks, and more.

8105 Talbot Lane in AustinThe 60-inch wolf range is an aspiring chef's dream.Photo courtesy of JPM Real Estate Photography

A few other highlights of the home include a game room, media room, terraces, and a resort-style pool deck with an accompanying hot tub, kitchen, and fire pit. The two-car garage also includes a guest suite above it, with a single bedroom, kitchenette, and half bath.

Looking into the property's history, it was listed in June 2022 for $4.9 million, which was reduced to $3.9 million by September. The home was reported as sold in October of that year before being re-listed for its current $4.25 million price in 2023.

8105 Talbot Lane in Austin

Photo courtesy of JPM Real Estate Photography

The estate is located at 8105 Talbot Lane in West Austin.

The estate is located at 8105 Talbot Lane, which is a brief 10 minutes from downtown Austin, and is zoned for the highly-esteemed Eanes Independent School District. The listing is held by agent Wade Giles of Douglas Elliman.

Uchi spinoff to debut "whisky omakase," bar pairings, and bao in Austin

Raising the Bar

Uchibā isn't a new concept, nor is it newly promised to Austin, but it's finally getting closer to becoming a reality. The bar and restaurant spinoff from Uchi (translated as "Uchi Bar") announced today that it is set to open in late summer in the Google Tower.

Hai Hospitality, the parent group of famous omakase restaurant Uchi, more casual sushi restaurant Uchiko, and drop-in Asian barbecue restaurant Loro, announced the idea in October of 2021, setting a launch date in fall of 2022. The intent was always to open the restaurant in the Google Tower (601 West 2nd St.), so the difference now is just timing.

The original Uchibā opened in Dallas in 2019, operating upstairs from Uchi, an Austin export. This exchange is now coming back around, blurring the lines of what's from which Texas city. Similarly, the lines are blurred between what each restaurant serves, since Uchibā does include some of Uchi and Uchiko's most popular dishes: hot and cool tastings, agemono (deep fried bites), raw fish rolls, yakitori, and more, including dessert.

Of course, there will be lots of menu items that are unique to Uchibā, especially when informed by the spirits behind the bar. Some of these food and drink pairings include the Hawaiian-ish spiced ham misubi with nori, rice, and tepahe, a fermented pineapple drink; and the vodka and caviar with olive oil, burnt butter, brioche, and chives. As well as these "duos," the bar will offer omakase flights for whiskey and agave spirits.

“At Uchi we combine flavors and textures to create what we call the ‘perfect bite,’” said Chef Tyson Cole, the James Beard Award-winning chef who started the Uchi brand, in a press release. “With Uchibā, we wanted to take that a step further by unifying food with cocktails and spirits. Our 'Perfect Pairs' and the whisky omakase play off this idea with intentional combinations of food, cocktails and the the amazing array of Japanese whiskies behind the bar.”

Some menu items aren't just unique to Uchibā; They're also only available at the Austin location, thanks to its chef de cuisine, Vaidas Imsha. His menu includes categories that don't appear at the Dallas location — "Buns + Bao" and dumplings — and a long list of items that could constitute their own menu independently. Among these are a Caesar salad with Japanese twists; a Wagyu beef bulgogi with radish kimchi; two fish crudos with refreshing additions like asian pear and cucumber aguachile; and the more straightforward karaage spiced up with kimchi caramel and yuzu pear.

Uchibā will operate Sunday through Thursday from 4-10 pm; until midnight on Fridays; and until 11 pm on Saturdays. Happy Hour will be from 4-6 pm Monday through Friday.

Uchiba Austin

Photo courtesy of Uchibā

Although Uchi is from Austin, Uchiba, the upstairs bar, has only existed in Dallas until now.