By Chris-Rachael O... / Jul 9, 2012
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Articles on this Page
- 10/09/12--23:28: _Taming the Beast: B...
- 10/10/12--01:27: _CEOs and Tech Pros ...
- 10/10/12--08:10: _ACL Fest Avoidance ...
- 10/10/12--23:39: _This Week in Geek -...
- 10/11/12--01:37: _Top 10 Quick Breaks...
- 10/11/12--08:23: _2012 ACL Fest Avoid...
- 10/11/12--09:32: _2012 ACL Fest Survi...
- 10/13/12--08:32: _Lessons Learned at ...
- 10/13/12--09:27: _My Weezer Rollercoa...
- 10/13/12--10:10: _Video Highlights fr...
- 10/13/12--13:10: _Festival Friday: Th...
- 10/13/12--21:43: _Kickstarter of the ...
- 10/14/12--07:28: _Didn’t Your Momma T...
- 10/14/12--07:55: _The Infected Zone: ...
- 10/15/12--07:57: _ACL Recap: Best Ide...
- 10/15/12--09:19: _Most Memorable ACL ...
- 10/15/12--21:38: _Austin Tech Job Rou...
- 10/04/12--09:29: _3D Printing: The Go...
- 10/04/12--10:17: _Willie’s Roadhouse ...
- 10/04/12--17:29: _Frank "Fruit Tree" ...
- 10/09/12--23:28: Taming the Beast: Backstage at ACL
- 10/10/12--01:27: CEOs and Tech Pros Confide Their Favorite Austin-Born Technologies
- 10/10/12--08:10: ACL Fest Avoidance Guide (Part 2): Day & Evening Excursions
- 10/10/12--23:39: This Week in Geek - October 11-17: ACL Fest Escapist Edition
- 10/11/12--01:37: Top 10 Quick Breaks from ACL Music Fest
- Flipnotics (1601 Barton Springs Rd.): One of Austin’s veteran indie java houses has those shots of caffeine you need plus pastries and sandwiches and a rustic porch where you can sit and rest your weary dogs. (Pictured at night at right.)
- Juiceland (1825 Barton Springs Rd. & 2307 Lake Austin Boulevard): A short stroll from either festival gate you’ll find thirst quenching and healthy fresh fruit and veggies juice and aguas frescas.
- Flip Happy Crepes (400 Jessie St.): One of Austin’s first and still best food trailers serves up scrumptiously savory crepes from morning to early afternoon and at dinnertime on Saturday.
- Deep Eddy Cabaret (2315 Lake Austin Blvd.): Funky, friendly old-school Austin-style neighborhood beer bar where the dark room and cold brews on top or bottled provide a relaxing respite from the Fest. (See map at bottom for pedestrian bridge across the river.)
- Barton Springs Pool (2201 Barton Springs Rd.): Out the gate and over the rise to the south lies Austin’s crown jewel. This over 1/8-mile long spring-fed slice of swimming heaven remains a brisk and refreshing 68 degrees year-round. Changing rooms to slip on your swimsuit and get cool. (Pictured at left; See Related Articles for info as well on nearby Deep Eddy Pool.)
- Casa de la Luz (1710 Toomey Rd.): Organic vegan meals so tasty even carnivores and junk food junkies will swoon.
- P. Terry’s Burger Stand (404 S. Lamar Blvd.): All natural beef and chicken burgers, delectable french fries and thick hearty milkshakes with all the speedy service of fast food and none of its sins.
- Chuy’s (1728 Barton Springs Rd.): This longtime local Mexican food fave serves up big and hearty plates that will sate any appetite within a delightfully kitschy decor. Known for their tangy margaritas and yummy queso. Historical footnote: Where First Twins Jenna and Barbara Bush were popped for underage drinking in 2001.
- Shady Grove (1624 Barton Springs Rd.): Great burgers, salads, sandwiches, fries with or sans a variety of toppings and dinner plates and a patio where you can chow down and watch the parade of people heading to and from the fest.
- Peter Pan Mini-Golf (1207 Barton Springs Rd.): Austinites have been playfully putting since 1946 at this recently restored little wonderland with not one but two 18-hole courses. Open until 1 a.m. Saturday for after-Fest fun.
- Bonus: Magnolia Cafe (2401 Lake Austin Blvd.): Magnolia is Austin's go-to 24-hour cafe, and there's a Magnolia just across the pedestrian bridge over the river. If there's a wait, pop over to the Deep Eddy Cabaret across the street for a Lone Star to kill a few minutes.
- 10/11/12--08:23: 2012 ACL Fest Avoidance Guide (Part 3): Weekend Activites & Events
- 10/11/12--09:32: 2012 ACL Fest Survival Guide: Mobility, Clothes, Gear & More
- Getting there (and back again!)
- What to wear
- Key items to include in your backpack (and what's not allowed in)
- A note for smokers
- By Car: You can park with reasonable walking distance in the garages at One Texas Center (505 Barton Springs Rd.; free after 5 p.m. Friday and $10 Sat./Sun.) or the Palmer Events Center (900 Barton Springs Rd; usually $7 for most events), plus some nearby business surface lots are often offered ad hoc for a price. Passenger drop-off is by Austin High School on Stephen F. Austin Drive (by MoPac and off W. Cesar Chavez; no parking in lots there; consider car-pooling and a rotating designated driver to go park the vehicle and use alternate means). Limited mobility impaired accessible parking is available adjacent to the Fest site, first come, first served, permit holder must be in the vehicle and ID will be checked.
- By Bus: A regular shuttle service runs from Republic Square (Fourth & Guadalupe Sts. and not too far a walk from many downtown hotels) to and from Zlker Park. If you are going to try parking on the street anywhere downtown, mind the signs and meters and make sure any garage has day-into-night ACL parking). Many Capital Metro buses run to stops within walking distance of the fest; one-way is a buck (in dollar bills or change other than pennies; no credit/debit swipes, alas) but get a 24-hour day pass for $2 if you plan on round trips. Scan signs with QR codes at stops to store the arrival schedules both ways in your smartphone; a text option is also available. See map below or the Cap Metro website for more info.
- By Bike: One of the best ways to get back and forth, though the rides back uphill in South Austin can be daunting if you’re not in shape. Loads of bike racks at both entrances and Mellow Johnny’s Bike Stations for repairs and needs. Here’s a Google search of nearby shops with bike rentals.
- By Motorcycle/Scooter: Very close by parking a short stroll from the Barton Springs Rd. fest entrance at the Robert E. Lee ballfield lot.
- By Pedicab: They’ll be roaming looking to make big book as they do during major downtown events. No set rates but $10 to anywhere along Barton Springs Rd and $15 or $20 across the river; it’s all negotiable (though last year one cycle coolie tried to bilk one of our writers for $75). Pay ‘em well as they work every weekend and usually get no more than a bag of peanuts.
- Austin car2go, a car-sharing service, has a 1:30-8:30 p.m. drop off site at One Texas Center. Out-of-town members can use the sharing service here.
- By Parachute: Expensive, inadvisable. Plus no return trip option.
- DON’T wear something that you can’t throw in the washing machine. A floaty, gauzy dress may seem like a good idea because it keeps you cool, but if it is dry-clean only, leave it at home. At the very least, whatever you wear is probably going to get some grass or dirt stains from sitting on the ground, and if we see rain you could end up six inches deep in mud.
- DO layer up. Start with a bikini or very light tank top underneath that you can strip down to if the heat becomes too extreme, or you want to wander off and take a dip in the springs. Then add a light shirt or dress. Top it with a light, hooded jacket or sweater that can handle getting wet in case of rain. Just because it drizzles, doesn’t mean the music will stop, and neither should you.
- DON’T leave your legs uncovered. The big field where ACL Festival takes place is a giant park, complete with spiny grass, ant hills and other bugs. So while shorty shorts or a mini skirt may seem like a sexy or comfortable option, it's going to be way less comfortable when you’re trying to take a break on the grass and are being stabbed or bitten on the backs of your legs. If you must show off your gams, bring a blanket to put down underneath you.
- DO wear sunglasses and bring ponytail holders.
- DON’T wear your $300 Chanel sunglasses.
- DO bring storage space: a backpack with plenty of room to hold any layers that you shed during the day, as well as show shirts and CDs that you can pick up from merch when you realize that band you’d never heard before kind of rocks.
- DON’T wear heels of any kind. Maybe you are one of those women who can walk a mile in stilettos, or maybe you have that favorite pair of platform sandals that you swear you can wear anywhere. That’s cool. I’m jealous and you are better than me. Now please, ditch the pride and dig out some comfortable flip flops or tennis shoes. There is plenty of uneven ground in the park where a wrong step in heels could mean a twisted ankle, and transportation being what it is, I have on several occasions been forced to walk from the park to downtown Austin after a day of being on my feet.
- DO bring extra shoes in your bag. Flip flops break, and sometimes shoes get really uncomfortable when you have been walking in them for hours. It’s a little anal, but having an extra pair on hand can save you a lot of hassle.
- DO wear your cargo pants. Even if your girlfriend or boyfriend hates them, you’ll need the storage space for the schedule, merch and stuffing your hands in while you try to look cool listening to music.
- DO bring a wind breaker. Layering doesn’t matter as much for dudes, because you can always throw off the shirt when it gets too hot and let it all hang out (as long as you don’t mind a probable sunburn). If you prefer to keep your belly under wraps, then stick with a light T-shirt underneath, and bring a good rain-resistant jacket or windbreaker in case of rain or cool breezes.
- DO bring your shades.
- DO wear the most comfortable shoes you own, because if anyone in your party wore uncomfortable shoes, you’re probably going to be the one walking four miles back to wherever you parked your car and then returning to pick them up. – Jackie Stone
- 10/13/12--08:32: Lessons Learned at ACL Fest Day 1
- 10/13/12--09:27: My Weezer Rollercoaster
- 10/13/12--10:10: Video Highlights from ACL Day One
- 10/13/12--13:10: Festival Friday: The Rob Report
- 10/13/12--21:43: Kickstarter of the Week: Taskbox
- 10/14/12--07:28: Didn’t Your Momma Teach Ya?
- 10/14/12--07:55: The Infected Zone: It's Worse Than We Thought
- 10/15/12--07:57: ACL Recap: Best Ideas for a Festival
- 10/15/12--09:19: Most Memorable ACL Fest 2012 Moments
- 10/15/12--21:38: Austin Tech Job Roundup October 15
- 10/04/12--09:29: 3D Printing: The Good, The Bad and The Disturbing
- 10/04/12--17:29: Frank "Fruit Tree" Ramsey Shames the Devil
The constant of a music festival is noise: the rushing push of a crowd, the howl of guitars, the thump in your breast from a whomping backline, the keynotes hit by voices.
Backstage it's much the same: the crackle of radio chatter, the curses and heat that rise from roadies humping gear, voices hoarse from shouting, the urgent rumble of something that has to happen now, now, now. It's never truly scripted, never without a goal, it just is.
Late one night, a number of years into the carnival ride that is ACL Fest, I realized the power of that amazing, beautiful cacophony.
I had just “highgraded” a golf cart. By this I mean I cut the zip ties connecting it to the small trailer attached, used my universal key to start it up, and drove the DJ who played the Sunday night closing party and his gear, after loading it in, to his car in far Lot B. After I dropped him off I stopped for a bit at the highest point on the festival grounds.
It must have been 4 a.m. Monday morning, long after the last guest and even most of the hardworking staff and after the amazing volunteers and trash collectors had all gone. Looking east down the slope of Zilker Park’s Great Lawn to the main stage, the field was as pristine as the halogens could make it after three long days and nights.
I felt like the only person awake in Austin. There was simply silence in a space so recently filled with every thronging sound. I realized how fleeting it is, this thing we create year after year; we build a needs-based machine unique to its time. As soon as we perfect it we dismantle it, in some ways dismember it, and we are left with something else, something new.
The Heart & Grinding Gears of the Festival Monster
I have worked as an ACL Ambassador for, well, this will be my ninth year, I guess. An Ambassador plays a communications, support, transportation, trouble-shooting, jack-of-all trades sort of role. We assist our Stage Manager as artist liaison, manage dressing room rotation, placate managers, greet artists, store luggage, make sure everyone on your crew gets fed if they cannot make it to catering, fix what needs to be fixed, and head off a lot of snafus off at the pass. We are eyes, ears and wheels on site.
I have played seamstress on the fly, used duct tape in interesting ways, discussed classical music with Social D, provided tissues, muscle, humor, flexibility and infinite patience over the years. Most of us return year after year, some also work Lollapalooza in Chicago, some of us are lifers in the world of production, for some it's about stepping outside of normal life. It is an awesome group of folks ably led by a few fearless leaders. As soon as it ends, throughout the year in between, I can't wait for October.
