I’ve been in Austin for close to a week so I feel ready to share something. It’s funny how intuition nags at you until a random occurrence forces you to act. I’d been told about this place constantly for the past 2 years. Whether I was on tour or just hanging out with like-minded people - this town came up. I just needed to be here. It’s a great town full of very friendly people who want to help you out. For instance, I’m writing to you from an apartment in a nice suburban part of town because a lovely couple that I met at a dive bar a week ago offered me a room for the time that I was here. I thought they were joking. But they weren’t. And just last night I got talking to a nice fella called C.K. who offered to drive me around to all the open mic showcases around town because he didn’t want me to waste my money on taxi’s. A friend I made a few days ago told me that Austin loves me or it was at least enjoying my company - and feel that he’s right.
The heat here at the moment is astonishing. You can’t function without air conditioning and telling yourself constantly that it has to end sometime. I just took a 5 minute walk and came back exhausted and ready for bed - at 1:25 in the afternoon!
But of course there is the music. It seems to be kind of a religion here. It’s hard not to be at a bar in town without a gruff singer-songwriter sharing a story in the corner of the room. And people seem to listen here - it’s not treated as annoying background music as far as I can tell. Although every second person seems to be an artist of some kind.
At the airport when I arrived I saw a T-shirt for sale that said “Keep Austin Weird” - and it makes a lot of sense. It’s hard to believe that this town exists in the most socially conservative evangelical state in the world. The gun wielding, racist, anglo loonies are harder to find. Although I’m told most people own a gun. I even held one (unloaded) the other day. Scared the shit out of me. I’m told I should go to Dallas if I want to SEE Texas in all it’s conservative glory . Which I don’t really. People are laid back here in Austin - they just want to live well and listen to live music. I like that.
My aim is to spend the days in doors (if I’m not down at the LadyBird lake where you “cool your core”) working on some new songs. Maybe I’ll try some out at my next chance. There are heaps of open mic nights and I’m working on getting some “real” (as in paid) gigs. I haven’t stood here for a while - I mean I felt semi-established in Australia. I even have someone booking my shows for me at home. I can just turn up and play. When I first started out I would just show up at these open mic nights and sing whatever songs I had at the time. There was a community of all sorts of weirdo songwriter types that I looked forward to seeing weekly. This feels like that again. I played two open mic’s last night and I’ll try to play every night while I’m here. Why? Because I want to. That feels good too.