Photo by Dahlia Katz

Texas Performing Arts fans who've been waiting for the 2023-24 season announcement now have plenty to applaud: TPA’s upcoming season will feature highly anticipated bold projects, many Texas debuts, plus innovative productions with big artist and emerging-talent debuts, and the long-awaited return of some family favorites.

“I’m excited to share our 23/24 season filled with new sounds, global stories, adventurous premieres, and long-awaited returns," said Bob Bursey, TPA Executive and Artistic Director. “This season we’re presenting some of the most exciting new creations from around the world as well as bringing leading artists back to Austin.”

The 2022 Edinburgh International Festival’s crowd-pullerThe Book of Lifewill open the season in a sensational, reflective fashion for its Texas premiere, featuring Rwandan writer and activist Odile Gakire Katese and Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda's first-ever women's drumming group. The Book of Life will run September 7 and 9 at 7:30 pm at McCollough Theatre.

Following The Book of Life is Alice, a combined dance, acrobatics, and illusory performance by acclaimed contemporary dance company Momix. Alice is the newest work by artistic director and choreographer Moses Pendleton, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Alice will run September 20 at 7 pm at Bass Concert Hall.

In conjunction to the regular season, a six-event partnership between TPA and Fusebox will bring a more adventurous approach to TPA stages in Austin. The first of which, in its Texas debut and only appearance, is Love in Exileby Grammy Award-winning vocalist Arooj Aftab, accompanied by her two most-trusted collaborators polymath pianist Vijay Iyer, and renowned instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily. The trio will envelop the stage with a soundscape Aftab describes as "about self-exile, and the search for freedom and identity, and finding it through love and music." Love in Exile will run September 29 at 7:30 pm at McCullogh Theatre.

The second musical performance in partnership with Fusebox is the Texas premiere of Tremble Stavesby Pulitzer Prize-winning Navajo composer Raven Chacon and The Living Earth Show, comprised of guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andy Meyerson. Musicians from the University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music will also participate in the show that sheds light on climate change, specifically an approaching water shortage crisis. Tremble Staves will run on October 13 at 5:30 pm at Laguna Gloria in conjunction with This Land, an exhibition by The Contemporary Austin.

A special Dia de los Muertos celebration by esteemed Grammy Award-winning Mexican singer Lila Downs will bring a “unique interpretation of traditional Mexican and Mesoamerican music” to the ears of the audience at Bass Concert Hall. For this event, attendees are encouraged to dress in traditional, imaginative costumes to immerse themselves in the evening. The performance will be held on October 20 at 8 pm.

For the jazz and opera lovers, seven-time Grammy Award winner Terrence Blanchard will perform excerpts from his critically-acclaimed Fire Shut Up In My Bonesfeaturing his E-collective jazz band, and the Turtle Island String Quartet, and two secret guest singers. The Austin premiere of Fire Shut Up in My Bones will run on November 9 at 7:30 pm at McCullough Theatre.

The 2023 Grammy’s Best New Artist winner Samara Joy will bring holiday cheer and her velvety voice to Austin with a special gospel and jazz concert entitled A Joyful Holiday. The performance by “the first Gen Z jazz superstar” will also feature three generations of her McLendon family. A Joyful Holiday will run on December 3 at 6 pm at Bass Concert Hall.

The first TPA performance of 2024 will be an unforgettable evening of dance and comedy by all-male ballet troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. This will be the first time the troupe has pirouetted into Austin in eight years, and is just one stop on their 50th Anniversary Tour. Their signature ballet satire combined with their elegant movements leads to a stunning show. The performance will take place on January 19, 2024 at 7:30 pm at Bass Concert Hall.

In another show presented with Fusebox is the Texas premiere of Food(stylized FOOD) by Geoff Sobelle. Food will ask many food-related questions, prompting the audience to reflect on the way they perceive eating. Audience members will gather around a dining table to engage with each other and their empty plates during Sobelle’s performance. Food will run January 31 through February 3 at 7:30 pm with a special February 3 matinee at 1:30 pm.

