I’ve been looking forward to seeing the new Central Library, an evolutionary leap into the future of community reading and reflection. To get the most from my visit, I walked from the hike and bike trail, a luxury I truly enjoy.
There is always construction in downtown Austin, an eager beaver metropolis bent on eliminating the very things that made it so delightful. The new Central Library, however, is an investment in our collective soul. It’s shiny and new, but mindful of our need to find a shared sanctuary. This is a cathedral of libraries, a stadium among warehouses. The reading rooms are varied, the design flows aesthetically and there are good reading nooks everywhere.
Art and music spaces and rooms to write and collaborate are sprinkled throughout. The Lance Letscher and the Armadillo Art Squad exhibits were authentically weird and brought back fond memories of great Austin eras in music and art.
With so many nooks and crannies to explore, the Austin Central Library is a perfect place to rediscover your joy in reading. For many screen junkies, this will be a great way to fall in love with a good book and get off the endless cycle of bad news. Saunter over, it’s a beautiful day.
It’s impossible to resist the allure of a sunny autumn day, so I took my camera with me to the hike and bike trail at Ladybird Lake. Since you never know what will catch your eye, I started architecturally and flowed into the colors of fall vegetation. Rest in joy Chris, remembering your sweet smile and SRV tearing it up at Auditorium Shores.
Jim, a native Texan, grew up in San Antonio and has lived in Austin 20 years. He captures organic imagery such as flowers, fruits, herbs, and leaves using high resolution digital scanners and macro photography. The images are rendered onto metallic substrates and mounted under acrylic glass and resins. The resulting pieces are detailed, vibrant, colorful images that celebrate the infinite complexity of life.
Jim is the owner of the Graeber House, an architectural marvel tucked between the 512 Bar and the Museum of the Weird, at once in the thick of the action and yet, a sanctuary of good taste. If you have been to dirty sixth lately, you know what a rarity that is. Fortunately, it’s a block away from 5th street with Antone’s, Eddie V’s, Russian House and Trinity Hall.
Keep an eye out for more weeknight pop up shows and cultural events from Jim Waltrip and Suzy French. The Graeber House is well worth the visit.
The B3 Summit at Antone’s this Saturday reminded me of why I love this city. Where else will four internationally renowned jazz, rock, soul and funk influenced organists share a bill designed for music nerds and musicians? I predict we will not see the likes of a groove this deep for some time.
The Hammond B3 is part of the soundtrack of our lives, from its heyday in the 50’s and 60’s in jazz or rock. From Ray Manzarek of the Doors to the incomparable Jimmy Smith, it’s the “take me out to the ballgame” sound of classic Americana.
Ike Stubblefield has played with Motown legends like the Four Tops, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves, Stevie Wonder and Rare Earth. His soulful R&B style helped forge the sound of Al Green, Ike & Tina Turner, Curtis Mayfield, B.B. King, The Pointer Sisters and George Benson and more recently, Cee Lo Green. Ike’s band is the first featured in the video highlights below.
Luckily, three of these four B3 masters live in Austin. Red Young has played with musicians ranging in style from: Eric Burdon, Linda Ronstadt, Dan Hicks, Joan Armatrading and George Clinton to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker with time in between on the Sonny and Cher show. More entrepreneurial than most, he has owned nightclubs and performs throughout the world in many different formats – both piano, organ, on vocals, conducting, producing and arranging his own and others’ compositions. See upcoming gigs for the many flavors of Red. Brannen Temple, the drummer featured in the video has worked with Eric Burdon, Lizz Wright, The Dixie Chicks, Sheena Easton, Chaka Kahn and too many Austin acts to name. Look for him at the One 2 One, Elephant Room and Antone’s with Red Young and many others. Mike Malone, the saxophonist featured in the video, plays with NuJazzSwing and often with Brannen Temple and other jazz musicians in town.
Dr. James Polk & Centerpeace may keep a more relaxed pace than his counterparts, but he is no lightweight on the national music scene. Polk is best-known for his work with Ray Charles, touring as an organist, pianist, writer, arranger and conductor from 1978 to 1985. He’s Texas born and bred, with roots in Deep Elum, along with Ornette Coleman. He moved to Austin in the 1970’s, forming James Polk and the Brothers, featuring Angela Strehli, with WC Clark on bass and John X Reed on guitar. These days, his main focus is on the Dr. James Polk Academy of Arts and Technology and helping to hold down the jazz scene in Austin.
Two months ago I attended one of the Austin Music Summit meetings at Strange Brew and met Bak Zoumanigui, an Austin podcaster and blogger. A veteran of Austin’s nightlife, his website The FeedBak features videos and podcasts from 2 am interviews, stories in the night and most recently, three excellent shows highlighting the City of Austin’s process of soliciting feedback from citizens at art and music summits. The recommendations for stabilizing the Austin creative ecosystem can be found here.