I come to the gig pretty naturally, myself. I am not a lifer, though I sometimes think I should be, and my pedigree is pretty good. I've lived in Austin for most of 27 years. Like a good Austinite, I leave and then come back after some adventure or another. I am the child of a professional musician, songwriter, rogue, picker, Poet Laureate of the State of Texas, Steven Fromholz. I had the honor to work at Antone's blues club for seven years back when Albert Collins, John Lee Hooker, and Hubert Sumlin played there, and worked for South by Southwest for six years. Add on any number of benefits, special events, one offs, a few tours, and I know where the bug comes from. I really do love production.
One of the best things for me is the stealth by which we work. Some of the greatest saves are the ones that go unnoticed until rehashed in fits and starts throughout the weekend. Everyone is on our own trip. The moment that means the world to you, the Hail Mary save, slides by all but imperceptibly in the face of controlled chaos.
Case in point: probably the last year we placed the headliner dressing rooms in the Artist Village, I was point girl for the 18 or so Ambassadors. I held (literally) the keys to the castles. We are talking a bank bag's worth of keys, individually marked, multiple to each door, two doors to a trailer, for probably 10 trailers. It was a lot of keys.
Dressing rooms are locked when an artist is performing, or eating, what have you; they're artists.
Cee-Lo (a total sweetie) is playing ACL for the second time and has a flight later on in the evening. I am about my business.
It's dusk and the light is bad. I get a radio call that Mr. Lo is heading back to the Village much earlier than expected. He's pulling up in a golf cart, actually. So I am sprinting through the dimming light, dodging drunks and the clueless, when some guy zigs I zag, I go ass over elbows in a perfectly executed roll, come up with an unzipped bank bag – remember the bank bag? – masses of keys still in my grip, make it to the trailer door and it is open when Cee-Lo strolls up. No sweat. And no one saw it. No one.
Another one: It was the first time the Robert Randolph and the Family Band played ACL. He's on the main stage, and we find out five minutes before show time he needs a straight-backed, armless wooden chair from which to play. Now this is early in ACL history, so crowds are smaller and we are able to drive our carts onto the field as needs be. It's 2003, 'cause the String Cheese Incident is playing my stage as well. Now, I've never been much of a jam band kind of girl, but these guys were awesome! Super funny, talented I found, and very game.
I jump into my golf cart and Keith, their bass player, jumps on the side and says, "Let's go! You drive, I spy!" We careen toward the market area on the north side of the field, scanning each merchant’s setup, hunting for the needed chair. In minutes we spot one, con the sweet hawker of hats and scarves out of the chair for a bit, roll hard back to the stage to pass it up to stage left, whereupon it is placed center stage, and Robert Randolph strides out and sits. He owned the crowd. I got the chair signed by Robert, returned it to the slightly bemused vendor, and the show went on. I am pretty sure this is the year I stripped the thorns off a big ass bucket of red roses so Robert could throw them to the adoring ladies without injury, but I could be wrong.
Blood, Sweat & Beer
The world of production, whatever its form, is not necessarily pretty. Blood, sweat, and beers encapsulate a good bit of the ethos, but it does go deeper than that.
The flexibility and professionalism, the stamina and creativity of the folks who build this machine are impressive. Deus ex machina. When we, the Ambassadors, volunteers, vendors, beer gods, booth minders, merch wranglers hit the site, we are pretty fresh. Others have been practically living onsite. The riggers, lightening bugs, sound and Jumbotron dudes... grunts – these are the unsung of the thing. Catering is up and running a good two weeks before the gates are even up, never mind open. They are feeding tired, sore, sweaty crews way before they feed rock stars.
The buildout, the actual nuts and bolts, the bones of the thing, is amazing to watch. I've taken to riding my bike by a week out to watch the skeleton of each stage take shape. Every year there is tweaking, every year lessons learned last year are applied, tweaked again, memories are checked. What worked, what was a cluster*&$# despite best intentions, what can't be done without. Every year there is some new idea, some spin, some cool addition. Good production knows what works in say, Chicago, might not work in Austin.
We’ve Seen Fire and We’ve Seen Rain
Good production deals well with crises. ACL Fest 2007, which I call The Year of the Fires, is a great example. I was in our production trailer when I got a frantic call from one of my Ambassadors flipping out over smoke spotted on the north side of the festival site just stage right of the main stage. It had just gone noon, I think, and Pete Yorn starting his set. I calmed the voice down, directed him to the appropriate radio channel and walked over to look out the trailer window.
Black oily smoke was starting to slowly billow over the tops of the line of blue porta-potties across the festival grounds. "Uh, guys, you better have a look at this," I say to the production honchos in the trailer. "NO, really." Amid speculation on possible smoke from BBQ pits in the food court, flames could be seen licking through the dense smoke a good 20 feet in the air. Not smoke from a BBQ pit.
The nozzle and hose had come free from the propane tank on a grill and was basically whipping around like a deranged viper, spraying flames. I cannot imagine how fast the whole scene went out of control. What I can tell you is how quickly we locked down the site, how amazingly fast the Austin Fire Department responded, and how, when the Austin police officers on site linked arms to slowly push the crowd back from moving closer to gape (as humans do), folks from the crowd stepped in to fill missing links in the human chain. Everyone performed brilliantly.
Pete Yorn played on. Some guy stepped out of a porta-john just twenty feet or so from where the fire had begun feeding on the blue plastic and chemicals a few 'johns down the line. He was completely oblivious as he zipped his fly.
Thankfully, no one was killed. There were some injuries, one person was medevaced to San Antonio. It could have been so much worse. I think we were back on track within an hour.
Fire number two, and this one has a great irony sidebar: A good bunch of the production crew left shortly after ACL that year for Bryan-College Station to put on a festival called Big State, also produced by ACL/Lollapalooza promoters C3 Presents. It was held on the grounds of the Texas Motor Speedway and featured a country/Americana/roots rock line-up. Lyle Lovett, Drive by Truckers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Flatlanders, that sort of thing. There was a BBQ cook-off, camping, and exhibition races on the two mile banked track.
The last time there had been a music festival at the track was in 1974, and Robert Earl Keen was in attendance at a Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic as a very young man. The line-up at that event is probably lost in time (maybe not; check the Internet), but what was remembered was the grass fire started by hot exhaust systems on recently parked cars. Add in a stiff breeze, and some twenty cars, including Mr. Keen’s, were burned down to their chassis. It's memorialized on the cover of his album Picnic.
Fast forward to 2007. It was second day of the two-day event, and Robert Earl Keen is set to play later in the afternoon. The three Charlies of C3 are taking turns on the track in racecars (driven by racecar drivers) going very fast. Things are bumping along when I look up the embanked grandstand toward the parking lot and see smoke. Lots of smoke. It seems a grass fire was started by the cooling exhaust systems of recently parked cars. Approximately 19 cars burned down to their chassis. We blamed Robert Earl, of course.
We did learn some lessons from that experience, as we do from all of them, not the least of which is that Bryan-College Station is just not quite ready for prime time. I did, however, get to go 125 mph in a Mercedes pace car.
Another constant, and certainly in Texas, is our big-ass weather. Where we saw fire, so did we rain. September and October are very different weather months. And as is the way in the Lone Star autumn season, one never can be sure what to expect. Backstage, however, we are ready for anything and rise to whatever challenges that get thrown our way.
The Year of Primordial Soup, 2009, was epic. Rain drenched the site and everyone in it, but at least it wasn't cold. This was a good thing. So even though we were slugging through deep muddy Zilk – my coinage for the Great Lawn soil when the weather transforms it – including the small percentage of horse and cow poo that was mixed in there as fertilizer, we were not chilled. I wore my wellies and have rarely been happier to have my golf cart. I know the crowd had a much different experience with the mud, especially one of them.
And then there was the Year of the Great Dust storm, 2005. The parched Zilk was pounded by many many thousands of feet criss-crossing the site and by day two went airborne in a floating veil of dust, taking the form of a choking, pervasive sinus and throat gunk as it was inhaled. Everyone’s face was wrapped in bandanas like a bandit. Looking east all one saw was the main stage through a suffused haze. I don't think anyone sounded like themselves when they spoke for a good week afterward.
I hope by now it all but goes without saying that the show went on with nary a hitch.
It Takes a Village & Supplies Galore
Everyone has their little rituals, little creature comforts, that they bring along to the festival. One of my co-Ambassador buddies brings three pairs of socks every day of the festival. He changes at lunch, then just after dark, and just before he goes home. He says he buys a big bundle of white tube socks each year at Academy, wears each pair just once, tosses the lot of them, and goes back to flip-flops like a good Texan. I myself go to Goodwill and buy my three pairs of shorts for the year. They have to be cargo shorts with sturdy belt loops. Pockets are key. Sharpies, radios, cell phones, lighters, Maglites – these things get heavy.
I also get my box of tricks loaded and freshly packed. This is an old ammo can from my boat guiding days. They are waterproof and damn near indestructible, which is good, given that they did carry ammunition. Mine contains one of just about everything: Sewing kit, first aid kit, Leatherman multi-tool, gaffer's and duct tape (there is a difference). Screwdrivers (both flathead and Phillips), squirt gun, cheap sunglasses, contact solution, needle nose pliers, tissues, condoms, glow sticks, hand sanitizer... you’ve just got to be ready for anything.
And I decorate my golf cart. I am proud to say that I started that ACL Fest backstage trend, though to be fair, Dirk Stalnecker, our fearless leader, had a Homer Simpson on the dash of his cart first. Last year was a Halloween sort of theme, but I've been all over the map. Years in, it's a gas to see my fellow Ambassadors' golf carts take shape. Feather boas, fuzzy dice, leis, pinwheels, running lights, you never know.
It's a great feeling of camaraderie, of community that starts right up where we left it last year. You're onsite and on the run from seven in the morning ‘til after 12 each night. Sore, tired, deaf, blisters, splinters, muddy or dusty, wet or sweaty, you go ‘til it's done.
When the gates open at 11 a.m. this Friday I will be where I try to be every year: stage center on the main stage at the east end of the field. As the multicolored mass of humanity spills across the beautiful green expanse of Zilker Park like a fragmented kaleidoscope, the theme to “Star Wars“ soars. My heart thumps, I get the shivers, and I know it will be the best Fest yet.
I haven't figured out my cart's theme this year. It usually involves a trip to Family Dollar and Party Pig.
We are a week out as I write this, but I am not worried. It always comes together.
Austin’s tech scene is known for being friendly, outgoing and collaborative. We gave eight technology professionals ranging from CEOs to Community Educators the opportunity to brag about their favorite technology to come out of Austin.
BuildASign Founder and CEO
There’s so much good stuff here. One of the most interesting: there’s a company here in town called GloFish which has developed a glow-in-the-dark aquarium fish. When the fish are in your house you can put them under a blacklight and they glow. You can buy them at Target and Walmart. That has to be one of the most unusual companies I’ve come across and it represents some of the breadth of ideas you find here in Austin.
AGBeat.com Founder and CEO
Even though I feel like it didn’t end the way I wanted it to, Gowalla was actually pretty innovative. I like Loku. The way they’re trying to aggregate news and make people feel like a local is an amazing way to connect with a new community. I’m really drawn to them because their philosophy is really wholesome. They want people to connect, not just play tech startup. VivoGig was built by a tremendous music fan who saw a need to connect all this media, people taking photos and taking videos and writing about it, with a single concert. He moved to Austin to make that happen.
Sheena Colbath Harden
Austin Free-Net Director of Operations
We have so many apps here. It’s impressive. I remember going to South By Southwest a few years ago and finding out Gowalla was made here. I was using it and didn’t even realize it was local.
Rocksauce Studios Founder and CEO
I’m a huge fan of TabbedOut. That technology started here in Austin and they’ve done a great job making inroads into the bar and hospitality industry. I’ve had clients want to do the same thing, but the truth is bars make money no matter what the economy is doing, so bars aren’t really interested in incorporating new technology because they don’t need it, but TabbedOut was able to make inroads and now they’re starting to branch out into restaurants. I think they could become the end solution for paying for your restuarants on the phone. It makes me proud to be in the same industry with them. They’re going to be a national player.
Capital Factory Director
OutBox recently moved after being in Boston and Silicon Valley and they chose Austin. They’re very ambitious and are trying to kill the post office and digitize all of your postal mail for free. They graduated from Harvard Business School then chose Austin as the place to start their company.
I always enjoy what Chaotic Moon does.
