Music, Independent Film & Tex-Mex in Texas’ Hippest City
Home to the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) film and music festival, Austin, Texas has attracted a young and vibrant community of filmmakers and musicians who live and work year-round in the comfortable laid-back climate of Texas Hill Country. The result is a city filled with over 200 music clubs and reportedly the best music scene in the U.S.
The Good Life
While it is most known for its film, food, and music, Austin is also the corporate home of Whole Foods, and home of the University of Texas. This fusion of creative energy, politics, and progressive thinking results in Austin ranking consistently near the top of Money magazines’ “Best Places to Live” surveys. And MSN has rated it among the “Greenest Cities in America”.
Filmmakers like Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City, Spy Kids, etc.) and Richard Linklater (Dazed & Confused, Before Sunrise, School of Rock, etc.) called Austin home at various points in their careers. It’s no wonder that film, like seemingly everything else in Austin, has taken on near-mythic proportions, and is often cited as the “next Hollywood”, or eclipsing New York and Vancouver as the Mecca of independent film.
Film, Music & Art
With music and film in the city’s creative blood, it was just a matter of time before a music and film festival would grace the city.
Begun in 1987, South by Southwest has morphed into a three-headed festival comprised of film, music, and interactive media. Each arm of the festival is run somewhat autonomously, with each having its own start and end dates, highlights, screenings, concerts, parties, product showcases, panels, and speakers.
Austin’s musical heritage is Mexican, German, and colonial in origin and encompasses a wide variety of music including country, folk, jazz, blues, and rock. The music scene is so rich that the city’s nearly 200 live music venues are divided into a number of districts (Red River, University, Warehouse & Downtown, Eastside, Sixth Street, South Lamar, South First, South Congress). Each area has its own standouts and genres for which it’s the best to know.
Lest visitors think that Austin is a wasteland of youthful exuberance, it must be noted that the city is home to a number of terrific arts and culture collections including the Austin Museum of Art, Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, and the Elisabet Ney Museum. And with the opening of the University of Texas at Austin’s Blanton Museum of Art, some 17,000 works of art have found a permanent home in Austin.
Tex-Mex & Fine Dining
With so much to see, do, and hear, most Austin visitors find themselves starving by day’s end. This may be attributed to the almost constant aroma of good fresh food. With the influx of musical and film talent, the city has simultaneously found itself blessed with culinary talent as well.
Long known as a haven for Tex-Mex food and barbecue, Austin now boasts a growing number of gourmet restaurants. In addition to burritos, ribs, fajitas, and all things Tex-Mex, Austin has turned it’s progressive self toward sustainable food and drink and the slow food movement.
Somewhere between the high quality of life, music, film, and the terrific food the city wins visitors over. It’s not one thing. Something deeper draws people in, and a piece of that either goes home with them or never lets them leave.