Review: Austin City Limits Nick Lowe/Swell Season

Austin City Limits “Nick Lowe followed by The Swell Season”
Saturday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m.
Additional air dates: Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 10 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 6, at 11 p.m.
Preview the show at austincitylimits.org

As much as we love presenting new and promising acts on Austin City Limits, it’s great to have a veteran trodding the boards. Singer/songwriter Nick Lowe has earned that designation in his 40 years in the trenches of the music business. The Englishman began as a teen idol in the 60s band Kippington Lodge, which evolved into pub rock pioneers Brinsley Schwarz, for whom he wrote his enduring anthem “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” Though not a punk rocker himself, the affable Lowe played a role in birthing the British punk movement through his production of the Damned, the Pretenders and, chiefly, Elvis Costello. In the late 70s he inaugurated a prolific solo career with his debut solo album Jesus of Cool and the British hit “(I Love the Sound of) Breaking Glass.” With cheeky roots/pop tunes like “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll),” “All Men Are Liars,” the American smash “Cruel to Be Kind,” “Heart” and “When I Write the Book” (the latter through Rockpile, his band partnership with Dave Edmunds), Lowe continued as a respected songsmith and performer through the 80s. more

Highlights 2/1 to 2/7

Nature at 7 p.m. Sunday follows the wild herds of majestic red deer in the Austrian Alps, while examining the variety of other mountain wildlife.

Masterpiece Classic at 8 p.m. Sunday presents part one of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” the story of two sisters and their journeys to find love.

American Experience “The Polio Crusade” at 8 p.m. Monday chronicles the American experience and decades-long crusade to eradicate polio, one of the 20th century’s most dreaded diseases.

Forgotten Ellis Island at 9 p.m. Monday documents the now-abandoned immigrant hospital on Ellis Island that provided defense against contagious, often virulent diseases.

Nova at 7 p.m. Tuesday and 9 p.m. Friday exposes the world of the National Security Agency, the world’s largest intelligence agency focused on eavesdropping on all things from cell phones to pay phones to emails both foreign and national.

Journalist Dave Iverson sets out on a personal journey to explore the debate that surrounds Parkinson’s, a disease at the center of the ongoing controversy over embryonic stem cell research, in Frontline at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Independent Lens at 9 p.m. Tuesday looks at the life of Petey Greene, whose language and brash style unsettled the establishment as he battled both the system and his own demons to become a leading activist during some of the most tumultuous years in recent history.

Gwen Ifill talks with legendary performer Eartha Kitt about her stage, dance and acting career in Evening with Eartha Kitt at 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Great Lodges of National Parks at 7 p.m. Wednesday journeys to the desert landscape of Death Valley to the Furnace Creek Inn and the Lake Quinault Lodge in the heart of the Olympic National Forest, among others, touring America’s national parks and their historic lodges.

Entertainers Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Margaret Cho and others honor the late George Carlin, recipient of the 11th Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in George Carlin: The Mark Twain Prize at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

A Moveable Musical Feast at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday follows Canadian singer Loreena McKennitt as she embarks on her 2007 An Ancient Muse tour, offering a rare backstage look at one of contemporary music’s most interesting acts.

British songwriting legend Nick Lowe performs followed by Oscar-winners Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, aka the Swell Season, in Austin City Limits at 10 p.m. Wednesday and 11 p.m. Friday.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson discusses politics on Texas Monthly Talks at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Austin-based graphic designer and children’s book author Emma Virjan discusses her new book Nacho the Party Puppy in Docubloggers at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

In Context at 8:30 p.m. Thursday visits Berlin Painter Edward B. Gordon, Austin singer Chrysta Bell and Mazatlan’s Delfos contemporary dance company.

Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers perform followed by alternative country singer Ryan Bingham in Austin City Limits at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Review: Austin City Limits with Manu Chao

Austin City Limits “Manu Chao”
Friday, Jan. 30, at 11 p.m.
Preview the show at austincitylimits.org

Though not a common name in households whose primary language is English, Manu Chao  is one of the world’s bestselling musicians in the vaguely-monikered “Latin alternative” movement. A truly multicultural artist, Chao’s work combines punk rock, salsa, reggae, ska, French chanson and Algerian raï, among other styles, and he’s as likely to sing in Portuguese, Arabic and Wolof as in Spanish, French or English (or some combination of the above). Born in Paris to parents of Basque and Galician origin, Chao grew up in a multilingual household often visited by artists, intellectuals and political activists. As a teen he was entranced by the 70s U.K. punk scene, particularly the Clash, and formed his first band in the mid-80s. With his brother and cousin, Chao moved on to the ambitious, wildly eclectic Mano Negra, with whom he signed to Virgin Records, toured Europe and the Americas, had a French hit single “Mala Vida,” and went top 5 in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. After Mano Negra’s demise, Chao drifted around South America with his guitar and a 4-track recorder, researching and absorbing the roots music of his heritage. His solo career launched in 1998 with the award-winning album Clandestino, followed in 2001 by the European hit Próxima Estación: Esperanza. In 2006, Chao set about conquering America, with tours that culminated in well-received sets at the 2006 Lollapalooza and 2007 Coachella festivals. We’ve been chasing after him for a couple of years, and now, in alignment with the release of his latest album La Radiolina and his appearance at the 2008 Austin City Limits Music Festival, we’re pleased to finally showcase this unique artist live from Studio 6A.