On the high-end stuff, we have things like AMD, which just came out with the new trinity chip, so that’s potentially groundbreaking innovative stuff. Because they’re AMD, the Austin underdog, it would be really neat to see them pushing into places Intel is uncomfortable in. Then you have things like HomeAway and companies that are doing interesting stuff when it comes to organization and making things happen. Austin is starting to create some real businesses that are starting to make people think of Austin in a different way.
Tabbed Out Vice President of Marketing
There are so many really cool technologies in Austin. Some of the best things aren’t even on the radar yet. There are some guys I know working in AI technology. They’re not public yet, but they’re working on computers with self-awareness. I love all the different convenience apps coming out of Austin. You can find an app for just about anything that’s incubating here. During the social media boom I was an advisor to SpreadFast. It was neat to see how that expanded. I think what BazaarVoice did with ecommerce and ratings and HomeAway’s strategy with their market, all of that is commendable.
2012 Code for America Fellow
Honestly, I’m most impressed by the way technology is being used in Austin. The one that really got us was the Austin Fire Department. We’re really impressed with the way they use an internal performance dashboard to monitor their response times. I’d say the internal use of data to drive decisionmaking and improve services has been one of the most impressive uses of technology I’ve seen in the city.
The Austin City Limits Music Festival divides Austin into festivalgoers and avoiders. If you're among the latter, you can get away from the crowds and snarling center-city traffic by taking one of the day and evening outings suggested here from a variety of Austin Post contributors. For a longer trip, browse yesterday's weekend getaways avoidance guide.
Check out Part 1 of our guide for overnight trip suggestions.
Also see the related articles from our resident outdoor writer Stephanie Myers.
Take a Hill Country Discovery Drive
The rule right off the bat is to abandon any notion of a destination other than "back home at the end of the day." Just strike out from town into the Hill Country and explore. Try the smaller roads; when you come to an intersection, toss a coin, follow your gut instincts or take a wild guess on which way to turn. You are allowed and advised to buy a “Texas Atlas & Gazetteer,” a detailed and comprehensive book of maps that shows all the lesser highways, byways and back roads throughout the state, which can be bought at Whole Earth Provision Company and REI. The point is, however, to let whimsy, luck and fate be your guides and enjoy the fun and surprises of stumbling across scenic vistas and tiny towns, lil' stores, funky bars and roadhouses, yummy places to chow down and if you’re really fortunate maybe one of the old nine-pin bowling alleys and other gems and cool stuff that dot the lovely hills and vales around of Austin. The main tip here is to point your hood ornament anywhere to the west. – Rob Patterson
Have a Wine Old Time Touring Local Vinters
This weekend offers a perfect occasion to seek out some of the Texas Hill Country wineries while Austin gets taken over by ACL Fest. October is Texas Wine Month – marking the general end of the grape harvest – and there are lots of wine events and celebrations going on throughout the month in the hills west of town.
Start your day by driving west out U.S. Highway 290 toward Fredericksburg and getting a traditional German lunch in town (the red cabbage and spaetzl at Auslander Biergarten on Main St. is particularly good.) Then run over to the Visitor’s Center and pick up one of their many, many different maps of the Hill Country wineries.
An easy route with 11 wineries is the Wine Road 290 along U.S. 290 from east of Johnson City to just west of Fredericksburg. Sure, you can pick up a lot of Texas wines here in town at Specs, but many of the wineries have special vintages or releases that can only be bought on site, so make sure you ask when you get your tasting. William Chris Vineyards is one of the smaller wineries on the Wine Road, but also one of the best. Like many wineries, they have live music on Saturday nights.
If you want to get a bit more adventurous, there are plenty of wineries in little towns throughout the Hill Country. Comfort is a cute burg where you can pick up jalapeno wine at Comfort Cellars Winery or get a sweet merlot at Singing Waters. You’ll find the town's best wines up a short, scenic drive off the main drag through the hills at Bending Branch Winery. Even though white Texas wines are the most reliable, Bending Branch typically puts out outstanding smooth reds of unusual varietals such as Tannat and Souzao.
If you have a group, there are a few different services like Heart of Texas Wine Tours and Bluebonnet Wine Tours that will load you and your friends in a van so you can drink to your heart’s content without worrying about which one of you has to skip the tastings. And if your day trip during ACL Fest weekend gets you stirred up, October has the Texas Wine Month Trail, where for a mere 20 bucks you can take all month to visit 32 wineries in the Hill Country and get at least one free tasting at each. – Jackie Stone
Meander Like the Water Flows Down the Colorado River
Just 20 minutes east of Austin in the small community of Webberville is an unassuming place called Cook’s Canoes, owned by Neal Cook. They offer rentals of single-person kayaks and multi-person canoes and provide a pickup service that returns you to your launching point at the end of your trip. You can choose from several waypoints in which to enter and leave the river, so a trip can be just a few hours or last the entire day.
It’s amazing how your entire environment changes when you’re on the water. There’s often a gentle breeze sweeping along the smooth waters (there are few if any rapids on this part of the river). There is almost no development to mar the natural beauty, and a variety of waterfowl and a surfacing fish or two provide a soothing soundtrack.
If you drive out from Austin along MLK Blvd, Neal’s son, Syd, suggests you pick up some Donn’s BBQ for a picnic on Cook’s Island, the largest of several islands that you’ll see along the way. You can even camp out there overnight (bring some bug spray). He also recommends checking out the fall corn maze just a few miles up the road at Barton Hill Farms. - Cisco Gilliland
Head South to Snake, Rattle & Roll
If you’ve driven Interstate 35 to San Antonio you’ve seen it, likely been intrigued by the big sign on the west side of the highway that reads: Snake Farm. Maybe the slithering creatures give you the shivers and you’ve been reluctant to stop in... get over it. The place’s revised full name, Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo, tells you that it’s not just about serpents anymore. It’s home to some 500 various animals, from alligators and antelopes to birds of many feathers and so on, plus some Texas longhorns and a petting zoo. It also inspired a popular song from Texas roots singer/songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard.
As you’re on the outskirts of New Braunfels, for dinner go with the Teutonic roots of the town’s settlers and dine on German food at Friesenhaus or Oma’s Haus. Then head over to Riley’s Tavern in nearby Hunter, which received the first beer license in Texas after prohibition was repealed. Playing on Saturday night is Jeff Hughes and Chaparral, the Austin band that got a new generation of cool kids dancing arm in arm to country music back in the late ‘80s and helped spark a local progressive and neo-trad C&W revival that continues apace today. Their well spun originals and covers of honky-tonk classics as well as such out-of-left-field surprises as “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” will seduce even your two left feet out onto the dancefloor. – Rob Patterson
Get Lost for a Spa Day in the Pines
Pamper yourself at Spa Django at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort some 15 miles east of Austin off U.S. Highway 71, and revel in a variety of purifications, scrubs, massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. They even have treatments for the guys like a golfer’s massage, cowboy manis and pedis and a “gentleman’s haircut.” Check out their specials and packages. And afterwards, all refreshed, purified and all looking good, enjoy dinner at one of the resort’s five restaurants capped by a snifter of brandy or cognac at the Scribes Club. - Rob Patterson
Soak Up Some Nearby Small-Town Texas
If you’ve never traveled the thirty or so minutes north of Austin on I-35 to Georgetown, the sleepy suburb is close enough to Austin that we can co-opt it for atmospheric purposes. the idyllic Victorian houses and restored downtown commercial buildings are lovely, and this weekend the town center becomes a festive fair for Second Saturday Market Day (Oct. 13). Austin, for all its awesomeness, has such a mysterious love of ‘50s style strip malls and aluminum siding that it sometimes feels a little pre-post-apocalyptic. In Georgetown, you can drive, bike or walk aroud its residential neighborhoods to check out the many charming old homes and visit its recently-restored neoclassical courthouse where the Ku Klux Klan were tried in the early 1920s and finally wound up doing some jail time. Pack a picnic to enjoy by the Blue Hole lagoon on the South San Gabriel River, stop by a wine bar, and enjoy a slow paced, lazy day in a pretty setting that feels a million miles away from the bustle of ACL Fest. – Chris-Rachael Oseland
As the town of Woodstock, NY is to New York City, and Topanga Canyon is to Los Angeles, so is Wimberley to Austin – an outpost in the hills that blends small-town life with artistic and bohemian touches. It’s a lovely hour-or-so leisurely drive southwest from Austin into the Hill Country. This weekend is the Second Saturday Gallery Trail (Oct. 13) that showcases nine art spaces and stores on or near the rustic town square. Not to be missed is Jacob’s Well, an artesian spring inside one of the largest underwater caves in the state from which thousands of gallons of water per minute flow to create Cypress Creek. Tours are at 10 a.m. every Saturday. Take a stroll along or picnic on the verdant banks of the creek. Then end your day with dinner and evening live music at Cypress Creek Cafe or Linda’s Fine Foods. – Rob Patterson
More in ACL 2012:
Check out our ACL Infected Zone map for Austin areas to avoid this weekend.
Take a peek behind the curtain at festivals past and present: "Mud, Sweat and Gears: Backstage at ACL"
Let’s be honest. With ACL Fest taking over Austin this weekend, you’re eschewing the bridges in favor of treating your neighborhood like a post-apocalyptic enclave. There might as well be car-eating tentacle monsters in the river, because there’s little chance you can cross it and stay sane.
Luckily, there are plenty of good neighborhood events to keep you occupied. You can pick from Dorkbot, Hamlet in Space, Epic Improv, oodles of geeky clubs, and best of all, the season’s first Haunted House openings. If the thing that catches your eye is on the wrong side of ACL Fest, look at this as your chance to meet the new and exciting geeks in your own neighborhood.
Monthly Sci-Fi and Fantasy Social
Oct. 12, 7:00 p.m.
Draught House Pub & Brewery
4112 Medical Pkwy
Join the Austin Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club for their laid back monthly pub night.
Nocturnis-Amtgard Park Day
Oct. 13, 2:30 p.m.
Brushy Creek Park
3300 Brushy Creek Rd
Cedar Park, TX
If the SCA has too much authenticity and LARPs don’t let you get violent enough, check out this boffer sword fighting group. If you’re not familiar, boffer swords are usually made from PVC coated with foam and duct tape with a nice cloth cover. People get together to beat on one another, drink and go camping. If you’re an outdoorsy geek looking for some good exercise, check them out.
Epic Tales: Improvised Interactive Fantasy Adventures
Oct. 13, 8:00 p.m.
The Institution Theater
3708 Woodbury Drive
Ever wanted to be a Hero? "Epic Tales" brings medieval fantasy role-playing to thundering, dangerous, glorious life right before your eyes! We don our corsets, doublets, and cloaks; draw our swords; and weave a fantasy world in which our audience may adventure. Under the watchful eye of the Game Master, YOU could be the hero! But be careful, one roll of the die can mean the difference between life and death.
Geeks Who Drink Meetup
Oct. 13, 9:00 p.m.
Opal Divine’s Marina
Trivia lovers can join a team for the chance to show off their smarts and win free drinks.
Dorkbot 38: Nightmare on Dork Street
Oct. 15, 7:00 p.m.
501 N IH 35
For just over a century, amateur radio operators or “hams” have been working in basements and attics, taking things apart and putting them together to hear the crackle of a voice coming from the static. Today’s hams build and use technologies in new and creative ways and have fun doing it, talking to people around the world or across town with a simple radio and antenna, providing real time information and public service communications in disasters, and volunteering as the comms backbone for events such as bike rides and marathons. Join Steven Polunsky, Jeff Schmidt, and Jim Kinter for demonstrations ranging from the simplest homebrew to the advanced digital high-speed multimedia capability in use around Austin. Maybe some wave physics, too.
Girl Geeks of Austin Board Games and Brews
Oct. 15, 7:00 p.m.
Black Star Co-Op
7020 Easy Wind Dr
Enjoy some microbrewery beers along with Euro style boardgames in the company of your fellow geek girls.
Blazertag with the Austin Explorers
Oct. 15, 7:00 p.m.
1701 W. Ben White Blvd
Join the Austin Explorers Meetup for an excuse to ritually shoot new and interesting people. Why Monday? Cash. Every Monday the 8:00 PM game is only $1.00 and the 8:40 game is $5.00 (normally $8.50 each). Also, this summer they introduced the Sky-Trail. This is a bridge that is suspended 20 foot high above the arcade and supposedly offers challenges for all age levels. Currently they are having a promotional rate of $5.00 to generate some interest. So in between the laser tag games, check it out and maybe play a few arcade games.
Pathfinder Society Meetup
Oct. 15, 7:00 p.m.
Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy
6111 Burnet Rd
Looking for some new faces around the gaming table? Delve into ancient dungeons, uncover lost knowledge, and advance the secret goals of your faction--whether it be the freedom-fighting Andorans, the good-hearted Silver Crusade, the shady dealings of the Sczarni, or the strict laws of Cheliax--and gain experience and loot for your character no matter where you game!
