It’s not often that I get to new places. When I’m on the NFL circuit, it’s usually the same places and the same hotels and there’s something nice about that familiarity however…every now & then…it’s nice to go someplace new. And this past weekend I was lucky enough to get to visit the current music hotbed of our country, Austin, TX. Having heard so much about this small capitol city (population 821,000 or so), I figured it would be a fun yet unassuming place. Well…I was right about the first thing…but the second? Well…
Day 1 in Austin was all work and no play. I was there to prepare for a basketball showdown between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Longhorns. The University of Texas is located here, with an enrollment of somewhere near 50,000 students. Apparently the weekend of this game was also the weekend that the students were to return to begin their classes after the holiday break. It is safe to say maybe THAT had something to do with the traffic that clogged I-35 pretty much the entire weekend? I dunno. Either way, traffic and the amount of people kept me from doing anything Friday night and my small group of friends and I ended up eating at Macaroni Grill for dinner. This, in turn, was not what I had planned when I had heard that I was coming to Austin!
The night after, following the game (Kansas won but the Longhorns had given them all they could handle!), my friends and I went out looking for some fun. For dinner, we ate at Evangeline Cafe, a small little cajun joint located outside of the city. I had the jambalaya and some fried pickles and someone ordered some fried gator bites. I had never tried gator. Needless to say, it tastes a lot like chicken after it’s been fried!
After chowing down, we headed into downtown to the Continental Club. Downstairs there were gonna be 3 bands performing that night, upstairs had Jimmie Vaughn, brother of Stevie Ray Vaughn. Considering the line that was waiting outside for Vaughn, we figured the downstairs jam was the way to go and paid our cover to see the Soulphonics, a band that touts themselves as “The Band That Time Forgot.” With a mix of classic 60’s garage rock and a little bit of soul, they cranked out about 10 songs before I had finished my first beer! Needless to say, the band earned their money despite the fact that I was already getting tired and needed to get moving (a 7am crewcall will do that to you).
From there we headed down to 6th Street and let me tell you…when it comes to partying? THIS is the place to be. With bars galore, bands in every crevice and people flooding the streets like Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, Austin comes alive in this little area and the only comparison I can make is the famous New Orleans French Quarter…only cleaner! My friends and I picked a random place to have a drink and we weren’t disappointed. The Blind Pig Pub featured Ben Cina and his band jamming on the rooftop and I can say that I was probably one of the oldest people in the bar (except for my 3 friends who are MUCH older than me). Despite that, we had fun listening to the band, watching people play a much larger form of Jenga and just milling around the bar. Cina is a rising talent and I hope to hear something by him on the radio someday. For now, you should go check out his single, “Cold.” It’s a damn good tune and he rocked the house that night!
As you can probably imagine, I didn’t get the full effect of Austin simply because I was only there for a couple nights. What I CAN tell you is that I hope to get back there someday and the next time I hope I get more than just a night to explore. I have a feeling this little town has a LOT to offer and is probably one of those places where you are up til 6am and don’t even realize it until you find yourself sleeping in a booth at some 24 hour diner and the waitress is trying to get you to pay the bill but you’re so sleepy you can’t get up and…well…you know the drill.