With those 3 B’s you can’t go wrong. Thursday we drove to the airport to pick up Jimmie Shell, Keri Schwab and Jimmy Hauschild, all in from Salt Lake to see some music and celebrate Tim’s 40th Birthday. We immediately went downtown to get everyone acclimated to the nuttiness that is Austin during SXSW.
Even at 2 pm, music poured out onto the street from the 80 bars that showcase new talent. We had been concerned that we may not get into venues if we didn’t have SXSW Music Badges, but we quickly learned that we’d been wise to save our money. Rarely did we ever pay a cover, much less be blocked from the shows. The 5 of us started the afternoon walking Austin’s famed 6th Street and then retired for the NCAA opening round in Champions Sports Bar. We called the day early, knowing that the weekend would be busy.
Friday morning we relaxed with several fine Austin Lone Star RV Park Breakfast Tacos and then bussed downtown mid afternoon. It would be our first full night of music and we couldn’t get enough. The night was warm and open aired bars played until 2 am. We visited the bikini clad waitresses at….well, you guessed it…Bikinis, we went to Maggie Maes where 4 stages all play different genres, but really enjoyed the scene at the Blind Pig Pub. Here we saw one of our hightlights, Citizen Icon. Keri, Jimmy and I danced while Jimmie and Tim watched the many upsets of the Tourney in the back. The bar is the second floor with just a sheet of canvas overhead and you are dancing under the stars.
As the night grew later we saw great bluegrass at Dublins, and then wound up at the LOUD and raucous Emos. By 2:30 am we were standing on the corner curb vying with 2,000 others for cabs. Jimmie came through by flagging down a gypsy cab, who whisked us back to the RV Park in her private car. It was actually a much more pleasant ride than your standard cab.
Though Sunday was the official Birthday Day, the celebration began Saturday afternoon as we eagerly awaited Kevin Frazier and Mark Weiser’s arrival for their 24 hours in Austin. With the power of geomapping we could watch their travels towards Austin on a minute by minute basis. By 3:00 we were all together. The weather had turned and things had gotten chilly, but bundled up in our down we were back on the town. We proceeded to go BACK to Bikinis, perhaps not a surprise, and then make our way bar by bar to Stubbs BBQ for Tim’s birthday dinner. Stubbs was a madhouse. After an hour wait we finally made it into the dining room. There we had a the most amazingly rude waitress and watched as her manager asked a table to leave because they’d taken so long. The food was delicious, but the service was atrocious and when it was time for the bill we couldn’t believe we’d been autograted 18%.
I am typically pretty generous but I had to speak up. I went to the manager and asked her to remove the tip. She did, and in the meantime told me their tale. Stubbs is one of the most popular BBQ joints in downtown Austin. They had a line out the door for hours and meanwhile Bill Murray sat in the bar waiting for a table. So she’d gone from table to table trying to uproot them to seat the famous comedian. She was afraid for her job if she didn’t get him his table. Meanwhile Bill left, most the patrons were angry and she was at her wit’s end. By the time she’d finished I ended up leaving 20%. Yes, I am a sucker, but that is a downright bad night. This is SXSW.
Meanwhile our night had just gotten started. Tim and I had briefly lost everyone and had no cell power left. We walked the 4 blocks back to the van in order to plug in and find out where everyone had gone. I guess we all had the same idea. 5 minutes later we were all reunited at the van, got on more warm clothes and went back out to the party. Bands led to more bands and we ended the night with Michael Monroe, an androgenous long haired heavy metal saxophone player who bounded from the top of the bar, back to the stage, to the top of the 6 foot tall speakers with vigor. Surrounded by great friends, there was no better way to ring in Tim’s 40th.
The next morning we were all pretty beat. We rousted each other out of bed and made our way downtown to Moonshiners. Here for $16 you can get everything from Belgian waffles to green chile cheddar grits to corn flake fried chicken to egg taco casserole. Even Weis who is not a breakfast eater found plenty to fill his plate. After brunch and a $3.00 Bloody Mary, we started to feel human again.
Tim’s birthday was then spent doing what he likes best, watching basketball in fun sports bars followed by a whole mess of burgers at one of Austin’s finest burger joints. Though our picks are a disaster following the games, it was an amazing day.
Monday we reluctantly said goodbye to everyone. Tim and I then drove out to McKinney State Park to quiet the ringing in our ears. With the exception of getting some new leaf springs on Frank and a terrific lunch with Laura Hancock, we’ve stayed holed up in our peaceful campground. As fun as it is to party like a 20 year old…40 ain’t so bad either!