Hamlet in Rock
Oct. 15, 10:00 p.m.
Alamo Drafthouse Ritz
320 E. 6th St.
We guarantee that you've never experienced the Bard like this before. HAMLET IN ROCK is light years beyond your typical adaptation of a classic Shakespearean tale. It is HAMLET imagined as an in-your-face, no-holds-barred rock 'n' roll musical, set in OUTER SPACE. The singular vision of German mathematician and software designer turned writer/director/composer Rudolf Volz, HAMLET IN ROCK features a whiny goth Hamlet, Queen Gertrude with a bright red, phallic crown, and 24 stunningly original rock ballads belted into the cosmos. Best of all, you can enjoy a post-show Skype Q&A with writer/director/composer Rudolf Volz!
Beer Brass and BS
Oct. 16, 6:00 p.m.
Sherlock's Baker Street Pub and Grill
9012 Research Blvd
It’s once more time to put on your steamy togs and enjoy dinner at Sherlock’s with Austin’s largest Steampunk group.
Iron Sky with the Austin Fantasy and Sci-Fi Book Club
Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Lake Creek Alamo Drafthouse
13729 Research Blvd
Join the Austin Fantasy and Sci-Fi Book Club for a chance to watch Moon Nazis from Finland in a truly unique theatrical experience.
Girl Geeks of Austin Nerdy Knitting and Fiber Arts
Oct. 16, 8:00 p.m.
Genuine Joe’s Coffee House
2001 W. Anderson Lane
Enjoy a laid back night of knitting, crochet, embroidery or whatever fibercraft you love in the company of your fellow nerd girls.
South Austin Game Night and Boards and Brews Meetup
Oct. 16, 6:00 p.m.
3003 S. Lamar
This weekly gathering of gamers regularly hosts over 40 people playing a dozen different games. New people are always welcome.
Comic Club of Austin
Oct. 17, 7:00 p.m.
206 Colorado St
We've all got comics we love to read and talk about. Join us for dinner and general geeky conversation about comics.
CURRENTLY RUNNING HAUNTED HOUSES AND HALLOWEEN SPECIAL EVENTS
The Curtain Theater
7400 Coldwater Canyon Dr.
Weekends, Oct. 5 - Halloween
Blood! Gore! Historical accuracy? You won’t find another show like this in Austin. Come see the darker side of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the glorious 1/10 scale Globe Theater. Stadium cushions are recommended for all seats, as is a raincoat if you want to sit in the splash zone right next to the stage.
Scare for a Cure
J. Lorraine Ghost Town
14219 Littig Rd, Manor TX
Weekends, Oct. 12 - Halloween
Most haunted houses get you in and out in 15 minutes. This one will take you closer to 45. They’ve moved out to the J. Lorraine Ghost Town, an impressive site in its own right. When you finish the haunted house, you can relax in the bar with some live music while watching a big screen showing your friends staggering around in fear. Best of all, you’ll help raise money for a great local cause.
House of Torment
523 E. Highland Mall Blvd
Daily, Oct. 11 - Nov. 3
This national award winning haunted house is full of movie quality special effects, scent cannons, animatronics, and a staff of 150 people ready to scare the living daylights out of you. Come find out why the rest of the country is so impressed.
Want to see your event listed? Post the date, a current link, and a good reason why your event belongs in This Week in Geek on the Facebook group, This Week in Geek.
Need to take a Fest break? Food court lines too long and wanna sit while you eat? Time for a chillout? Try these Quick Breaks from the ACL Music fest grounds within easy walking distance:
[See bottom for pedestrian map to north of the river for crowd-avoidance.]
Getting North of the River
If you're new to Austin (or maybe you don't spend much time in Zilker Park), there's a quick way to get north of the river on the pedestrian bridge underneath MoPac. Just follow the path by Town Lake west 'til you get to the big bridge and trot across. Head left on the north side of the river up around Deep Eddy Pool and you'll find a commercial zone with restaurants that may be less mobbed than those around the fest itself.
Okay, you can't skip town for the weekend to avoid the ACL Fest crush and you don't wanna hunker down at home. Part 3 of our ACL Avoidance Guides centers on cool places and events to attend this weekend that are right here in Austin.
Why have an ACL Fest When You Can Have an ACL Fiesta!
Head Hickoid and Saustex indie label mini-mogul Jeff Smith presents the third annual Austin Corn Lover’s Fiesta. Four nights of no peace, dirty love and raw’n’rowdy music for those who only wear a wristband when an all-night bender requires a hospital stay. Some of the band names pretty much convey the vibe of the sounds: Cunto! The Gay Sportscasters, The Swindles and in a nifty trifecta of the Poor Dumb Bastards, Free Range Bastards and Bastardos de Sancho.
The club-hopping XXX-travaganza kicks off in the burgeoning East Side club scene on Thursday at The White Horse (500 Comal St.), Friday at Gypsy Lounge (1604 E. Sixth St.) and Saturday at the Legendary White Swan (1906 E. 12th St.) and then wraps up on Sunday at the Hole in the Wall (2538 Guadalupe St.) in a benefit to help cover medical expenses for former Hole booker/owner Debbie Rombach. Yummiest band name: Righteous Brisket, but with this crop of bands the bar is kinda low on that particular metric. – Rob Patterson
Succumb to the Swedish Seducer
Admit it. You’ve been meaning to go to Ikea (1 Ikea Way, Round Rock) for a while. Maybe you want to see what Jonathan Coulton was singing about. Maybe you’re in serious need of Swedish meatballs and lingonberry crepes. Realistically, you know darn well it’s time to replace the old couch you found next to a dumpster with a shiny new Ektorp. Be warned. You will also leave with a whimsical paper lamp, cunningly shaped ice cube trays, and a nagging sense that you’re not really a grownup. Prepare accordingly. – Chris-Rachael Oseland
Harvest Fresh & Organic Foods at Boggy Creek Farm
A cornucopia of vegetables, salad greens, baked goods, eggs, beef, bison, chicken and much more can be found at this farm on the near East Side. The Saturday market day at Boggy Creek (3414 Lyons Rd.) is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Many top local eateries like Wink, Bess Bistro, Olivia and Lenoir go there for produce. Food that tastes good, is super fresh AND good for you – who can argue with that? – RP
Shop for Music With a Shelf Life Longer Than 3 Days
Okay. You love music. But your tastes aren’t even in the same solar system as the Dad Rock Apocalypse that is ACL Fest. Time to hit two of the best indie stores in Austin. End of An Ear (2209 S. First St.) offers more than just a mind-blowing selection of music, books, zines and vintage stereo equipment. Their fest-week in-store performances are Chris Brokaw, former drummer for Come, The New Year and others and as astonishingly great a songwriter as he is on the kit and sticks, and L.A. brother-band No, who have a great t-shirt. The Ear's website even enables you you to pre-shop on its Featured Titles and New Arrivals pages.
The motto at Trailer Space Records (1401 Rosewood Ave.) is "Bring beer. Or Irish whiskey or tequila." Proprietor Spot is a wit and wag but also a spot-on guide to cool underground sounds. They stock heavy on local releases and used vinyl, and boast a great selection for a small store, sui generis Austin. Their sole listed in-store is raucous and excellent; Vomettes, Spray Paint and Party Girls on Friday (10/12) from 7-10 p.m. The Space also makes a cool hang with some classic arcade games and a comfy old coach and armchairs. Their website blog is sparse and excellent, a calendar of frequent in-store events is found there as well. Be sure to pet Linus the Dog. And bring beer. Bonus: You can grab a slice or two next door at East Side Pies. – David Williams
Abandon All Pretensions at a Doublewide Trailer With Music and Beer
One of the truly undiscovered treasures among Austin’s music venues is Sam’s Town Point (2115 Allred Drive). A truly "ain't nuthin’ fancy" joint that’s so unhip it’s hip as hell. Hanging out here is like stepping into a wayback machine to old South Austin. Sam’s is also a smoker’s refuge in an increasingly anti-ciggie world, as somewhere between the street and the structure in the middle of the dirt parking lot lies the border between smoke-free Austin and smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em Manchaca. The place calls itself the friendliest bar in Texas, and damned if the regulars don’t make noob visitors feel right at home (which makes sense cuz the proprietors bunk down in another trailer attached next to the stage). You can shoot pool and bring your own bottle of the hard stuff – all they serve up is suds – and even if it’s nigh on impossible to search the ‘net and find out who’s playing when, no matter! While there, be sure to inquire when the soulful, superior, and way under-exposed, singer-songwriter Ramsay Midwood performs. – RP
Disco Dance Silently in the Dark
From 11 p.m. to sunrise on both Friday and Saturday, you can rave the night away at Silent City Limits, a silent disco at Austin Enchanted Forest (1412 W. Oltorf St.). If you’ve never been to one, a silent disco is a party where the listeners all wear wireless headphones and dance to competing DJs. If you aren’t wired in on 'phones, then all you see is a crowd of people doing their boogie quietly to an unheard beat. It will feature Austin DJs on one channel and out of town visiting spinners on another competing for listeners. Since it goes on all night, it’s a great place to meet up with your friends who went to ACL and all get to party together on the afterhours scene. – Jackie Stone
Bike & Skate the Veloway
If you’ve ever seen the field full of packed bike racks at ACL Fest, you’ll know that many local two-wheel pedal pumpers will be at Zilker Park. That likely means that the three-mile-round Veloway (4898 La Crosse Ave.) on the south edge of the city might not be that crowded. It’s also a popular spot for in-line skating. And it’s right next to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center so you can combine an early day visit there with a ride or skate to follow. Hey, since you’re already far south, why not head a little further down the road for some great BBQ in a country setting at The Salt Lick. – RP
Eat, Drink & Flick Out in the Northern Hinterlands
I’m not shy about my love of Flix Brewhouse (2200 S. I-35 at Hesters Crossing; Round Rock). Sure, it’s a blatant ripoff of Austin’s beloved Alamo Drafthouse, but it’s an exceptionally well-executed ripoff. The food is better, the individual lighting is better, and I honestly like their beers. If you’re in the mood to bury yourself in any of the great movies out this weekend, it’s a good place to do so while staying wonderfully far from ACL Fest. If you start sampling their craft beers, try not to drink so much you spend the night gluing onion rings to your face with barbecue sauce during "Looper" because you too want to be circular in nature. – C-RO
Be Wild & Wooly at the Austin Zoo
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! And they’re lurking on the southern edge of town ready to pounce and capture your affection. The Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary (10808 Rawhide Trail) is one of the city’s lesser-know attractions, yet this charmingly compact rescue zoo has more than 300 creatures from over 100 species. It’s a great day for the kids with a petting zoo, mini-railroad, and deer, goats and llamas you can feed. This weekend is the debut of its Boo at the Zoo nighttime Halloween celebration with a haunted train ride. – RP
Savor a Sunset with a Cold Beer Chaser
We’ve got yer AusTown tradition two-fer right here people, whether you happen to be a recent arrival or an old-timer. Mount Bonnell (3800 Mt. Bonnell Drive) offers spectacular views of both the city and the Hill Country, especially at sunset. After your scenic climb, head just a wee bit further down Mt. Bonnell Rd. to the charmingly ramshackle Dry Creek Cafe & Boat Dock (4812 Mt. Bonnell Drive). Now, I haven't seen any food served here, nor have I ever seen any dock in my many visits, but as the sign out front also says in big capital letters, they do serve BEER. Ice cold. In longneck bottles. For more then a half-century, since the paved street in front was a dirt road, Dry Creek has been a local favorite to wet yer whistle, and some of the battered and mismatched tables and chairs on its back deck look like they’ve been there just as long. House Rules: When ya leave, bring your empties back down to the bar, lest tetchy proprietress Sarah bark about your lack of basic manners. And give the ol’ gal some props and respect, will ya? You'd be feisty too with all those mini-mansions spawning like over-sexed lemmings. – RP
Be a Total Anti-ACL Rebel & Get Down With a Cover Band
Cool River Cafe (4001 Parmer Drive) is where the Far North Austin young adult crowd goes to party. It ain’t hip or trendy, no way, no how, but sometimes it can be fun to lose the ‘tude and throw down on the dance floor. What's more, you'll likely know and (heaven forbid) even enjoy the tunes played by this weekend’s bands: The Sophisticates on Friday and Hot Sauce ATX on Saturday. Cool River’s food is also pretty good by chain standards and is served up in large portions. Since this is a place where singles mingle, who knows? You may get lucky. – RP
Enjoy Some Countryside Pedaling Pleasures
The Outlaw Trail Cycling Tour (at Dell Diamond, 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd.; Round Rock) is a non-competitive cycling race takes you through historic Williamson County for your choice of a 10, 25, 40, 50, 63 or 100 mile loop along country roads. If you’re a cyclist, this is your opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and the company of like-minded people without all the noise, crowds and cost of ACL Fest. – C-RO
Two-Step to Support an Austin Landmark
