Michael Barnes

Social columnist

Michael Barnes writes about Austin's people, places, culture and history. He also writes the Out and About social column and blog.

Latest from Michael Barnes

Don’t let the historic house at Boggy Creek Farm crumble
 The best historical evidence indicates that the house at 
            Boggy Creek Farm is, along with the 
            French Legation, one of the two oldest homes in Austin. Unlike the residence on Robertson Hill that was intended for ambassadorial usage
            and now owned by the state of Texas, the farmhouse on the...

Posted: a minute ago

The best historical evidence indicates that the house at  Boggy Creek Farm is, along with the  French Legation, one of the two oldest homes in Austin. Unlike the residence on Robertson Hill that was intended for ambassadorial usage and now owned by the state of Texas, the farmhouse on the...
Mad about Austin Camerata
 From where I sit, “
            Austin Camerata” translates into “unadulterated beauty.”  At least it did last night when the Austin chamber orchestra played the 
            Rollins Studio 
            Theatre at the 
            Long Center for the Performing Arts. But first, an historical note: 
     ...

Posted: 21 hours ago

From where I sit, “ Austin Camerata” translates into “unadulterated beauty.” At least it did last night when the Austin chamber orchestra played the Rollins Studio  Theatre at the Long Center for the Performing Arts. But first, an historical note:  ...
Juneteenth performance of ex-slave testaments to honor Billy Harden
 Spectrum Theatre Company, the African-American troupe that the late 
            Billy Harden co-founded, will commemorate the Austin actor, musician, educator and leader on June 16-17 with “Juneteenth Chronicles.” Billy Harden was an actor, producer, musician and educator. Larry Kolvoord/American-Statesman. The show...

Posted: 2 days ago

Spectrum Theatre Company, the African-American troupe that the late  Billy Harden co-founded, will commemorate the Austin actor, musician, educator and leader on June 16-17 with “Juneteenth Chronicles.” Billy Harden was an actor, producer, musician and educator. Larry Kolvoord/American-Statesman. The show...
Texas leaders tackle terrorism, politics, education and animal welfare
 The Library was the place to be. Not the Central Public Library. But the blue-and-red rectangular meeting room at Hotel Van Zandt. It was the location for a Toast of the Town salon to support the Neal Kocurek Scholarship Fund for health sciences careers, operated by the St. David’s Foundation. Thirty or so lucky souls were treated to...

Posted: 3 days ago

The Library was the place to be. Not the Central Public Library. But the blue-and-red rectangular meeting room at Hotel Van Zandt. It was the location for a Toast of the Town salon to support the Neal Kocurek Scholarship Fund for health sciences careers, operated by the St. David’s Foundation. Thirty or so lucky souls were treated to...
Austin Under 40 Awards winners are solid gold
 We always cheer the 
            Austin Under 40 Awar
            ds
             ceremony, not just because it benefits two worthy causes,
             YWA Foundation and the 
            Austin Sunshine Camps, but also because so many rising social stars end up among the winners. Toya Bell picks up the Austin Under 40 Award for...

Posted: 3 days ago

We always cheer the Austin Under 40 Awar ds  ceremony, not just because it benefits two worthy causes,  YWA Foundation and the Austin Sunshine Camps, but also because so many rising social stars end up among the winners. Toya Bell picks up the Austin Under 40 Award for...
How Texas history became one woman’s life passion
 If you stop by the side of the road in Texas to check out historical markers regularly, you likely read her words. If you attend lifetime learning clubs in the Austin area, you likely hear her speak. And if you browse the Texana section of any decent-size bookstore, at some point you’ll run across the name “Myra McIlvain&rdquo...

Posted: 4 days ago

If you stop by the side of the road in Texas to check out historical markers regularly, you likely read her words. If you attend lifetime learning clubs in the Austin area, you likely hear her speak. And if you browse the Texana section of any decent-size bookstore, at some point you’ll run across the name “Myra McIlvain&rdquo...
Austin Symphony roars through ‘Mighty Russians’
 It started off tentatively and ended magnificently. “The Mighty Russians, Part II,” a full banquet of symphonic music, launched with 
            Tchaikovsky‘s short Piano Concerto No. 3. Soloist 
            Olga Kern, a dazzling presence onstage at the 
            Long Center for the Performing Arts, seemed...

Posted: 4 days ago

It started off tentatively and ended magnificently. “The Mighty Russians, Part II,” a full banquet of symphonic music, launched with  Tchaikovsky‘s short Piano Concerto No. 3. Soloist  Olga Kern, a dazzling presence onstage at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, seemed...
Cedar chopper killed 2 on West Monroe Street

Posted: 7 days ago

Tales of historical murder and mayhem mean a lot more when they happened on your street. We’re still reading Ken Roberts’ excellent “The Cedar Choppers: Life on the Edge of Nothing” (Texas A&M University Press), an account of the clans who lived mostly isolated lives in the Hill Country west and north of Austin. One...
Jill Blackwood is an Austin star for all reasons
 Classic stories aren’t always kind to female characters. But rather than being simply damsels in distress, how these women adapt to their circumstances is how they reveal their initially hidden strengths and wisdom. These are the roles at which Jill Blackwood, Austin’s marquee musical theater actor, excels. Try just these emblematic...

Posted: 7 days ago

Classic stories aren’t always kind to female characters. But rather than being simply damsels in distress, how these women adapt to their circumstances is how they reveal their initially hidden strengths and wisdom. These are the roles at which Jill Blackwood, Austin’s marquee musical theater actor, excels. Try just these emblematic...
We pick the 13 Broadway masterpieces of Stephen Sondheim
 Stephen Sondheim is the most important creative artist in American theater history. There, I said it. “Wait a minute,” you object with reason. “What about all the other American playwrights, composers and lyricists whose work is regularly revived and who form a part of our ongoing cultural conversation? Especially those...

Posted: 7 days ago

Stephen Sondheim is the most important creative artist in American theater history. There, I said it. “Wait a minute,” you object with reason. “What about all the other American playwrights, composers and lyricists whose work is regularly revived and who form a part of our ongoing cultural conversation? Especially those...
Readers investigate the Molly Awards for the Texas Observer
 We live in a golden age of investigative journalism. Not just the renaissance of political reporting at the federal level. But in-depth articles and investigative packages cascading
            from newspapers such as the American-Statesman, as well as other local, regional and national media. Jack Keyes and Syeda Hasan at the Molly Awards...

Posted: 7 days ago

We live in a golden age of investigative journalism. Not just the renaissance of political reporting at the federal level. But in-depth articles and investigative packages cascading from newspapers such as the American-Statesman, as well as other local, regional and national media. Jack Keyes and Syeda Hasan at the Molly Awards...