Prevention Magazine will host its 3rd annual award-winning R3 Summit in Austin

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R3 Summit event logo by Prevention Magazine.

R3 Summit is an award winning one-and-a-half daylong experiential event hosted by Prevention Magazine that provides women with the tools to take action when it comes to their health and happiness. Taking place at ACL Live at The Moody Theater on January 15-16, 2016; the term ‘R3’ represents the three focuses and the overall mission of this extraordinary event: Revive, Refresh, and Reinvent. Only two blocks away from the trails, bridges and waterfront of Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake), the venue is adjacent to the W Hotel within the heart of downtown in the 2nd Street District. Austin is a befitting city to host a sponsored event like this due to the locals and their love for fitness, wellness and beauty. The water also possesses a sense of tranquility, utopia and peacefulness.

Presently, tickets for Prevention’s R3 Summit are available for purchase online. Guests have the option of selecting a one-day or two-day pass and prices do vary. Limited VIP Tickets are also available and a gift bag valued at over $300 is included with a VIP purchase, as well as priority seating. Students can also find tickets on sale at a discount to accommodate the college budget.

The Celebratory Reception on the night of Friday, January 15th will feature live music and tapas from an inventive, multi-course dinner menu curated by Top Chef Masters alum, Chef Monica Pope. Bob Roth will also be speaking about how to harness your inner power to reach your full potential. “Bob Roth is one of the most experienced and sought-after meditation teachers in America. Over the past 40 years, Bob has taught Transcendental Meditation to many thousands of people and authored an authoritative book on the subject, fittingly entitled, Transcendental Meditation, which has been translated into 20 languages. Bob currently serves as the Executive Director of the David Lynch Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity which has brought meditation to over 500,000 inner-city youth in underserved schools in 35 countries, to veterans and their families who suffer from post-traumatic stress, and women and children who are survivors of domestic violence.”

The program of events hosted by R3 will also entail fitness and body sculpting classes, tastings and cooking demonstrations by top chefs, one-on-one beauty consultations, and wellness workshops. Additionally, all guests will be served a delicious breakfast, lunch and other tasty snacks on Saturday, January 16th. Attendees can also participate in free yoga all day. And all attendees will receive a custom-designed Prevention R3 reusable gift bag. Furthermore, main stage panel discussions will last from 9:30 A.M. to 4:45 P.M. on Saturday, January 16th.

There are numerous speakers included on the program and the full list can be found online. Doctors, physiologists, nutritionists, chefs, motivational speakers and artists of various sorts will be present at the event. A few of the confirmed speakers for the third annual R3 Summit include the following:

  • Joan Lunden – Keynote Speaker, award-winning journalist, bestselling author, health and wellness advocate, motivational speaker, successful entrepreneur, and a mom of seven children.
  • Dr. Travis Stork – Emmy®‐nominated host of the award-winning talk show, The Doctors, and a board-certified emergency medicine physician.
  • Lizzie Velasquez – motivational speaker, author and activist, A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story.
  • Chad Sarno – VP of Plant-Based Wellness for Rouxbe Online Culinary School.
  • Monica Pope – James Beard nominated Houston Chef and Restauranteur, Top Chef Masters.
  • Mary Joan Cunningham – health and wellness activist, creator of #ThrivewithMS and motivational speaker on ‘How to Rise Above Any Diagnosis’.

To purchase tickets online or obtain additional information pertaining to the schedule, speakers, sponsors and event times: please visit the official website at http://www.preventionr3summit.com.

“Prevention is the nation’s leading healthy lifestyle brand, with a U.S. magazine audience of 7.5 million readers, 34 million readers outside the U.S. and a top digital destination that has 6.5 million unique visitors each month, 15 million page views per month, and 4.3 million newsletter subscribers.”

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in October 2015. 

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Elvis Costello’s memoir: Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

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Autograph by Elvis Costello.

Elvis Costello was the featured guest for an interview with Evan Smith at Book People in Austin, Texas on October 20, 2015. Recently, Costello wrote a memoir titled Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. This exclusive interview was part of his book tour. Entering the room with a light-colored hat, dark suit and vest, black-framed glasses, one gold ring on each hand and slick, black leather shoes: Elvis Costello descended the stairwell from the third floor to discuss the book and his life lived in music thus far. The entire second floor of Book People was filled with attendees and so many people were present that quite a few were listening in the back without a view of Elvis Costello; only able to hear voices echoing over the microphones. Fortunately I was able to grab a front row seat and sit on the floor.

Music is clearly the anthem of his life and the focus of his career. He’s been part of the industry over 40 years. The book is a collection of memoirs entailing his entire life, with a emphasis on his career. During the interview Elvis Costello answered numerous questions and mentioned various musical stories regarding Paul McCartney, The Beatles, T Bone Burnett, Tony Byrne, Jimmie Vaughan, and Jimi Hendrix. Reluctantly, he even rehashed the old SNL incident back in December 1977 that got him banned from the show for nearly 12 years. Additionally, he spoke of his favorite gigs played in Austin and the time they performed at the Armadillo Festival in 1978.

