Austin Mural Artists Reveal Origins and Inspiration, Part 4

Daddy Otis Free Hugs Monster Mural

Daddy Otis's "Free Hugs!" I hope you said that in your best monster voice, because I always do. (Credit: @knowatx)

Austin mural artists continue to inspire us with their creativity and massive pieces of art. At the recent ReCreate event, the final spray-out day at HOPE Outdoor Gallery, 50 artists painted every inch of wall space there. Hundreds of people came out to watch, admire, photograph, and say goodbye to HOPE's famous location.

Kimie Flores Austin Street Artists

Mural artist Kimie Flores often returns to mythical themes (Credit: Kimie Flores)

All of the artists in this fourth installation of my mural artist series have painted at HOPE, meeting mentors, friends, and fans along the way. My own reaction to their murals is visceral, a punch to the gut, but in a good way.

I've asked all of the artists in my series the same five questions. I've retained the bulk of their responses, though I've edited a bit for style and length.

➡ Catch up: Austin Mural Artists Reveal Origins and Inspiration, Part 1
➡ Catch up: Austin Mural Artists Reveal Origins and Inspiration, Part 2
➡ Catch up: Austin Mural Artists Reveal Origins and Inspiration, Part 3

Kimie Flores

Kimie Flores Austin Mural at Lustre Pearl East

Kimie Flores works on a lively sea creature at Lustre Pearl East (Credit: Joleen Jernigan)

Austinot: How did you get started in such a large medium, and what is the advantage/reward of painting such large pieces?

Flores: I've painted large since before high school, but the largest was SXSW 2015 with SprATX and Pow Wow Hawaii. Mouf, now a good friend, chose me to assist him with his whale mural, which transitioned me into painting walls. The plus side of working big is it has more of an impact on the viewer experience, as opposed to a smaller, intimate piece.

Kimie Flores Austin Mural Artist

Kimie Flores attacks a gigantic blank wall armed with nothing but spray paint, a step ladder, and her imagination (Credit: Kimie Flores)

Austinot: Why do you believe Austin is a good/supportive city for street art/murals?

Flores: With the popularity of Austin within the last decade, music has taken a strange direction. Since the music portion of Austin has become more exclusive, it has allowed the art scene to prosper. This in turn establishes a larger community base for artist and art appreciators.

Austinot: Could you describe one of your favorite experiences painting a piece?

Flores: I enjoy all of my paintings, but the camaraderie between us artists is the best part. It's never a dull moment when you group a bunch of like-minded individuals together for several hours. Chilling and painting with my friends are some of the best memories I have.

Austinot: What inspires you to paint?

Flores: I've been fine art painting for about 10 years now and drawing for 12, so it's my lifestyle. I dedicated myself to being an artist a long time ago. If it were taken away, there wouldn't be much left but a hollow shell of a person. It's just what I do and who I am.

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Austinot: What/who in Austin do you admire or gain inspiration from?

Flores: I'm a huge fan of Mez Data. I remember seeing one of his paintings a few years back. I was totally amazed.  His technique was beyond masterful, and his work has this elegance that I still find myself attracted to. The way he perceives his figures is incredible. They all hold a certain appreciation for light and color, and the attention to detail is exceptional.


Daddy Otis

Daddy Otis Kraken Mural in Austin

One of Daddy Otis's popular, recurring characters is this adorable Kraken (Credit: @knowatx)

Daddy Otis hit the Austin scene running, jumping into the ATX Free Art Friday rhythm almost right away. Before long, he started painting some of the most photographed pieces around Austin: large, friendly creatures who welcome visitors with heaps of personality and style.

Austinot: How did you get started painting in such a large medium, and what is the advantage/reward of painting such large pieces?

Daddy Otis ReCreate 2016

Bob Wallace, AKA Daddy Otis, poses with his piece during ReCreate 2016 (Credit: @storyoftheeye)

Otis: As a kid, I did a few small-scale graffiti pieces in my hometown. After moving here and my first visit to HOPE Outdoor Gallery during ReCreate 2014, I was chomping at the bit to try large scale murals.

The fact that folks could paint graffiti without the worry of getting a costly ticket, and in front of people who actually enjoyed watching the process, made attempting large artistic feats a huge draw. So I started small, got better at can control, and understanding the medium. Then I started tackling bigger pieces.

Austinot Why do you believe Austin is a good/supportive city for street art/murals?

Otis: Austin is pretty dang supportive of all types of arts, not just street art and murals. Austin has an independent, nonconformist attitude in general, being an oasis of free thought surrounded by the rest of Texas. The more visual representations of said "free thinking" we have in our community, the more apt we are to keep that vibe going…and I'm all for that!

Austinot: Could you describe one of your favorite experiences painting a piece?

Otis: Well, I'd like to say something about one of my own pieces, but the reality is, I've had the best time throwing up "Live A Great Story" reminders at HOPE. Folks gravitate to that message (as I do) and love to share pics of it on social media.

As the concept for the piece isn't mine, I always try and make it clear that I paint them, but owe all credit to Live A Great Story for the inspiration and design. The best experience I've had painting a reminder was when Zach, the founder, came to HOPE with his family to help paint a large-scale one, and then offered folks Sharpie markers to sign their name, write a message, and generally make their mark within the Live a Great Story circle design. In the end, it was covered in small-scale writings, only visible from up close. It was pretty special.

