Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Little Nature and Lot of Music!

On a clear day we ventured out to see a couple of Austin sights with local friends Ashley and Lila. First stop: Mount Bonnell, a wonderful spot to view the Colorado River and some very fancy homes on the riverfront. At 780 feet, this is one of the highest points in Austin.

Hans, Lisa, Lila and Ashley atop Mount Bonnell.

Next we drove a short distance to Mayfield Park, a lovely little oasis in the city. There are a couple of miles of trails plus the pretty grounds to explore...and peacocks!

Hans looks up to find a couple of peacocks overhead.
We saw about a dozen male peacocks hanging around in the trees and on the rooftops.

The redbuds are providing brilliant color all over town right now.

This little guy was only about 4 inches long.

So bright they look fake!

As I mentioned in a previous post, SXSW seems to explode across the core of the city for 10 days. Thousands of people are walking the city streets and every block offers up dozens of options for music and food. Some are official SXSW events where a very expensive badge is required for access, some are "unofficial" events and are open to the public and free. Depending on the popularity of the musical acts, there may or may not be a line or a crowd.

One fine day we made our way to the E. 7th St. corridor to see some free live music. We'd learned that staying East of interstate 35 usually meant fewer crowds and you might only have to park a few blocks from your venue of choice. We were headed for Hotel Vegas, a popular venue for live music with a large outdoor patio and stage. Arriving early, around 1pm, we got right in, met up with a friend, and enjoyed several hours of music. By the time we left the venue about 5pm, it was packed and had a long line...timing is everything during SXSW!

We're standing right in front of all girl surf band, La Luz, at Hotel Vegas.
What you can't see in this shot is how very crowded the venue had become...

This is how packed Hotel Vegas can get as the afternoon wears on!

Way back in 1980 in Albuquerque, Hans met Ryan through music...flash forward to the present and Ryan lives in Austin and plays bass in a band, the Barebones Orchestra. One evening they played a benefit gig for The Center for Music Therapy, where we enjoyed both Barebones and other musicians related to the Therapy Center, including the very talented Emily Morris.

Barebones Orchestra.

Another day we parked on the East side of interstate 35 and walked over to the crazy West side to attend two free events at the convention center: the Flat Stock show and the Gear Show. Flat Stock consists of band posters and there was some incredible art on display and for sale. This would be a neat place to buy art if we had a home to put it in!

The Gear Show consists of all the latest goodies for musicians. Walking the aisles we were thrilled to see the Center for Music Therapy's booth. We spent a few minutes chatting with the Center's founder and president, Hope Young, about music therapy. Through music, therapists are able to help people of all ages (infant through geriatric) with cognitive, emotional and physical issues. From our two encounters with the Center's staff we could see how much they love their work and we have a new appreciation for the power of music.

Hope Young, Center for Music Therapy.

Hans had fun trying out various guitar effects.

Guitars made out of oil cans!

Figuring out what to see at SXSW can be overwhelming. There are literally hundreds of bands playing at possibly hundreds of venues, all day, every day! Hans, being the music guy in our house, has spent hours researching what we want to attempt to see. He came across a band we knew of from Los Angeles, The Two Tens, who happened to be playing a couple of gigs during SXSW. We caught them at their "unofficial" gig, an afternoon show at the Lost Well, a dive bar on the East side, where parking was easy and we even got a free beer!

The Two Tens rocking the house.

SXSW is an event unlike any we've seen before. It is enormous and really kind of overwhelming! But if you do your research and go with the flow it can be a lot of fun. We're glad we are staying outside of town and have learned the simplest and least congested ways to get to the heart of the city...we can get in and out of the craziness pretty easily and return to our quiet little cocoon on wheels when we've had enough. We've noticed that the sound systems at every venue are set up to be extremely loud so ear plugs are a must.

We are due for some nature and good long hikes...if the rain ever stops. Yes, it's raining again!


  1. The picture of the peacock in the tree with the beautiful tail fathers is quite a beauty. And oh the memories of the redbud trees in our Georgia home...

    I don't think I would even consider venturing into the city during SXSW without a guide like Hans! Fun times....

  2. How fun! I would have loved the live music! Hope we see you guys on down the road!

  3. Sounds like you're having a great time in Texas. Love the turtle pic!

  4. What beautiful skies atop Mount Bonnell. The colors in this post are fantastic from the peacocks and poppies to the band posters. I've always though Music Therapy was a very under appreciated field. What a nice day you had.

  5. Looks like you guys are having a great time in Austin, nature, music and urban time!
    This post is full of vivid colors and music! Not sure If I would go that event without a guide.
    We had rain last night and today so our hikes were cancelled :(

  6. Looks like you're having a great time in Austin. We love music festivals and search them out wherever we go -- it's amazing how many wonderful festivals there are around the country. SXSW appears to be one of the largest -- I can see why it would feel overwhelming!

  7. All of these photos are amazing, I've gone back and enjoyed them more than once already. The turtle shot with the reflective pond is incredible. We would love all the music venues, might even brave those crowds to enjoy the variety of outdoor options! My drum was stolen a few years ago and seeing those in the Music Therapy booth made me want to reach out and grab one :-) I am so loving Austin through your words and pics.

  8. What a perfect event SXSW is for Hans!

  9. Glad you are enjoying your time in Austin. What a nice mix of two favorite things, hiking and music:) That peacock in the tree is amazing! What gorgeous colors and those tail feathers are so long!! Did you use any special setting on the camera? Good you are doing your homework and figured out the ropes to get in before the crowds! Hope you weather continues to hold:)