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To much delight, Costello was also very open and willing to share the more personal stories of his past about family, his love and lust for women, or the curse of memory. Costello mentioned that memory, and the fear of losing memory, were two strong factors that compelled him to write the book. He discussed the long process of writing his autobiography and how the process was simplified with the patient support of his wife through her assistance to help organize old memories. Many of his relatives, he said, suffered dementia and Costello didn’t want any memories stolen away in the event that time or health altered his mind. Unafraid to go behind-the-scenes and express life offstage, it was interesting to listen to him speak about how he’s changed over several decades from when he began his musical career as a young man in his 20’s until now in his 60’s. I wanted my stories to be told by me, in accuracy. I didn’t want them retold in a way that didn’t hold true to my life,” he stated to Evan Smith.

In regards to Elvis Costello’s past, the topic of family and his memories of childhood were predominant, reoccurring themes throughout the interview. Many old photographs of times past were presented on a large screen, even a heartfelt video of his father performing live on television and dancing on stage whilst singing “If I Had A Hammer”. Elvis Costellospoke fondly about both his parents and there was great love and adoration in his voice when he shared old memories and his love for family. Nonetheless, there was a huge emphasis on his father, Ross McManus, a well-known musician and trumpet player. In fact, Costello made a point to inform the audience that October 20th, that very day, was indeed his father’s birthday. A particularly poignant memory of childhood included Costello telling the audience how he peeked around the back of the TV as a small boy to see if he might find his father behind the machine, only to realize that his dad was on stage in a studio. I found those sorts of memories to be the most endearing because only a child could think someone or something could transform into a miniature size and fit inside a TV. Costello’s honesty and his ability to tell old memories as if he were reliving it that very moment humanized his life story and made the interview all the more refreshing to hear.

Growing up in a house of music, all my life I’d heard the name ‘Elvis Costello’ and I knew he was a musician, singer-songwriter and record producer from England. I knew he’d been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and I knew he’d been to Austin many times to perform. The city of Austin has always loved hosting Elvis Costello shows and over the past 20 years: I’d seen his name printed all over line-ups in the press. But to be quite frank, I really had no idea how in-depth his career was or how influential he was until this interview and until I began reading his memoir. Not only did I walk away that night learning and absorbing new insights about a famous musician born in Europe. That evening I became an Elvis Costello enthusiast. Just listening to the stories during the interview had me intrigued, eager to finish the rest of his book I’d only obtained one day prior to the event. However, the moment when he surprised us with live music and began to play “Everyday I Write the Book” and I heard those lyrics for the first time only a few feet away from Elvis Costello in the flesh and blood: I felt a strong connection to the music. I wanted to hear more. My heart was so deeply moved by the words in his lyrics that it almost made me want to cry, in a good way. Since then I’ve started to read many of his lyrics and it’s clear to me now why he’s become a global success for 40 years. Elvis Costello is an artist whom posses a distinct voice and an edge. An artist that followed his heart and writes from the heart. A one-of-a-kind artist with innate gifts of articulation, imagination and passion. Gifts that cannot be taught nor bought.

Furthermore, Costello read a few chapters from his newly released memoir, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. Ending the evening on a high note, that’s when he played a bit of live music for the audience. We even got a little history lesson about his guitar in-between songs. A short video of his performance that I recorded from my seat can be found here on YouTube: Elvis Costello playing music at Book People.

Elvis Costello’s memoir was released in October 2015. The nearly 700 page story hasn’t been on the bookshelves that long but it’s already receiving quite a bit of positive feedback and attention from the media. Posted verbatim on his official website, “Born Declan Patrick MacManus, Elvis Costello was raised in London and Liverpool, grandson of a trumpet player on the White Star Line and son of a jazz musician who became a successful radio dance-band vocalist. Costello went into the family business and before he was twenty-four took the popular music world by storm. Costello continues to add to one of the most intriguing and extensive songbooks of our day. His performances have taken him from strumming a cardboard guitar in his parents’ front room to fronting a rock and roll band on our television screens and performing in the world’s greatest concert halls in a wild variety of company. Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink describes how Costello’s career has endured for almost four decades through a combination of dumb luck and animal cunning, even managing the occasional absurd episode of pop stardom. This memoir, written entirely by Costello, offers his unique view of his unlikely and sometimes comical rise to international success, with diversions through the previously undocumented emotional foundations of some of his best-known songs and the hits of tomorrow. It features many stories and observations about his renowned cowriters and co-conspirators, though Costello also pauses along the way for considerations of the less appealing side of fame.”

Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink can be purchased online or at your local bookstore. For more information regarding Elvis Costello, his book tour, list of albums or other miscellany: please visit the website at www.elviscostello.com.

“Don’t tell me you don’t know what love is. When you’re old enough to know better. When you find strange hands in your sweater. When your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote. I’m a man with a mission in two or three editions. And I’m giving you a longing look. Everyday, everyday, everyday I write the book. Chapter One we didn’t really get along. Chapter Two I think I fell in love with you. You said you’d stand by me in the middle of Chapter Three. But you were up to your old tricks in Chapters Four, Five and Six. The way you walk. The way you talk, and try to kiss me, and laugh. In four or five paragraphs. All your compliments and your cutting remarks. Are captured here in my quotation marks. Don’t tell me you don’t know the difference. Between a lover and a fighter. With my pen and my electric typewriter. Even in a perfect world where everyone was equal. I’d still own the film rights and be working on the sequel… Everyday I write the book.” – Elvis Costello

Note: This story is originally published on Rank & Revue in July 2015.