For the first time in over a decade, the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will bring two dance performances to the stage as part of Ailey’s iconic ballet Revelations. Since the company’s founding in 1958, Ailey’s performers have excited over 25 million people around the world. The performances will take place at Bass Concert Hall on March 2 at 7:30 pm with a family matinee on March 3 at 2 pm.

One of the most highly anticipated returns of the 2023-24 season is a captivating one-night only performance by world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma, his first in Austin in 12 years. Audience members can expect to hear some of his favorite pieces, as well as a few tales about his life and his dedication to music. An Evening with Yo-Yo Mawill take place on March 7 at 7:30 pm at Bass Concert Hall.

Artist Tania El Khoury will bring an interactive, live art performance to Austin with Cultural Exchange Rate, based on Khoury’s recorded interviews with her grandmother, detailing what it was like to live between Lebanon and Syria. The interactive portion of the show will incorporate "secret boxes to explore sounds, images, and textures" that add context to over a century's worth of border crossings. Cultural Exchange Rate will run April 10-14 at the Bass Concert Hall Rehearsal Room.

Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green will delight the audience’s eyes and ears with his immersive documentary 32 Sounds, exploring sound through a sensory experience and meditation. Green will narrate the film while original music is performed by electro band Le Tigre’s JD Samson. 32 Sounds will run on April 10 at 7:30 pm at Bass Concert Hall.

In a collaboration between award-winning choreographer Abby Zbikowski and her crew The New Utility is the Texas premiere of one of the “Best Dance Performances” of 2022 as deemed by the New York Times. Radioactive Practicemelds gender-bending work with dance while performers “labor their way through complex, demanding, and often perplexing physicality to confront expectations and dive into the unknown head on.” Radioactive Practice will run at B. Iden Payne Theatre on April 12 and 13 at 7:30 pm with a matinee at 2 pm on April 14.

TPA and Fusebox are additionally partnering to provide a residency for Austin-based artist Lisa B. Thompson for the 2023-24 season. She is currently the Patton Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at UT Austin. While at her residency, Thompson will develop The Black Feminist Guide to the Human Body, which explores the disparities in Black women’s health in the United States. The show will premiere at the 2024 Fusebox Festival at The Vortex (stylized VORTEX).

Tickets for Texas Performing Arts 2023-24 season go on sale on May 12 at 10 am. More information can be found on texasperformingarts.org.

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Rock star Bono's daughter makes her own sweet music in Flora and Son

Movie Review

The new Apple TV+ film Flora and Son centers on a single mother and her teenage son, a situation that typically calls for an uplifting story about the mother’s struggles trying to support the two of them, and the bond that develops between them as go through the troubles together. While that element exists somewhat here, it goes down a much different path that’s both saltier and equally as rewarding.

Eve Hewson and Oren Kinlan in Flora and Son

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

Eve Hewson and Oren Kinlan in Flora and Son.

Set in Dublin, Ireland, the film follows Flora (Eve Hewson), a single mom to Max (Oren Kinlan), who gets in a fair bit of trouble. She shares custody with her ex, Ian (Jack Reynor), and their antagonistic relationship, along with Max being a teenager, likely has an effect on how Flora and Max get along. A typical interchange between mother and son has them calling each other all sorts of bad names, although there rarely seems to be any true animosity behind their arguments.

When a guitar Flora refurbishes for Max goes unappreciated, she instead starts taking online lessons herself with an American named Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). She’s no less brash with him, but her sincere interest in learning how to play and in finding out more about Jeff’s music opens a new door for Flora. Soon, a discovery that Max is making music of his own on his laptop helps them communicate better than they have in a long time.

Flora & Son is the latest music-focused film from writer/director John Carney (Once, Sing Street), and he once again finds the sweet spot in telling a personal story enhanced by song. Flora has more than a few rough edges, making her a less-than-ideal protagonist, but the heart of the character shines through precisely because she has no filter. Once music is added to the equation, it become that much easier to see the type of person she is and why you should root for her.

Both Hewson and Gordon-Levitt are charming actors, so they establish a connection through a screen well. Fortunately, though, Carney chooses not to leave it at that, adding a slight fantasy element to some of their scenes by having Flora imagine Jeff in the room with her. A romantic element naturally arises, but it’s the unexpected way in which two lonely souls find each other from across the world that makes them the most interesting.