The construction on either side of The Broken Spoke (3201 S. Lamar Blvd.) is literally shaking the rafters of the classic Texas country dancehall and has limited its parking capacity, cutting into the earnings of the acts that play and folks who work there. So there's no better occasion to drop some bucks at the bar and into the tip jar. Plus this weekend sports a three night showcase of this city's finest C&W artists. On Friday night it's the Western swing and boogie-woogie of The Cornell Hurd Band. Saturday on the bandstand is local fave Dale Watson and His Lone Stars playing cool neo-trad country with a dance beat, trucking songs and more in his best mini-Merle fashion. Sunday catch the hottest non-Nashville rising star on the Austin scene, Weldon Henson, with his smart and superior straight-ahead Texas songs and style. Before or between sets, head across the street to munch some tasty tube steaks at the Honky Tonk Hot Dogs (3600 S. Lamar Blvd.) food trailer. – RP
Descend Into a Truly Cool Space
After years of staring at the billboards touting Inner Space Cavern (4200 S. I-35; Georgetown) now is the time to finally visit. The cavern is big enough that it shouldn’t set off claustrophobia issues for most people yet small enough to make you feel like they should blast a few more caves if they’re going to charge you $20. If you hit the Outlet Mall on the same day, this is a great excuse to wear the fall boots you just bought. At a chilly 65 degrees inside the cavern, we won’t likely see temperatures that cool outside until January. – C-RO
Go Alterna-fest in North Campus
It may be only two nights instead of three, but the Ditch the Fest Fest at 29th Street Ballroom and Spider House (2908 Fruth St.) has more than 40 acts – mostly local, but some from as far away as Monterrey, Mexico and Tuscon, AZ. And all for a mere five bucks! The bash starts nightly on Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m. and is open to all ages. If you can't find a favorite new band during this four-stage magilla it's time to trade in your hipster creds and get a job selling insurance. The promoters also promise "a huge comet heading toward Earth to destroy all life as we know it," which has to be the encore of all time. So be there to rock out before it all ends with a helluva big bang. – JS
Gobble Up Music at Round Rock’s Piranha Records
Yeah, we Austinites can sometimes look down on our cities to the north, but no way any dedicated music lover can diss this store. In addition to a plethora of new and used CDs, Piranha Records (1208 N. I-35) has racks packed with classic 12-inch vinyl LPs plus movie DVDs, game cartridges, posters, t-shirts and trinkets and goodies galore. It sports a healthy offering of Texas and local music, but Piranha’s strong suit is that it's an ace place to find the latest hip-hop, plus the jerseys, sneakers, hoodies and ballcaps that go with it. As long as you're up that way, Junior’s Grill and Ice House (119 E. Main St.) and Mavericks Country * Rock (1700 Grand Ave. Parkway) is worth a stop in to see what’s shakin’. - RP
Wind Down a Big Weekend on the Lake
By Sunday, if you followed our advice, many of you have had a pretty dang busy weekend, so what better way to wrap up your weekend than at Soleil Bar & Grill (6550 Comanche Trail). Rev down your engines with some fine dining, a sweeping view of Lake Travis, and the Sinatra-tinged vocals of the small jazz combo The Lucky Strikes. One insightful music critic described the band as “swinging and crooning as it's meant to be: lyrically elegant, musically sophisticated, and rhythmically captivating, embracing listeners in a warm hug and seducing them with the sweetest kisses.” (Okay… that writer was me but I was just reporting the facts) – RP
Let's all keep in mind: ACL Fest is three long days and takes some readiness and advance planning. Here's the news you can use not just about how to survive, but how to thrive. Read on for key information about:
Getting to the Fest & Back Home & to Hotels Again
Whatever way you wanna cut the cake, traveling to and from ACL Fest is a bit of a pain as there is no onsite or adjacent festival parking. But there are a number of transportation options for arrival and departure. Here are the choices, and more details can be found on the ACL Fest website:
– Rob Patterson
What to Wear Dos & Don'ts
ACL Fest veterans know that there are right ways and wrong ways to dress for a three-day outdoor music festival in Austin. Looking cool is nice, but its nicer to be prepared so you can skip ant bites, heat exhaustion and staining your favorite duds.
What’s In Your Backpack? And What Should Be.
A well-stocked backpack makes your festival experience far more comfortable and positive.
First consideration in what you carry, aside from the basics, is the weather. As of Thursday morning, the prediction from Friday through Sunday is mostly cloudy with a slight possibility of daytime rain Friday, a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms Saturday night falling to 40 percent on the final day and 20 percent Sunday evening. So be prepared for some precipitation. Anticipated temperatures by day are high 80s falling to 70 degrees on Friday and Saturday night and as low as 60 degrees on Sunday night. It is supposed to be breezy and even a bit gusty all weekend.
Then again, this is Texas and the weather can shift rapidly, so be prepared for all options.
Wisest to stash your wallet, keys and other essentials plus much of what you usually carry in your pockets.
So here are the basics:
• Two one liter sealed bottles of water per day as the festival allows. Save your second empty when done to fill at the refill stations onsite. Note: Beer is a wonderful elixir for your mood but not the best source of hydration.
• A hand towel. Whether you end up sweating or getting rained on, it might well come in handy (no pun intended). Also useful if something drips or spurts from your lunch or dinner choice at the food court.
• If you’re not already donning headwear for the day, a ball cap or foldable/crushable hat with brim. Whether it rains or the clouds clear – again, this is Texas and the weather can be changeable – be prepared.
• A bandana or two. They’re the multi-tool of outdoor clothing accessories.
• Winds are expected but just in case a folding paper fan or cardboard fan on a light wood paddle is still good to have on hand. Some entity or other is usually handing out the latter just after you pass through the gates, at least on day one.
• Even if it doesn’t get too hot, a water sprayer or mister can be very useful and refreshing. I own two types: a small hand-pumped model and a larger one with a battery powered fan. Don’t fill until you get onsite lest they leak in your pack.
• An extra pair of cheap sunglasses in case your lose your primary pair. Besides, cheap shades are a major hipster fashion accessory.
• A few large Band-Aids in case you get blisters and some over-the-counter pain reliever, both in some form of plastic bag or container to keep them dry. Also any medications you need to take.
• A wool or flannel shirt, sweatshirt/hoodie, lightweight jacket or sweater. Even if the temperature is only expected to fall at lowest to 60, we’ve been having some chilly nights here in Austin over the last two weeks.
• Raingear such as a poncho or lightweight raincoat or water-resistant jacket, and/or a folding umbrella. You can decide each morning if you should carry along after checking the forecast, but if it’s not too much to lug around, bring along to be safe rather than sorry.
• Printed copy of the day’s schedule. Yes, ACL offers a smartphone app this year. But getting a signal in the park can often be spotty with all the people texting, tweeting, mailing, posting and talking.
• Sunblock with a high SPF rating… just in case. Also a small or sample-size of moisturizer and lip balm.
Optional items to possibly carry include:
• If you have sinus allergies, welcome to the Live Allergens Capital of the World, where pollen and other irritants thrive. Plus Central Texas has also had some of the largest allergen counts in decades this year. Recently, Molds have been high and ragweed and fall elm at medium levels. Antihistamines or nasal spray highly advised.
• An extra pair of clean socks. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the beneficial effect a change can have at some point in the day. If it rains and your sneakers get soaked, you’ll especially appreciate donning fresh and dry socks before you march further around the site or to your transportation as you leave the site.
• Small lightweight binoculars. Yes, the larger stages have Jumbotron screens. But if they’re focused on the singer and you want to watch the drummer, or you wish to check out some guy or girl across the field that caught your eye, they’ll prove useful.
• If you plan on sitting on the ground, a blanket or other ground cover sure helps even if it might not fit in your pack and you have to roll it up and carry separately.
• Lastly, if you think you might be tempted to take a swim at nearby Barton Springs or Deep Eddy Pool (see our Quick Breaks from the Fest), swimwear and towel, plus a large Ziploc style or plastic hotel laundry bag for the damp suit.
American Airlines is sponsoring an onsite bag and portable chair check booth. If you need outdoor supplies, we recommend Whole Earth Provision Co. (1014 N. Lamar Blvd.) – think globally, shop locally – or REI (1014 N. Lamar Blvd.), both very near the fest grounds. – Rob Patterson
No Smoking & Cautionary on Toking in the Park
Zilker Park is by law smoke-free. You can leave the Fest at the main gate and smoke on the pavement of Barton Springs Rd., that’s the tobacco smoking section. Please don’t toss your butts but rather stub ‘em out fully and deposit in the trash. A smokers’ solidarity social scene will likely form as we nicotine addicts take a break to re-up our dosage.
If you’re a heavy smoker as I have been most of my life, popping out for a fix every hour or less seems like a pain. So consider carrying some nicotine gum or plain old chewing gum. Or something else to at least address the oral fixation, like the licorice sticks I am currently using to cut down (before I cold turkey) or cinnamon sticks.
I certainly do not advise anyone to break drug laws, but will say that Austin police are generally cool about the wacky weed (but there’s always those hardasses), so if you’re gonna 420 at any time of the day, for God’s sake (and your own) be discreet and cautious. Roll it rather than carry any paraphernalia (that seemingly discreet one-hitter is illegal once used), never have more than you can quickly eat, and consider brownies and or tea before departing for Zilker. Plus straightedge has its merits, as do shrooms. – Rob Patterson
90 degrees feels way hotter in the middle of Zilker Park, with the sun on you, crammed next to four sweaty shirtless guys yelling WHOOOOO!
Babies love ACL Fest. I heard one last night being pushed out in a stroller yelling, “No! I don’t want to leave here! I don’t want to leave here!” I wonder who the babies are here to see … my money’s on The Roots.
Finding out you’re from the same city or even state as another festival goer is cause for celebration and hugging – at least when you’re drunk.
A great way to see a show in a large crowd is to bring a collapsible step stool. I’m 4-foot-10 and in my 30s. I can’t believe I never thought of this.
Hula hoops are acceptable for anyone, anywhere and are mandatory if you’re wearing body paint.
Old school basketball jerseys are in style. You get bonus points if the player’s heyday was before you were alive.
Young people love to litter, and old hippies love to pick up that litter. I think it’s a symbiotic relationship of sorts.
You will never find your bike again.
“Have fun and drink plenty of water” – Rivers Cuomo, Weezer. Thanks, dad!
Everyone is drunk, all of the time. There might not be enough beer.
I went into this ACL Fest thinking I wouldn’t do any concert reviews or real music writing, instead focusing on the glorious people-watching ACL presents. After all, why would you read my thoughts about a performance over what someone from the Rolling Stone thought about it? I mean, we barely know each other.
Then I saw Weezer’s set. And here we are.
I’ll spare you from the “this is how important the Blue Album and Pinkerton were to me” because you’ve heard that before from almost everyone else in their 30s. Those two albums spanned my teenage years and have been the soundtrack to every roadtrip since. I have never gotten tired of either, and I still haven’t outgrown them. Unfortunately though, I never saw Weezer live during those years, and by the time I had my own money to go to concerts, the music the band was producing wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
I had mixed feelings about seeing Weezer live – it’d be cool to see this band that I’ve loved because of two albums that they made, but if I have to listen to “Beverly Hills,” my ears might bleed. In 2010, when the band toured, playing Pinkerton and the Blue Album (or the first album named Weezer) in their entireties, I didn’t have the means to go. I was also a little scared – when you have such an emotional attachment to a piece of music and a show turns out bad, it kind of ruins that music for you. (That happened to me with a particularly terrible Built to Spill set in Boston.) What if it happened again?
Enter press pass to ACL Fest 2012.
(Photo courtesy jbe on Flickr.)
Making my way from the MoPac footbridge to the entrance of the park, I was actually nervous. I made my way to the stage and picked out a spot near some folks who looked like they were in my age group. You know, solidarity in numbers. We twiddled our thumbs waiting for Weezer to take the stage, and when they did, they opened with “My Name is Jonas.” And it sounded good. It sounded so good – a great mix, big guitars, and Rivers Cuomo’s voice was perfect.
A huge smile broke out on my face. Not only is Jonas my favorite Weezer song and one of my favorite songs ever, it’s also one of the Top 5 album openers of all time, so to open a show with it was just fantastic. It starts out quiet and then it’s big, it’s driving, it’s so sing-(or scream)-along-able, and then it’s quiet again. It comes and goes in a way that makes you want to listen to it again and think “Jonas, we hardly knew ye.” I can’t explain how happy I was to hear this song.