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Tears of Diamonds & A Heart of Silver: The Legendary Bill Carter and The Blame

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Bill Carter. Photography by Pat Kondelis.

Walking into The High Road to see Bill Carter play music, I knew I would recognize him on stage but I was ambivalent whether or not he would recognize me in return. For six years at a distance, periodically on Wednesday nights I’ve seen and heard Bill Carter perform with other artists in the annex at Z Tejas on West 6th street in Austin, Texas. Everyone always loves the nights they perform at the Z, even the staff. Sometimes you cannot even get a seat because it’s so full. From a distance I noticed Mr. Carter always wore glasses, a hat of some sort, and I detected that he possessed a lot of tattoos on his hands and forearms with heavy-looking, silver and metallic jewelry adorning his wrists, fingers and neck. He looked like a rock star, and I always thought he must’ve been a cool cat to talk to. Come to think on it, I never actually had a direct conversation with Mr. Carter, or the band, even if polite hellos and friendly smiles were exchanged. Until today.

Stepping back in time a moment, there was one particular night at the Z when I was sitting at the edge of the bar, people watching. Musicians were on stage, silently setting up shop with their guitars, amps and other miscellany. Pretending to listen to my headphones and iPod so no one would bother me, when in actuality no music was playing at all. I heard a group of older men complimenting the musicians. Pointing out who Bill Carter was amongst the group, I also heard the men say that Johnny Depp once joined Carter on stage to play music at The Continental Club, which I found most interesting and exciting.

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 Finally, after six years of watching from the crowd, I set forth to interview Mr. Carter, and he was kind enough to oblige after the show at The High Road on March 14, 2015. Walking into the room for an early daytime show, behind the stage were giant glass windows that opened up to a swimming pool and a lovely view of downtown Austin. The sky was so blue and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. Palm trees blowing in the wind. I was sitting and listening to Bill Carter’s first song – “Richest Man” – which almost made me cry, in a good way, and I had to fight the urge to show intense emotions of sadness and bittersweet nostalgia at the table before it’s even dusk. Something about the lyrics and the mood of this track reminded me of my favorite song by Bob Dylan titled “Boots of Spanish Leather”.

“If teardrops were diamonds from the African mines. If heartaches were silver.

My whole life would shine. And I’d be the richest man.

I’d be the richest man. In the world.” – Bill Carter

Right at that moment, I looked up the lyrics of Bill Carter’s song. I was reading the words as he was singing them at The High Road, something I had never done before at the Z. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had yet to do my research on his background – or even read his website – which I had intended to do later on in the day. Regardless, as I was reading his website off my iPhone and other various articles about him on the web while he music echoed in my heart and ears. Suddenly I realized just how gifted and innovative Bill Carter is within the world of songwriting and music. Suddenly I felt stupid for never having personally introduced myself to him before to show respect, artist to artist. Until then, I was unaware that I was in the presence of a legend, a keystone to the songwriting and music industry the past few decades. Even if I had known I was in the present of a talented musician.

According to his website, Bill Carter and The Blame has been a pillar of the Austin music scene for nearly three decades, helping shape the city’s rich musical history along with songwriting partner Ruth Ellsworth. Over 200 artists have found gold in the songwriting genius of this Texas Troubadour, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Robert Palmer,The Counting Crows, Storyville, Omar and The Howlers, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Ruth Brown, John Anderson, and Waylon Jennings. Bill Carter and The Blame’s evolving lineup has hosted some of the world’s greatest musicians, including guitarists Charlie Sexton and Denny Freeman (Bob Dylan Band), Chris Layton (SRV Double Trouble), Dony Wynn (Robert Palmer), Mike Thompson (The Eagles), Johnny Depp, Billy Gibbons, Brian Setzer and many others. Carter is also a founding member of the famed Hollywood band “P” with Gibby Haynes of The Butthole Surfers, Johnny Depp, and Sal Jenco. They released the eponymous album ‘P’ in 1995 on Capitol Records, featuring Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols, Flea, and Ruth Ellsworth.”

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Bill Carter and Johnny Depp on The Late Show with David Letterman.

As the show at The High Road came to an end, I was almost too timid to walk up to the stage to introduce myself and kindly ask for an interview once he broke down his equipment on stage. Though I am glad I mustered up the courage to make a proper introduction and ultimately write a story about this great artist. Secretly I was also relieved that he recognized me from Z Tejas, which made the introduction less intimidating.

Nicolette Mallow: From the perspective of a songwriter and musician performing in the official SXSW showcase, do you enjoy the festival and how have you seen it change over time?

Bill Carter: Yes. I think it’s great and I think it’s come full circle from how it all began. SXSW has evolved so much over the years. I’ve been in Austin since 1976 and when the first festival took place in 1987: it was predominantly local musicians and it was very small in comparison to what it’s become today, a million times bigger than the start. As time went by, more and more big names came into town, which was nice because it built the festival into something much more powerful. As time went by, however, it seemed to become more about mainstreams artists and less about the local music scene. Now it seems to be an infusion of both, and I am certainly happy to see more local artists performing this year. My wife (and songwriting partner, Ruth Ellsworth) and I first got involved with SXSW through our mutual love for songwriting. She and I have written hundreds of songs together. Honestly I identify most with being a songwriter and I prefer to be recognized as a songwriter more so than I like to be described as a musician or performer.