There are a couple of decent songs that come out of the process of all of the music-making, but nothing that you could truly call an earworm. Instead, it’s the feeling you get seeing the characters interact when they’re sharing music with each other that makes the film sing. Only one character could be classified as a professional musician, with the rest of them making music for the pure joy of it, an emotion Carney translates well in his storytelling.

Hewson (the daughter of U2’s Bono, in case you were unaware) is having a moment after 15 years in the business. She has a boldness that serves her as well in this role as it did in the recent Apple TV+ limited series, Bad Sisters. This is Kinlan’s first major part, and he acquits himself well. Both Gordon-Levitt and Reynor are seasoned actors who know how to make the most of their limited scenes.

The depiction of a mother/child relationship in Flora and Son is atypical, but it still winds up in a great spot thanks to the power of music and some fine performances. Carney’s love for both songs and filmmaking has yielded some memorable movies over the years, this one included.


Flora and Son opens in select theaters and on Apple TV+ on September 29.

10 restaurant and bar openings — including a pop-up — top Austin's tastiest food news

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

ICYMI: Buckle in for tons of openings this week. During our busy week we covered the opening date for Radio/East, which is the highly anticipated expansion of Radio Coffee & Beer; the arrival of Tarbox & Brown, a San Marcos restaurant with lots of cultural influences, led by a chef with South African and Chinese roots; and the debut of Bacalar, a Mexican restaurant that marks the return of a former Top Chef winner to the Austin food scene. We also heard about a secretive new speakeasy, Trona, from an entrepreneur with a very cool track record. But there's more we haven't told you about yet.

First-year Texas Longhorn player Deandre Moore just got a check for his "name, image, and likeness," and used that money to open the Jive Turkeyfood truck (1637 E. Riverside Dr.). And even cooler — he hired his mom. Taleea Moore is cooking up lots of turkey dishes, inspired by the family's athletic at-home eating that has long subbed out poultry for beef. There are only three regular menu items so far: a turkey burger (of course), a Thanksgiving-inspired cornbread comfort bowl, and a deep-fried turkey taco. The rest are seasonal treats.

Austin could always use more cool cocktail spots — they book up fast on the weekend — so people are excited to welcome Daydreamer, a "cocktail and champagne bar." (That's not to be confused with Daydreamer Coffee, which opened last year.) There's lots to dream about, but most appealing is that this venture comes from the minds of a whole bunch of industry vets from very cool spots all around Austin. Follow your dreams to 1708 E. 6th St.

Longtime Austin establishmentJuliet Italian Kitchen, also known for dreamy vibes thanks to pretty interior design and a great location in the Zilker area, is expanding into Georgetown. The stylish vibes will continue at 701 S. Main St., in Georgetown's Old Masonic Lodge Building, which was built in 1900. This will be the restaurant's third location, and will include an upstairs bar and dining area, plus a patio, seating 188 guests in total.

The team behind Drinks Lounge just launched Drinks Backyard, bringing even more casual vibes to South Austin — where they'll really be appreciated. Located at a former liquor store (6328 S. Hwy. 183), this bar takes advantage of the two acres around it with a stage, covered lounge seating, and a 14-foot TV for sports and movies. The bar and patio are open now, but the backyard is still getting ready. Eventually, it will welcome guests under 21 and pets. Smokin' Brew-B-Q is the first food truck onsite, with more coming soon.

We focused on other things last week, but two casual chains shared news we don't want to gloss over. Graze Craze, a charcuterie shop, has opened its first location in the Austin area, in Lakeway (2127 Lohman’s Crossing Rd., Ste. 304). The company takes its meat-cheese-and-other-snacks curating very seriously, and these gargantuan charcuteries are sure to impress large parties.

Similarly, Seattle-based Eastern European pie-maker Piroshky Piroshky is making its Texas debut — but in this case, they're not sticking around. Catch the pop-up in Austin on October 6 to see why this bakery is popular enough to pull off a national tour. The team is posting locations as they go on Instagram.

