Kathy Tran

A new restaurant from one of Fort Worth's top food & beverage teams has an opening date: 61 Osteria, the much-anticipated restaurant from restaurateur Adam Jones and acclaimed chef Blaine Staniford, will open in downtown Fort Worth on January 31. Ta-da.

It's opening at 500 W 7th St., on the ground floor of the First on 7th building, originally known as the First National Bank building, designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill of New York.

The cuisine will be traditional Italian with a focus on simple, seasonal ingredients from best and local farmers. Staniford is taking a modern approach to Italian ingredients.

The name includes a tribute to the building’s completion date in 1961 and the celebration of its 61st birthday this year. Adam Jones was also born in 1961. Osteria is a place serving wine and simple food.

61 osteria Vegetable bagna cauda with raw veggies and garlic-anchovy aioli.Kathy Tran

"61 Osteria will focus on the traditional foods that come from all 20 regions of Italy, so the variety will be quite interesting for our guests," Staniford says.

Menu highlights include starters such as:

  • Antipasti with citrus marinated olives with parmesan, spiced corn nuts, and pickled vegetables
  • Salumi with house cured calabrian coppa, truffle salami, fennel seed lonza and mortadella
  • Prosciutto di Parma Tasting of 12 & 24 month aged ham with castelvetrano olives and parmesan
  • Prawns with head on blue prawns, salsa verde, and charred meyer lemon
  • Vegetable Bagna Cauda with petite raw vegetables served with roasted garlic and anchovy aioli

61 Osteria Bistecca Florentina with porterhouse steakKathy Tran

Housemade pastas will include

  • Bucatini Cacio e Pepe made from semolina pasta with cracked black pepper and pecorino fulvi
  • Smoked Spaghetti Carbonara with house guanciale, pecorino toscano, and egg yolk
  • Tagliatelle Bolognese with braised brisket, veal and pork based sugo with aged parmesan DOP

Entrees include

  • Swordfish with eggplant puree, castelvetrano olives, and puttanesca sauce
  • Black Sea Bass with spinach gnudi Florentina, broccolini, roasted sunchokes, and pistachio pesto
  • 44 Farms Short Rib with parmesan polenta, white bean ragout, Toscano kale, radicchio, and salsa verde
  • Bistecca Florentina with porcini and fennel pollen crusted 28-oz. prime porterhouse

The beverage program will include New World and Old World sparkling, white, and red wines by the glass and bottle, with an emphasis on Italian producers.

61 Osteria Bar at 61 Osteria has a sunny yellow disposition.Kathy Tran

The wine list will begin with a map of Italy for reference. A map of Italy is always welcome, especially if you like boots, and who does not like boots. Jones says they'll focus on a couple of major areas within Italy including Piedmont, Veneto, Tuscany, and Sicily, but also wines from Old World and New World regions.

Cocktails will use fresh-squeezed juices, house-made simple syrup, and give a nod to Italian classics. Bottled and draft beers from local, domestic, and imported Italian producers will also be available.

The space is 7000 square feet with seating for 120 in the main dining room, 50 in the bar, 30 on the patio, and 15 in the lounge.

61 Osteria will be open for dinner only at first with lunch, brunch, and family-style Sunday Suppers added in the coming weeks, maybe months. Qualsiasi!

Photo by Timothy Brestowski

13 things to know before you go to Parade of Lights 2022 in downtown Fort Worth

holiday fun

Downtown Fort Worth will light up with holiday spirit a few days before Thanksgiving, as the 2022 GM Financial Parade of Lights ushers in the festive season on Sunday, November 20.

This year, the area will shine extra bright because the old tradition of lighting the Fort Worth Christmas Tree in Sundance Square on parade night is returning (more on that in a sec).

Themed “Lights, Camera… Christmas,” the Parade of Lights is marking its 40th year as the city’s official kick-off to the holiday season. Attendees can expect more than 100 festive floats festooned with holiday decor and over half a million sparkling lights, plus marching bands and carolers, sparkling antique cars, precision equestrian units, festive horse-drawn carriages, and the big arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.

But first you've got to get there. Here's what to know about road closures, parking, and more before you head downtown. All information is provided by the parade organizers, and more can be found on their website.

Tree lighting details: The lighting of the 65-foot Fort Worth Christmas Tree in Sundance Square Plaza will take place at 5 pm Sunday, November 20, an hour before the parade starts. It will feature ornaments made by local artists.