NM: Regarding the upcoming SXSW show at The Continental Club, which other musicians will be performing with you?

BC: Accompanying me that night will include artists like Will Sexton, Dony Wynn and Charlie Sexton.

NM: Is the Continental Club your favorite venue in Austin to perform at?

BC: (He smiles.) Yes. It is my favorite venue. Many of the venues I grew to love are now long gone. The original Antone’s on West 5th was another place I loved to play music but then it was relocated and it wasn’t the same. They are going to reopen a new Antone’s downtown and I am anxious to see what it is like and if it will have the same vibes as the original location.

My next question was more a question of curiosity. Even though I worried it might seem counterproductive to ask Carter about another artist in the few minutes I had to interview him. I couldn’t help but wonder about the Johnny Depp rumor. I formed a silly, girlish crush on Johnny Depp decades ago after the film “Cry Baby” came out in the 90’s when I was a kid and was saddened when suddenly every girl in the world had a crush on him, too.

NM: I remember hearing at Z Tejas that Johnny Depp once accompanied you on stage at The Continental Club for a musical performance. Is this true?

BC: Yes. I’ve been playing music with Johnny for decades. I’m the godfather of his children and he’s a great friend of mine. We once formed a band in the spur of the moment in the 1990’s called “P”. We were the headlining band for the Austin Music Awards for SXSW. Johnny was in Texas, nearby Austin, filming “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and he came into town for the gig. The band included Gibby Haynes of The Butthole Surfers, Johnny Depp, Sal Jenco and I.

NM: You’ve won many awards and have obtained many prestigious recognitions, your career is remarkably full. I’m very impressed by all I’ve read and heard. Therefore I am curious, what aspect of your artistry and your career are the most rewarding and fulfilling?

There was a brief pause before he answered.

BC: Well, my wife and I have written so many songs together. Many of those songs we wrote have later on been covered by artists I respect and admire. Stevie Ray Vaughan covered our song “Crossfire” and Robert Palmer covered “Why Get Up”. To be acknowledged, appreciated and respected by great artists like these whom I esteem, value and respect has been the most rewarding and fulfilling aspect of my career. There was also one night on David Letterman I particularly enjoyed. Johnny Depp and I played “Anything Made Of Paper” together, which is a song my wife and I wrote. It’s about the West Memphis Three case. A case that involved three teenage boys who were accused of murder and placed in jail for life before they even hit adulthood. It’s a powerful story, check it out.

NM: Austin has changed so much in the 20 years I’ve lived here, off and on. Since you’ve been here so much longer than I, and have seen a lot more growth. Do you think you and your wife will stay in Austin with all the vast changes in the city?

BC: That’s a good question. The growth in Austin has been difficult for me over the decades. The venues changed. The music scene changed. The people changed. It used to be a funky, intermingled town that was quiet and serene with a booming music scene. It was cheap and easy to get around. It was so beautiful then. Around the late 80’s, maybe 1988 or 1989, that city died out and something else began to evolve. I’m sure you’ve seen the changes since the 1990’s. Even people who’ve only been here five years can see changes. Now there are 30 story buildings and it’s crowded, expensive and it’s just not the city that I came to know decades ago. I don’t know…I only come in town for shows. I am from Seattle and sometimes I think I would like to keep a place here, and have one there. But I really don’t know.

NM: My last question is a bit random, but is there a reason you’re only wearing two rings on the same fingers of each hand?

BC: (He laughed) Only because I didn’t feel like wearing the others. I own a lot of rings, cuffs and metalwork that I like to wear. It depends on the day or the mood I am in what I will wear. But there is one ring that I almost always wear, aside from my wedding ring. (He says as he extends his right hand). Johnny Depp gave me this ring when the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” was being filmed. It was the first ring made for the movie, and he told me that he wanted a new one made for him with a gold bandana and a pair of eyes made of rubies. So I got this one and I wear it everyday.

Be sure to catch Bill Carter at his upcoming SXSW performance at The Continental Club on South Congress from 11:00 PM to 11:40 PM on March 21, 2015. The official SXSW artist statement for Bill Carter entails the following: Legendary songwriter and Austin Music Hall of Fame inductee Bill Carter has been a pillar of the Austin music community for over three decades. His songs have been covered by over 200 artists from Waylon Jennings to Robert Palmer. Winner of an Austin Music Award for “Best Song of the Decade” and BMI’s Million-airs Award for Stevie Ray Vaughan’s only #1 hit “Crossfire” Carter and his world class band, The Blame, serve up a wicked stew of slyly crafted Americana. Look for a new album slated for release in 2015.”

For more information regarding Bill Carter, future shows and bookings – please visit his website at www.billcarterandtheblame.com.

Note: This story is originally published on Rank & Revue in July 2015.

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KITTEN: Taste the Sugar in the Dark

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Chloe Chaidez: lead vocalist of the band KITTEN.

