Austin’s Moontower Comedy Festival – Five Picks for 2014

MariaBamford_300x225Hannibal Buress, Aziz Ansari, Dennis Miller, Colin Quinn and 100-plus additional acts head to Austin, Texas this week for the third annual Moontower Comedy Festival, held next Wednesday through Saturday at venues including The Paramount Theatre, Cap City Comedy Club, The Parish, The Speakeasy, The Hideout and New Movement Theater.

Last year’s festival offered an inclusive, community spirit, not to mention great stand-up courtesy of Amy Schumer, Reggie Watts, Pete Holmes, Dana Carvey and more. In addition to a newly-added cookout and ping pong tournament, here are five of the most exciting events to catch at Moontower 2014.

4Eyes

7:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 23

Moontower certainly comes up with some unique groupings to differentiate its showcase offerings (She-Bang=female comics, Switch=LGBT comics, Unhinged=the more out-there comics), and 4Eyes is no exception. Not only do Andy Kindler, Mike Lawrence, Sara Schaefer, James Adomian, Ari Shaffir and Rory Scovel each sport corrective lenses, all are solid headliners in their own right. Badgeholders would have to be, er…blind to skip a lineup this sharp.

Maria Bamford

7 p.m. Thursday, April 24

Bamford is one of the most original, unique and unpredictable comics working today, and the Comedians of Comedy vet’s never better than when winning over new crowds. From the darkness of mental illness to the lighthearted absurdity of pterodactyl calls, fumbling family members to crushing societal expectations, she runs the full stand-up spectrum.
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Top 5 SXSW Survival Tips

SXSW2014-BillI’m heading to Austin, TX for a week plus of music, film, crowds, Tex-Mex cuisine and very little sleep. Want to get the most out of your SXSW experience? Here are a few tips.

1. Pace Yourself to Avoid Burn-Out
I first witnessed SXSW in 2002 as an Austin resident. Since then it has evolved and expanded greatly. With the addition of the interactive part of the festival, and the potential growth from the eco and fashion areas, there is no sign of slowing down. Smiling yet? Or does this raise anxiety or depression? Regardless, if you are going to SXSW for the first time, you are in for a hell of an experience. Pace yourself. Sleep when you return home. Or build in down time if you know you need it.

2. Don’t Plan Your Experience
There are thousands of bands playing all over the Austin, day and night, at parties and showcases hosted by record labels, tech companies and anyone else you can imagine. The best experiences I have had at SXSW were completely by chance. Whether it was discovering the Catalan punk band Unfinished Symphony, bumping into Gwar in the convention center, mistakenly walking into Stubbs right at the beginning of The Specials’ set or seeing Talib Kweli and Jimmy Cliff across the street from Whole Foods. All of these things were random happenings. Don’t get me wrong, there are always a few events that I set out to see. Schedule only a few things every day. But realize that if you know about the greatest show of the day, so does everyone else. How long of a line you are willing to stand in for any given show? Consider that. Go with the flow and don’t be surprised if the best thing you see happens in front of 20 people in a place you’ve never heard of.

sxsw-bill3. Prepare for Transportation
Logistics. Don’t let them ruin your SXSW experience. Getting around Austin during SXSW can be frustrating. Cabs are usually a bad idea. Good luck hailing or calling one—only to have someone else steal it a half a block away. If you take a taxi from the airport, or at any other time, I recommend you get a card with the driver’s cell phone, tip big and ask him if you can call him and during what hours. It might take him (or someone else he calls for you) a half hour to get you, but at least someone will come and you do have a number handy. The later it gets in the evening and the festival—the bigger a problem this becomes. I have spent an hour outside a hotel trying to hail a cab at 1:30AM with 2 of the doormen out on the street trying to hail cabs. Car2Go is very active in Austin, but it may be too late to register as a new member in time for SXSW. Pedicabs can be a great option for getting from East 6th Street over to West 6th Street in a hurry. Or try local drivers when possible. They know the area and you could be supporting the local independent economy. Walking is healthy, free and allows you to see a lot more. Downtown Austin has a feet-friendly Walk Score of 86.