Live A Great Story Mural in Austin

Daddy Otis throws up another Live a Great Story piece, a message that resonates with many (Credit: @knowatx)

That and the few times I've had the opportunity to do a late night sesh with a group of folks in areas that weren't so legal… that adrenaline and camaraderie, though!

Pink Elephant Mural Austin

If you see a pink elephant with a heart-shaped nose, then you've found Daddy Otis's work at Jerry's Artarama (Credit: @artwalkaustin)

Austinot: What inspires you to paint?

Otis: For a while it was my kids, wanting them to see me as super cool dad. But as they grow older, they're starting to realize I'm just a dork who's an artist at his core.

Now I am inspired by the fact that when I paint something at HOPE, I get to be the one inspiring others. Even when I'm not painting, I'm  trying to talk folks into going and giving it a shot…"Hell! It's legal, so what's to lose!"

I feel that graffiti and street art are our way to take back some of the visual landscape normally sold to the highest bidder. We as "street artists" owe it to the future to keep the tradition and right of free speech going strong.

Austinot: What/who in Austin do you admire or gain inspiration from?

Otis: I attribute almost all my street art aspirations to the folks at SprATX. Their involvement in the ATX Free Art Friday scene here sparked a drive in me previously only stoked by game projects that I'd worked on.

Because of SprATX, I had my first chainsaw-carved pieces in a local show and realized the pleasure of showing and creating live art for an audience. The folks at HOPE Outdoor Gallery deserve some credit, as well. Without that place, I might never have tried painting large-scale pieces.


Carmen Rangel, AKA Carmen la Artista

Carmen Rangel Austin Street Artists

Carmen Rangel's art livens up this Good Pop public art piece (Credit: Carmen Rangel)

Austinot: How did you get started painting in such a large medium, and what is the advantage/reward of painting such large pieces?

Rangel: I started painting almost 10 years ago, just playing around. I slowly started painting on larger canvases, and once I started, I was hooked. There's something special about large brush strokes; they just feel so free and organic.

I would say that the most rewarding thing about painting large pieces for me would be the feeling of relief I get once it's done, as I stand back and look at it, thinking "I, a small, 5-foot-tall female, did that!" It's cool to see how art can change the environment it's in, and how it brings people together.

Austinot: Why do you believe Austin is a good/supportive city for street art/murals?

Rangel: Austin is a great city for art, especially public art, because who doesn't love a little color in their environment? Austin's as unique as the artists living and working here. Although Austin is a small city with a lot of artists, making it a challenging space, it's proven to be very supportive. I feel blessed to have so many people supporting and encouraging my art career.

Austinot: Could you describe one of your favorite experiences painting a piece?

Rangel: A few years ago, my friends decided to paint their apartment. After putting down the base coat, they chickened out and forced me to. I went over not knowing what to expect.The dining room had a fresh coat of red paint, a makeshift curtain up blocking the space from the rest of the apartment, and a record player.

I was told, "Since you're always looking for walls to paint, here you go, and you can't leave the room until you're done." I was excited, while feeling pressure. It ended up being one of the best experiences because I had a large wall to do whatever I wanted.

JuiceLand Mural by Carmen Rangel

Carmen Rangel's psychedelic smoothie brightens Juiceland's wall (Credit: Carmen Rangel)

I had absolutely no plan established throughout the entire mural; I was just painting to paint, and experimenting. It took me almost two weeks, but this experience reassured me that I was capable of tackling large spaces. I was in school, and this piece brought some happiness in life, in such a time of stress. I looked forward to stopping by there every day to paint for a few hours.

My friends loved the mural so much, they didn't even bother painting it over before moving out, which ended up costing them $100 out of the deposit. But the complex referred to it as an "art mural" and not graffiti, so yay!

Austinot: What inspires you to paint?

Rangel: The desire to create is what really motivates me to challenge myself in my painting. Most of my work is influenced by food, culture, nature, and womanhood. The beauty I find in those elements just inspires me to paint and explore their qualities, while placing an emphasis on super bright colors with a dash of Latin influences.

Carmen Rangel Painting in Austin

Mural artist Carmen Rangel is inspired by food and womanhood (Credit: Carmen Rangel)

Austinot: What/who in Austin do you admire or gain inspiration from?

Rangel: I have a crush on food and nature, so I would say those inspire me most and give me life! I admire that Austin is so supportive of anything LOCAL, from veggies to coffee to art.

Carmen will be participating in West Austin Studio Tour in May 2018 (location to be determined).


Art Lives Here

Each time I speak to one of our Austin mural artists, glimpse street art, or watch a massive event like ReCreate, I become a total fan-girl. Judging from my local Instagram feed, I'm not alone in this admiration! I'm grateful these talented artists give of themselves to brighten our city.


@theAustinot wants to know:

Which Austin mural artist would you like to see included in this series?


We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter every 2 weeks. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and where we give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

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Women-led Filigree Theatre Honors Past, Present, Future Through Productions

Delicate Ship Set by Filigree Theatre Austin

Set of "A Delicate Ship" by Anna Ziegler (Credit: Nicolette Mallow)

When Elizabeth V. Newman and Stephanie Moore met, neither one anticipated founding a theatre company together. But all the hard work paid off and Austin-based Filigree Theater came to be. With Newman as Artistic Director and Moore as Managing Director, the women-led artistic group has produced several critically-acclaimed shows. Newman and Moore have worked diligently to shine light on Austin's visual and performing arts that go beyond the music our city is known for.