Attending Stubb’s to see KITTEN play was one of the highlights of my summer. Wearing a long-sleeve blouse, a black leather mini skirt and stockings that cut off at the ankles – Chloe Chaidez, the lead vocalist, entertained the stage with her two bare feet. Dark locks of hair swayed as her body flowed with the music.  Dancing on stage, on top of the amplifiers, or even on the drumming equipment (which made me nervous) – there was no space her two little feet didn’t cover. It wouldn’t take an expert to see the audience was in complete awe of this 19 year old beauty. Nearly everyone was dancing or smiling and hardly anyone left during the show. Even my friend May and I found ourselves shouting shamelessly in-between sets like groupies we were having such a blast, “We love you Chloe!”

Yes, that’s right; Chaidez is young. But don’t you dare let her age disenchant you. When this girl was 12 and playing bass, she opened with Band of Horses – and at Stubb’s I watched her take greater command of the stage than most grown adults. Chaidez was not only an engaging performer, but she knew what the audience wanted and was unafraid to let us have it full force. She connected with us and made attendees feel even more alive for an hour or two. Despite the fact she was singing her heart out whilst wearing thick clothing and black leather in the summer heat of Tejas – Chloe Chaidez had more energy than any vocalist I’ve seen in a good, long while. There was something raw and powerful about the sounds of their music, too. Best of all, Kitten even took us older folks back to more youthful days and made us all feel younger again when she sung the 80’s classic “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin.

“I tried to kill you in my dreams. Last night but now you’re calling me. A taste of sugar in the dark. Love dies. I’ll call you when the money’s right. I know you remember the deal, the fear, the love and kisses. A taste of sugar in the dark . Those left hand scars. A taste of sugar in the dark.”

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Chloe Chaidez.

There were four male musicians on stage with her, but due to the fact Kitten has dealt with a revolving door of bandmates – I am uncertain who was accompanying the vocalist that evening. Even the press releases do not disclose the band mates. However, the band originated in Los Angeles, California in 2009 and released their first album in 2010. Kitten has also opened for bands like Charlie XCX, Paramore and No Doubt. Earlier in May of this year, Rolling Stone published an article about Kitten to say, “Kitten sounds like Eurythmics’ synth-heavy ‘Sweet Dreams’ turned fever dream, with detours into sugary shoegaze and distorted power balladry”. I’m inclined to agree with this description.

Seeing as I grew up in Austin, Texas and I’ve lived here off and on since the late 1990’s – the Live Music Capital of the World – I’ve watched and heard the music scene morph and blossom. And I’ve seen a lot of shows. Too many to remember. Many of which were shows I saw at Stubb’s. Therefore I admit that at my worst that I can be a bit of a live-music snob – solely because I was blessed to be surrounded by some of the best musical artists from all over the world right here in my hometown. Frankly I was only going to stay for a few songs, take a few photos and then leave. Secretly, I admit that I wasn’t expecting much of a band featuring a 19 year old, playing a show on a Tuesday night in the Red River District. However, the joke was on me because Kitten proved my cynicisms to be wrong. I stayed for the entire show and I’m glad I didn’t miss a beat. From now on when I hear the band name Kitten, I will only think of these three words: Here, kitty kitty.

Dear Chloe Chaidez: Come back to The Lone Star State as soon as you can. Don’t stay away too long. I recall you saying on stage that ATX was your all-time favorite city to visit during a tour. And you’ve officially become one of my favorites in return and I wish you all the best in your career.  An artist as young, robust and talented as you is bound to have haters that will try to stand in your light. Stay beautiful, stay sweet, stay loose — and don’t let the entertainment industry ever taint your voice or steal your inner-fire as you evolve into an even more rockin’, empowered young woman.

For more information regarding the band Kitten please visit www.kittentheband.com.

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Note: This story is originally published on Rank & Revue in August 2014.

The Driskill Hotel hosts holiday traditions in Texas for more than a century

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December flowers at The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas. Photography by Nicolette Mallow.

On the first of December at six in the evening, The Driskill Hotel initiated its annual holiday celebrations beginning with the lighting of the tree and a double quartet of singers from Austin Opera. A decorated tree is positioned in the center of the marble floors and columns within the main lobby closest to the grand stairwell. This holiday tree is illuminated and glowing the entire month of December. The tree is so substantial in size that the gold star on top nearly touches the stained glass dome of the ceiling.

Throughout December, for nearly 130 years since it was built in 1886, The Driskill Hotel hosts annual time-honored traditions to celebrate the holiday season. Notably, The Driskill is the oldest operating hotel in Austin, Texas and the architecture is Romanesque in design. When you enter the hotel it’s like going back in time, or finding a magical hiding place in town, because there is something otherworldly about the building’s energy. Yet you know you’re in Texas by all the lone stars, leather, cowhides and southern hospitality. Even horse carriages still wait outside to take guests and locals for a stroll through downtown. An artistic infusion of different periods; there is no other structure in Austin quite like it. Blocks away from the Texas State Capitol, The Driskill is a Historic Landmark, and its European design carries a prominent, unique presence amongst modern-day architecture in the downtown vicinity. This refined hotel is aesthetically beautiful and elegant, inside and out. However, every December, as the holiday season arrives: The Driskill shines brighter than ever with its festive, colorful decorum and sparkling tealights. Even before entering the hotel, dozens of homemade gingerbread men can be seen dangling happily in the windows of 1886 Cafe & Bakery. The gingerbread men are reasonably large, decorated with smiles of white icing, red candied buttons, green checkered stockings, and eyes made of chocolate.