Leave your car parked. The combination of traffic, scarce parking, over-priced parking and alcohol makes getting around SXSW by car a really bad idea.

4. Eat and Drink Like a Local
This is Austin. There is scrumptious food everywhere. Whether you dig Mexican food, barbeque, street food or even vegetarian—there are plenty of good places to find good eats. There are a lot of day parties that feature free food and even free beer (mostly light beer, not that there’s anything wrong with that, especially if you are pacing yourself).

Food and drink recommendations:

The Texas Cuban: South Lamar (Cuban sandwiches, fried plantains, Ting, free Lonestar tall boys on Saturday mornings)

Mother’s: Hyde Park (vegan and vegetarian cuisine)

Curra’s Grill: South Austin on Oltorf (great Mexican food, incredible avocado margarita)

Casino El Camino: 6th Street (best burgers and Bloody Mary’s in town)

Ruby’s BBQ: University area (lessor known piece of Austin music history, good BBQ too)

5. Go Off the Beaten Path at SXSW

There are special parties and happenings all over Austin—both official and unofficial SXSW events. If you get tired of 6th Street, there are plenty of alternatives to explore. The newly redeveloped east side is a short walk from 6th Street, and so is the fairly new Rainey Street District. Both areas are packed with bars, restaurants and food trucks, with music showcases all day and night. West 6th Street (@ Lamar Blvd.) is another hot spot. There is usually a bigger showcase (that’s where I saw Talib Kweli and Jimmy Cliff) there at Waterloo Records and many smaller showcases at the clubs and a couple small stages at Whole Foods. Austin is riddled with a slew of SXSW events. Venture out. Have a plan to get back safely.

Music recommendations:

Chicago Made Showcase (official): Tues. March 11, 8pm @ Red 7

Bipolar Sunshine @ SXSW (official): Tues. March 11 @ Latitude 30

SXSW Reggae Showcase (official): Wed. March 13, 8pm @ Flamingo Cantina

DigSin Dig Party (unofficial): Thurs. March 13, 1pm @ Majestic Austin

SXKeyBar (unofficial): Fri. & Sat. March 14/15 @ KeyBar

SXSW Outdoor Stage at Butler Park (open to the public w/ pass): Thurs. Fri. Sat., March 13/14/15

Enjoy yourself. Soak it all in. Be open to new experiences. Feel free to holler at me on Twitter and let me know of any cool events.

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Tuesday Tease: Hollywood Burlesque Festival

Hollywood_Burlesque_Fest_banner2_9701This Friday, the inaugural Hollywood Burlesque Festival kicks off in Los Angeles and we are especially excited for this one as it’s produced by longtime Brown Paper Tickets supporter and producer/hostess of Monday Night Tease, LA’s longest running weekly burlesque show, Lili VonSchtupp. Lili is the perfect example of what is possible if you are passionate and devoted to your art form. To host a weekly show that packs ’em in week in and week out is no small feat and burlesque producers could learn a lot from Lili. She’s definitely got the skills to pay the bills!

Lili’s taking her incredible production skills to the next level this weekend as she hosts the first ever burlesque festival in Los Angeles. She’s got four days of shows, classes, tours, movies and parties planned and I’m especially excited because I get to go down there and be a part of all the fun. If you’ve ever wanted to meet me or know more about Brown Paper Tickets, you can look for us in vending where we’ll have a table set up all weekend or come to the Three Clubs on Sunday, December 8 from 6:30pm to 8pm, where we’ll be hosting a meet and greet with anyone that’s curious about us, what we do and how we can help you out with your burlesque show, festival or classes. If you’re going to be in LA this weekend, please find me and say hi.

I got a chance to catch up with Lili and pick her brain about the LA burlesque scene, her personal burlesque history and the festival. She even offers some valuable advice to producers out there that are thinking of starting up their own festival.

So, without further ado, I give you, the one and only Lili VonSchtupp!
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Tuesday Tease: Coco Lectric and The Jigglewatts

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This week on the Tuesday Tease we feature Austin, Texas’ premier burlesque troupe The Jigglewatts Burlesque Revue.