What followed was essentially a live greatest hits album played incredibly well; even their sound guys were dancing along. They played songs I wanted to hear, like “Surf Wax America” and “El Scorcho,” as well as the mandatory-but-still-loved “Undone,” “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So.” They also played songs I didn’t want to hear, like the aforementioned “Beverly Hills” (my ears didn’t bleed), “Island in the Sun” and “Hash Pipe,” which I appreciated better live. And they played songs I was previously indifferent to but enjoyed in the setting, like "Memories" and especially "Greatest Man That Ever Lived." Looking around the crowd, it was truly something for everyone.
Watching kids who were born around the time Weezer formed, dancing and singing along to the songs I think are the worst in their career, made me realize that Weezer didn’t stop making good music, they stayed relevant. The kids flipped their shit when “Beverly Hills” came on. I guess I knew someone out there must’ve liked that song, but seeing the thousands of them that love it was eye-opening.
Music is such a subjectively experienced thing that you forget sometimes that it’s not that what you don’t like is bad, it’s just that you don’t like it. I realized that rather than lamenting that Weezer didn’t make more music for me, I should be glad that they’re making music for other teenage soundtracks.
Earlier this week, I wrote, “I’m not a fan of festivals.”
Friday morning (10/12) as the clock approached 11 a.m., I parked my Car2go in one of the sharing service’s dedicated spots five blocks from the bus shuttle site at Republic Square that would take me to Zilker Park for the 11th Austin City Limits Music Festival. As I slung on my backpack I said to myself: This is going to be fun.
You might think all this contradictory, but as someone said to me at one point during the last two days: “The Austin City Limits Music Festival is what you make of it.”
As I entered the Fest site after a quick bus ride to Zilker, I was reminded of doing just the same in 2002, ACL Fest year one, on a similarly sunny Saturday morning, and looking around and thinking, Wow. This is impressive.
After day one, 2012, my impression remains the same. Bottom line: C3 Presents, our homegrown Austin festival and Obama election night bash production company, does an amazing job of putting on a music fest and all the surrounding logistics. Yeah, it crowds what we here at the Post have cheekily named “The Infected Zone” of our city, makes our own personal logistics more difficult, be they related to attending the Fest or not.
But flip that notion like an old 12-inch vinyl record and what you get is the point: the music festival runs like clockwork, and every glitch and hiccup that may have arisen over the previous 10 fests, C3 learns, adjusts and gets that much better at its already championship game.
I’m finishing my last cigarette atop the median on Barton Springs Rd. aside a large plastic tub tilled with sand – C3 is on top of even the wee details of this mighty megillah with more tentacles than you can tally – and am ready to get in line, have my backpack inspected, tap my wristband onto the orange slab gateway scanner that enters me into the digital Borg that tracks attendees in and out, and have fun.
Even if I am not a fan of festivals.
Taking the First Quick Pass
Morning day one and ACL Fest feels again like its original day one 11 years ago. The Great Lawn only has a smattering of people on the grounds, at least compared to what’s to follow. I do my circuit.
Megan McCormick at the BMI Stage was first on for the day. She and her two bandmates may be not all that distinctive as a musical entity, but McCormick has a hearty contralto howl of a voice, plays some nifty riffs on her electric. I hear nothing that indicates she’ll rise anywhere near the larger side stages much less the two star stages at opposite ends of the park. But she acquits herself solidly.
Next door at the Barton Springs Stage plays the aptly named He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister. Their fare is a coed hobo stew of favored neo-hippie sounds: stir in some jam band and pinches of gospel, pour in a few shots of Janis Joplin, heat it up with a drum circle beat. You could dub their recipe “festival band,” as they sound almost as likely to be playing on the sidewalk down the way along the Barton Springs Road eatery row. They churn up a lively call-and-response with the gaggle in front of the stage on the tune “Slow It Down” and then launch into “Lazy Daze” – add some weed to the ingredients – and the music wanders. So do I.
It’s a good time to walk the Art Market – stalls of clothing and Fest gear purveyors as much as anything else, and in serious need of re-branding. I scratch my head and ponder at the booths vending stuff to display on your walls: Why must the “art”-work associated with rock music be so wretched? I’d more likely find something at Pecan Street Fest.
Even though earlier in the week I tapped out an advisory on what to stash in your backpack for ACL, on my way there I realized I forgot to toss in a ballcap. I stop by a booth selling hats and pick up a snappy straw fedora for $25 bucks that won’t just be fest wear but a topper for the many warm months here in Texas.
Then the sounds echoing from the Zilker Stage – formerly the Gospel Tent – draw me in to hear The Stapletones. They gin up an alluring spiritual soul groove underneath two female singers, one black and the other white, who unite their assertive pipes with heavenly power. Oh yeah. It’s the shiznit that that stirs my spirit.
Pass by Austin Ventures Stage and lend an ear to Quiet Corral, who announce that they’re from Lawrence, Kan. Four guitars: two electric, two acoustic. Yet the equation is a not even a whole that’s far less than the sum of its parts. I immediately coin a new genre that’s already a plague here in Texas and beyond: Genericana. Yawn… onward.
Then delightfully surprising magic strikes from a familiar source: our own Asleep at the Wheel, a band I’ve been listening (and even worked with for a spell) since their 1973 debut album.
But whoa! On the last verse of the Bob Wills classic “Faded Love,” a song the band has performed many if not thousands of times, Ray Benson reads the lyric into deliciously tricky and inspired nooks, crannies and turns of the melody that slay me with its vocal imagination and dexterity. He sings like the other Brother Ray at the top of his game melded with Sinatra at his finest. On the chorus Jason Roberts and Elizabeth McQueen chime in and the three weave a luminescent harmonic tapestry. The group winds the number down like God’s own jazz combo way past midnight tiptoeing around the notes in a meeting of genius minds. Later in the day I hear the 1976 Wheel recording of “Miles and Miles of Texas” and marvel at up the upward curve on which they continue to soar to musical glory.
Then it’s the final stretch of my circle ‘round the site back to the entrance, stopping to register for a free Toyota drawing I won’t win. I exit for a smoke and catch the efficient shuttle downtown.
Austin Opens Another Musical Channel to the Nation
The party at Trace in the W highrise to welcome the new SiriusXM studio to town may not be an official ACL Fest event. But in a fashion similar to the Zilker extravaganza, it’s a multi-artist gathering of some local stars and true talents. Willie Nelson pops in to tout the significant addition to Austin’s stature to the gathered folks some 30 feet from his own statue. Guit-steel alchemist Junior Brown passes by in full trad C&W regalia despite the rising heat to visit on the air with “Willie’s Place” host Dallas Wayne and the satellite radio firm’s country station programming head (and my dear old NYC homeboy) Jeremy Tepper, aka DJ Rig Rocker on “Outlaw Country.”
Kinky Friedman and Jesse Dayton arrive as a duo and are strangely starting to resemble one another the longer JD performs the Kinkster’s songs and portrays him onstage. Dayton hands me his just off the presses Jesse Sings Kinky CD. Without even a listen, I know that Friedman’s songs have never sounded so good. The local country dance crowd may revere the likes of Dale Watson, but Dayton’s the man way atop the Austin new country talent chart – sings, writes, plays and produces, all magnificently, and is one hot shit guitar picker. Friedman’s sometimes manager Cleve Hattersley says that some Democrats want him to run yet again for elective office, next time on the blue side of the aisle (even if he did heartily endorse the Lone Star State’s biggest national joke and embarrassment, Rick Perry).
Hattersley quickly adds, “Of course then there will be a tour right after the election.” Say what you may about Kinky, he knows how to butter his promotional bagel and slap on a thick schmear to boot.
A wee bit later in the studio with Wayne and Tepper are Joe Ely and local resident Ben Kweller. Willie’s adorably sweet and oh-so-pretty daughter Paula is on deck for a talk. But I’m back off to the shuttle and fest grounds.
Afternoon Gridlock at the Site
As I reenter the grounds, Afghan Whigs are wrapping it up on west main stage. Their sound is even bigger, broader and mightier than they were some two decades back at the late and still lamented Liberty Lunch. Again, they impress me and demand my respect for the potency of their muscular rock, albeit sans the ‘n’roll that would draw me into their records. But live, then and now again, the band is a stunner.
I head towards the Barton Springs stage to catch Alabama Shakes, perhaps the biggest buzz blast out of SXSW 2010. I try to get near the stage but the crowd is just too thick and I can’t even get close. It’s the one trouble spot at the center of the site in the bowl with the other main stage down at the end: by late in the day it’s a dizzying near gridlock, just as it was in 2004, my last three-day ACL stretch.
The night before a guy I know at a birthday gathering does the all but de riguer deal many Austin residents love to engage in when the subject of ACL comes up: carp about the fest. “The site is too small, unlike Coachella.” I would (but didn’t) beg to differ. The Great Lawn to me has a nice compactness that serves my style of festival going, wander and sample the sounds, except for the convergence in its center from early afternoon on into the night.
But ACL Fest is about enjoying the music and the spirit about among the masses. It’s as much a social event as it is musical one. The flags announcing the locales of certain crews or groups of friends were flapping in the wind.
I was flying solo and that enabled me to quick change my plans and dart over to the Gospel Tent, always a reliable option, never been disappointed. Plus the bleachers offer one of the few spots to sit and give my feet a rest.
The Soul Rebels, a New Orleans second line brass band, took the stage and got the crowd up, whooping and hollering, grooving and bopping. The second liners may be the Crescent City’s way of saluting the recently departed, but it’s as life affirming as any music I know when played with the gusto of this outfit.
After a few numbers I slipped back out and vectored towards the Barton Springs stage and managed to get fairly close to the Shakes as their set peaked, and I do mean peaked. Much of the so-called neo-soul that’s been hyped of late – can anyone say Fitz and The Tantrums? – fails to even sound like, much less get even close to, the vibe of Stax/Volt and Motown of my younger years that was such incomparable music to dance and romance to. But the Alabama Shakes get it right down to the heart and bring their own rocker edge to it. Brittany Howard sings with the potent pipes, depth and visceral emotionality as the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, and tosses off some wicked six-string riffs to boot. With a horn section augmenting their authenticity at this show, they’re the real deal and then some. Next time they come to town, I am so there, whatever the cost of a ticket.
Then it was back to sampling: Black Lips, who left me unimpressed as an outfit (shaky and a bit sloppy). I wandered the outskirts of the big bunch o’ folks at the western AMD stage as Weezer did their witty, cheeky and whimsically charming thing as dusk fell.
I find there are three golden times in an ACL Fest day: morning, dusk and the last hours of the night. This Friday’s twilight was so sweet I could lick its icing.
Then back out the exit to load up on more nicotine. I ran into a pal feeding his habit as well. We headed off for the refuge of the media camp just down Barton Springs from the gate. A young hustlin’ brutha calling out for “spare tickets” looked at me and said, “I know you got some spare tickets.” Sorry, fella, looks can be deceiving, I guess – maybe it was my new chapeau? – and I have no idea why he even saw the possibility in me, but it was all part of the parade.
In the media camp, we heard The Black Keys start rollin’ and tumblin’ and howlin’ their smokestack lightning from the Bud Light stage.
We debated whether to head in to see them or off to home. One of us wanted to also check out AVICII. I had slated the Keys as the capstone of my day. But then again, they were a highlight for me of ACL 2005 – right up there with loudly mocking Coldplay as “twee shite” on the way to their day-closing show and through most of their sticky cotton candy set of pop that sure don’t rock – back when Auerbach and Carney were just their original duo.
That afternoon I’d just seen the Allman Brothers Band miraculously reborn with Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks not simply sampling Duane and Dickey in their primes but embossing their own sizzling six-string brands onto the songs, and Brother Gregg in splendid world-weary bluesman voice. I have little if any time for the many who play what I feel is too much guitar anymore, but I’d been reminded how when master git-blasters let loose, it’s a thrilling ride indeed.
A pal popped up to next to me with some low-slung camp chairs just before the Keys came on and they knocked my dick in the dirt. Auerbach can let loose and wail into my ears anytime, plus they had the songs, strength and sting to bluesy rock my butt and take my full name. Reclining by the side of the stage, I was blasted into blissdom. Sweet memories are made from such sets. Two guys, just guitar and drums, yet nothing more was even missed.
This time the Keys had a full band behind ‘em, and in the media grove it sounded great. But I was starting to wane and my feet were feeling testy after the marches ‘round the park and then some. I’d already had my peak Keys experience. Home was beckoning, so I called it a day, trooped up to the shuttle, quickly found another car2go when I got downtown.