Playdates Turn Into Plays

Newman had always humored the idea of opening her own theatre. But she never imagined a chance meeting with a fellow single mother, Moore, would make her vision a reality. Playdates and coffee soon evolved into a serious effort to open a theatre. Their friendship translated to an equally healthy working relationship.

Both Newman and Moore have backgrounds in theatre. Before Filigree, Newman spent time in New York, Los Angeles, and Canada, expanding her directing and producing prowess. Those experiences, she said, taught her "first-hand the ups and downs of small theatre in different locales."

Founders of Filigree Theatre Austin

Elizabeth V. Newman and Stephanie Moore
(Credit: Riley Krauss)

Meanwhile, Moore was gaining her chops in the film industry. She spent time as first assistant director and producer of several short films, music videos, and web series.

When the two met, their mutual love for the performing arts quickly formed a bond. They began writing up a business plan and settled on the name Filigree.

The name, which refers to a delicate type of jewelry metalwork made with twisted threads, resonates with both of their goals: to grow creative projects and nurture artists, as well as connect artists to larger theatre communities across the country.

Connecting Past, Present, and Future

Betrayal by Filigree Theatre in Austin

Scene from "Betrayal," the first production by Filigree Theatre in 2017 (Credit: Joshua Scott)

What's special about Filigree Theatre's programming is Newman and Moores' creative take on the plays they produce. Truly embodying the meaning of "filigree," they've chosen works that weave together the rich history of theatre, bring present-day playwrights' works to life, and plant seeds for the future of theatrical performance.

The seasons are structured to reflect this philosophy. With the theatre's opening in Fall 2017, the debut show brought Harold Pinters' "Betrayal" to life, a nod to the rich history of theatre. The following winter, the focus turned to the present, with a production from a playwright who is living and working today: Anna Ziegler's "A Delicate Ship." Spring 2018 will feature new work by Sheila Crowley, titled "Trio" (April 26-May 6, 2018).

Newman and Moore pride themselves on not being an actor-driven theatre. Instead, they believe their three-show seasons keep bringing audiences back for more. Rather than creating shows that are suitable for particular actors, they choose shows that offer opportunity for any talented actor. Because of this model, Newman and Moore are always eager to meet new talent.

Future of Filigree Theatre

Newman and Moore hold workshops and recently started an internship and volunteer program. These are both valuable opportunities for anyone who wants hands-on experience helping run a theatre company.

Filigree Theatre's debut show, "Betrayal," was received with enthusiasm and positive reviews. With this success and powerhouse leaders at the helm, Austin's local theatre company has a promising future. Less than a year old, Filigree Theatre is on its way to becoming a known name in our creative community.



@theAustinot wants to know:

What was the last theatre performance you attended?

We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

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The Austinot Weekend Concert Picks: April 6-7, 2018

Austinot Weekend Concert Picks April 6

Welcome to our weekend music preview! One of the best ways to enjoy the pleasant weather is to hit the town and check out some rad live, local music. This weekend, we recommend classic dance hall country, mid 2000s emo rock, and psychedelic rock straight from the land of The Black Angels. Listen local!

Friday, April 6

Fingerpistol Band Austin Texas

Credit: Fingerpistol


@ Oskar Blues Brewery (10420 Metric Blvd.) – 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Down home country has been a cornerstone of Austin music ever since Dale Watson grabbed a guitar and sang about Lone Star beer. The three-time Austin Music Award-winning dancehall five-some, Fingerpistols, continues the tradition in fine style. Classic tunes like "Step in It Again" and the cheeky "Hipster Girls" inspire me to run to The Spoke and take a two-step lesson. Add beautiful brews from Oskar Blues to the mix, and you have a fine evening of old school goodness.

Honey and Salt Band Austin

Honey and Salt (Credit: Kelly Ngo)

Honey and Salt

@ The Sidewinder (715 Red River St.) – 8:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. – $7

Indie rock with a pop rock sensibility, Honey and Salt embodies the sort of sound that covered mid-2000s rock. The group's latest single from its yet-to-be-released self titled EP, "A Nihilist Takes Up Knitting" slam dances from twinkling indie rock guitar to scream and squal, pulled straight from The Used. If you dug early Taken Back Sunday, Saves the Day, or Matchbook Romance,  you'll find a taste of the good old days in this three-piece.

Saturday, April 7

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Tamarron w/Paul Cherry, US Weekly, the Nymphs, Loafer

@ The Electric Church (5018 E. Cesar Chavez St.) – 9 p.m.-12 a.m. – $10

Originated by the likes of Roky Erickson and championed by bands like The Black Angels, psychedelic rock is an important tent pole of the Austin music scene. Tamarron continues this trend of excellence with a blend of spacey guitar wail and hooks so lovely that they don't just stick in your head. They take up permanent residence. Before moving to Austin, psychedelia wasn't my genre. Ever since, bands like Tammaron have made me a believer.


@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:

Where are you going for live local music this weekend in Austin?

We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

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The Complete Guide to Austin's Moonlight Towers

Guide to Austin's Moonlight TowersGuest article by Jackson Prince

In 1894, Austin bought moonlight in the form of towers. Nowadays, these monolithic lamps are super impractical, but in 1895 they were a revelation. Moonlight towers, also referred to as moon towers, liberated citizens from the constraints of nighttime and heralded Austin as "The Coming Great Manufacturer of the South."

Many speculated these lights would eliminate the need for police entirely. The carbon-arc bulbs were so bright, in fact, that locals worried about potential crop overgrowth and wore umbrellas at night to protect their skin.

