It's pretty great to have a friend who happens to work for a local event-marketing firm. Thanks to her, I’m getting a true crash course in the city’s culture—from seeing the incredibly diverse acts of Austin’s music scene to experiencing, first hand, the joy that is the local comedy community. This month is shaping up much differently than I had expected, that's for sure.
As I mentioned last week, musically, Austin reminds me a lot of Memphis. From small bands playing in corner bars to national acts taking the stage at venues such as Austin City Limits Live, you can’t walk two feet without hearing a melody of some kind. The only difference it that Memphis is about keeping the past alive and celebrating the sounds that helped shape blues, jazz and rock n’ roll. Here in Austin, they want to push the envelope and create new sounds that no one has ever heard. I guess that’s why people flock from all over to attend festivals like ACL, Fun Fun Fun Fest and SXSW.
As for the rest of the city’s culture, I couldn’t think of a way to accurately explain it. Then, over the weekend, I was invited to a screening of Travel Channel‘s, “Underground BBQ Challenge”. It was an Austin-centric episode that pitted David Rodriguez—local chef and punk rocker—against a team of more traditional “Texas cowboys”. I thought it was a great display that really summarized Austin’s personality, compared to that of the rest of state. Take for instance that David cooked his briskets on a bunch of borrowed grills and smokers, while the other team utilized a range of expensive cabinets, ovens and electronics. That alone says a lot, but in the end, David’s team won because of their passion, drive and creativity.
That’s the kind of place Austin is. They do more with less. They find ways to re-use, reinvent and revitalize things that most people would either toss aside or simply forget about. Honestly, there’s just something really inspiring about being around artisans, who are pushing the envelope of what they can accomplish on tight deadlines and tighter budgets. I’m not sure if it’s something in the water, but everyone I’ve met here is of a similar ilk. I guess that’s why they say about 70 people are moving here every single day.
Oh and for those wondering—yes—David’s brisket was out of this world and was hands down the best BBQ I’ve ever had.