- Michael Toland

About the Reviewer: Michael Toland is manager of national productions for KLRU and contributes music reviews to several online and print publications.

Austin Opera on KLRU

Program: In Context Special Austin Lyric Opera’s Cinderella
Time: 8 p.m.
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 27
Additional air dates: Sunday, Feb. 1, at 1 p.m.

KLRU’sIn Context at 8 p.m. Tuesday brings the opera to viewers with amazing high definition camera work. In this production of the classic fairy tale by Austin Lyric Opera, Cinderella is transported to the magical land of 1930′s Hollywood musicals. One thing hasn’t changed, though – and that’s the timeless beauty of Gioachino Rossini’s transcendent score. Read the Austin Chronicle’s Review

Highlights 1/25 to 1/31

Nature at 7 p.m. Sunday takes a look at intrepid researchers and cameramen tracking skunks day and night uncovering how they hunt, forage, mate and raise baby skunks.

Masterpiece Classic 8 p.m. Sunday features “Wuthering Heights.” In part two, Heathcliff returns to Wuthering Heights as a rich man after a long and mysterious absence.

Egalite for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution at 9 p.m. Sunday looks at the formation of the world’s first Black republic.

American Experience at 8 p.m. Monday focuses on Robert Oppenheimer, whose life and legacy are inextricably linked to America’s most famous top-secret initiative — the Manhattan Project.

Every year, 100 million monarch butterflies set off on an incredible journey across North America. Nova at 7 p.m. Tuesday flies along with the monarchs, visiting the spectacular locations they call home and meeting the dangers they encounter along the way.

KLRU’s In Context at 8 p.m. Tuesday brings the opera to viewers with amazing high definition camera work. In this production of the classic fairy tale by Austin Lyric Opera, Cinderella is transported to the magical land of 1930′s Hollywood musicals. One thing hasn’t changed, though – and that’s the timeless beauty of Gioachino Rossini’s transcendent score.

Make Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America at 7 p.m. Wednesday focuses on wiseguys and smart-alecks including W.C. Fields and Larry David.

French/Spanish singer/songwriter and international star Manu Chao showcases politically charged, danceable rock ‘n’ roll from his album La Radiolina on Austin City Limits at 10 p.m. Wednesday and 11 p.m. Friday.

Texas Monthly Talks at 7 p.m. Thursday features former Texas Comptroller John Sharp talking about the future of his political career.

Docubloggers at 7:30 p.m. Thursday takes a look at Austin’s Trouble Puppet Theatre.

Downtown at 8 p.m. Thursday focuses on some of Austin’s most iconic independent businesses.

In Context at 8:30 p.m. Thursday focuses on the creative process with interviews with artists.

Frontline/World at 9 p.m. Friday explores the odyssey of several dozen men from their homes in rural China to years of detention in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

British songwriting legend Nick Lowe surveys his 30-plus year catalog with classics and new tunes on Austin City Limits at 7 p.m. Saturday. Oscar-winning Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, aka the Swell Season, also perform.

Texas Monthly Talks with Joe Straus

Program: Texas Monthly Talks
Time: 7 p.m.
Date: Thursday, Jan. 22
Also airs: Sunday, Jan. 25, at 12:30 p.m.