Yeah, I am not a big fan of fests. And even if I can’t say I had big time fun – maybe I will at Fun Fun Fun next month – it was an enjoyable day. One down, two to go. ACL Fest is what you make of it.
Austin produces a heck of a lot of practical apps. This one is no exception. Taskbox lets you be upfront and honest with yourself by turning your email into a mobile task manager.
I am squarely in Taskbox’s audience of people who use their email inboxes as a default task manager. I know better. Heck, I’m exactly the kind of user Merlin Mann mocks when advocating Inbox Zero. Alas, management tools come and go, hardware comes and goes, physical addresses come and go - but I’ve owned my own URL for over a decade and so I always fall back on my primary email account to keep track of things.
Most of the task manager solutions I’ve seen require you to move all your data into their software or cloud app. I’ve been burned by this too many times before. Cloud services go poof, software is bought and retired, and I’m stuck going through the process again. Or, as is often the case, “just coasting a few more days” with email until I realize six months have passed. That makes Taskbox’s approach pretty appealing. I don’t have to give up the long standing reliability of my email safety blanket. Instead, this is like a warm, cozy duvet lying on top of the familiar email.
You can get the basic app for $5. Bump that up to $50 and you get a set of cloud-based services and a vanity Taskbox URL for sharing tasks. At $75, you can buy the system for yourself and four friends. Jump all the way up to $500 and you can lock in a one year cloud-based account for a team of 50. For $2,000, your team of 50 gets a lifetime subscription.
If you’re never more than six feet from your phone, but have a hard time nailing down a solid hour every day to deal with your email, this locally produced app might be just what you need. At $5, it’s cheap to find out.
Curious how our previous Austin Kickstarters did?
The Live Action Jem and the Holograms Movie was over 250% funded! Mind you, they were only asking for $200. Go ahead and throw them a couple more bucks just to be part of something awesome.
Jumpshot made an amazing 500% of their goal! They raised more than $147,000, putting them in the top tier of all Kickstarters.
My Education was fully funded! Our instrumental band is set for their European tour.
Rockrgrrl Magazine’s GRL Talk Book was fully funded! They made over 120% of their original goal.
Strange Kid Comix was over 114% funded! They raised more than $2850 for their taste of pure pop culture nostalgia.
Texas or Die: An Anthology of Horror is about 14% Funded. They have a few weeks to make $6000.
The Anachronist is 22% funded. They have a couple weeks to make around $14,000.
Wholly Kabob is 42% funded. They have a few weeks to make around $8500.
Stabil-i-Case sadly didn’t reach its goal and therefore didn’t receive funding.
The Doctor Who Review Project sadly didn’t reach its goal and therefore didn’t receive funding.
The original Spinferno Kickstarter was cancelled and replaced by a new Spinferno for Android kickstarter.
When people get together in mobs, sometimes their behavior goes south. It’s like the Internet – nobody knows who I am, so I can just act like a jerk. For shame! The past couple of days at ACL Fest 2012 make me think that either y’all had mothers who didn’t teach you any manners or that you have forgotten them.
Didn’t your momma teach you not to litter? There are trash cans and recycling stations everywhere; use them. So you have to hang on to your empty beer can while you’re listening to the rest of Freelance Whales today. Boo hoo. Put it at your feet and then pick it up when you go to leave. C3 Presents, the well-oiled machine that puts on ACL Fest every year, is enticing people to pick up trash in exchange for a T-shirt and clean-up crews are at the fest around the clock, so you can also just give your trash to one of these unsung heroes. What you shouldn’t do is throw it on the ground, if for no other reason than because it’s the wrong thing to do. Besides, hippies might stub their bare toes on your empty nip bottle.
Didn’t your momma teach you to say "excuse me?" I don’t care how many people you’re wandering through, when you bump into someone, you say "excuse me" or "sorry." We know … if you don’t get to the front of the stage to see The Roots, this entire experience will be a waste for you. It’s a life-defining moment that you will never forget and whose celebration will produce a hangover that will haunt you for 24 hours. You can still be polite and say "excuse me."
On the flip side, didn’t your momma teach you to get out of the way? When someone does say "excuse me," make some room for them to get by. I find it sort of crazy that in a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people, some of you are stubborn enough to say “This is where I’m standing, and I move for nobody.” Unless you’re Gandalf, shouting “You shall not pass!” suck it up and get out of the way. Although I understand the mental and physical strain it puts on a person to have to shuffle half a step to the left to let someone through, when you’re dealing with a crowd of this magnitude it’s best to go with the flow.
Didn’t your momma teach you to hold your alcohol? I know mine did. When you’re attending a three-day, 12-hour-per-day music festival in 90-degree heat and high humidity, you pace yourself, amateurs! I arrived at the festival on Friday at about 5 p.m. and saw a young fella being hauled away in a medi-golf cart, vomiting over the side. The staff taking care of him were yelling to the crowd, “I hope he had fun” as a warning. It was the first day. It was 5 p.m. on the first day. Beer. Water. Beer. Water. Food. Beer. Water. Beer. Get the idea?
Maybe today I need to head to the festival with an apron and a rolling pin and start handing out some punishments for bad behavior. After all, when momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
I don’t want to alarm you, but I think Austin might truly be infected with some kind of virus. I refused to heed the warnings of the Austin Post and ventured toward downtown this weekend. Something is going on down there, you guys, and it’s scary.
I headed toward Zilker Park, thinking I’d enjoy a nice stroll, via the MoPac footbridge and … well, there were cars, just abandoned. Everywhere. People parked anywhere they could and joined a mass pilgrimage toward Zilker. Even bicycles were chained to trees, to posts, to each other. The people just walked; I don’t even think they knew where they were going. I heard quiet mutterings and could only pick up names, like Jack White and Neal Young.
Once I got to Zilker, it was worse. People milling around the park, trying to make some sort of barter. I think one guy asked me for my soul in exchange for something called a wristband, but I can’t be sure. I just walked on. I saw a young man suffering from some sort of disease, being carried away in a golf cart by two men. He didn’t seem to know the men and was barely aware that he was in a moving vehicle! I saw him vomiting out the side, as the cart moved; he was obviously infected with whatever’s going on down there.
My reporter nature got the best of me, and I went into the park. What I saw, oh my God, I can’t even … There were thousands, hundreds of thousands of people grouped together. I think they were forming gangs of sorts, to protect them from or to worship the names I heard earlier. There were gangs of young men, all wearing khaki shorts and neon tank tops. There were gangs of girls, all wearing feathered headbands and denim underwear. There were gangs of older people, stationed in chairs. I think they might have lost the use of their legs to whatever sickness is going around.
The infected were screaming and chanting, performing some sort of sick ritual in front of large metal platforms where only four or five people faced the thousands on the ground. There seems to be a beverage that the infected are sharing with each other, which makes the situation worse – yelling, falling down, fighting. Hardly anyone seems to be immune.
I called the Centers for Disease Control to report what I saw, and they hung up on me. I tried to talk to the police and they told me to keep moving. I think the government might be in on this one.
Don’t go down there. Go to the grocery store and stock up on canned goods. Who knows how long this will last? I got out alive, but I don’t know if the sickness will spread. I might be showing symptoms. This morning I awoke with the name Anthony Kiedis in my head and some sort of force is pulling me toward the river. Who is he? Why am I compelled to go to the park? I’m scared, you guys. I might not make it back. Tell my mother I love her.
In many ways, Austin City Limits is a perfect festival. C3 Presents does a great job of managing people's needs and expectations while still keeping them safe and happy. These are some of the best ideas I saw this year at ACL Fest.
The festival drew 70,000 concert goers, and in a city that already has traffic nightmares, that could've been a serious disaster. Although traffic was worse than usual downtown this weekend (and usual is already awful), the festival organizers did what they could to enourage alternate modes of transportation, like biking. See our time lapse video of the bike racks filling.
Alternative Form of Transportation
Speaking of preventing traffic, this guy really had the right idea. His vehicle is a green machine, eating yard waste and pooping fertilizer. I bet he has a pretty good view from up there, too. Unfortunately, you can't bring a horse into the festival gates (I believe it's an understood rule), and horse parking is rare these days.
No, not for the horse. It rained hard Saturday for quite a while, making Zilker Park into one giant mud bath. Unsurprisingly, it didn't feel spa-like though. Sunday, the festival organizers laid hay around the muddy areas, not only to absorb the moisture and keep concert-goers from falling on their butts, which happened a lot Saturday, but also to prevent further damage to the beautiful lawn.
These folks have the right idea - two chairs with backs and a make-shift tent between. You have somewhere to sit and a way to get out of the sun. Unfortunately, you also have to lug a ton of stuff in, out and around. I have a feeling they probably didn't move much.
Although they weren't quite as necessary as last year, when ACL Fest was held in mid-September, these misters definitely came in handy once again. It felt about 10 degrees warmer in Zilker Park, surrounded by the stages and mobs of people, than anywhere else in the city this weekend, so it was nice to cool off.
It might not be fashionable but this umbrella hat probably came in very handy when the skies opened and dropped a torrential downpour of rain on the ACL crowds Saturday afternoon. You don't have to wear a hot raincoat and, unlike carrying an umbrella, your hands are kept free to hold your beer and pass the joint at the same time!
A Step Stool
The small white step stool this woman is standing on collapses into a flat iPad-sized object with a handle. In the almost 20 years I've been going to shows, I've never thought of such a great idea. I always assume my view of any show will be the guy's shoulder in front of me, but no more!
CamelBak provided water filling stations at different points throughout the festival grounds. This is, by far, the best idea for a festival ever. Not only does it allow people a way to stay hydrated without spending an insane amount of money on water, but it also cuts down on the amount of garbage produced. Good work!
Entering the park Friday afternoon. Despite the fact that I went to ACL Fest last year and that I’ve been to other large music events, it’s always impressive to first enter the gates. It’s so easy to forget what the park looks like with tens of thousands of people in it. And that view of the Bud Light (headliner) stage, with the Austin skyline in the background is always breathtaking.
Weezer opening their set with “My Name is Jonas,” the first song on their classic Blue Album. I’m sure I’m not the only teenager of the 90s that was pleased with this one. Read my full take on the set here.
The Punch Brothers and Trampled by Turtles after-show at La Zona Rosa. I could actually see the stage and the band, the music sounded fantastic, and beers were slightly cheaper than at ACL Fest. I think after-shows might be the way to go. Although tickets are generally expensive ($35 for this one), you can cherry pick what you want to see and spend less than the cost of a three-day pass to get a better view, better sound and cheaper beer. Of course, you will miss out on all the people at the large fest.
Catching a few minutes of Costa Rican band Sonámbulo’s set. Holy crap, these guys might as well have been riling up a soccer crowd! People were salsa dancing to the extreme, set to the music of this 11-piece band featuring a full horn section. This band makes the party. I wonder what they charge to do weddings….
Getting backstage for Father John Misty and making my way into the hospitality area, where they had free Ziegenbocks and a snow cone machine. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to be in the hospitality area, hobnobbing with the rich folk, but nobody stopped me, and I enjoyed it while it lasted! When I tried to go back for Steve Earle’s set, they clamped down. No piddling media in the awesome area.
Trying to hear Steve Earle over the chest-thumping bass of the appropriately named BASSNECTAR. This was one of the very few screw-ups the concert-planners made. The two acts played the exact same time slots at two neighboring stages; Steve Earle played the smaller Austin Ventures stage, while BASSNECTAR played the larger Honda stage, only a couple hundred yards away. Poor Steve made comments to the crowd about just trying to push through, but it was impossible to enjoy his set. It was really unfortunate scheduling.
The Roots’ set. Although I’ve been a fan for years, this was my first live Roots experience, and I was definitely not disappointed. They busted out some classics like “Baby You Got Me” and “Break You Off” and even did a high-speed cover of “Sweet Child of Mine,” which was both hilarious and awesomely executed. These guys are pros when it comes to both musical ability and showmanship.
Bonding with fellow festival-goers in the rain. That rain Saturday was something else. It’s great that we got it, but did it really need to happen in the middle of the Saturday of the festival? Maybe the rain gods decided we could all use some sobering up. Regardless, it was fun to huddle together under trees and bond over muddy feet and wet hair.
Almost crying when Neil Young and Crazy Horse played “Ramada Inn,” an almost 17-minute-long epic song about an aging and fading relationship from their new album, Psychedelic Pill. Young’s voice still sounds amazing, and although I could have used a little more volume, Crazy Horse is still quintessential rock and roll. Hearing the smattering of new songs they played makes me a first-day-buyer of the new album, which hits stores Oct. 30.