The moonlight towers did not eliminate crime, nor did they cause vegetable hysteria. What they did was stir up a frothing pot of controversy. A small list of fatalities accumulated, as workers and ambitious young men climbed up and fell to the ground.

Moonlight Tower Replica Austin

Miniature replica at Moontower Saloon in south Austin

One tower in particular is said to be cursed: Guadalupe and West 9th. Several deaths occurred at this location, including one in a string of murders associated with the Servant Girl Annihilator.

The Servant Girl Annihilator was one of the earliest known serial killers in the nation. He was never found. Many believe the unidentified assassin fled to London and became Jack the Ripper. This is very likely untrue. However, the bubbling cauldron of local mythology often finds the moon towers and Servant Girl Annihilator story in close association. Some credit the erection of these 165-foot-high beacons for scaring him off.

Austin First Moonlight Tower

Austin's first moonlight tower, located at Speedway and 41st Street (Credit: The Last of the Moonlight Towers)

In truth, the moonlight towers can be chalked up to technological progress. In the late 20th century, cities all over the United States and Europe began to dabble in outdoor lighting. The hilly terrain of Austin made smaller street lamps a financial impossibility. Thus, 31 beloved moonlight towers came to be.

Austin Moonlight Tower Lights

Austin's moonlight towers used carbon-arc bulbs (Credit: The Last of the Moonlight Towers)

In 2018, there are 15 left. In the entire world. All of them here in Austin. Forty years ago, in 1976, all were inducted into the National Register of Historic Places. And in 1995, the towers were carefully restored with original components, then celebrated in a citywide festival.

Though now physically dwarfed by hotels and sky rises, the moon towers of Austin are unsurpassed in our hearts.

Here's a look into their legacy:

Alright, Alright, Alright

Wooderson Mural Eighth Street Mural Project

Dazed and Confused's Wooderson, played by Matthew McConaughey and portrayed at Eighth Street Mural Project in Austin

The excitement around the restoration of the moonlight towers was aided by Richard Linklater's 1993 cult classic "Dazed and Confused." Warning: don't try to find Linklater's moon tower. It no longer exists. The infamous "Party at the Moon tower!" happened around a fictional set piece bearing little resemblance to the real thing.

➡ Keep reading: It'd Be a Whole Lot Cooler if You Knew These 6 Dazed and Confused Spots

Zilker Park Holiday Tree

Christmas Eve in Austin

The iconic Zilker Park Holiday Tree is supported by one of Austin's remaining moonlight towers (Credit: Over Austin)

There are few annual traditions as anticipated as Trail of Lights and the Zilker Park Holiday Tree. Both have been in Austin's back pocket of sensational events since 1967. Music, food, fun, and millions of lights. Plus, the trunk of the Zilker Tree is one of Austin's remaining moonlight towers.

➡ Keep reading: Guide to Austin's Zilker Park for Every Season of the Year

Moontower Comedy Festival

Moontower Comedy Festival 2018

Credit: Moontower Comedy Festival

A far newer form of fun, Moontower Comedy Festival has been busting guts since 2012. This year's headliner comedians include Mike Birbiglia (twice), Weird Al Yankovich, and Tiffany Haddish (already sold out!). I recently read Haddish's biography, "The Last Black Unicorn," and was seen snorting in a café as a result.


Moontower Saloon

Moontower Saloon South Austin

Moontower Saloon is well worth the drive to far south Austin

Party at this moon tower! Located in Way South Awesome, Moontower Saloon is a hit in the bar and music scene. In the seven years since its inception, Moontower Saloon has grown from three acres of chill to 11 acres of party. Music – beach volleyball – fire pits – food truck – open space to dance – rolling set of great local bands. But I can't not mention my favorite element: the stage is lit through the skin of a bass drum. Two thumbs way up.

10212 Manchaca Road ­­Website

The Last of the Moonlight Towers

Last of the Moonlight Towers Austin Documentary

Credit: The Last of the Moonlight Towers

If you want to hear about the guy who "climbed every moon tower in Austin," or from a woman who was around when the lights were still carbon-arc, then check out the documentary "The Last of the Moonlight Towers." It's playing twice at AFS Cinema on May 12, 2018, and has other showings around town from time to time.

The film by locals Ray Spivey and Jeffrey Kerr is a beautiful tribute to this notable part of Austin's history, full of anecdotes and stunning visuals.


Current and Removed Moonlight Towers

If you're interested, here's the list of the remaining 15 Austin moonlight towers. Go see them while you can.

  1. Leland Street and Eastside Drive (NE corner)
  2. Monroe Street and S. 1st Street (SW corner)
  3. W. 9th and Guadalupe Street (SE corner)
  4. W. 12th Street and Blanco Street (SE corner)
  5. W. 12th Street and Rio Grande Street (NW corner)
  6. W. 15th Street and San Antonio Street (SW corner)
  7. W. 22nd Street and Nueces Street (SW corner)
  8. W. 41st Street and Speedway Street (SW corner)
  9. Zilker Park (used for Zilker Park Holiday Tree)
  10. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Chicon Street (SE corner)
  11. E. 13th Street and Coleto Street (NE corner)
  12. Pennsylvania Avenue and Leona Street (NE corner)
  13. E. 11th Street and Trinity Street (SE corner)
  14. E. 11th Street and Lydia Street (SW corner)
  15. Canterbury Street and Lynn Street (NE corner)
Existing Moonlight Tower Austin