We all said it couldn’t be done — and by we, I mean the unwashed, unapologetic know-it-alls who make up the Capitol community: the collection of ink-stained wretches, amateur pundits, professional kibbitzers, and other self-anointed insiders who profess to understand the various moves on the chess board well before they occur. Well, my friends, what we have here is a new king, and the conventional wisdom has been checkmated. On January 13, the opening day of the 81st session, two-term Republican state representative Joe Straus of San Antonio emerged from near-obscurity to become  the 75th Speaker of the Texas House. In doing so, he toppled the man who everyone said — was certain — would continue in that leadership post for as long as he desired: Tom Craddick of Midland, an immensely powerful, relentlessly partisan, impressively strategic and tactical pol whose eternal reign was assured, even many Democrats admitted, by legendary survival instincts. Feared more than loved, Craddick ruled his roost these last three sessions in ways that both enhanced and diminished his standing, along with that of his party, which saw its majority dwindle to only one seat following last November’s elections. His opponents — the so-called ABCS, for Anybody but Craddick — tried and failed to oust him in 2007, and they might have missed their change again if not for the remarkably synchronized efforts of elevent Republican insurgents, who improbably settled on 49-year-old Straus as their standard-bearer, and the overwhelming majority of Democrats, who got in line behind him. Who is Straus? What most people know is that he hails from a storied clan with deep ties to the business wing of the Republican party, that he himself is thought to be an ideological moderate, that he’s less opposed to abortion and more supportive of gambling — a family business interest — than most of his conservative brethren, and that he’s a consensus-builder and with a genial disposition that stands as a stark comparison to Craddick’s grim affect. More we’re sure to learn in the weeks and months ahead.
A conversation with the man of the hour, Joe Straus, on this edition of Texas Monthly Talks.

— Evan Smith, host of Texas Monthly Talks

Review: Austin City Limits with Foo Fighters

Program: Austin City Limits
Date: Saturday, Jan. 17
Time: 7 p.m.
Also Airs: Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 10 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 23
Preview the show: AustinCityLimits.org

Few bands striding the modern rock landscape can match the mix of mainstream popularity and critical credibility as the Grammy-laden Foo Fighters . Bandleader Dave Grohl had been quietly amassing a catalog of songs while still drumming for alt.rock kingpins Nirvana. When Nirvana dissolved following Kurt Cobain’s suicide, Grohl began recording his tunes in earnest. After his demo tape sparked an industry bidding war, Grohl signed to Capitol and released the self-titled debut Foo Fighters. Grohl formed a band to tour the record and, barring a few personnel changes, has been making albums and hitting the road ever since. Acclaimed bestsellers like In Your Honor, There is Nothing Left to Lose and The Colour and the Shape sprinkled the radio with hits “Big Me,” “Monkey Wrench,” “This is a Call,” “Best of You,” “My Hero,” “Learn to Fly” and more. Now the band brings its smooth blend of loud/soft dynamics and hard-rocking melodies to Austin City Limits’ studio 6A in support of its Grammy-winning latest album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, featuring the hits “Long Road to Ruin,” “Let It Die” and “The Pretender.”

- Michael Toland

About the Reviewer: Michael Toland is manager of national productions for KLRU and contributes music reviews to several online and print publications.

Highlights 1/18 to 1/24

Masterpiece Classic 8 p.m. Sunday features “Wuthering Heights.” In part one, the fiery Heathcliff (Tom Hardy) grows to manhood with the Earnshaw family of Wuthering Heights, tormented by his stepbrother, Hindley (Burn Gorman) and falling in love with his stepsister, Cathy.

Michael Wood’s fascinating journey through the history of the Indian subcontinent, The Story Of India at 8 p.m. Monday chronicles the incredible richness and diversity of its peoples, cultures and landscapes. Parts 5 and 6 back-to-back.

The documentary Crawford at 10 p.m. Monday shows how a small Texas town was turned upside down by a new neighbor – the president.

Nova at 7 p.m. Tuesday focuses on energy with a look at everything California is doing, from energy conservation and efficiency to the development of new sources of carbon-free power.

On the night of Barack Obama’s historic inauguration, Frontline 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tuesday examines the rich personal and political biography of the 44th president of the United States.

Make Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America at 7 p.m. Wednesday focuses on physical comedy.

Grammy Award-winners the Foo Fighters rock Austin City Limits at 10 p.m. Wednesday and 11 p.m. Friday with songs from their latest album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace.

The new speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joe Straus discusses this years legislative session on Texas Monthly Talks at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Docubloggers at 7:30 p.m. Thursday revisits some of the best stories of the past seasons, including children’s book author, chemistry professor, and piñata maker Brian Anderson.

Downtown at 8 p.m. Thursday focuses on recycling by making small changes and the city’s largest and longest running outdoor art fair.

In Context at 8:30 p.m. Thursday focuses on the creative process with interviews with artists.

American Soundtrack series presents Doo Wop’s Greatest Hits at 7 p.m. Saturday, a new best-of compilation of Doo Wop Favorites of even more greatest moments from Doo Wop 50; Rock, Rhythm and Doo Wop; and Red, White and Rock.

CTG participates in bloom day

Central Texas Gardener producer Linda Lehmusvirta is participating in Bloom Day, which started a few years ago by Carol a garden blogger in Indiana.  Every month, on the 15th, people from around the country and even from around the world, blog about what is blooming on that day in their gardens.  Each blogger then sends an email to Carol, who then posts the links on her blog.

Linda was up early to take the pictures of all the things blooming right now. You can see her post about it here at klru.org/ctg/blog