Her eyes brightened like she was talking about her own child. She smiled to herself and went on explaining the thoughts behind Empire’s “Cookie” played by Taraj P. Henson. Wendy Calhoun, co-executive producer of Empire joked with creator and writer Danny Strong about show dynamics, actors, and the high-stakes, high-drama, hip-hop soap opera that has become Fox’s insta-hit Empire. Though it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime moment to be two feet away from this conversation, it wasn’t. The ATX Television Festival brought this incredible opportunity to thousands of people last weekend.
The lines wrapped around the corners of 6th Street and Congress Ave as the ATX Television Festival raged on around the Stephen F Austin Hotel, State Theatre and Paramount Theatre. Austin is now known for its incredible festivals from Austin City Limits to South-by-South West Interactive to the X Games to the Formula One races. But the ATX Television Festival was another monster entirely. Celebrities weaved through the throngs of people equally excited to be in the weirdest city on earth as much as we were. They stopped to chat with fans and take pictures, while scoping out the panels of writers, actors and producers alongside television fans from all over the globe.
Panels ranged from writers room reunions, to discussions about diversity in television. Conversations ranged from favorite moments in the Gilmore Girls series, to whether or not the “N” word was appropriate to use in certain contexts. But, no matter the discussion, the panelists, or the location ATX Television Festival goers were engrossed with the business, passion and stories that were being shared.
Strangers met in lines waiting to hear about Justified’s last season on air and how the iconic character of “Raylan” was conceived; and instead of talking about seeing celebrities or going to bars with producers they were talking about cinematic prowess, and the emotional connection that was able to be made from the TV to the individual. These people didn’t like TV, they lived TV. It was a part of who they were and how they understood the world. Little did producers, writers and actors know that they were forming the way the world was perceived for countless individuals around the globe through characters on Dawson’s Creek, and The Fosters alike.
I’m not going to lie, the fangirl in me just about cried when I saw Kevin McKidd of Grey’s Anatomy walking through the entrance to the Stephen F Austin hotel a mere five feet from my mortal shoes (and I won’t lie I had to get a selfie with him.) But the festival had brought us together and given me the incredible opportunity to hear one of the most talented actors in television right now a chance to talk about why we love TV and Austin.
All I can say for the ATX Television Festival is this; it brought together celebrities, writers, moms, and college kids all under the umbrella that shields us when we need it most: television. It connected me to people who have written and created stories that have changed my prospective and taught me so much. Where else can you find that? Or have coffee with Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman Palladino?
Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia
The live music capital of the world didn’t just “get weird” on Saturday May 2nd, we got country. We headed to the Frank Erwin Center, paired our favorite plaid shirt with our most comfortable cowboy boots, and celebrated what Texas is truly about – country music and beer. Hosted by country music icons Darius Rucker and Jennifer Nettles, iHeartRadio brought the biggest country music festivals of the year to Austin for the second time in a row. The line-up consisted of some of the most renowned country music artists like Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, and Dierks Bentley. Known for keeping things current, iHeartRadio’s star-studded line-up also included newer but less traditional country artists like Sam Hunt, Brantley Gilbert, and The Band Perry.
With an eleven artist line-up, it was a jam-packed evening, literally. iHeartRadio’s revolving stage provided smooth transitions between performances and artists kept their sets relatively short by playing their hottest singles. Brad Paisley, one of the more well-known country artists of the line-up, was the perfect festival opener. When he played a few of his older hits like “Mud On The Tires” and “Alcohol,” we knew what the night was going to be about – kicking back and having a cold one!
Brad Paisley performing onstage for iHeartRadio’s 2015 Country Festival. Photo by Brian Friedman for iHeartRadio.
New artists, Tyler Farr and Brantley Gilbert set the stage with an edgy spin on country music. Farr won us over with his rustic voice and soon after, country music bad boy, Brantley Gilbert hit the stage. Brews were flowing as the crowd sang along to the lyrics “tonight is bottoms up” (Gilbert’s 2013 hit single).
Dierks Bentley hit the stage next and gave the audience a perfect mix of feel-good favorites, coupled with a few more solemn songs, including unforgettable performances of “I Hold On” and “Riser” from his most recent album. Of course, he kept the theme of the evening consistent and finished his set in good humor with crowd pleaser “Getting Drunk On A Plane.” Soon after, Justin Moore graced the stage with a wide brimmed cowboy hat and led the most authentic country music performance of the night. He delivered a set of heartfelt songs, inclining members of the audience to raise their cell phones in unity, lighting up the arena. He showed us a little bit about the small-town lifestyle with his earlier collaboration of “Small Town Throwdown” with Brantley Gilbert, but one of the highlights of the night was when Moore closed his set with his first career number one hit (2009), “Small Town USA.”
Justin Moore performing onstage during iHeartRadio’s 2015 Country Festival. Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia.
The transition from Justin Moore’s performance to pop-country sibling trio, The Band Perry, was the biggest contrast of the night. Their set was full of fast-tempoed songs, blurring the lines between country and pop music. They slowed things down with their popular ballad “If I Die Young,” but the biggest surprise of the evening was their cover of Mark Ronson’s popular song “Uptown Funk.” Even though this fell very far from the realms of country music, it was very well received by all generations at the festival. Next up, the co-ed and well known quartet, Little Big Town impressed us with their powerful stage presence. The Frank Erwin Center grew quiet as we were blown away by band member, Karen Fairchild’s vocal delivery of hit single “Girl Crush.”
Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town performing onstage during iHeartRadio’s 2015 Country Festival. Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia.