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In addition to the lovely holiday decorum on display the month of December, The Driskill will also feature holiday events on selected days and nights: seasonal music from a live string quartet, Afternoon Tea, an Afternoon with Santa, and Christmas Day in The Driskill Grill. Prices per event do vary. The Driskill Bar upstairs, which was recently named the best cocktail bar by The Austin Chronicle, hosts live music as well. Guests can escape the cold and warm up with snacks and a libation, or an apple cider, within the lounge area while enjoying the lyrics and melodies of various singers and songwriters. Don’t forget to try the mejdool dates wrapped in bacon!

Furthermore, on December 13th at 2:00 PM, Cookies for Caring is another holiday-related charity event at The Driskill. “In collaboration with the Austin American-Statesman’s Season for Caring, The Driskill is hosting a holiday cookie swap. Guests can create their own holiday cookie collection and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Austin American-Statesman’s Season for Caring charity drive.” Cookie tins cost $25 per person and will be waiting for guests upon arrival to the event.

Seasonally decorated gourmet cookies can also be purchased at 1886 Cafe & Bakery, a premier restaurant within the hotel named after the year The Driskill came to life. “The Driskill Hotel opened on December 20, 1886, to great fanfare and applause from Austin’s 20,000 residents. Since that time, the ‘grande dame’ of Texas hotels has remained a magnificent gathering place for locals, Texans and others to celebrate the holidays and other special moments of their lives in Colonel Jesse Driskill’s splendid Romanesque masterpiece. We invite you to recapture a nostalgic memory from a holiday season long past and to create new memories for your family and friends during our holiday celebrations.”

The Driskill Hotel holds 189 guest rooms and suites. Guests may also admire The Maximilian Room, the Governor’s Boardroom, the Mezzanine and the Victorian Room. For more information about holiday events, hotel reservations, catering, or The Driskill Bar and Grill: please visit their website at www.driskillhotel.com or call 512-439-1234.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in December 2015. 

Viva la Vida: Mexic-Arte Museum honors Día de los Muertos festival for 32 years in Tejas

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La Catrina drawn by unknown artist at The Mexic-Arte Museum. Photography by Nicolette Mallow.

Since the doors first opened in 1984, the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin has celebrated thirty-two years of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities. This October the museum presents two seasonal exhibitions alongside its annual Viva la Vida festival featuring a grand procession, artist vendors, live music, and a grand sugar skull piñata float by local piñata artisans Monica and Sergio Lejarazu. The museum will also host a black-tie masquerade event known as the Catrina Ball that will debut at The Four Seasons Hotel.

The highlighted Día de los Muertos exhibition at the Mexic-Arte Museum, Community Altars: Ofrendas Inspired from the States of Mexico, is located within the main gallery and contains nearly a dozen altars to honor the lives of loved ones who are deceased. Adorning the altars are flowers, crosses, candles, angels, framed photographs, flags, hand-cut paper, skulls and catrinas. Echoes of a film directed by Jim Hill, Llamar a los Muertos a Casa (Calling Home The Dead), are heard as guests walk about the rooms. In the very back of the exhibition there is a bench to sit and watch the movie about the villagers of Lake Pátzcuaro. And viewers can learn why it’s believed this land is a doorway to heaven.

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Nicolette Mallow in La Catrina face paint at the Viva la Vida festival in October 2015.

Each altar represents the regional and cultural differences within diverse areas of Mexico, including the following states: Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, Mexico D.F. and Coahuila. Admiring the similarities and dissimilarities between the altars is part of the appeal. Not a single altar is identical to another, and yet the holiday spirit Día de los Muertos is strong within every altar, unifying the exhibition at the Mexic-Arte museum.

In 2003, the 78th Legislature of the State of Texas awarded the Mexic-Arte Museum as the Official Mexican and Mexican American Art Museum of Texas. Also according to their website, “Día de los Muertos is an ancient, Mexican and Mexican American religious holiday with a historically rich tradition that integrates both pre-Columbian and Catholic customs. It is often celebrated in connection with the Catholic Holy Days of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (dates and length of the celebration vary by state or region). In the celebrants’ minds, the holiday is a time to honor and greet their deceased relatives and friends, who make the journey back from Mictlan (the underworld in Aztec culture) to be with the living each year. These days are a time for families and friends to gather in celebration of life and death, embracing the circle of life rather than loss and sorrow.

Standing in a room of altars that pay homage and respect to the dead, it might not seem like a place of love and light to those unfamiliar with Día de los Muertos. However, there is an undeniable force of love and life flowing throughout the rooms. An intense and evocative kind of love that can be seen and felt like standing next to a bonfire on a frigid moonless night. Looking at the altars one-by-one, imagining the time it took to make it all by hand. Thinking about the fact that massive quantities of people from all over the country designate the time and energy each year to create memorials. Memorials that signify and represent their memories towards family members or loved ones no longer living is indicative of their selflessness, loyalty and respect. It’s indicative of their devout love. It’s very moving to the heart and mind as guests walk from altar-to-altar; absorbing a sense of each person, or persons, revered at every altar by those still living. Unlike a tombstone that only states a name and dates of life, these large altars are unique to each family member and give viewers are stronger sense of personality. Books, jewelry, baskets of black beans, blankets, pottery, Marlboro cigarettes, bottles of tequila, and guitars; various items are placed throughout the altars, humanizing and personalizing the interests and pleasures of each person’s life.