Trying to get anywhere within listening distance of The Lumineers. Man, festival-planners seriously underestimated the draw of this band. They played the Austin Ventures stage, one of the smaller stages, late afternoon Sunday, and the area was an absolute mob scene. People were crammed together tight from the stage all the way back to the food court. No matter where I stood, I couldn’t get close enough to hear anything at all. Good for the band, bad for the concert goer.
Getting home and knowing it was over. ACL Fest is so much fun – the music, the people watching, the camaraderie – but when it’s over, and you know that you’ll be able to sleep in and get off your feet and eat at home, well, that is a really good feeling. Until next year, ACL!
We’ve trolled Facebook, LinkedIn and odd corners of the internet looking for the tech jobs you won’t find on Craigslist. Most of these come from people at the company in question hoping a friend of a friend can help them find a good person to hire. Luckily for you, The Austin Post is your friend.
Paperless Pipeline is looking for someone to join our team on a full-time, contract basis to lead front-end design and user experience.
SecureNet Payment Systems, LLC, recently relocated to the Riata business park in NW Austin, is searching for top talent in technical and non technical areas. Urgently seeking Mobile Application Developers, Mobile UI/UX Developers, ASP.NET C# developers, and a Product Manager.
Seeking a QA proofreader ASAP. Contact rdiaz [at] vitamintalent [dot] com.
Looking solid PHP developers interested in picking up some part time freelance work. Contact elena [at] lunadatasolutions [dot] com for more info.
Hiring Java Developers . Email christina [at] lunadatasolutions [dot] com.
Rock Candy Media is looking for a enthusiastic, self-starting individual for the position of Junior Designer who can thrive in a fast-paced, creative environment. The Junior Designer will be responsible for creating original designs mostly for HTML emails and website, but with some opportunities for print design. In addition the Junior Designer will have to be able to quickly edit designs created by the Senior Designer. Additional skills needed are good communication skills, both verbal and written. Copywriting skills are not required but definitely appreciated.
Serious inquires only please send resumes and experience to Julien Libersat: julien [at] rockcandymedia [dot] com.
I need a couple of 3d animators and motion graphics peeps for some cool projects through Thanksgiving. Email rdiaz [at] vitamintalent [dot] com.
The Technology Resources (TRecs) Web Services team at The University of Texas at Austin has an opening for a Web Designer. This position serves as the primary visual/UI designer, but the team collaboratively participates in all aspects of development and support for the departmental websites under the VP for University Operations. They are looking for someone with very strong design skills who also enjoys working in a team environment that offers a wide variety of opportunities to apply and expand their skills.
Mattersight Corporation is looking for a Software Developer with strong C++ skills to join their Desktop Analytics Team.
Novotus is looking for a Java Software Engineer to design and develop large scale identity management products using bleeding edge technologies and tools.
Luna Data Solutions is looking for a Senior Software Engineer to provide oversight for design, development, and maintenance of transaction and batch processing applications. The ideal candidate will give leadership and mentoring to junior developers with their technical assignments.
The Advisory Board Company is looking for a Senior Software Engineer with strong Java and C++ skills to design and develop data integration solutions spanning multiple Crimson product teams.
Whale Shark Media is looking for a Software Engineer to work closely with a team of experienced
product managers, software engineers and quality engineers to deliver high
quality software and services to WhaleShark's millions of end users.
Gemalto is looking for a Systems Integration Engineer for testing, implementation, and customer service.
Blackbaud is looking for a Senior Systems Administrator to work with the latest technologies, supporting a very large internet presence doing business in a Software-as-a-Service environment. As a Senior member of the team, you will be responsible for day-to-day systems administration, capacity planning, resource management, and documentation of processes to deploy and maintain applications.
If you didn’t see anything that looked like a good fit, other good tech job resources in Austin include:
Launch Pad Job Club
A hitman passes security carrying only a briefcase. Slipping into an unused conference room, he opens his case and assembles... a printer. Not just any printer but a 3D one. He pulls a bag of plastic beads from his jacket, pours them into the printer and, voila, instant gun. Yes, he'll only have one shot but he won't have a problem getting past the metal detectors and into the hall where the president is speaking.
It's a scene pulled straight from a Philip K Dick novel, and it just got one step closer to reality. UT student Cody Wilson was recently stopped from using a leased 3D printer to "print" a plastic gun of his own design. When the company that leased the printer, Stratasys, found out what he intended to do, they quickly demanded the 3D printer back, citing no notification of his intentions, which they said could be against the law.
This bizarro case, reported in the Austin American Statesman today, brings up a litany of questions revolving around the legality and threat posed by this emerging technology:
At least for now, the project is on hold, said Wilson, the 24-year-old director and co-founder of Defense Distributed, the online collective managing the Wiki Weapon Project. To legal experts and law enforcement officials, this particular situation falls under a new frontier of the law.
“It is unclear if what we are doing is legal or illegal,” Wilson said Wednesday at his home. “We have turned around and realized that technology got ahead of the law, and I am not saying this with any hubris.”
A license is not required to manufacture certain types of guns if they are not intended for sale. But whether the Wiki Weapon prototype falls under that category depends on whom you ask, and Wilson said he is not willing to risk that question in court and is applying for a license.
Michael Reyes, resident agent in charge of the ATF Austin office, said it had received a referral on Wilson because his project had received so much buzz on the Internet. But Wilson visited the office Monday on his own accord — before agents reached out to him — because he had questions about the license process and legalities of his project. Wilson is not under investigation and has not broken any laws, Reyes said.
“Some of the questions we were able to answer, some we were not,” the resident agent said. “If you are going to manufacture or be in the business of manufacturing, then you need a license, so it’s going to come back to whether you are in business.”
To anyone that has followed 3D printing technology, it's clear that it will transform our world in countless ways: Hospitals will be able to make custom hip replacements in their own building, kids can make their own action figures from downloadable plans, and people will potentially have the ability to make weapons in their home. This scenario, good and bad like much of our technological advances, is not that far from reality and will have the government scrambling to keep up.
Even if Willie Nelson spends more time at home in Hawaii than his Austin area abode when he’s not on the road – can ya blame the guy? – the Red-Headed Stranger remains one of our city’s most dedicated boosters. And now his Willie’s Roadhouse channel on satellite radio will be broadcast from Willie Nelson Blvd. as SiriusXM opens its new broadcast studio at ACL Live/Moody Theater downtown.
Weekday afternoon Roadhouse jock, country singer-songwriter and Heybale! frontman Dallas Wayne will be live in the studio from Austin from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Texas time, so expect more of our local C&W and Americana artists to drop in and get an even bigger boost than they already do on the satellite service’s country channels. The priority on Texas acts is now doubled down with the new studio here, which will also broaden the spectrum of Austin’s presence on SiriusXM, especially during SXSW. Plus. the Outlaw Country and Radio Margaritaville channels will also broadcast from the facility within the W Austin Hotel and Residences tower.
Willie will be at the grand opening bash next Friday (10/12) and on air during Wayne’s show, on which he already makes a habit of stopping by as often as he can. Austin world media dominance continues to grow... Hey, maybe if people can more easily connect with us they won't feel compelled to move to our burgeoning burg. However, we do welcome SiriusXM with open arms.
Frank Taylor Ramsey worried not only about his own legacy, but about that of his customers as well. The nurseryman once wrote fondly of the trees around his childhood home, trees “whose remembrance gives pleasure of a kind that cannot be obtained with money.” Frank urged his catalog readers to create such priceless treasures for their own families. “Are you willing,” he asked, “that your children shall have similar memories in future years?” Enough of Frank’s customers answered “yes” that his trees and shrubs still dot the landscape of Austin’s older neighborhoods decades after his death.
Alexander Ramsey (1825-1895) proved so adept at raising fruit trees after moving to Texas in 1860 that he turned his hobby into a full-time business. (Photo from http://www.charlottes-web.com.)
Frank launched his career in his teens by following in his father’s footsteps. In 1858 Alexander Ramsey sent a few peach seeds from Mississippi to his brother in the tiny Burnet County town of Mahomet. By the time of his arrival in Texas in 1860 a small peach orchard awaited him. The Civil War hampered his efforts but by 1875 Alexander had enlarged both the quantity and variety of his trees enough that he issued a catalog offering trees for sale. Two years later sixteen-year-old Frank quit school to go into business with his father.
Frank Ramsey as a teenager. This photograph was taken about the time that Frank began working with his father. (Photo from http://www.charlottes-web.com.)
Father and son battled freezes and grasshoppers throughout those early years but, as Alexander’s 1895 obituary noted, “The temperate, industrious, honest man who loves his business succeeds.” During 1893 and 1894 the pair moved the business to Austin to ease the process of shipping plants throughout Texas and beyond. Alexander, on the far side of his 70th birthday, then sold his share in the business to his son. According to the obituary, there was “never a word of disagreement uttered” between Alexander and Frank during their long partnership.
The Ramsey home in Mahomet. That's Alexander Ramsey standing on the porch at left. To his left are Frank, Belle and their children Murray and Jessie. (Photo from http://www.charlottes-web.com.)
A nursery needs land and Frank therefore had to locate his business on the edge of the city. He purchased several hundred acres in the vicinity of Austin’s first planned subdivision, Monroe Shipe’s Hyde Park neighborhood. With the nursery office at 45th and Guadalupe, Frank’s commute from his home at 4412 Avenue B merely involved walking north across 45th Street.
The 1894 catalog for Ramsey's Nurseries. Notice the stamped reminder at upper right about the move to Austin. (Photo from http://www.charlottes-web.com.)
The Ramsey family quickly became an integral part of the Hyde Park neighborhood. Because of his initials, locals began calling Frank “Fruit Tree Ramsey.” Frank joined the North Austin Fire Company and remained a member until the city founded its own professional force in 1916. His wife Belle served many an impromptu dinner to unexpected guests brought home by her husband. Years later neighbors remembered the Ramseys serving iced watermelon at gatherings on their lawn. Frank invited the American Legion to use his nursery for an annual Halloween celebration. And for the Hyde Park Christian Church annual picnic Frank would load a hay wagon with men, women and children for a fun-filled ride to the countryside. One woman later recalled, “There was one favorite place where there were trees, grass and a running stream; and when those big baskets of food were spread out on table cloths on the ground, life was perfect.”
The Ramsey family home at 4412 Avenue B in Austin's Hyde Park neighborhood. (Photo by Jeffrey Kerr.)
Frank had located his business ideally. As more families purchased lots in Hyde Park they turned to F. T. Ramsey’s Austin Nursery for landscaping. Added to an already thriving mail-order business, this demand sustained the nursery as a major player in the Austin market for decades.
This advertisement for the Ramsey Nursery appeared in the 1922 Austin City Directory.
His passion for plants led Frank to develop several unique varieties of trees and ornamental shrubs. He wrote articles for trade journals and popular magazines. He served as president of the Texas State Horticultural Society. In his annual nursery catalog he included his own poems that extolled the beauty to be found in nature.
It’s sweet to walk out when the sun’s brightly shining,
And sweet to sit down with my friends in the shade.
My homeyard abloom with vines that are twining
Is the best place, I know, that God ever made.
As he had followed his father into the nursery business, so Frank Ramsey’s son John Murray Ramsey followed him. A 1927 newspaper advertisement for F. T. Ramsey and Son’s Austin Nursery boasted the slogan “Builders of Beauty and Bringers of Bounty.” Frank’s grandson Murray Perkins Ramsey took over the business upon his father’s death in 1944. In 1965 he halted retail sales and restricted business to landscape contracting. When he died ten years later the century-old family business died with him.
The 1945 catalog for Ramsey's Nursery. The last remant of the storage building at upper left and the office building at upper right were demolished within the past few years.
Four generations of Ramsey nurserymen, as pictured in the Spanish version of the 1911-1912 catalog. (Photo from http://www.charlottes-web.com.)
Frank Ramsey’s nursery may no longer be with us but many of the trees grown there thrive yet in Hyde Park and elsewhere. His legacy includes many unique varieties of fruit trees and ornamentals developed by his hand. He served Austin as a member of city school and hospital boards. His heirs donated the land used to create the Rosedale neighborhood’s Ramsey Park, named after Frank. But it is his love of plants and trees that is Frank Ramsey’s greatest enduring feature. The poem he composed for his tombstone highlights his passion:
It’s sweeter to wander on this earth and gather flowers,
But sweeter still the thought, some day it will be ours
In Paradise to walk with her and we loved the best
And gather fragrant fairer ones for longer hours.
Or, as one of the pithy aphorisms from a Ramsey Nursery catalog put it, “Look on beauty and shame the devil.” Over the years Frank “Fruit Tree” Ramsey gave Austinites the opportunity to do just that.
Frank Taylor Ramsey (1861-1932), Austin's "Builder of Beauty."