Rock the Park

KUTX Shows

Rock the Park

Posted by on Sep 16, 2019

Mueller and KUTX are excited to rock the amphitheater at Mueller Lake Park again this year with another round of free, family-friendly concerts curated by KUTX and our Sunday-evening kids’ show Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child.

Come a little early to grab your spot on the lawn (blankets are cool, but chairs aren’t) and grab your dinner from a food truck. We’ll have rock-and-roll face-painting for the kids by Faces By Juliet (no charge, but tips for the painters are welcomed.) We’ll also have coloring for the kids at the Mueller tent (where you can enter our #colorKUTX Instagram giveaway), additional activities from our sponsors, and cold beverages for the grown-ups.

We hope to see you at Rock the Park this fall!*

*Until then, check out our photo gallery from our Spring 2019 series, below.

Rock the Park: Fall 2019 


Sept 20 (rain date Sept 27)

5:45 P.M. – Face painting opens
6:15 P.M. – Crockett High School Mariachi Band
7:00 P.M. – Bidi Bidi Banda

Oct 25 (rain date Nov 8)

5:45 P.M. – Face painting opens
6:15 P.M. – Saul Paul
7:00 P.M. – Zettajoule

Nov 15 (rain date Nov 22)

5:45 P.M. – Face painting opens
6:15 P.M. – Adam & the Bull Shark
7:00 P.M. – headliner TBA Oct 16


ADMISSION: Free! (We welcome tips for the face painters)

PARKING: Parking is $1/hour in the McBee Garage across from the Thinkery. Metered spaces are also available around the park.

RECOMMENDED: We try to keep the volume at a reasonable level, but we still recommend hearing protection for younger children.

OK TO BRING: Coolers, picnic blankets, and stadium cushions  (a.k.a., what we called “sit upons” at camp.)

NOT OK: Chairs, glass containers or alcohol are not permitted.


Rock the Park is brought to you by Texas Mutual Insurance Companywhich now calls the Mueller Neighborhood home, with over 600 employees at its new headquarters in the heart of Mueller.

… and by locally-owned and operated Magic Pest & Lawn

… with production support from provided by Rock N Roll Rentals


Save the dates for Rock the Park Spring 2020!

Spring event time is 6:30-8:30 P.M.

March 6 (rain date March 13)

April 3 (rain date April 24)

May 15 (May 22)



Spring '19 Rock the Park at Mueller Lake




Best Songs Ever…9.13.19


Best Songs Ever…9.13.19

Posted by on Sep 13, 2019

Photos from left to right – (Lillie Mae; Shannon Lay; SOAK)

KUTX Host Laurie Gallardo spills the beans on the BEST SONGS EVER! At least for this week.

Lillie Mae – “Crisp and Cold”

My first selection comes from an artist I’ve been hooked on for awhile now, since her 2017 debut album Forever and Then Some, on Jack White’s Third Man Records. Lillie Mae has played fiddle since she was three. She’s also an accomplished vocalist and songwriter coming into her own now with an awesome, searing new album, Other Girls. This one is darker and more intense. And her voice has a unique power to it; she can sound vulnerable, then unabashedly damning, all at once. And that’s why I love it so much. From this new album, I’ve got this track for you, “Crisp and Cold.”

Shannon Lay – “August”

Next up is the title track to Shannon Lay’s official debut on the Sub Pop label, “August.” This is also Lay’s first solo album that she recorded with Ty Segall. Lay is awesome on multiple levels; not only does she own this gorgeous folk aesthetic, but she also makes music with punk quartet Feels, and she performs in Segall’s Freedom Band. “August” is in reference to the time in 2017 when she quit her day job and committed herself entirely to music.

SOAK – “Knock Me Off My Feet”

And my third pick is by Northern-Irish songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson, better known as SOAK. You may have seen SOAK a few years back doing a Tiny Desk Concert on NPR Music. The track I have for you today is “Knock Me Off My Feet,” from her latest album Grim Town. It’s been described as a kind of love letter to small-town culture, and that often, we can be our own best friends and our worst enemies. This is SOAK, with “Knock Me Off My Feet.”

Living Life: Celebrating Daniel Johnston

Music Matters

Living Life: Celebrating Daniel Johnston

Posted by on Sep 12, 2019

By Jeff McCord

He seemed to show up at exactly the right time. Born in Sacramento, Daniel Johnston, who died on September 10th at age 58, grew up in the coal country of West Virginia. He attended Kent State, even worked in a traveling carnival before making his way to Austin in 1984. The posturing of the city’s punk and new wave scene was waning, and in its place was a new breed of guitar bands – young, earnest, coed and bristling with pop instincts.