Moonlight tower at E. 11th Street and Trinity Street

These 17 moonlight towers have been removed:

  1. E. 1st Street and Waller Street
  2. E. 6th St. and Medina Street
  3. E. 14th Street and Sabine Street
  4. E. 14th Street and Sabine Street (SW corner)
  5. Hawthorne (became either E. 20th or E. 21st) and Longfellow
  6. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (formerly called 19th Street) and Lavaca Street
  7. E. 16th Street and Brazos Street
  8. E. 2nd Street and Neches Street (Austin Convention Center)
  9. W. 6th Street and Westlynn Street
  10. Dean Keeton Street (formerly called 26th Street) and Whitis Avenue
  11. E. 5th St. and Brazos Street (moved to Leland Street and East Side Drive)
  12. 29th Street and Lamar Boulevard
  13. W. 6th Street and Lamar Boulevard
  14. City Park, renamed Emma Long Metropolitan Park (moved to Zilker Park)
  15. North end of Granite Dam (near power station and Ben Hur dock)
  16. Cesar Chavez and Trinity Street (SW corner)
  17. West 4th and Nueces (SW corner)

It's unusual for a collection of light towers to be so central to the identity of a place. Sounds like Austin.


@theAustinot wants to know:

Do you have any anecdotes or historical information to share about Austin's moonlight towers?


Jackson Prince minored in English in college and is working hard to prove its worth. When not writing, he's pouring drinks and melting hearts.


The original version of this article was published Nov. 20, 2014.
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

The post The Complete Guide to Austin's Moonlight Towers appeared first on The Austinot

Greater Goods Cafe Supports Austin Charities, Offers Coffee Education

Greater Goods Coffee East Austin

Greater Goods' east Austin location has ample parking and seating

A good cup of coffee and a quality conversation can do wonders. But Greater Goods coffee does even more. With a second coffee shop now in east Austin, Greater Goods serves "coffee with a splash of kindness"…literally.

Here's how you can make an impact for good by partnering with this local coffee purveyor. Every coffee bag sale supports one of four Austin charities, and the second location houses a public educational center accredited by the Specialty Coffee Association. Award-winning coffee that directly benefits the local community? I'll drink another cuppa that.

Start With a Great Cup at Greater Goods

Greater Goods Coffee Interior With Natural Lighting

A great cup starts here, with plenty of room to sit and enjoy the natural lighting

A visit to Greater Goods in East Austin offers an alluring start to the day. With natural light flooding the interior, it's bright without being harsh, much like the flavor of Good Vibes–one of Greater Goods' popular roasts.

I like my coffee black and appreciate a balanced flavor that doesn't require any sweeteners. Good Vibes is a full-bodied Brazilian coffee that doesn't disappoint. There are a variety of roasts to choose from. You really can't go wrong with any of them, due to the quality of the beans and roasting process.

Co-founders Khanh Trang and Trey Cobb began their careers outside of the coffee community. Luckily for us, Trang's interest in coffee piqued when she attended a public coffee expo, while her husband (Cobb) was traveling for work.

Coffee Education Programs in Austin, TX

Greater Goods serves up yummy lattes, as well as coffee education programs

Trang's interest in coffee became a full-time passion, as she sought how to make a "great cup." After apprenticing in Los Angeles, she came back to Austin to start a roasting facility with Cobb in Dripping Springs. Trang is certified by the Coffee Quality Institute as a licensed Q Grader, and uses her knowledge to carefully curate Greater Goods' coffees and teas.

The result: a roasting company focused on quality sourcing, and a staff that shares a passion for great coffee. Sarah Oermann, Greater Goods' education and event coordinator, is a licensed Q Grader, as well. While I usually drink plain coffee every day, the available house specialties have prompted me to order more coffee and tea lattes (current favorites: bourbon latte and turmeric chai latte).

Splash of Overflowing Kindness

Coffee Supports Austin Charities

A wide variety of roasts served up one way: with a splash of kindness

From roasting, to packaging, to selling, Greater Goods is intentional about its impact. The roasting process is more environmentally-friendly than the standard, while all of the packing materials are recycled.

Greater Goods partners with four local organizations: Austin Pets Alive!, Autism Society of Central Texas, Boys & Girls Club of the Austin Area, and Central Texas Food Bank. Each bag of coffee purchased supports one of these organizations in a specific way, so consumers can clearly understand the impact of their purchases.

Ranging from one day of support for the rehabilitation and education of a pet in need, to three meals provided to local families in need, the Austin community benefits from Greater Goods sales. Feeling a desire to be caffeinated and charitable? Look no further than this local coffee roaster.

Creating Community

Greater Goods Training Center in East Austin

The east Austin location of Greater Goods also serves as a training center

The first Greater Goods cafe opened in Bee Cave last year, and the newer flagship cafe just opened on the east side. Both locations focus on the consumer experience, and baristas are chosen and trained accordingly.

With modern interiors and sleek lines, the east Austin cafe is more than a coffee shop. Yes, the cafe's airy, bright interior with ample indoor seating is great for working, studying, or socializing. However, it also serves as a second roasting facility and training center.

Through the center, Greater Goods seeks to further support the coffee community through education and certification. Interested in learning more about coffee, or completing a Roasters or Barista Pathway? Greater Goods offers certified programs open to anyone interested. You can also keep up on Facebook, to see other events and educational programs.

