Austin, TX

City Spotlight

City: Austin, TX, “Live Music Capital of the World” – “Silicon Hills” – home of the University of Texas, Waterloo Records, Sixth Street, 125 music venues and 1500 musical acts

One Artist: Terri Hendrix by Tom Buckley

Austin, TX

Terri Hendrix, writes Rolling Stone.Com, “mixes humor and sparkling melodies with striking instrumental and vocal chops, displaying a particularly keen talent for finger picking and full-on scat singing.” Born and raised in San Antonio and now living just outside Austin in the Texas Hill Country, Hendrix is a classic Texas troubadour whose strong songwriting and engaging live shows have earned her devoted national and regional followings. Music lovers of all ages and genres identify with the independent spirit and boundless diversity that Hendrix’s music embodies. “Upbeat and down-home, hopeful but never hokey,” writes the Dallas Morning News, “Hendrix embodies the playful swing, yarn-spinning intimacy and lyrical poignancy of vintage Texas music.”

Although consistent media references to Hendrix’s upbeat pop songcraft are on the mark, her writing is also contemplative, ambitious, and honest. Performing Songwriter, in its current issue, describes her new release, The Ring, as “a thoroughly captivating record. Hendrix’s trademark Rickie Lee Jones-meets-Emmylou Harris voice and her catchy, literate lyrics are at their best.”

Now touring in support of The Ring, Hendrix is also dedicating herself to managing her career and running her own label, Wilory Records – she’s released six CDs on the label since 1996 – while maintaining her popular web site and rapidly growing e-mail list, now topping 30,000. This summer, Hendrix headlined at the Kerrville Folk Festival, and one of her songs, “Lil’ Jack Slade,” will be included on the upcoming Dixie Chicks’ release.

One Event: Old Settler’s Music Festival by Tom Buckley

“Bluebonnets and Bluegrass” – an annual spring rite of passage for music fans in the Texas Hill Country, Old Settler’s is held each April at the height of the Texas wildflower season. Last year marked the 15th anniversary of the family-friendly event, which takes pride in presenting big-name talent amid small-festival charm. As a fan once commented, “It’s like Telluride in your backyard!”

Old Settler’s has evolved from a strictly bluegrass festival to a music festival celebrating local, regional, and national artists. Alison Krauss, Roseanne Cash, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, and Michelle Shocked have entertained crowds from the main stage; so too have renowned local and regional artists like Terri Hendrix, Toni Price, Ruthie Foster, and Caroline Herring.

The Texas Hill Country’s famed wildflowers serve as the backdrop for over two dozen acts across four stages. “What started out as a little get together has quickly become one of the top music events in the country,” wrote In-Site Magazine last year. “Not only do we get the best bluegrass, but also country, jazz and alt-country.” The Austin Chronicle adds, “This three-day campout remains the perfect encore for South by Southwest revelers: outdoors, all day, and made for the entire family.” The festival features a celebrated camping community, a youth talent compeition, armadillo races, an open mic area, and performance workshops.

One Venue: Cactus Café by Tom Buckley

Billboard calls the Cactus Cafe “solidly respected” and cites it as one of only fifteen clubs nationally “from which careers can be cut, that work with both proven names and new faces.” One of the country’s finest acoustic music traditions, the Cactus has acquired a national reputation as a singer-songwriter haven since the current performance format was adopted in February 1979.

Nestled in the Student Union building on the University of Texas campus, the non-smoking, intimate venue (capacity 156) regularly features major-label talent and developing artists. This month alone, the schedule features Tish Hinojosa, Odetta, Abra Moore, and Eliza Gilkyson. Other notables who’ve graced the Cactus stage include Nanci Griffith – an Austin native who played the Cactus in the fledgling stage of her career – Ani DiFranco, Iris Dement, Dar Williams, and Gillian Welch. Those making the Cactus a regular stop on their national tour schedules include Lucy Kaplansky, Susan Werner, and Cheryl Wheeler.

Befitting the musicians who play there, the Cactus has quietly established an impeccable reputation over the years among both artists and patrons, and the small setting virtually guarantees laid-back, loose, and friendly performances.

August 1st, 2002