Since 1981 Austin, Texas has relied on a free, weekly, tabloid-style newspaper, The Austin Chronicle, to report on everything that’s going on in the city. Music, art, cinema, food, sports, politics, classifieds, the paper is a must-read for anyone who is seeking current information on where to go and what to do in Austin. Once a year, the paper conducts reader and critic polls to decide the best of the best in 10 categories ranging from outdoors and recreation, kids, services, entertainment, to arts and culture. Here are some of the best of awards relating to the music scene, since music is the heart and soul of this city.
The Best Public Art/Best Statue is the bronze statue of Willie Nelson holding his Martin acoustic guitar that sits in front of the Moody Theater, 310 Willie Nelson Boulevard; it is a full time music venue, and home to the PBS Austin City Limits television show that received this year’s award for Best Locally Produced TV Show.
The Best Performance Space is The Long Center, 701 West Riverside. The Long Center is home to the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Austin, Austin Lyric Opera, Concerts in the Park, and youth, local, and national musical performers.
The Best Annual Festival is a tie between Austin City Limits (ACL) and South by Southwest (SXSW). People come from all over America, and the world to experience both of these renowned festivals. SXSW also received the Best Party of the Year award.
The Best Drum Circle is line upon line percussion with its lowercase name and uppercase performance by three guys (Adam Bedell, Cullen Faulk, Matthew Teodori) and every conceivable percussion instrument. They create unique musical experiences, not just with drums, cymbals, sticks, planks, chimes, and glass, but by using the architecture of rooms, buildings and bridges as their stage.
The Best Rebirth is Emo’s East. After residing at Sixth Street and Red River for 20 years where it was known for its ground-breaking bands, and the infamous night when Johnny Cash played a set in 1994, and then hung out at the bar on a stool that was later suspended from the ceiling, Emo’s East now resides at 2015 East Riverside. It is housed in a huge building where it will continue to provide an array of music in Austin’s emerging east side business scene. The Best New Club/Best New Bar/Best Bar Staff, three different awards, went to The White Horse, 500 Comal, also located in the middle of the revived east side commerce area of Austin.
The Best Record/CD Store is Waterloo Records, 600 A North Lamar. Since its opening in 1982, Waterloo is not just a place to buy music in all its forms, but to hear live music, as well. Many local and national musicians perform at the store because they know that Austin’s loyal music fans will pack the place in support of their latest creative endeavors.
The Best Music store is Strait Music Company with two locations: 2428 West Ben White, and 13945 Highway 183. Started by Dan Strait as a piano store, it is now a full service location for band and orchestra rental instruments, music lessons, repairs, and of course, every type of instrument and accessory for sale. Dan’s motto is “where customers become friends.”
The best Shop That Rocks on Dirty Sixth (street) is Aaron’s Rock & Roll, 423 East Sixth. Aaron’s is a novelty shop in the heart of Austin’s music row which sells a diverse inventory of fun and unique items: clothes, wall art, belt buckles, smoke accessories, and everything that represents the music scene’s counter culture. It is a great place to buy gifts for friends and family, or to find that special something for yourself.
The Best Mojo Working is Austin Vintage Guitars, 6555 Burnet. Home to a diverse inventory of used, new, and vintage guitars, amps, and gear, you can find a 1969 Fender Jazz Bass, or a 2004 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop 1957 reissue. Anyone searching for the best in guitars heads here hoping they find that one guitar that was meant for them given the wealth of options.
The Austin Chronicle is a weekly presence in restaurants, music venues, and stores in and around Austin. Once a year the Best of Austin issue comes out and everyone is anxious to celebrate all the stellar businesses, people, and events that make the city an exciting place to work and live. For the music community, the reader and critic choices prove quite challenging for voters. This year’s winners represent the cream of the crop, not just the good, or better, but the best of the best!