Time and place of parade: The parade begins at 6 pm Sunday, November 20 near the intersection of Weatherford and Throckmorton streets. The whole parade takes about 40 minutes to make its way along the 1.59-mile route.

When to arrive: Traffic will start getting congested by 3 pm. Parade-goers, especially those with reserved seats, should plan to arrive in downtown no later than 4:30 pm (earlier if they're attending the tree-lighting). Refunds will not be given if parade-goers are unable to make it to their reserved seats due to traffic or congestion.

Street closures: There will be about 35 street closures, and they'll begin as early as 6 am Sunday. Closures include portions of Weatherford Street, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd streets, Taylor, Lamar, Burnett, Cherry, and Florence streets. Spur 280 from Interstate 35 will close at 4 pm. (Belknap, Houston, and North Main streets will remain open to traffic during the parade.) For a full list of street and intersection closures and times, check this very detailed chart.

Parking: Downtown garages offer free parking on Sundays, and many lots will be available. Hint: Visit this Fort Worth parking site for many nearby options. Do not, under any circumstances, park at roped-off meters.

Navigating there: Organizers say to turn off your GPS unit and use this map. "Determine where you would like to sit along the route, and then approach from that direction into downtown," they advise. "Try to stay on the side of your viewing area and do not attempt to drive all the way through downtown to get to your seats. Come in from that side. There are plenty of streets accessing downtown, and you do not have to come in Spur 280."

Public transportation: If you've never tried a local train or bus, this is an excellent night to start. What to know:

  • TEXRail will operate on parade-day, transporting attendees to and from Fort Worth Central Station, located two blocks from the parade route (the last eastbound train will depart at 10:40 pm).
  • TEXRail riders can park for free at six different Trinity Metro park-and-ride stations and ride the train to downtown.
  • Trinity Metro will offer bus service to downtown via bus routes 1, 2, and 15, and also operate its electric bus service – The Dash – throughout downtown and the Cultural District until 10:30 pm.
  • TRE will not be running on Sunday.
  • Visit www.RideTrinityMetro.org for operating schedules and more info.

Parade route: The 1.59-mile route snakes through downtown, beginning at Throckmorton and Weatherford streets, precisely at 6 pm. The parade will proceed east along Weatherford Street and turn south on Commerce Street all the way to 9th Street. At 9th Street, the parade will proceed west to Houston Street, and then turn north on Houston Street all the way to 2nd street. At 2nd Street, the parade will proceed west to Throckmorton Street, then turn south to conclude at 3rd and Throckmorton Streets. The complete route is here.

Free or paid viewing? The parade itself is free to attend; almost all sidewalks along the route will be open for free public viewing. However, there are reserved "street seats" still available. Tickets start at $18 and can be purchased here. Discounts are available for seniors (60 and older) and children (12 and younger); infants, as long as they can sit in a lap, will not need a reserved seat.

Restrooms: Portable restrooms will be set up around the parade route.

TV and digital viewing: The parade will be broadcast live from 6-9 pm on KTXA-TV (TXA-21), and via the Parade of Lights’ Facebook event page: www.facebook.com/ParadeofLightsFW as well as at CBSDFW.com. You can follow along on Facebook or Instagram using the official hashtag, #ParadeOfLights2022. The parade will also air Christmas Day at 7 pm.

Grand marshal: This year's grand marshal is John Sharp, 72-year-old Texas A&M University System Chancellor, humanitarian, Texas politician, and former second lieutenant in the United States Army Reserves.

What else to do: Downtown Fort Worth restaurants, bars, and retailers will offer pre-parade music, displays, and specials to make a day of it. Filled with holiday spirit afterwards? Pile into a car and head to some spectacular Christmas light displays and drive-thrus, many of which will be shining bright by Sunday.

Photo courtesy of Worthington Renaissance Hotel

8 essential tips for sky-high fun at Fort Worth's new Rooftop Cinema Club

Movies in the sky

After months of anticipation and a few delays, the new Rooftop Cinema Club Downtown Fort Worth finally premiered on November 1. The al fresco urban cinema at the Worthington Renaissance Hotel is more than an outdoor movie theater — it's a whole experience. (And a great date night.) But where, exactly, is it, and where do you park? Here are some tips for making the most of an evening at the Rooftop Cinema, based on an opening-night experience and information from the venue.