Radio Coffee brings the brews to new East Austin shop and music venue in October

going live in the fall

When it comes to expanding the influence of coffee connoisseurs in Austin, there's room for everyone on the East Side.

One East Austin coffee shop just changed hands for a fancy rebrand, and another recently expanded out of the area into Buda. Cosmic Coffee, a South Austin staple, blew everyone out of the water with a gorgeous, sprawling industrial complex on East 4th Street, and now another neighboring coffee and beer combo is following suit.

Radio/East, a second location spun off from the original music-loving Radio Coffee & Beer, will open its doors at 3504 Montopolis Dr. in East Austin on Wednesday, October 18.

The new family- and dog-friendly space sprawls across two acres, which is divvied up among a 1,200-square-foot indoor coffee shop, indoor and outdoor live music stages, and a food truck park. Guests will be able to order their favorite drinks from the indoor counter, or they can choose to order from either of the two outdoor windows that open to the grand shaded backyard. And we can't forget one of the more rare features: plenty of parking for customers.

Radio's founding father-son duo Jack and Greg Wilson brought on two new partners — Trey Hudson and Nine Mile Records owner Rick Pierik — in the hopes of developing and maintaining this new spot as a community-focused space, much like the beloved original.

“With the new space, we’ve been able to create a through line to the existing concept of Radio,” said Hudson in a release. “With Radio/East we tried to listen to what the Montopolis community needed and we hope that we can be as central to this neighborhood as we have been to the area around Menchaca.”

Pierik will be the driving force behind Radio/East's musical events. Local musicians and touring bands will all get their chance to take the stage with four nights of performances planned indoors and outdoors beginning on Thursdays.

With Austin's wide-ranging music taste, Pierik will seek to reflect the city's musical diversity with every show.

"Jack Wilson and I are looking to bring together diverse programing from every corner of the music industry, booking up-and-coming national and international acts alongside all of the amazing Austin talent we've known and admired for years," said Pierik. "We're especially committed to helping local artists develop their fanbases through quality concert experiences and eclectic bills."

A list of events following Radio/East's grand opening is as follows:

  • October 19 – Sunrosa with Guma and Feeling Small
  • October 20 – Redbud with Mockjaw, Tearjerk, and Creekbed Carter Hogan
  • October 21 – Peachfuzz 10th Anniversary Party featuring The Texas Gentleman, Brown Burlesque, Lady Dan, and a to-be-announced special guest
  • October 28 – First Annual Radio/East Chili Cook Off and the Austin Flea, featuring Mother Neff, The Push & Shove, and Sour Bridges
  • October 31 – A Rocky Horror Halloween featuring A Giant Dog with Trouble in the Streets
  • November 11 – A Free Lunch Benefit featuring Caroline Rose and BRUCE
  • November 17 – Money Chicha with The Tiarras

Tickets for the upcoming shows can be purchased online beginning Friday, September 29.

In addition to keeping Radio/East music-focused, visitors can expect to see some classic beverages on the menu, with a few new twists to keep customers coming back. The new location will have two tap towers with eight craft beer taps, four rotating specialty draft cocktails, and plenty of wine to go around.

Radio/EastGet a local favorite beer on draft, or try a new specialty draft cocktail.Photo by Renee Dominguez

Bar Manager Jacob Biggie has been hard at work to develop new creative cocktails for the new location, including Phantom Mood (Still Austin Gin, hibiscus, lime, and cucumber with soda) and Sensitive Artist (Senza Maeso hybrid spirit, Aperol, St. Germain, lime juice). Guests can also try the new seasonal non-alcoholic highball, dubbed the Chai-ball.

The lineup of food vendors at the new East Austin digs include Veracruz All Natural with its binge-worthy tacos; organic pizza slices from Side Eye Slice (a sister concept to Side Eye Pie); and Radio's own food truck – Shortwave Diner – offering classic American diner fare and comfort food such as smash burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken and waffles, and more.

Following the grand opening at 7 am on October 18, Radio/East's operating hours will be 7 am to 1 am Monday through Saturday, and 7 am to 10 pm on Sundays.