Additionally, bright lights and vivacious colors illuminate the altars. Color and light are key elements in this exhibition at the Mexic-Arte Museum. Blue, red, pink, yellow, green and violet are prominent colors seen throughout the altars in the main gallery. Marigold flowers are one particular item of deeper significance seen at every altar. “Marigolds guide the spirits to their altars using their vibrant colors and scent. It is believed that the spirits of the dead visit the living during the celebration. Marigolds, or flowers in general, also represent the fragility of life. The marigold most commonly used in Día de los Muertos celebrations is the Targetes erecta or African Marigold, otherwise known as cempasúchil or flower of the dead.”

To view the history of thirty-one prior Día de los Muertos celebrations at the Mexic-Arte Museum, please venture to the annex gallery. Exhibitions will be on display through most of the autumnal season until mid-November. Please note the Viva la Vida festival is a daylong, eight-hour event open to the public on October 31, 2015. Tickets to the Catrina Ball on October 17, 2015 can be purchased online. For more information regarding upcoming events, exhibitions, admission, memberships and hours of operation, please visit www.mexic-artemuseum.org or call 512-480-9373.

¡Viva Mexico & Tejas!

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in October 2015. 

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‘Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm’ exhibition on display at The Blanton Museum of Art

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“Six Swans III” – Drawing by Natalie Frank. (Photography by Nicolette Mallow.)

Natalie Frank: The Brother’s Grimm is a current exhibition hosted by The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin. Located within five different rooms that are all interconnected, the gallery is adorned with dozens of gouache and pastel drawings showcasing Frank’s hypnotizing and graphic fairy tale art. Make no mistake; the Brother’s Grimm fairy tales are not reflective of the typical happily-ever-after stories that modern authors portray to our children today. Originally, these fairy tales were written for adults, not adolescents. Therefore, stand warned that Frank’s exquisite drawings are not necessarily child-friendly. Viewers with kids are advised to take a stroll before taking their children through the gallery.

“Looky, look, look at the shoe that she took. There’s blood all over, and the shoe’s too small. She’s not the bride you met at the ball,” (Grimm’s Fairy Tales).

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This fairy tale exhibition is a collection of otherworldly, unforgettable stories written hundreds of years ago. Magical, dark, haunting and spellbinding. The illustrations tell the Brother’s Grimm stories of love, lust, death, tragedy and historical folklore. During an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Frank explains how she “delved deeper into the early, unsanitized editions, she saw why so many of the brothers’ story plots contained brutal violence and elements of shape-shifting magic: Their folk tales were actually being told and retold by women who had to navigate a 19th-century social and political world wherein they held almost no power over their fates. Marriages were typically arranged; death during childbirth was common. Suddenly, the princesses, hags and witches in the Grimm’s’ fairy tales felt grounded and complex to Ms. Frank, and she started making drawings that could reflect these characters’ vulnerabilities and strengths.”

Blood, castles, animals, metamorphosis, nudity, genitalia, nature and the supernatural can all be found in the artwork. The use of imagination within Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm is striking, unique, scary and mesmerizing. The imagery is very intense, such as Frank’s drawing “Brier Rose” depicting a woman that almost seems to be drugged or half conscious, missing clothing and unable to resist any advances. A beautiful woman whose story entails a spell-induced, one hundred sleep caused by an evil witch. A young woman whose masked and blindfolded in a blood red veil as a half-man and half-beast creature weighs down upon her as if to approach her in a sexual manner.

These are not images one can easily forget.

Entranced by the images in the artwork, walking through the gallery lures viewers to step out of modern time for a while. To think these stories were told centuries ago, it’s fascinating and a bit disturbing. Frank’s storybook illustrations are also absolutely booming with bold and powerful colors that lighten the heaviness of the stories. The colors are so playful and bright like a children’s room, and yet the symbolism is so dark and grim. The gallery includes almost 20 stories, including the following: Snow White, Brier Rose, The Frog King, Rapunzel, The Juniper Tree, Endpaper, The Devil with The Three Golden Hairs, and Six Swans.

According to The Blanton Museum of Art, “Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm, is an exhibition of more than 30 gouache and pastel drawings by artist Natalie Frank, a New York-based Austin native. Organized by The Drawing Center in New York, this presentation explores the nineteenth-century fairy tales of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Drawing upon the history of illustrated books, figuration, and personal and political narrative, Frank’s drawings represent the largest collection of Grimm’s fairy tales ever illustrated by a fine artist.”