Comfortable Coffee Shop Seating at Greater Goods

Cozy up with coffee and a good book at Greater Goods in east Austin

Whether you're in the mood for a great cup of coffee or tea, solo or with a group, Greater Goods in east Austin is a modern cafe offering all of that, plus a positive impact.

2501 E. 5th St. – Website


@theAustinot wants to know:

Have you tried a Greater Goods roast yet?

We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

The post Greater Goods Cafe Supports Austin Charities, Offers Coffee Education appeared first on The Austinot

Mia Italian Tapas & Bar Fuses Italian and Spanish Cuisine in North Austin

Mia Italian Tapas & Bar outdoor patio

Mia Italian's outdoor patio is perfect for enjoying summer nights with a cocktail and tapas
(Credit: Mia Italian Tapas & Bar)

Every day is a good day to be a foodie in Austin. People from all over the world bring flair to the food they serve. Dee Dee brings Thai street food straight from Thailand. Kemuri Tatsu-ya and Chi'Lantro blend Asian roots with Texas barbecue to yield mind-blowing dishes.

And hidden in Rock Rose at Domain Northside, Mia Italian Tapas & Bar brings its own little twist to the Austin food scene: a marriage of Italian and Spanish cuisine.

Thank you to Mia Italian Tapas & Bar for hosting me for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

The People of Mia

Italian-Spanish fusion was a first for me, so I was curious about the origins of the food. Turns out, Mia's unique menu was crafted by two people with diverse backgrounds: James Sun and Chef Alonzo Lopez. They met at an Italian restaurant in Boston. From there, they went on to form a partnership that landed them in Austin, bringing us Mia Italian Tapas & Bar.

Sun and Lopez have created an exciting menu with a range of flavors and dishes to keep you coming back for days. They've also compiled a talented team. The back of the house is complemented by an equally good front of house. Nicole (general manager) and Benito (assistant manager) work hard to make their crew of 12 feel like part of a family. This warmth is apparent and trickles down, creating a great experience for diners. Don't be shy to ask for help if you're having a hard time deciding what to eat.

Delicious Food Made From Scratch

Fig and bacon pizza at Mia Italian Tapas and Bar

Fig and bacon pizza at Mia Italian Tapas & Bar

Everything on the menu is prepared from scratch: pasta, sauce, bread–you name it! Chef Lopez swears by his from-scratch philosophy. The food is also consistent. For instance, Chef Lopez' family recipe for bolognese is one he grew up with, and has remained unchanged for 15 years. The ingredients are sourced from local farms and vendors. The bar sports a good selection of local alcohol, as well.

Crispy Fried Manchego at Mia Italian Rock Rose

For the love of cheese, try the crispy fried manchego

While dining at Mia, my strategy was to order five to six tapas, along with an entrée to share. It turned out to be a great way to sample a large portion of the menu. I ordered the bacon-wrapped dates first. The dates were piping hot (be careful!) wrapped in some seriously crispy bacon. The crispy manchego with pomegranate sauce followed. If you're at the dinner service, be sure to try the ahi tuna crudo-it's so punchy and spicy! The calamari and shishito peppers were also a great addition to my tapas order.

As far as the bigger plates, I fell in love with the fig and bacon pizza. Interesting fact: most pizzas on the menu do not have a base sauce. Why? It's to let the topping flavors stand out.

Aside from the pizza, I have consistently enjoyed the spaghetti carbonara and bolognese mafaldine. The hearty pastas are filling and delicious. And just like the pizzas, Mia lets the ingredients do all the talking.

Feel-good Tapas in a Feel-good Restaurant

Mia Italian Interior at Rock Rock Domain Northside

Mia's clean, industrial interior is the perfect backdrop for vibrant food (Credit: Mia Italian Tapas & Bar)

Mia is full of food that makes you feel good. A lot of love and care goes into it. The rustic-industrial interior adds to the feel-good factor. Beyond going to enjoy a fantastic meal, you can sit and people-watch, or enjoy a book and coffee.

My visits to Mia Italian Tapas & Bar have always ended in happy taste buds and a full belly. For the love of bacon wrapped dates, add Mia to the top of your list of Austin restaurants to visit.

11420 Rock Rose Ave. #120 – Website


@theAustinot wants to know:

What's your favorite menu item at Mia Italian Tapas & Bar?

We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

The post Mia Italian Tapas & Bar Fuses Italian and Spanish Cuisine in North Austin appeared first on The Austinot

15 Must-see Austin Artists at SXSW Music 2018

Austin Bands at SXSW Music 2018

Clockwise: Austin bands Charlie Faye & the Fayettes, Los Coast, The Lagoons

It's a week before SXSW Music 2018 and I'm already exhausted. I also couldn't be more stoked. In a few days, I get the opportunity to cannonball into a maelstrom of sights and sounds, showcases and songs. For seven days, Austin literally becomes the "Live Music Capital of the World."

Over 2,000 bands will play official SXSW showcases this year. Among them are over 260 locals, ready to rep ATX and highlight what's amazing about the greatest music city ever.

To help you prepare to listen local, I've listened to every Austin band playing official SXSW shows and hand-picked 15 must-see artists. Done right, SX is an incredible experience, and these musicians will help you celebrate what's good and beautiful about Austin music.

As always, a few notes:

  1. Every year, I make a point of picking a new crop of artists I've never featured in a previous SXSW list or full article (à la Mobley, CAPYAC). Many of my previous picks are playing official and unofficial showcases this year. Check out my 2016 and 2017 lists to see previous recommendations.
  2. Concerned about that 1 a.m. start time? Many of the bands on this list are playing multiple shows. Check out their social media accounts and websites for more information.
  3. This list is in alphabetical order, not best to worst.
  4. We've created a Spotify playlist of our picks for your listening/watching enjoyment.