Since 2006, the Jigglewatts have kept things hot and steamy in Texas and beyond. Members have headlined shows in New Orleans, Las Vegas, New York, Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Founder Coco Lectric also founded the Austin Academy of Burlesque, is a board member of Burlycon and started the Austin Burlesque Alliance, which gives Austin burlesque performers a forum in which to share ideas and collaborate.

I find producers like Coco so inspiring. Her lack of ego and undying support for her community and art form ensures the survival of burlesque as an art form for years to come. It’s producers like her that help burlesque continue to evolve and flourish.

I see this a lot in the burlesque world: performers attending fellow performers shows and cheering them on, producers staggering their shows so that they’re not competing for audiences and performers sharing their techniques with each other. It’s inspiring and I think other artistic communties should take note. Contrary to the notion that competition encourages quality, I’ve found that, in burlesque’s case anyway, collaboration has been the key to its survival, especially in close-knit communities like Austin, New Orleans or Seattle.

Coco’s been busy preparing for the Jigglewatts first full-troupe tour but she was kind enough to take time out to answer some of my questions and to offer her valuable advice to all you burlesque newbies out there.

Oh, and if you want to help the girls’ fund this tour, of course attend one of their shows but also visit their Kickstarter page. The campaign ends on Saturday, August 17 so you still got time to throw a little cash their way and get some great perks in return.

So, enough from me. Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Coco Lectric!
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Austin’s Wildfire Festival and 3 Months of Reggae

185037-250Music festival season is fast approaching and our site is already starting to fill up with tickets to festivals all around the country.

One of the first big events of the season is, of course, SXSW in Austin, Texas. Originally started in 1987 as a way to showcase independent music, SXSW has turned into one of the biggest interactive media events in the country, complete with corporate-sponsored showcases featuring big name acts, high-tech trade shows and media startup conferences. Attendance has sky-rocketed from 700 attendees in its first year, to over 40,000 attendees today. As a result, being able to see bands has become a bit of a challenge for the average music fan.

That’s why we’re excited to be ticketing a real “independent” festival in Austin that’s focused on a genre of music that we deeply love here at Brown Paper Tickets: reggae! Our music doer Billy Geoghegan has been playing in reggae and ska bands for years and you’ll often hear a reggae beat coming out of the computer speakers of many of our employees’ desks.

So, when we see that we’re ticketing a festival like the 4th Annual Wildfire Reggae and Arts Festival, we naturally want to spread the word and support it in any way we can. It’s going on during SXSW, so if you’re in town for “South By” and want to experience some high quality grooves in a beautiful setting, then Wildfire is for you!

Now in its fourth year, the Wildfire Reggae and Arts Festival will take place at The Music Ranch from Thursday, March 7 to Saturday, March 9 and will spotlight more than 30 bands offering a cross-section of the reggae genre, from ska to rocksteady to roots, dub and beyond. Past headliners have included Collie Buddz, Lynval Golding (of The Specials), HR (of Bad Brains), Common Kings, Contra Coup and Josh Heinrichs. This year offers another stellar lineup: Don Carlos (of Black Uhuru fame), Gyptian, Marlon Asher and the Farmers, The Expanders, Mike Love, Alex Marley, a large selection of DJ’s and more. They expect over 4,000 attendees this year and there will also be camping in a beautiful 80-acre oak tree forest. You can pick up daily passes, three-day passes or the coveted VIP passes right over here.


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BPT at SXSW: Fair Trade Comedy at Esther’s Follies

Get ready Austin, Brown Paper Tickets is coming to SXSW 2012 and we got some great events planned.

One that we’re especially excited about is a comedy showcase organized by our very own Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh. Julie has long been active in the stand-up comedy scene, first as a journalist and then working in PR, booking and production, and in February she launched The Spit Take, a comedy review site that hopes to serve as an honest, unbiased, taste-making entity that helps comedy criticism be taken seriously. 