The exhibition will be featured at The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin until November 15, 2015. The Blanton Museum of Art is a remarkable university museum full of natural light, tall ceilings, blue tiling, installation pieces, statues and grand stairwells that facilitate the galleries. Over 17,000 works of art have become part of their permanent collection. However, due to the fact this particular gallery in the museum has no windows and flash photography is prohibited: It is strongly advised to visit the exhibition (and Natalie Frank’s website) in order to see her drawings in all their splendor and vivacity. Be sure to also check out storyteller Tom Lee on October 15, 2015 at 6:30 PM at The Blanton Museum of Art to perform selected stories from Frank’s illustrations. For more information regarding the exhibition, the museum or the artist, please visit www.natalie-frank.com or www.blantonmuseum.org.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in this realm is the fairest of them all? … You, my queen, may have a beauty quite rare, but Snow White is a thousand times more fair,” (Grimm’s Fairy Tales).

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“Brier Rose III” – Drawing by Natalie Frank. (Photography by Nicolette Mallow.)

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in August 2015. 

Lonesome Dove brings the old west to the Warehouse district

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Lonesome Dove in Austin, Texas. Photography by Nicolette Mallow.

Founded and operated by Chef Tim Love, Lonesome Dove is a fine dining Western flagship with an urban twist. Pinpointed on the corner of 5th and Colorado within the Warehouse District of Austin; guests are welcomed by an open space adorned with chandeliers, studded leather, soft suede, candle lights, black steel, pinewood and taxidermy animals. High above the hardwood floors, the ceilings are lofty with industrial rafters. Antlers are detected in mass abundance. The bar particularly emphasizes the antlers and they’re arranged in such a way it almost looks like barbwire made of bones. Scents of fresh genuine leather filter the room with a natural musk, adding to the rustic and familiar aromas of wood-fire cooking in Texas. Even Lonesome Dove’s logo looks like a cattle brand with the silhouette of a dove nesting between the initials of the restaurant: LD. Sterling silver utensils and cutlery are also engraved with stars, longhorns, horseshoes and other symbols that portray the Western and pioneering themes of times past.

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Opening its doors to Austin this summer, Lonesome Dove’s original location is further up north in The Stockyards of Fort Worth. Totaling seven culinary operations that span the Lone Star State, Chef Love also maintains five other restaurants and a catering business. In regard to Lonesome Dove Austin, while the owner, Chef Love, is seen from time-to-time at this establishment: Josh Neises is the Chef de Cuisine. These two chefs and their staff members have brought a refreshing and remarkable form of cuisine to Austin that every local or tourist should explore. Lonesome Dove’s menu is so extensive and rich in flavors that carnivorous guests would find great difficulty to ever grow tired of the food. (There are of course vegetarian options available, too.) According to the website, Chef has designed a menu influenced by all of the ingredients and cultures that have been a part of the West since the first adventure began on the Goodnight-Loving and Chisholm Trails — with an added level of modern sophistication.”

The name of this restaurant chain derives from the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel “Lonesome Dove” written by Larry McMurtry. The writer of this accredited novel is also from Texas, so it is most befitting that the state capital finally harbors and hosts this delightful culinary gem. Frankly the location of Lonesome Dove Austin is particularly interesting because of a building looming in the distance: The Frost Bank Tower. Frost Bank Tower is notorious for its architecture and there’s also a myth amongst locals that it was designed to look like a gigantic owl with enormous eyes glowing day or night. Therefore, to see Lonesome Dove and the Frost Bank Tower perched right behind its skyline is a picturesque addition to the artistic appeal of downtown Austin.

Without a doubt, Lonesome Dove has literally brought its game to the city. Various forms of meat can be found on the menu, entailing the following: Rattlesnake, rabbit, duck, kangaroo, elk, quail, wild boar, lamb, lobster, steaks, hamachi and more. Their lunch, dinner, dessert and drink menus are intricate and charismatic, just like McMurty’s novel. And the specialty cocktails are made with a loving bite of alcohol. Furthermore, everyday the Wild Game Fattine changes on the menu. These small, exclusive dishes can be found on the menu right above the first course plates. These daily-prepared meats are “a selection of cuts spit-roasted over open mesquite fire” and they are made with herbs, fruits and spices.

“I truly believe that Austin is one of the greatest cities in the country. The music, the architecture, the culture, and of course, the food, is out of this world. Austin feels like the perfect home for my style of cooking and opening a restaurant here has been a big dream of mine for a long time. I’m incredibly proud to be here alongside all the talented and creative chefs in the city and am excited to officially call Austin my second home.”
— Chef Tim Love

For more information regarding Lonesome Dove Austin or Chef Tim Love, please visit www.lonesomedoveaustin.com. To make a dinner reservation, call (512) 271-2474.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in August 2015

Examiner.com shut down its website

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Nicolette Mallow’s Writer’s Bio from Examiner.com.

Examiner.com has closed their media platform after several years. From July 2015 to Jult 2016, I worked for Examiner as a contract writer. My area of assignment was to cover Arts & Entertainment. Since Examiner.com’s website no longer exists and has faded into the dark abyss of the internet, all of my stories are gone. That is the bad news. However, the good news is that since I own the rights to all my stories and interviews: I will be reposting each story here on my website, one-by-one. Hooray! To begin, I wanted to trail back to the beginning. And this first post is an accumulation of screen shots from the original website of my Writer’s Bio that contained a list of my publications. I will begin reposting the stories from last year to present day, the order in which they were written as posted on Examiner.com.

I will miss writing for Examiner.com and was very saddened that it came to an abrupt end, but I look forward to a new literary adventure and many more wonderful stories.