Where it is
The actual address for Rooftop Cinema Club is 235 Throckmorton St., Fort Worth. This is different from the The Worthington Renaissance Hotel's address, 200 Main St. It's advertised as being on the "Mezzanine Level," which may not mean anything to Fort Worthians who've never stayed at the hotel and had reason to find the Mezzanine Level.

Specifically, the entrance to Rooftop Cinema Club faces Throckmorton Street (across from Jimmy John's). If you're on the Toro Toro side of the hotel, you're on the opposite side and need to walk all the way to the other end. Once you find the entrance, walk up a couple flights of stairs and you'll be on the third-floor Mezzanine Level.

If you start from inside the hotel, take the elevators to the "M' level and simply walk outside to the terrace. Which brings us to ...

Where to park
Do not valet at the hotel or you'll end up paying the hotel's general valet price. What you want to do is self-park in The Worthington Renaissance garage, whose entrance is near the entrance to the Rooftop Cinema off Throckmorton, just north of 2nd Street.

You'll get a rate of $10 if you bring your parking ticket to the box office — don't forget that!

There's also nearby street parking, and if you're up for a walk, Sundance Square lots and garages are free on weekday evenings and weekends.

Tip: If you dine at the hotel restaurant Toro Toro before or after a movie, you'll receive complimentary valet parking up to three hours. There's a special Toro Toro "Show on the Road" menu offered from 5-6:30 pm for pre-cinema dining. You can also get 10 percent off your Toro Toro bill when you show your movie ticket. Which brings up...

Food and drink
You do not need to eat before you arrive at the Rooftop Cinema. Concessions go beyond popcorn, candy, and cokes (though they do have them all) and into a limited menu of chef-driven dishes served from a concession stand on-site.

Toro Toro chef Richard Sandoval helped create an "elevated" menu that includes pulled pork tacos, hot dogs, chips with salsa and brisket queso, and more. To be clear, we're not talking $3 nachos and $2 tacos. Think $12-$18 per dish. A limited selection of cocktails, beer, and wine is for sale for $7-$12, too.

Bringing in your own food or beverages is not allowed.

Rooftop Cinema Club You can easily move between the lounge and theater areas.Photo by Michael Merry

What to bring
BYOB a blanket. The venue will be open on cold winter nights and searing summer days. Dress appropriately for the outdoors (don't forget hats and sunscreen on sunny days), and on these current chilly fall evenings, bring a blanket or throw to snuggle under. You can also toss it over a chair or loveseat and reserve your spot before the movie starts.

Starting December 1, they'll offer wind-proof, Rooftop Cinema Club-branded blankets for purchase. Blankets can be brought back each time for a free treat.

What if it rains?
Light rain probably won't thwart a movie showing (bring a poncho), but if inclement weather affects the guest experience, they say, screenings may be canceled. They outline the official procedure:

"In the event of a cancelled screening, we will notify you as soon as possible via email with details on how to transfer your tickets to another screening or obtain a refund. If creating an account, please be sure to use the same email address you used to purchase your tickets. You can also check the current status of your screening on its thumbnail visible on the venue page or its booking page."

More information about ticket transfer is here.

Rooftop Cinema Club Everyone gets a set of personal wireless headphones. Photo courtesy of Rooftop Cinema Club

The movie-watching experience
This is not your father's drive-in. Guests sit in either single or double, love seat-style Adirondack chairs (depending on which ticket you buy; see below), with cushions and wide armrests for drinks; side tables help contain food trays and popcorn cartons.

Upon entry, everyone is given a pair of personal wireless headphones, "silent-disco" style. Movie audio is piped in loud and clear. (You still may hear some street and airplane noise, but if you're paying attention to the movie, ambient noises are not distracting.) Suddenly craving Raisinets? You can move easily between the theater and concession areas with the headphones on during the film, and you won't "miss" much. The headphones are turned back in at the end.

A large, L-E-D movie screen has a crisp picture quality, right under the moon and stars. (To this eye, the lights coming from inside the office building behind it were slightly intrusive — but maybe they'll read this and start to turn them off at the end of the day.)

You'll want to arrive on time for your movie; unlike most modern movie theaters, there aren't 30 minutes of previews and commercials.

Rooftop Cinema Club Fort Worth The outdoor theater is surrounded by downtown buildings.Photo courtesy of Worthington Renaissance Hotel.

What else to do
The whole venue feels like a backyard party, complete with high-top tables, lounge areas, games, and even an old pick-up truck for photo opps. (It can be rented out for special events and private screenings.) Arrive early or stay late to play cornhole, ping-pong, or Cards Against Humanity. Don't miss the chance for a sky-high selfie against Fort Worth landmarks like the Tarrant County Courthouse clock tower.

Rooftop Cinema Club Photo opps abound.Photo courtesy of Worthington Renaissance Hotel

All tickets are sold online only, but can be purchased up until movie starts. Standard tickets range from $17.50–$26.50, depending on ticket type and time of day:

  • Adirondack chair only: $17.50-$19.50
  • Adirondack chair with popcorn: $22.50
  • Loveseat with popcorn: $26.50

Active, retired, and family of military personnel can get 15 percent off with the code FortWorthMilitary2022. (Bring any form of valid military ID as proof.) Students can get 10 percent off with the code FortWorthStudent2022. (Active student ID or student schedule required as proof.)

A complete list of upcoming movies is here. There are special Open Caption screenings for the hearing impaired, sing-a-longs, dog friendly "Wooftop" events, and more special programming (like "corny Christmas classics") planned.

Note that all screenings before 4:30 pm are open to all ages, while screenings starting at 4:30 pm or later are strictly for those 18 and older.

Photo courtesy of Rooftop Cinema Club

Rooftop Cinema Club unveils new opening date and movie lineup for Fort Worth

Rooftop movie news

Rooftop Cinema Club Downtown Fort Worth will start showing movies on top of The Worthington Renaissance Downtown Fort Worth Hotel on Tuesday, November 1.

The company, which offers an, outdoor cinema experience in multiple locations around the U.S., will let guests enjoy 360-degree views of downtown Fort Worth from the rooftop of the hotel while they relax in deckchairs with personal wireless headphones in front of the state-of-the-art LED screen showing iconic movies.

The Fort Worth venue previously had been scheduled to open October 4, but got delayed.

According to a release, the opening night film on November 1 will be the romantic classic The Notebook starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. Other opening week offerings will include Grease, Coco, Urban Cowboy, Top Gun: Maverick, Nope, The Princess Bride, and more.

All screenings through December 30 are now on sale, with future screening dates to be announced soon.

Rooftop Cinema Club will offer a variety of special screenings, including open caption screenings for the hearing impaired, sing-alongs, dog-friendly events, and more. There will also be themed nights like Zodiac-centric films, anniversary celebrations for milestone movies, and holiday favorites.

This location will offer typical concessions like fresh popcorn, soft drinks, and candy, but they have also joined with The Worthington Renaissance and Toro Toro by Richard Sandoval to create an elevated concession-style menu. Guests can also enjoy options like the Soft Salted Pretzel, Hot Diggity Dog, Pulled Pork Tacos, and Nacho Libre, along with drinks like the classic Margarita, a TX Old Fashioned, and wine and beer.

Rooftop Cinema Club Downtown Fort Worth offers three ticket types for two different types of chairs – a single Adirondack Chair for one, an Adirondack Chair and Popcorn for one, and a double-width Loveseat Adirondack and Popcorn for two. All seats come with cushions and side tables. Seating is not reserved; guests are seated on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Standard tickets range from $17.50–$26.50, depending on ticket type and time of day. All screenings before 4:30 pm are open to all ages, while screenings starting at 4:30 pm or later are strictly for those 18 and older.

With the outdoor cinema located at The Worthington Renaissance, the hotel and its restaurant, Toro Toro, are offering special deals. Guests can receive 10 percent off their meal at Toro Toro when they subscribe here. They can also book an overnight stay package, A Night of Cocktails & Cinema, at The Worthington Renaissance to receive a $50 dining credit to Toro Toro, special guest room amenities, and a 20 percent discount code to apply when purchasing their movie tickets.

Courtesy of WAX

Tallest building in Texas to include new hotel for stays with sky-high views

Up, up, and away

Texas’ tallest building is set to grace the capital city's skyline three years from now. At 74 stories tall and 1,022 feet high, the downtown Austin mixed-use project — carrying the new name of Waterline — is scheduled to open in late 2026.

Construction is underway at 98 Red River St., near the Austin Convention Center.

Developers of Waterline released specifics about the project September 6. Word surfaced in June 2020 that the Red River site would be home to the state’s tallest building, but the developers hadn’t confirmed the height.

In verifying the height of the building, developers Lincoln Property Co. and Kairoi Residential, along with investment partner PSP Investments, also unveiled details of Waterline such as:

  • 251-room 1 Hotel Austin, the first Texas location for hospitality company SH Hotel Resorts’ sustainability-focused 1 Hotels brand.
  • 700,000 square feet of office space.
  • 352 high-end apartments.

The height of Waterline will eclipse that of Texas’ current titleholder by 5 feet. Houston’s 75-story JP Morgan Chase Tower stands 1,002 feet tall, making it the state’s tallest high-rise.

Of course, Waterline also will reign as Austin’s tallest building. The 66-story, 875-foot-tall Sixth and Guadalupe tower under construction in downtown Austin will temporarily hold the title of Austin’s tallest building.

“Downtown Austin offers one of the most dynamic markets and skylines in the nation, and we’re excited to help drive its ongoing transformation,” Seth Johnston, senior vice president of Lincoln Property, says in a news release. “Waterline marks a new milestone for downtown not only because of its height but also because of the positive impact this project will have on improving connectivity, enhancing public amenities, and attracting more people to this beautiful area of downtown.”

Developers say Waterline will serve as a new gateway from the Central Business District to the Rainey Street entertainment district. The developers will add two pedestrian bridges over Waller Creek from the west, as well as three pedestrian and bicycle access points to Waterloo Greenway from the east.

The development team is contributing $1 million to the Waterloo Greenway initiative to help pay for improvements to the 1.5-mile trail connecting the University of Texas to Lady Bird Lake.

Designed by renowned architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, Waterline will feature floor-to-ceiling windows, warm textures, and native stone.

“Waterline will offer a truly unique experience with unrivaled views, world-class amenities, and a thoughtful design that connects the building’s interior with the project’s unique natural surroundings throughout the building,” says Michael Lynd Jr., CEO of Kairoi Residential. “We’re thrilled to introduce Austin’s next iconic project.”

The building’s ground floor will offer 24,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space overlooking Waller Creek and the Waterloo Greenway.

1 Hotel Austin will occupy the next 13 floors, with a ballroom and meeting spaces on the 14th floor, and a rooftop pool with food and beverage service on the 16th floor.

The office portion of the tower will occupy 27 stories, with a 14th-floor amenity deck offering 24,000 square feet of landscaped outdoor space along with a bar and lounge, indoor meeting spaces, and a prep kitchen for special events.

The apartments will take up the top 33 stories. Residents will enjoy access to two pools on the 41st floor, along with a lounge, bar, kitchen, and co-working space. A movement studio, workout studio, and steam room will be one floor above, in addition to soaking tubs, hammocks, a barbecue pit, and a dining area.

Photo courtesy of Origin Hotel Austin

The 10 hottest Austin hotels to book for a full ACL Fest experience this fall

Night Moves

This year's Austin City Limits Festival is right around the corner, and hotels in Austin are booking up fast. The event — taking place over two weekends, October 7-8 and 14-16 — sees approximately 400,000 people descend on the city's Zilker Park over two weekends, many of whom have to make their way en masse to hotels, perhaps not knowing that P. Terry’s is a great move for a late-night snack well below festival prices.

As one might imagine, hotels around Austin offer ACL deals, but they’re not very well publicized. Frankly, they don’t need to be, because people will find them. And fast. There are two long, official lists of hotels with vacancy on the festival website, for plucky travelers who love to scroll.

For everyone else, here are 10 great hotels and deals to springboard the search, from budget finds to music industry favorites. Since rates are slippery with all the different room sizes and dates available, CultureMap compared the lowest prices from each hotel on the same four nights, and assigned a dollar-sign rating:

$ — $250 or less
$$ — up to $500
$$$ — up to $1,000
$$$$ — above $1,000

At the end of the day (literally), as long as a hotel is safe and comfortable, it’s auxiliary to the ACL experience. But why not have a little extra fun?

Hampton Inn — $
The lowest priced of the entire ACL-sanctioned list, the Hampton Inn at 4141 Governors Row in South Austin will likely still require a paid ride to Zilker Park, about seven miles away. But it’ll be worth it to save hundreds with a few exclusive rate offers remaining. Even if those run out, it’s a reasonable option that’s very close to South Congress. It’s a mile-and-a-half from Cosmic Coffee, an excellent place to wake up before a busy day.

Origin Hotel — $
Origin Hotel, a four-city boutique hotel that just opened in Austin's Mueller neighborhood in June of 2022, is offering a special ACL rate. This deal gives a great opportunity to stay somewhere buzzworthy and unique for roughly the same price as a status-quo national chain. Origin also contains an all-day diner called Blue Lacy, something a little hard to find in Austin. Almost six miles from Zilker, it’ll require a drive, but the more residential area will be a great escape near locally loved restaurants.

Colton House Hotel — $$
Colton House Hotel on South Congress, a new boutique hotel as of January 2021, makes a special offer for ACL guests of four nights, with one night at half off and free parking for anyone with tickets. In addition to its stylish, neutral rooms, the hotel maintains a private yoga studio, great for working on those hamstrings after lots of walking; Zilker Park is about a mile from end to end. Use promo code ACL2022 when booking online.

Hyatt Regency — $$
The closest of the official ACL partnerships is the Hyatt Regency at 208 Barton Springs Road. This is a straight shot to Zilker, with only about a mile-and-a-half of walking. With great views and accessibility to Auditorium Shores and all of downtown, this is a great option for guardians, partners, or friends coming along for the ride who haven’t bought a wristband or tickets every day.

Moxy Hotel — $$
Moxy Hotels have a fun, young vibe in their many locations, with smart, space-saving room designs that help keep prices relatively low for their downtown locations. This one at 2552 Guadalupe St. is just over three miles from Zilker, but because of its West Campus location, it’s very accessible to buses. Moxy doesn’t appear to offer any ACL discounts, but check-in comes with a free cocktail (and sometimes other perks).

Hotel Indigo — $$
Airbnb is not the only option for festival-going pet owners. ACL partner Hotel Indigo accepts pets of up to 50 pounds ($75) and is located on one of Austin’s busiest streets for nightlife Red River. This area is full of live music venues (great for a musical nightcap, which are sure to be raging during the festival), and the hotel is right next to one of Austin’s quintessential bars, Cheer Up Charlies. Intrepid festival-goers could technically walk the two-and-a-half miles to Zilker.

Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt — $$$
A special deal (weekends one and two) from the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt combines a three-night stay with merch and two festival wristbands, for those who haven’t splurged on them yet ($2,850). Even if you have, the Rainey Street hotel is a unique place to extend the musical experience to the point of breaking sanity. Geraldine’s, the excellent rooftop restaurant and bar, has jazz brunches, a “record society,” daily guest artists, and monthly artists in residence.

Soho House — $$$
Don’t count this South Congress members-only option out yet — a Soho Friends membership ($14 per month or $130 per year) is much more affordable than the whole shebang, and allows visitors to book hotel rooms, bring guests, and save on dining and spa packages. Soho House’s ACL special includes welcome cocktails at the very cool Dante’s HiFi vinyl bar, plus a luxurious Sunday brunch for two. And just imagine the rainforest showers after a long day.

Hotel Zaza — $$$
This boutique hotel can offer something priceless during such a crowded time: mobility. Hotel Zaza’s free three-mile shuttle brings guests wherever they ask to go within its downtown radius. Between the ACL shuttle that stops on the same block as the hotel, and the hotel’s shuttle starting at 3 pm, guests may not have to pay for a rideshare throughout their entire trip. Visitors for three nights or more receive a percentage discount.

Hotel Saint Cecilia — $$$$
It doesn’t offer any ACL-specific deals, but it would be a crime not to mention this musical hotel for visitors who really want to commit to the bit. The famous Hotel Saint Cecilia, tucked behind South Congress, played host to the Foo Fighters during their 2015 headlining ACL run, who then recorded a five-track EP there. The rooms are music-themed and have Gibson guitars on loan. Even though there is no ACL discount, there are four-night and pre-booking deals.

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Monumental new sculptures by  renowned 9/11 artist take root at Texas Botanic Garden

blooming work

Here is something new for Texas travelers who enjoy exploring art in nature. An intriguing new collection of sculptures called "Intertwined: Exploring Nature's Networks," by renowned artist Steve Tobin, opened at the Houston Botanic Garden on January 28.

Tobin's collection of pieces soar and wind and unfold against the backdrop of the gardens paths and trees, connecting the bronze, glass, ceramic, and steel sculptures to the landscape.

The connection is important for Tobin, an artist who may be most well known for his Trinity Root, a memorial that was cast from the roots of the tree that protected one of New York City's cathedrals during the 9/11 attacks. As a child, he was known as "Nature Boy," which he says was as apt then as now.

"I would find twigs or mushrooms, and they would mean something to me," he says. "I'm the guy with my nose in the sand and my butt in the air, looking deeper than most people. I think I see more. I think it's part of my DNA."

Originally from Pennsylvania, Tobin graduated from Tulane University in 1979 with a degree in math. He was always drawn to art, however, and his massive creations - from eggs in birds' nests to roots and limbs woven together to branches stretching to sky - evoke the powerful pull he feels to the natural world and a desire to help others see its beauty. The Christian Science Monitor described his works as "monuments to the meeting of science an art."

"Science is more creative that art," he explains. "Scientists have to describe the universe from nothing, and the explanation has to work. Artists can make up whole worlds. Scientists don't get credit for their vast creativity."

By focusing his works on the natural world, Tobin looks to showcase how the two subjects work in harmony, and how people can interact with them. In Eagle Nest, a huge, polished steel egg sits perched in nest.

Polished to a high gloss, the egg becomes a mirror. "You look at the egg and you see yourself," Tobin says. "It shows that you are in the egg."

For Tobin, there is magic in helping people, whether they are art novices or aficionados, find a connection with his art.

"I've done my job when someone has an expression of magic," he says. "And once you open that door, even for a second, it can never be fully closed."

He says he is looking forward to Texas audiences seeing his works in the garden, which he feels is a natural place for his sculptures — the biggest of which is 30 feet high and took 2,000 hours of welding to complete.

Showcasing his sculptures there cements the harmony with nature he feel and thinks is something others should strive to see. Tobin even has a connection to Houston: one of his great friends, a woman he met at Tulane, lives there.

Two other pieces also have roots there. Tobin says Steel Roots will resonate particularly well in Texas. "It's made from repurposed oil pipe, a lot of it from Texas," he says. "So now, it's back home in a different context."

And when Botanic Garden guest encounter the Twisties, they'll likely recall hearing the terms from gymnast Simone Biles, who famously used the word to describe the disconnect she felt between her mind and her body. Tobin's sculptures are between eight and 17 feet high and evoke Asian calligraphy. He describes them as "distorted gymnastics."

Mostly, though, Tobin wants visitors to get a window into how he imagines the world.

"I try to translate into sculpture what I see so people can see what I see."


"Intertwined: Exploring Nature's Networks" runs Saturday, January 28 through August 13 at Houston Botanic Garden, 1 Botanic Garden Ln. Regular garden admission is $15. For tickets and more information, visit Houston Botanic Garden online.

Photo courtesy of Houston Botanic Garden

Tobin's 'Romeo & Juliet' sprouts from the grounds.

Bolstered by 'Yellowstone,' Fort Worth ranks No. 25 on new list of best cities for filmmakers

That's showbiz

Taylor Sheridan continues his magic touch for Fort Worth: For the second year in a row, the city has landed a top-25 spot among the best big cities to live and work as a moviemaker.

Fort Worth repeats at No. 25 on MovieMaker Magazine's 2023 list. It is joined by four other Texas cities in the top 25: Austin (No. 12), Dallas (No. 20), Houston (No. 21), and San Antonio (No. 22).

MovieMaker compiles its annual list based on surveys, production spending, tax incentives, additional research, and personal visits whenever possible — with the notable exclusions of Los Angeles and New York:

"We don’t believe people should have to be rich or well-connected to make movies," writes MovieMaker editor Tim Molloy. "And we know plenty of people who moved to L.A. or New York with filmmaking dreams and ended up working industry-barely-adjacent jobs just to pay the bills. We think the best place to live is one you can afford — a place where you can be happy, inspired, and financially free to pursue your art."

These criteria are themes throughout the ranking: Atlanta, Georgia, took the top spot overall, followed by Vancouver, British Columbia (No. 2), and New Orleans, Louisiana (No. 3). The five Texas cities on the list all boast more affordability than Los Angeles or New York, and each one features a deeply supportive film community and various local incentives.

Fort Worth made the list for the just second year, thanks in large part to the shooting of series in the Yellowstone franchise.

"Fort Worth is the proud home of Taylor Sheridan’s upcoming Paramount+ limited series about Bass Reeves, the once-enslaved man who became a famed federal marshal," Molloy writes. "Sheridan’s Yellowstone prequel 1883 also shoots in Fort Worth, and is based in nearby Weatherford, where Sheridan owns a ranch. Fort Worth offers clear skies, easy permitting, and a vibrant film culture that includes the Lone Star Film Festival.