Cassette tape Daniel Johnston gave to KUTX host Jay Trachtenberg

Johnston walked into this sea change impossibly skinny, ambitious, awkward, his arms clutching loads of his homemade cassettes, featuring his crude illustrations and amateurish recordings. He’d walk right up to you. “Hi, I’m Daniel. Would you like to hear my music?”

Everyone said yes, and soon his tapes were everywhere. It was, of course, his fellow musicians who were the first to listen beyond his tinny home recordings to hear the sweetness and frailty of his songs. They were bare, guileless in their joy and hurt, sometimes wrenchingly sad. (The first tape he made was titled “Songs of Pain”) The cool veneer that so many artists worked so hard to maintain was stripped away.

photo courtesy Todd V. Wolfson

Virtually every Austin band of the period would work up a Johnston cover, and immersion in his work began to influence their own writing. He seemed to be always around, opening shows. Or at times still in his McDonald’s uniform from his job at Dobie Mall, telling his engaging, hard to follow stories from the outside tables at The Beach Cabaret, one of the scene’s epicenters. His childlike artwork began turning up everywhere. His famed mural of Jeremiah the Bullfrog, which he painted on the side of the Drag’s Sound Exchange in 1993, has long outlasted the record store.

Daniel’s love of Captain America, Batman, Casper the Friendly Ghost, religion and the Beatles all found its way in his music. His songs brimmed with hope and empathy – “Hey Joe”, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Grievance”. “Running Water”, “True Love Will Find You In The End”. Yet others, like “Sorry Entertainer” and “Monkey in a Zoo”,  chronicled what a tough sled it could be for him. His shaky voice and lack of professional accompaniment made it impossible for others to hear Daniel’s music the way it sounded to him. His eccentricities were inseparable from who he was.

Yet Johnston was convinced he was going to be famous. He seemed to be on his way. He talked his way on to MTV when they visited Austin. And word of Daniel’s work had begun to spread throughout the country. Early adapters included Yo La Tengo, Jad Fair, Sonic Youth. Kurt Cobain turned up on MTV’s 1992 Video Awards wearing a Johnston ‘Hi, How Are You’ t-shirt. Eventually, the major labels came knocking. Johnston signed with Atlantic and released Fun in 1994.


Austin musican and producer Brian Beattie, who worked with Daniel on many of his recordings, including most recently Beattie’s Ivy And The Wicker Suitcase project (Johnston played Satan) and a yet to be released Johnston album of new material, remembers him this way. “Daniel had such a strong imagination, it was like a rocket ship, you could ride it to a new destination. He loved Austin and he remembered his time here with wonder. Years later, he would bore me by reeling off band and club names, and endlessly repeating “Those were the days, huh?” But, in fact, his time here in the mid to late 80’s was a time of wonder, and seeing his self made myth and vision slowly manifest itself into the mind of America has been a wondrous thing to witness.”

Aiding in that manifestation was an extraordinary tribute album produced by Beattie, released in 1994, his former band mate Kathy McCarty’s Dead Dog’s Eyeball. McCarty and Beattie’s band Glass Eye had a national cult following, and their reimagining’s of Johnston’s best songs caught hold, bringing him even more admirers. Director Rick Linklater would feature McCarty’s version of “Living Life” in the closing credits of his film “Before Sunrise”.

Daniel Johnston with Kathy McCarty
(photo courtesy of Todd V. Wolfson)

McCarty, a longtime friend and fan, reminisces. “Daniel’s songs spoke so directly and honestly about the experience of being human. There are literally millions of people who have been helped through difficult times in their lives by listening to his songs about depression, unrequited love, and faith in God and the future.”

By time of the album’s release, though, Daniel had left Austin to live with his parents. Johnston suffered from manic depression and schizophrenia, and had a nervous breakdown before even reaching Austin. The city’s party atmosphere and Johnston’s newfound notoriety proved a bad combination. After trying LSD, his erratic behavior  landed him in trouble and led to a stay in a mental institution. Eventually his family came to get him. Returning to Austin to play the 1990 Austin Music Awards, his dad was flying him back to West Virigina on a private plane when Daniel suddenly grabbed the keys from the ignition and threw them out the window, causing the plane to crash. Somehow they both survived. Other violent episodes, including a break-in, and an assault of Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley would follow.