The “Fair Trade Comedy” showcase will take place this Wednesday, March 14, at Esther’s Follies. Officially presented by Brown Paper Tickets and the Spit Take, the showcase will feature stand-up from headliners Todd Barry and Brendon Walsh, two comedians that have been taking the comedy scene by storm. You may know Todd Barry from his appearances on Bored To Death, Flight of the Conchords, Lucky Louie and Chapelle’s Show. Brendon Walsh calls Austin his hometown and was the winner of the “Funniest Person in Austin” award in 2004. He’s appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live as well as Comedy Central’s Premium Blend. He’ll also be featured in his own half hour comedy special on Comedy Central this spring. The show will also feature Nick Flanagan, Kristine Levine, DC Pierson and will be hosted by Nick Turner.

Here’s a little preview of what you can expect:

Be sure to stop by our table in the foyer of Esther’s Follies and say hi. This is going to be THE comedy event of SXSW, so don’t miss it. We’ll see you there.

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Fair Trade Music Bash in Austin this Wednesday

This Wednesday, March 14 in Austin, Texas six great acts are coming together to christen a brand new venue. Once called The Empanada Parlor, the venue at 709 E. 6th St. has been though some changes in the past few years. It’s newest incarnation is definitely the nicest one yet. Now called the Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden, the place is looking nicer than ever, turning out great food, serving great craft beers and, once again, adding live music to the menu. This will be the first show at this familiar place with a new face and it will be followed by four days of two-showcases-a-day fun.

The first soulful showcase is being thrown by none other than Brown Paper Ticket! It seems a given that the fair trade ticketing company would throw a fair trade music bash. Right?

The show is free, but if you register online and get a ticket, you will receive a cool free gift at the show.

The line up is truly awesome with national and international acts and even two well known comedians!

Here it is….

12:00-1:00 LZ Love Band
1:30-2:30 Graham Wilkinson
2:45-2:55 Mike Lawrence
3:00-4:00 Bruce James Soultet
4:30-4:40 Kristine Levine
4:45-5:30 Chic Gamine

Chic Gamine “Closer”

Graham Wilkinson “Focus”

LZ Love “Been Lonely”

Come and out and say hello, raise a pint and show some soul!

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Featured Non-Profit: Lights, Camera, Help

Here at Brown Paper Tickets, we are always looking for ways to make the world a better place. From our charity donation program, to giving each employee 40 hours a year of time-on to go help others outside of the office, we are delighted when we see an organization within our ticketing community working on bettering the world.

Meet: Lights. Camera. Help., a nonprofit organization and producers of the world’s first film festival dedicated entirely to nonprofit and cause-driven films. LCH’s goal is to help other nonprofit and cause-driven organizations use film to tell their stories. LCH says, “We do this through our education and volunteer match programs, screenings and an annual film festival.”
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Bill’s First Night in Austin

Music Doer Bill was recently down in Austin for SXSW and sent us this report from his first night at the festival. Enjoy!

SXSW 2011 was all it was cracked up to be: music, beer, food, beer, Pee Wee Herman and a gazillion others coming to get a taste of the “Live Music Capitol Of The World.” I arrived early to be a part of the interactive and film portion of the festival, but on my first night there, I could not resist an invitation to go see some real “local” music in a not-so-well-known spot.

I followed the directions: “…when you’re standing in front of The Continental Club, walk North to the end of the building. Go in the unmarked glass door and walk upstairs.” When I got upstairs I found a small room (maybe 40 capacity), with a very small bar and a few couches. On one side of the room was a Hammond B-3 organ and a small P.A. system. It was 8:25pm and I was the only person there besides the bartender and a couple musician types. I took one of the few bar stools and settled in next to the bay window that gave a great view of the newly reshaped Austin skyline and overlooked the ever-trendy South Congress Blvd.
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SxSeattle Kickoff Party!!

We love to support the music community, and have some awesome plans for SXSW this year. I’m particularly excited about our involvement with the SxSeattle group, which helps Seattle artists get an audience down in Austin.

Playing at SXSW can be instrumental in an artists’ career – being in front of the right audience can lead to record deals, agent relationships, and perhaps the best part, new fans! It’s great exposure.

Each year, SxSeattle throws a party in Austin to showcase some of the best bands from our hometown. Before the conference, there’s also a local event to kick-off the fun and help raise funds for the trip to Austin. Brown Paper Tickets is proud to be a co-sponsor of all the fun down in Texas, and I’m a member of the planning committee for SxSeattle. Here’s more about what we have planned:
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