From his snapback hat to wearing a ripped shirtsleeve as an accessory, new artist and country music heartthrob, Sam Hunt, was a standout of the evening with his unconventional country vibes. Hunt immediately drew in female fans with his hit “Break Up In A Small Town,” once again, showing us the pop side of modern country music. He continued to woo fans by playing everyone’s new favorite love song “Take Your Time” as well as “Leave The Night On,” which have both received a large amount of radio play over the past year. As he sang lyrics “we don’t have to go home, we can leave the night on,” we knew we were in it for the long haul with still three remaining artists left on the bill! Loveable country music artist, Darius Rucker hit the stage shortly after. True to his most recent album, he delivered a Southern Style performance with the inclusion of hits like “Alright,” “Homegrown” and one of our favorite covers turned country “Wagon Wheel.” Rucker showed Austin a good time and even crowd surfed through part of his set!
Sam Hunt performing onstage during the 2015 iHeartRadio Country Festival. Photo by Andrew Swartz for iHeartRadio.
The night came to a close with well-known country music trio, Rascal Flatts and big name artist, Tim McGraw following suit. Although they have stayed out of the limelight for the past couple of years, the crowd sang along wholeheartedly to Rascal Flatt’s 2006 hit “What Hurts The Most” and their popular cover of Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is A Highway.” For the grand finale, it was only fitting that one of the most iconic country music stars would close out the night, the birthday man himself, Tim McGraw. And yes – all attendees at the Frank Erwin Center did sing “Happy Birthday” loud and proud to the now 48-year-old. His six-song set included number one hits from his lengthy and respectable music career. Recent single “Shotgun Rider” was a favorite as well as old school tunes like “Where The Green Grass Grows” and “Something Like That.” The festival was filled with spectacular performances across the board, but there was no better end to the evening than with Mcgraw’s moving performance of 2004 hit song “Live Like You Were Dying.”
Tim McGraw performs onstage during the 2015 iHeartRadio Country Festival. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia.
It was a great night for mainstream country music fans with exceptional performances from the most relevant country music artists today. From our newer country music stars that live on the edge of pop and rock genres, to iconic artists that have won praise in the country music world, iHeartRadio did a fantastic job of showcasing modern country music.
If you missed the festival, you can catch the NBC live broadcast on May 27th from 9-11pm ET/CT. You can also check out iHeartRadio’s best photos of the night!
One of Austin’s oldest and longest running festivals is back! The Pecan Street Festival is one of those classic Austin festivals.
If you’ve never been, it’s a gigantic street fair with music, art, kids activities, jewelry, giant turkey legs, and all kinds of other cool stuff. It’s actually the largest art festival in Central Texas, attracting over 300,000 people!
They have tons of distinctively Austin attractions, including a facial hair groomer. It’s just a good time and a perfect activity for the kiddos.
Be sure to bring your appetite. They’ll have food vendors all over the place for you to grab a bite.
They say a pictures is worth a thousand words. Instead of going on about how The Austin Food + Wine Festival is the festival of the year and one not to be missed, I’ll just let you browse the photos and see for yourself. Beware, these photos may cause intense food cravings!
We feasted, we feasted and it was fabulous. Mark your calendars for next year April 22nd – April 24th.
One year in, and Float Fest is quickly becoming one of my favorite summer festivals. This year’s lineup promises to keep the momentum going with a diverse bill that includes hometown favorites Ghostland Observatory, and co-headliners Phantogram, and Local Natives.
We’ll continue to provide details and tips as the event approaches (we’re officially Float Fest veterans now), but in the meantime, check out this announcement video then visit their website for the full lineup and info on camping, tubing and general awesome-ness.
How did it happen? SXSW is just around the corner.
If you’re looking for some fun and FREE things to do this year. On March 14th we’re hosting the ATX Downtown Photowalk.
We’ve also partnered with a bunch of our favorite local trailer eateries and restaurants to host the ATX Food Crawl with A Taste of Koko, The Austin Visitors Bureau and Food Coma King. This is a self paced tour of our favorite local places to eat, and we have a ton of cool prizes lined up, including tickets for two to this year’s Austin Food and Wine Festival.
Lastly, Space Chimp Media created this great guide for SXSW that breaks down this year’s festival by the numbers, the people involved, and a whole lot more:
The rumors are true, Austin’s own Ghostland Observatory will be ending a lengthy hiatus to headline this year’s Euphoria Music Festival. Co-headliners Pretty Lights, STS9, Thievery Corporation, and Adventure Club top a bill that is arguably the strongest top-to-bottom lineup in the history of the Austin electronic music festival arena.
Photo courtesy of www.lasershows.net
“Expanding to a full three days of camping, coupled with our diverse lineup has allowed us to create an immersive festival experience unique not just to Texas, but to most festivals out there,” says Euphoria creative director Mitch Morales. “We really want to emphasize our culture and show fans what sets us apart from the rest.”
The three-day festival will take place at the beautiful Carson Creek Ranch, just a few minutes east of downtown Austin. Festival-goers are encouraged to camp on the property to fully immerse themselves in the Euphoria experience.
It’s that time of year again! The annual celebration of all things German in New Braunfels, Texas, WURSTFEST.
If you’ve never been, imagine your favorite scenes from Beerfest and National Lampoon’s European Vacation’s Oktoberfests, conveniently dropped into an awesome German town just 40 minutes south of Austin.
Throughout the park you’ll find a smorgasbord of food and drink options, as well as carnival rides, arts and crafts, and people dressed-up in awesome German attire celebrating with beer and sausage in hand.
The alcohol related event makes the 40 minute drive ill-advised (parking is no picnic either), so this year, Jason Neff (contributor to 365 Austin) and friends are hosting a high-end bus service from Austin to New Braunfels.
The busses are equipped with comfortable seats, TV’s, and possibly most importantly, restrooms!
$45 Includes transportation to and from the festival, and admission to the event. See details on the two available dates below: