A friend invited us to visit his new studio in Austin, TX and we jumped at the chance. I’ve heard so many good things about the Austin, I was in a bad mood anyway, totally ready to get out of town. Just before I’d been hanging at CENTER STUDIOS in L.A. hearing bands rehearse for Coachella (more than half the so-called “groups” were using drum machines). Drum machines have no soul and don’t make weird faces.
A city like Austin celebrates full bands and real music….just what I needed and we loved it!
Our first night we head to Rainey Street, which is famous for food trucks and at least 20 open, outdoor bars with plenty of live music and great drinks. As usual, we didn’t have the heart to leave our dog, “Beverly Hills” Bella, in the room. Bella fit right in the party crowd. We must have picked the right bar since as soon as we go in, a fan recognized me. Thus we have our first selfie of the trip.
Our favorite bars seem to be The Container Bar (freight containers stacked up like Lego blocks), No Va (it’s just a chill place) and Bungalow. It ended up being a late night, these bars stay open till 4:00 am. Holland loves grabbing funny pics of “Beverly Hills” Bella and this own pretty much sums up everything:
Hungover on a hot day, we spent the next day lounging at the pool. After an afternoon nap and almond milk Latte, we figured we rebounded and looked enough to grab another pic.
In a temporary moment of sobriety, we took an Uber to my friend’s studio (note: there’s really no Uber is Austin, the only bad thing about the place. We had to sign up for a local companies ride sharing service….politics!). My bro opened a killer place in a vintage house on the East Side of the City. This is the up and coming neighborhood, old homes being converted into a hipster enclave the way Silverlake changed in L.A. 20 years ago. With today’s modern gear, you can hook up a killer studio for not a lot of dough. But you still need good microphones! I was able to help out a bit bringing in a set of Lewitt brand drum mics. I’ve known about Lewitt mics since I did a session at the studios of Atlantic Records in L.A. and I was glad to see my buddy’s drum room well-sorted.
The greatest concentration of music venues in Austin are located around 6th Street, the Warehouse District, Downtown, Central East Austin, South Congress, the Red River District, the South Lamar, and South Austin. That night, he suggested we hit the Continental Club on South Congress, one of Austin’s several storied watering holes to hear some live sounds. The historic Austin live music destination first opened its doors in 1955 and today is a mecca for roots, rockabilly, country, swing, rock and blues music every night of the week. We caught a hysterical act that was a mix of Johnny Cash and the Clash. It seemed like the only place you’d catch something like this is here in Austin.
The next day we borrowed bikes which is the best way to learn your way around. Austin’s a great city, which is why so many people from L.A. moved here. It’s a bit of a anomolous place in TX. Unlike Dallas, you don’t see a mega church or a strip club on every corner. The food is great and the people are cool. We did lunch at a food truck called “The Electric Cock” that Holland said was “finger lickin’ good” LoL.
The hotel had a Happy Hour we’d been avoiding but I could no longer resist the chance for some free local beer, which tasted great. Thus resumed our photo safari and I grabbed a great picture of “Hollywood” Holland and “Beverly Hills” Bella looking positively regal in front of the hotel fireplace:
Holland is great at coming up with funny captions for her pictures. For this one, she could find nothing better than a quote by Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy from the film Anchorman, “I don’t know how to put this but we’re kind of a big deal. People know us. We own many leather-bound books and our apartment smells of rich mahogany.” It’s a great reminder that you can’t take yourself too seriously. That fit perfectly in Austin, a City with signs around town imploring locals to “keep Austin weird.”
Austin’s official motto is the “Live Music Capital of the World.” On any given night, one can find a wide variety of live music performances. Our last night was the chance to check out Antone’s, another of the city’s legendary venues for live music. If there’s such a thing as the “Austin sound,” it began in the early 70’s when, Wikipedia says, “a new form of country music exploded on the scene that turned its back on Nashville and embraced the counterculture.” Around that time, Willie Nelson left Nashville once and for all and moved to Austin, joining several other talented nonconformists and recent transplants including Steve Earle, Waylon Jennings and others.
Willie is credited with bringing the long-hairs and the rednecks together and Austin became renowned for nurturing talented musicians who didn’t fit the mold anywhere else who were drawn in by the city’s creative vibe, liberal politics, and affordable living. The sound is an eclectic mix of folk, blues, jazz, bluegrass, tejano, zydeco, new wave, punk, and indie music.
Holland loves to catch Bella in cute or embarrassing pictures. Admittedly, this was a long day for our fur-kid who was being dragged around Austin from bar to music store, to being crammed in the front basket of a bicycle. By the end of the day, “Beverly Hills” Bella had enough.
We took an evening flight to L.A. and spent our last day renting a small boat and just floating Lake Travis, about 40 minutes from Austin. We hadn’t even left and were talking about renting a big home, bringing friends and coming back. That’s the sign of a good trip!