1/ Alesia Lani

Alesia Lani SXSW 2018

Alesia Lani (Credit: Spanish Oak Photography)

With a sultry groove, lush vocals, and the maturity to explore deeper themes than, "Hey, let's get it on," Alesia Lani is pure neo-soul gold. On "Along the Way," Lani plays point/counterpoint with a new lover and explores the tangled emotions of young love, while the sparse percussion and keys of "For You" creates a sensual sense of intimacy. Full of nuance and meaning, Lani stays true to the genre's burning heart.

Recommended tracks: "Along the Way," "For You"

Official SXSW Showcase: March 16 at 11:55 p.m., Karma Lounge

2/ Charlie Faye & the Fayettes

Charlie Faye & the Fayettes SXSW 2018

Charlie Faye & the Fayettes (Credit: Eryn Brooke)

Bubblegum soul in the style of '60s girl groups like The Ronettes and The Chantels, Charlie Faye & the Fayettes plows through the term "retro-act" through sheer force of musicality and charm. Songs like "Green Light" and "Sweet Little Messages" shimmer with sweetness and groove, while "Eastside" pops and struts with Motown funk. A charming and timeless love letter to classic soul.

Recommended tracks: "Sweet Little Messages," "Eastside"

Official SXSW Showcases: March 16 at 11 p.m., Saxon Pub; March 17 at 12 a.m., Continental Club

3/ Dawn and Hawkes

Dawn and Hawkes SXSW 2018

Dawn and Hawkes (Credit: Jackie Lovato)

For some reason, it seems like a former "The Voice" contestant makes my Top 15 every year. But the minute I heard the haunting, sincere, and touching "Yours and Mine," I knew Dawn and Hawkes was in. One of the best musical depictions of marital devotion since Iron and Wine's "Naked As We Came," the perfect harmony and delicate folk guitar cut me to the core. Maybe it was partly the imperial stout I was sipping whilst combing the SXSW artist list, but thank you, Dawn and Hawkes. You truly made me feel.

Recommended tracks: "Yours and Mine," "I've Just Seen a Face"

Official SXSW Showcase: March 16 at 7:30 p.m., Native Hostel

4/ Dr. Joe

Dr. Joe SXSW 2018

Dr. Joe (Credit: Kate Blaising)

Watching Dr. Joe thump out shouty, brash rock-a-soul on ancient keyboard equipment is an intoxicating experience. In the vein of Ben Folds, the man doesn't just play the keys. He brutalizes them through sheer force of musical will, supported by insane chops. His use of vintage gear gives songs like "Believer" and "Tell Your Mama" an air of timelessness. If you're anywhere near Maggie Mae's on the 14th and have 20 minutes to be blown away, then spend it watching Dr. Joe work his magic.

Recommended tracks: "Tell Your Mama," "Believer"

Official SXSW Showcases: March 14 at 8:35 p.m., Maggie Mae's

5/ Fragile Rock

When I first saw a stage full of instrument brandishing puppets miming along to emo rock in the style of Broadway's "Avenue Q," the thought "novelty act" crossed my mind. Luckily, this cloth and bone crew has the chops, songs, and humor to squash my first impressions. With purposely cheeky songs like "Socks are Murder" and the rollicking CBGB snarl of "Wake Up to the Breakup," Fragile Rock's music works just as well on Spotify as it does on YouTube.

Recommended tracks: "Socks Are Murder," "Wake Up To The Breakup"

Official SXSW Showcase: March 14 at 8 p.m., Maggie Mae's 

6/ Ghostland Observatory

One of Austin's original electro-funk bands, Ghostland Observatory, has been pumping beats through Central Texas and beyond since the mid-2000s. Lead vocalist Aaron Behrens' powerful tenor soars over Knight Rider synth lines, while 808 beats create an atmosphere that's lively and jamming one moment, brooding and dangerous the next. Evidently, being on extended hiatus didn't prevent the group from making this SXSW stop, so be sure to check them out while you still can.

Recommended tracks: "Sad, Sad City," "Give Me the Beat"

Official SXSW Showcase: March 15 at 11 p.m., Lustre Pearl

7/ Hovvdy

Hovvdy SXSW 2018

Hovvdy (Credit: Bronwyn Walls)

With simple songs of love, loss, and tiny moments, Hovvdy has turned my winter blues into an internal reflection. Part Bon Iver, part early Death Cab, this tender twosome conjures up complex emotions through sincerity, sparse instrumentation, and two-part harmonies dripping with introspection. If listening to the title track of the latest record, "Cranberry," doesn't illicit some sort of memory, pleasant or otherwise, then lean in a bit more closely.

Recommended tracks: "Petal," "Cranberry," "Pretend"

Official SXSW Showcase: March 15 at 9:10 a.m., Cheer Up Charlies

8/ Kalu & The Electric Joint

Kalu & the Electric Joint SXSW 2018

Kalu & the Electric Joint (Credit: Koffler Pictures)

A mad stew of styles, influences, and genres, Kalu & The Electric Joint is one of the most interesting bands I've come across during this SXSW journey. Rooted in the bedrock of '60s-era head music, Kalu's sound explodes ever outward into the realms of funk, blues, and the occasional African groove. The concoction works in wondrous, soul-expanding ways and guarantees to be an uplifting, mind-expanding SXSW performance.