"The 13th-biggest city in the country also has experienced crews and a cost of living almost exactly in line with the U.S. average. While there’s no official local incentive program, the city’s very accommodating film officials work hard to offer soft incentives like deals on hotels."

Neighboring Dallas came in at No. 20, selected for its location and architecture, among other factors.

"Why choose Dallas? The city offers an online document that addresses just that question, and points to factors including its equal access to both coasts, great weather (except for some cold nights) and striking visuals, including modern and futuristic buildings that form a strikingly camera-worthy nighttime skyline," Molloy writes.

Dallas' diversity, plethora of permitting options, and cost of living also bolster its ranking.

"It’s one of the most diverse cities in the country, with a deep, experienced crew base, easily obtainable permits, and hotel deals to be had — if you’re shooting in Dallas and staying in the city’s hotels for at least 15 nights, you could qualify for up to 10 percent back on rooms," Molloy writes. "It’s a great city to work on other people’s projects so you can save enough money to create your own, and is almost exactly in line with the U.S. average cost of living. Just drive or walk its streets and it’s impossible not to notice the new construction and businesses popping up all over town, and it’s full of rising filmmakers who pitch in to do each other favors and bring one another’s projects to life."

He adds that the Dallas International Film Festival does an admirable job of showcasing must-see films, such as last year’s documentary Juneteenth: Faith and Freedom.

Elsewhere in Texas

"Texas is booming, as you’re about to see from the five Lone Star State cities on this list — all of which would be higher in our rankings if Texas offered more generous tax incentives," Molloy writes. "Still, the state is working hard to attract film and TV projects, and the signs of growth are obvious all over the state."

Austin unsurprisingly took the highest Texas spot at No. 12, scoring points beyond the obvious benefits of SXSW. MovieMaker praised smaller fests like the Austin Film Festival, as well as the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, and Austin's impressive list of filmmaker residents (Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, and Terrence Malick — to name a few).

Houston placed right behind Dallas at No. 21, with MovieMaker touting its diversity and low cost of living.

San Antonio came in fourth among Texas cities at No. 22, selected for its plethora of permitting options, reinstatement of local film incentives, and growing educational opportunities such as the University of Texas at San Antonio’s new Bachelor of Fine Arts Film & Media Studies program.

New Fort Worth ghost tour showcases the spookier side of the Stockyards

Ghosts of Cowtown

A national travel company is showing off the scary side of the Fort Worth Stockyards with the launch of a brand new ghost tour.

US Ghost Adventures, an Orlando-based company that hosts ghost tours in some of the most haunted cities in the country, has just added Fort Worth to its list of tour locations. The one-hour tour is held nightly at 8 pm and includes eight stops within a one-mile walking distance.

Some of the haunted highlights from the tour include Miss Molly’s Hotel (109 W. Exchange Ave.), a former brothel where unexplained activity – think lights turning on and off, heavy breathing, and footsteps heard on the stairs – have long been documented.

The Stockyards Hotel (109 E. Exchange Ave.), built in 1904, is said to be home to the apparition of its developer, Colonel T.M. Thannisch, as well as rodeo cowboy C.D. “Junior” Colwell, who is said to have committed suicide to avoid jailtime for swindling people.

Tour participants will also visit the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame (2515 Rodeo Plaza), where it’s said the six-foot, four-inch ghost of famed actor John Wayne has been seen admiring the cowboy memorabilia on display – even with a museum dedicated solely to him located just steps way at John Wayne: An American Experience.

While other ghost tours exist in Fort Worth, US Ghost Adventures owner Lance Zaal says his tour specializes in storytelling.

“US Ghost Adventures offers EMF detectors and focuses on telling the history behind the hauntings,” says Zaal.

When paranormal activity takes places, theories suggest electromagnetic disturbances can be seen with electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors. Lights on the detector indicate the strength of the disturbances, with a green light meaning little to no activity, yellow meaning moderate activity, and red meaning high activity.

Fort Worth was one of 12 new cities recently added to the US Ghost Adventures roster, as well as Houston and El Paso. The company operates tours in more than 50 cities across the country, and full list of new cities include:

The tour is $25 per person and there’s a two-person minimum. There's also an option to add a 30-minute bonus tour of four additional stops for just $6 per person.

Reservations should be made in advance online, and participants should meet at the Livestock Exchange Building at 131 E. Exchange Ave.