Gina Chavez is November’s KUTX Artist of the Month. Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUTX.
Gina Chavez is both a hometown hero and international ambassador. Born and raised in Austin, Chavez has wowed crowds here and abroad, recorded a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR, and just received a Latin Grammy nomination for this year’s La Que Manda, her first album sung entirely in Spanish. Her electro-tinged anthems are built on a foundation of folkloric sounds, and this week on My KUTX, Chavez explores electronic and folk traditions from Mexico, Colombia, Austin, and more. Hear Gina Chavez’s My KUTX on Saturday, November 21 at 6 p.m., or listen anytime at the top of the page.
–Art Levy // producer, My KUTX
[intro music: Gina Chavez – “Ella”]
1. Natalia Lafourcade – “Hasta La Raíz”
2. Leslie Odom, Jr. & Cast of ‘Hamilton’ – “Wait For It”
3. iLe & Natalia Lafourcade – “En Cantos”
4. Victoria Canal – “Drama”
5. Lido Pimienta – “Nada” (feat. Li Saumet)
6. Lila Downs – “Son de Difuntos”
7. Ley Line – “Respiração”
8. Ximena Sariñana – “Cobarde”
9. Leon Bridges – “Smooth Sailin'”
10. Tinariwen – “Imidiwan Ahi Sigdim”
11. Abhi The Nomad – “Me No Evil”
12. Oumou Sangaré – “Mogoya”
Photo by Ismael Quintanilla/courtesy of the artist
NPR LIVE SESSIONS/KUTX – Musicians: Gina Chavez, vocals, guitar; Lilli Hickman; vocals; cameras and edit: Michael Minasi; audio mix: Jake Perlman; producer: Deidre Gott
Queer, Catholic and unapologetically herself, Gina Chavez possesses a warm, alluring voice that compels you to sit up straight and listen. The multi-ethnic Austin native has come a long way from when she picked up a guitar for the first time during college. She’s racked up 12 Austin Music Awards, recorded a well-received NPR Tiny Desk and embarked on multiple international tours, including performances as a U.S. State Department cultural ambassador. Her bilingual Latin pop spans past genre boundaries, covering everything from acoustic folk-pop in 2007 debut Hanging Spoons to simmering R&B-soul in 2018’s Lightbeam, which soundtracks her love story with her wife.
Chavez sharpens her first all-Spanish language album La Que Manda, or The Woman in Charge, with a new defiant edge and sonic exploration. Inspired in part by her observations on the road, it is a starkly feminist work detailing a woman’s journey to empowerment — both a healing catharsis and a rallying cry. Produced by a team of award-winning artists (Thom Russo, Fernando Lodeiro, Adrian Quesada, Linda Briceno), the album has since earned a Latin GRAMMY nomination for Best Pop/Rock Album. Standout track “Ella” seeks to highlight survivors of domestic violence. Filmed during the pandemic, the accompanying music video shows dancers reclaiming spaces in tandem with their bodies as Chavez sings: “Toda la historia callando una verdad / Hemos tenido el poder” (“All of history has been quieting a truth / We’ve had the power”). — Annie Lyons
Jackie Venson is KUTX’s October Artist of the Month. Photo by Michael Minasi/KUTX.
Austin’s Jackie Venson trained at Berklee College of Music on piano, but an entire world of sound and possibility opened up for her after graduation. Venson picked up the guitar in 2011, turning herself into an in-demand blues shredder. Over time, she’s added new elements, culminating in three very different releases this year that showcase her electronic side and her command of a stage. Her fourth album of 2020, Vintage Machine, drops on October 30, and on November 20, she’ll celebrate with a socially-distanced show at ACL Live that also doubles as a fundraiser for Black Fret.
This week on My KUTX, Venson debuts as our guest DJ, offering up a mix of songs that highlight her own musical journey, her influences, and her desert island favorites. Hear Jackie Venson’s My KUTX on Saturday, October 24 at 6 p.m. or anytime at the top of the page.
–Art Levy // My KUTX
[intro music: Jackie Venson – “Make Me Feel”]
1. Girling – “The Blood Mothers”
2. Sweet Spirit – “The Power”
3. Citizen Cope – “Let The Drummer Kick”
4. Full Service – “Lately”
5. Lauryn Hill – “Every Ghetto, Every City”
6. Santigold – “Disparate Youth”
7. Massive Attack – “Teardrop”
8. Sade – “Cherish The Day”
9. Gorillaz – “November Has Come”
10. Steely Dan – “FM”
photos by Ismael Quintanilla/Design by Christina Venson
by Jeff McCord
As a pianist finishing her final year at Boston’s Berklee School of Music, native Austinite Jackie Venson made a life-changing observation: guitar players were having a lot more fun. So in 2011, the twenty-one year old decided to learn a new instrument. To call her a quick study is an understatement. Today, widely acknowledged as one of the city’s best guitarists, with a handful of albums under her belt, she just taped her debut on the Austin City Limits television series (airing November 14 paired with an archival Bonnie Raitt performance). She has kept herself busy during the live music shutdown (which she will be discussing on an upcoming episode of our new Pause/Play podcast), writing, recording, playing virtual shows and making herself a passionate spokesperson against the music scene’s systemic racism.
And she has released no fewer than four (!) albums this year; the two-volume remix series Jackie the Robot – a deeper dive into the electronic side of her music, a live album recorded in 2018 at Greune Hall, Live in Texas. And coming out October 30th, her newest studio album, Vintage Machine. Machine’s single, “Make Me Feel”, originally slated to be released during a SXSW that never was, is vintage Venson. Taut, layered synth-pop frames her voice and vulnerable lyrics, sharpened by her smoldering, subtle guitar work.
Why Bonnie is September’s KUTX Artist of the Month. Photo by Andrea Garcia/KUTX.
Why Bonnie’s lush and intimate sound hits a high point on the Austin band’s EP, Voice Box. Their songs bob and weave, toggling between dreamy hooks and crunchy, guitar-driven fireworks. This week on My KUTX, singer and guitarist Blair Howerton takes the controls for a guest DJ set that digs into the band’s wide-ranging tastes. She focuses on new classics by Fiona Apple and Austin’s Jay Wile as well as enduring influences like the Magnetic Fields and Yo La Tengo. Hear Why Bonnie’s My KUTX on Saturday, September 19 at 6 p.m. or listen anytime in the player at the top of the page.
–Art Levy // producer, My KUTX
[intro music: Why Bonnie – “Bury Me”]
1. Fiona Apple – “Shameika”
2. The Breeders – “No Aloha”
3. The Magnetic Fields – “Papa Was A Rodeo”
4. Jay Wile – “Real Bad”
5. Chris Cohen – “Monad”
6. D’Angelo & The Vanguard – “Till It’s Done (Tutu)”
7. Mount Kimbie – “Marilyn” (feat. Micachu)
8. SZA – “Anything”
9. The dB’s – “Judy”
10. Yo La Tengo – “Little Eyes”
11. Frank Ocean – “Self Control”
12. New Order – “Age Of Consent”