Recommended tracks: "Too Low to Get High," "Testify"

Official SXSW Showcase: March 15 at 12 a.m., The Parish

9/ Los Coast

Los Coast SXSW 2018

Los Coast (Credit: Alysse Gafkjen)

One of the most scintillating new voices in Austin music, Trey Pivott of soul/funk act Los Coast fires musical magic. His gravelly, shotgun vocals project pure emotion in every line. Like Wilson Pickett and other stalwarts of the genre, he could sing his grocery list and it would incite a civil rights march. The rest of his band is equally adept, providing soaring horns, layered backup vocals, and driving rhythm to his socially-conscious message. He's got 50 minutes during his SX set to make you a believer. Come early to savor each and every one.

Recommended tracks: "Monsters," "Simplify"

Official SXSW Showcases: March 14 at 11:30 p.m., Lamberts; March 15 at 1 a.m., The Parish

10/ Magna Carda

A post shared by The Magna Carda (@magnacarda) on

Fresh off of winning "Best Hip Hop Artist" at this year's Austin Music Awards, Magna Carda is continuing its rise to Riders Against the Storm levels of critical and audience acclaim. MC Megz Kelli's tap-dancing, bob-and-weave flow mesmerizes like a snake charmer's whistle above jazzy, yet laser-guided production. Black Thought and company would be proud to call this newly crowned ATX hip hop legend a kindred spirit. Make sure your SXSW schedule has Magna Carda written down in indelible ink.

Recommended tracks: "The Root," "Back Then," "Angela Bassett"

Official SXSW Showcase: March 16 at 1:25 a.m., Karma Lounge

11/ She Sir

She Sir SXSW 2018

She Sir (Credit: Jordan Cole)

Sweeping and sublime, She Sir's brand of indie-emo plucks heartstrings, through layer upon layer of dreamy melodies and shimmering ear candy. Tunes like "I Love You, Blowtorch Eyes" lean heavily on late '90s slacker rock, while "Private Party" adds a touch of The Cure's shoegaze sensibility, creating an exotic and enveloping soundscape that's impossible to ignore.

Recommended tracks: "Private Party," "I Love You, Blowtorch Eyes," "Kissing Can Wait"

Official SXSW Showcase: March 16 at 11 p.m., The Iron Bear

12/ Swimming With Bears

Swimming With Bears SXSW 2018

Swimming With Bears (Credit: Swimming With Bears)

Two years ago at a Black Fret SXSW showcase at Tellers, co-founder Colin Kendrick introduced me to Swimming With Bears. Since then, I've watched the Austin band grow into a powerhouse. Blending soul, funk, and souring, sing-along hooks à la The Rocketboys, the foursome has carved out a unique place in the Austin music scene. Don't wait as long as I did to check them out.

Recommended tracks: "Do As You're Told," "Shiver and Crawl"

Official SXSW Showcase: March 17 at 12 a.m., Barracuda

13/ Tank Washington

Tank Washington SXSW 2018

Tank Washington (Credit: Sampson aka @ill_law on Instagram)

As a young lad raised on a steady diet of Gang Starr, Big Pun, and Talib Kweli, Texas hip hop took some getting used to. Thanks to ATX MC's like Tank Washington, I'm finally coming around. From lyrics to flow, Washington feels genuine, like every positive and negative thing he rhymes about was lived and earned. "MT4Ts" speaks to the hesitant joys and lingering failures of substance abuse, while "Work," with the help of fellow Austinite Kydd Jones, cruises along like a low-rider crawl down South Congress. Count me hungry for more.

Recommended tracks: "M4T4s," "Work"

Official SXSW Showcase: March 16 at 12:15 a.m., Karma Lounge

14/ The Lagoons

The Lagoons SXSW 2018

The Lagoons (Credit: Sean Diagle)

It was love at first listen. From the moment I heard "California" from these laid-back, smooth '80s-style chillers, I knew they were destined for this list. With over 19 million listens on Spotify, the song has become the soundtrack for anybody cruising down Route 1 in a drop top on a lazy summer afternoon. With heavenly synth, ice-cream cool harmonies, and the occasional sexy sax to sweeten the mix, every song shimmers with Miami Vice vibes. Just keep the car rolling 10 miles per hour under the speed limit. Anything faster and you'll be missing the point.

Recommended tracks: "California," "Obsessed," "Close My Eyes (And I Wonder)"

Official SXSW Showcase: March 14 at 10 p.m., Javelina

15/ Whiskey Shivers

Whiskey Shivers SXSW 2018

Whiskey Shivers (Credit: Whiskey Shivers)

Punk and bluegrass sounds like an odd combination, but it really isn't. Add some extra aggro to a down-home barn dance, and you have a mosh pit. Whiskey Shivers embodies this energy with the most electric, finger-bleeding pickin' and playin' since Trampled By Turtles picked up a banjo. While the blazing, hyper-tempo-hootenanny tunes may be the most memorable, songs like "Graves" pull the vibe downward to the realm of chain gang chants and gospel-worthy growl. Splendid, extraordinary music.

Recommended tracks: "Graves," "Reckless," "Free"

Official SXSW Showcase: March 17 at 1 a.m., Lucille


@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:

Which local band do you most want to see during SXSW 2018?

We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It's where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

The post 15 Must-see Austin Artists at SXSW Music 2018 appeared first on The Austinot