As Beck, Tom Waits, Wilco and the Flaming Lips were recording his songs, as his artwork was on exhibit in NYC’s Whitney and other European galleries, and as a documentary based on his life was showing around the country, Daniel was at home with his parents, now living in Waller Texas. On antidepressants, his weight had ballooned. Michael Hall, who profiled Johnston for Texas Monthly remembers his 2005 visit. “He was very calm, seemed to be in good mental shape, physically, he was big and fat and ate a bunch of crappy food and drank a bunch of sodas.”

photo courtesy of Todd V. Wolfson

This would be Daniel’s existence, more or less, for the rest of his life, occasionally emerging in public but mostly holed up smoking cigarettes and gulping orange drinks, while the world outside clamored for any sign of him. Balancing the constant demands of fans, management, his own ambitions and his deeply religious and protective parents, his appearances grew more and more infrequent.

One of the last times he was onstage in Austin was his 57th birthday, when his manager Tom Gimbel arranged for the city to celebrate “Hi How Are You Day”. The holiday continues in Austin, celebrating the kid who arrived with his tapes in hand so long ago (this year’s show featured the Flaming Lips). But they’ll be without Daniel.

“Listen up and I’ll tell a story,” he sang in his song “Story of an Artist”. “About an artist growing old / some would try for fame and glory / others aren’t so bold”

Johnston was bold, persevering in his goal against all odds. This nervous, odd kid did capture the world’s attention. One of Johnston’s early and loyal champions, former manger Jeff Tartakov says, “ He touched people in a way that will never be forgotten.”

Comments are now pouring in on social media from both friends and encounters,  famous and not. All seem compelled to say how Daniel and the music he made affected them, and how his honesty cut through this noisy world like a beacon.

Hi, How Are You – Remembering Daniel Johnston


Hi, How Are You – Remembering Daniel Johnston

Posted by on Sep 11, 2019

photo by Todd V. Wolfson

An Austin musician known for his intimate, homemade recordings died this morning at his home outside Houston, according to a statement from his family. Daniel Johnston was 58.

“He was always, everywhere, warmly received and he at least knew he was well loved,” his older brother Dick Johnston said. “Health issues have plagued us for years, but I’m glad for the time we had.”

The city of Austin recognizes January 22, Johnston’s birthday, as “Hi, How Are You Day” to encourage discussion around mental health issues. The name comes from the famous mural by Johnston on Guadalupe Street titled “Jeremiah the Innocent,” which has been vandalized and restored a number of times.

“He showed up here in Austin in the mid-80’s handing out his homemade cassettes, at a time when nobody was doing anything like that,” KUTX Music Editor Jeff McCord said.

“They were very much homegrown projects and very awkward singing and playing, but beneath them were these amazing songs,” he said.

Johnston gained a measure of fame thanks to other local bands covering his songs, and his national profile was raised when Nirvana lead signer Kurt Cobain wore a “Hi, How Are You?” t-shirt at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.

[republished courtesy of KUT]

In this clip from 2005, M.Ward talks to KUTX  about how he discovered Daniel Johnston’s music while in high school and the immediate connection he felt with the Austinite’s outsider perspective.

Mates of State cover one of Daniel Johnston’s most loved songs, “Portrait of An Artist,” during a taping for Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child.

Chris Catalena – “Little Thread”

Music Video Premiere

Chris Catalena – “Little Thread”

Posted by on Sep 11, 2019
Photo by James Oswald

The combination of cowboy boots, country music, and LSD is a time-honored tradition here in Austin and singer/songwriter Chris Catalena is doing his damndest to keep it going. Born and raised in Central Texas, Catalena found himself on the wrong side of the law as a teenager which earned him a lengthy stay at one of our state’s beautiful penitentiaries. To make up for the lost time, Chris jumped headfirst into the heady psych-rock scene of the early 2000s. First crashing with The Black Angels and eventually Brian Jonestown Massacre where he found the support he needed to record his first album. Since then, it’s been one big road trip with occasional stops at the family ranch to help his grandmother. It was these visits that helped Chris slow down and gather material for his upcoming self titled album out this November via Spaceflight Records. We’re excited to share the first song from the new album and the wonderfully wacky illustrated video that goes along with it.

“Little Thread” is a song inspired by notion of building something beautiful,  and how that can start with the littlest of somethings. The motivation of the fool never giving up the hope of love, reminded me of my little grandma stiching her elaborate quilts, starting with the littlest stitch of the littlest thread…Was really hoping to record a song my grandma could slap her knee to.”

– Chris Catalena

Inspired by John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, and Grandma Frances, “Little Thread” explores traditional country music themes with just enough weird detours to hint at his psych-rock roots. Chris Catalena is currently holed up in L.A. after wrapping up the recording process but you can catch him at a special release show September 13th at the Cactus Cafe. Until then peep the video for his new song, “Little Thread.”


The video was generously hand-drawn by Mr. Myles Crosby and animated by Casey Byars in Austin, TX.