Austin, Texas - Real Charm Comes Natural

by : Lisa Gray

It's been a few years now since Austin, Texas was declared - by those who know - America's COOL Capital, the Headquarters of Hip. Those who are familiar with the "Live Music Capital of the World" know that Austin's is not a contrived cool: not some sort of New York art school put-on. Neither is it a hired hipness: some Rodeo Drive princess wearing all the latest threads. No, Austin is naturally hip, filled with fun, friendly people who just want to have a great time - now that's cool.

Now, the thing is, Austin has always been a cool place, and Austin isn't cool because some magazine SAID it's cool (although many have, and we thank you). Austin is America's Cool Capital because Austinites believe in doing good - good music, good food, good theatre, good festivals, and good times. And Austin has no shortage of venues and events in which to partake in the city's cool, relaxed atmosphere.


Austin has literally hundreds of live music venues. Back in 1991 blues musician Lillian Standfield petitioned the City Council, urging them to name Austin "Music Capital of the USA". The City's Music Commission did a little research and discovered, lo and behold, that Austin had more live music venues per capita than well known "music capitals" including New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas! A City Council Resolution dated August 29, 1991 proclaimed Austin to be the "Live Music Capital of the World". In addition to the hundreds of now legendary Austin music venues, Austinites can enjoy live music at such unusual locations as the City Hall Plaza (every Friday at noon), at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (3 venues just at the terminal!), throughout Austin's city parks, and at the beginning of EVERY City Council meeting! The slogan "Live Music Capital of the World" is far more than just a slogan. And while music is perhaps the primary driver of Austin's "creative economy" it is not the only one.


One thing that Austinites cherish above all is the eclectic nature of their city. The unofficial slogan "Keep Austin Weird" reflects not only Austin's cherished eclectic nature, but also the desire of many Austinites to nurture and maintain diversity by patronizing the smaller "Mom & Pop" businesses, and resisting the monoculture of big box/fast food chains. Austin's cafes, restaurants, and eateries offer a huge variety of delicious foods, from Southwestern to vegan to Thai, from laid-back fair-trade diners to laid-back uptown gourmet, and because it's Austin, chances are you'll get music with your meal!


Austin's world famous music scene is perhaps best represented in the various festivals to which the town plays host. These include Austin City Limits Music Festival, The Urban Music Festival, Eeyore's Birthday Party, the Austin Reggae Festival, Carnaval, and Juneteenth. In addition to these annual celebrations, Austinites celebrate First Thursday on a weekly basis. On First Thursday, held the first Thursday of every month, the funky stores in SoCo stay open late, musicians jam in the streets, and vendors and artists display their wares on the sidewalks. The whole neighborhood has a street party type of atmosphere - and this happens every week! While much of what has been described here represents the funkier side of Austin, the city does celebrate more refined culture as well: live theatre is alive and well in Austin, and Ballet Austin is the fourth largest of its kind in the U.S. All in all, regardless of what your tastes, Austin is an amazing place to live, work, and PLAY!