UT student musicians have captured the national spotlight, with recent stints on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “American Idol” and NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concerts.”
Below, watch their performances.
Longhorn Band Takes Over Jimmy Kimmel
Jimmy Kimmel broadcasted his late-night show live from Austin all week, coinciding with the SXSW music, film and interactive festival. In addition to high-profile guests Seth Rogen, Lady Gaga and Gov. Rick Perry, members of the Longhorn Band were regulars on the show.
During the opening of his first episode in Austin, Kimmel introduced a UT icon.
“We have another treasured Austin artifact here in the theater tonight. They say everything is bigger in Texas. With that said, I give you the biggest drum in the world. Do we have any UT fans here? Please welcome the sweetheart of the Longhorn Band, Big Bertha!”
Later in the week Bertha and the Longhorn Band drumline returned to perform with singer Aloe Blacc for his hit song, “The Man.” (They enter at the 2:23 mark.)
Assistant Longhorn Band director Tony Marinello says the show contacted them about one week ahead of time and specifically asked for Big Bertha to make an appearance. With some quick coordinating of transportation and meals for the students and an open-air trailer for the drum, the gig came together.
“We do a lot of gigs, private parties and UT events, and this was one of the best we’ve ever done,” says Marinello, who worked with the show’s producers and music director and fellow Longhorn Band directors Jerry Junkin, Scott Hanna and Robert Carnochan to make it happen.
It may not be the last time you’ll see Longhorn Band students sharing a stage with other musicians. The Austin alt-country band Moonlight Social (alumni Jennica Scott and Jeremy Burchard) sat in with the Longhorn Pep Band during the final men’s basketball home game this season, and Marinello says they hope to have more collaborations with other acts in the future.
Premed Student Charms “American Idol”
Earlier this year premed student Munfarid Zaidi became a sensation on “American Idol” by expertly belting out an Alicia Keys tune while cradled in the arms of judge Harry Connick Jr.
Zaidi was later eliminated from the show, but this week returned to surprise Connick and an auditorium of screaming fans with a rendition of Connick’s own “Every Man Should Know.”
“Would you like to sing it as I cradle you, or would you like to stand?” the superstar asked Zaidi.
“I think you know the answer to that question,” Zaidi deadpanned back.
Mother Falcon Brings Rock to Chamber Music
Austin band Mother Falcon doesn’t have an exact number of members or even a genre (“Asking us will result in awkward and uncomfortable squirming,” says their Facebook page.) The group — featuring four current UT students and numerous recent graduates — runs from chamber music to rock, jazz and hip hop, mixing vocal arrangements with violins, cellos, saxophones, trumpet, piano, accordion, banjo and bassoon.
They won the “Best None of The Above” award at the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Austin Music Awards and were named by NPR as an “Artist to Discover at SXSW 2013.”
Fresh off a California tour, Mother Falcon is playing multiple sets during SXSW 2014 and was featured in KUTX’s Live at the Four Seasons series.
In August of last year, the band scored the distinction of being the largest ensemble ever to perform in NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concerts” series.
As one of the show’s producers, Stephen Thompson, put it, “What makes Mother Falcon so alluring, though, isn’t its size, but rather the way it uses all its members in the service of great, snappy, stirring, frequently uplifting songs. Its many moving parts aren’t creating mere volume, but also texture.”
This story is part of our yearlong series “The Creative Campus,” which showcases student creativity.