I’ve been here since the 1970’s, going to school, working at UT, the Austin Public Libraries, as a waitress, gallery assistant and unpaid artist and writer. Artists and musicians created what is a now storied entertainment scene during a time in which housing and the cost of living was kind to creatives. The same two bedroom cottage I rented in Travis Heights for $125 a month in 1976 would sell for at least $500,000 now. Affordability is one of the biggest challenges working artists and musicians face in 21st Century Austin.
This is an ongoing conversation, in the meantime check FeedBak podcasts to catch up:
FDBK Ep. 098 – Save Austin Music Part 1 – Work With The City. Do Not Rely On It
Interviews with Rebecca Farrell, an attorney at Austin Music Law and Tee Double, the founder of Urban Artist Alliance, helping urban artists learn about the business side of the music industry.
FDBK Ep. 099 – Save Austin Music Part 2 – Bet On Music Tech
Yesterday, Bak talked with Music Summit organizers at City Hall in his 100th podcast for the Feedbak. If you were not able to attend the meetings, these conversations are the next best thing. Please give them a listen and use the link in the photo below for the last in the series. Austin is striving to find ways to keep the city livable for artists and musicians. Thanks Bak, for getting the word out and please consider joining the fight and donating to the FeedBak!
The collective at the Thornton Road Studios, located by ABGB at Oltorf and Thornton Road boasts an important victory for artists trying to live and work in Austin. In February, the Austin City Council decided 10 -1 in favor of denying a request for a zoning change, which would have razed the studio complex in favor of a mixed use development (read more condos). It seems that every available parcel of land in South Austin is being gobbled up, transforming lush, green tracts on Del Curto Drive and Clawson Lane into crowded, condo tunnels. Mayor Steve Adler has launched the Austin Music and Creative Omnibus Resolution which seeks input from the creative sector on keeping Austin artist friendly, stemming the tide of increasingly unaffordable housing and venue loss. In short, a battle for the soul-y of our city and I don’t just mean our “brand.” This is one of a series of posts about the summits, which The Austin Chronicle reported on in April.
In addition to the creation of a Cultural District downtown on Red River and the thinkEAST living and working development, I would encourage cultivating creative corridors that are already developing organically in South Austin (SOCO, SOLA and SOCHACA) and in North Austin (BURO). Rather than building new units, it might be wise for the city to reclaim and upgrade apartments and offer grants to venues (like Strange Brew) that share an intention to grow collaboratively with other vendors or partners like ACC.
My first trip to the new Antone’s was also my first live Maceo Parker experience. I’ve been a fan since his James Brown days, then Parliament, Life on Planet Groove and beyond. He’s still 2% jazz and 98% funky. The band featured in the video below includes: Maceo Parker (sax/flute/vocals), Dennis Rollins (trombone), Will Boulware (keys), Bruno Speight (guitar), Rodney “Skeet” Curtis (bass), Marcus Parker (drums), Martha High (vocals) and Corey Parker (vocals).
Hard to keep the camera still when you gotta shake everything you got. Happy music for him and all the fans getting their groove on. I liked the new Antone’s location, next to Eddie V’s and the Russian House, which long since replaced Amdur gallery on 5th. What’s old is new on a block where I worked and played for many years.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes and a consortium of private partners and foundations have created a community for homeless residents that could serve as a template for many who are interested in sustainable co-housing . The village consists of tiny homes, tent and teepee dwellings with a section for RVs with hook ups. Residents pay rent, ranging from $225 to $400 (all bills paid) depending on whether they opt for a tent, RV or house.
The collaboration of non-profits, architects and Austin residents has come together in ways that highlight their talents and commitment. As you walk the grounds, the feeling of being in a village built to encourage community, while still allowing for privacy and uniqueness is reflected in the diversity of homes and styles, obviously crafted with pride and creativity. It is a very human community on 27 acres designed to be partially self-sustaining.
Bath houses with private shower and toilet facilities and a community kitchen, gardens, a chicken coop and a small herd of dairy goats provide work, sustenance and healthy social opportunities. Bee hives are planned and an art house, a forge and onsite wi-fi will support micro-enterprise development and job seekers who wish to reenter or join the workforce. Onsite health services and a new bus stop en route to Austin help residents take care of their basic needs and participate in the care and support their evolving community provides. Members of the Mobile Loaves and Fishes mission are in residence to assist and counsel those with questions or concerns. As Sociology doctoral student, Brandon Robinson said, “This is a dissertation waiting to happen.” The data from this project will be invaluable in funding future villages and in keeping this one viable. From Invisible in Austin to Community First, there is plenty for our ethnographers to research.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes has been a source of sustainment and support for hungry people in Austin for many years. Their model of community first is an inspiration to many who have partnered to turn this idea into an exciting reality, founded on love and respect. They = we.