Rain having been predicted by everyone, the Chronicle staff was resolved to accept this annual party being washed away. Instead, the day was beautiful, the party one of the best-attended ever. The music was excellent, including a wonderful performance by the gospel-mongers the Jubilettes and Roy Heinrich who got the crowd going early. Kelly Willis, playing with Rich Brotherton and Bruce Robinson, was just breathtaking and Wayne "The Train" Hancock played all night and then played a little longer as the party wound down.
The children's stage featured Joe McDermott, Hand-to-Mouth Puppet Theater, Peter the Adequate, and Carl Anderson, and there was food available from Ruby's Bar-B-Q, Wheatsville Food Co-op Deli and Curra's Grill. Talk was everywhere and everyone was talking. KGSR's Jody Denberg manned the station's table for a while. I went over to him and pointed out that if the golf-cart-in-the-swimming-pool story that appeared in the Sunday Statesman's front page story on The Austin Chronicle had been any longer, they probably would have mentioned that Denberg was a passenger on the cart. Fortunately they didn't have the space to go into detail on the story. That's probably just as well, as 107.1 KGSR, along with Balcones Fault Red Granite, and the Austin Museum of Art at Laguna Gloria were co-sponsors of the event -- and we thank them profusely. This event, we hope, is much like the Chronicle -- good music, good food, good setting, good people and lots of conversation.
Now that the "Best of Austin" is out of the way, it is time for The Austin Chronicle's annual Restaurant Poll. Ballots run this issue, offering you a chance to support your favorite Austin eateries.
This issue's cover story is by Robert Faires. It is a shame that Capitol City Playhouse is being forced to move. The theatre lead the way for what has become the West End Arts District and it has been a significant, creative force for many years. Fortunately, there is good news. Not just that we hope, and are somewhat confident, that in Michel Jaroschy's hands the theatre will survive, but that the kind of unique, quality theatre coverage offered here, by Faires, by the Statesman's Michael Barnes, and by John Bustin, the dean of Austin critics, has had a direct result on the quality of local theatre. These writers -- not only passionate and intelligent but committed to quality writing -- have between them upped the local ante considerably over the years. It is a privilege to work with Faires, not only because his work is so impressive but because as a person he personifies the best qualities of his work, intelligent, understanding, knowledgeable, witty, and precise. His writing has a direct result in the community, proving that quality criticism has positive and real consequences. Theatre is alive and well in Austin, though we are losing a treasure that helped bring things to where they are.
Speaking of great critics, this issue also marks the last appearance of Patrick Taggart's "Awake in the Dark" column. When Taggart was at the Statesman, we all read him; when he left the Statesman, we asked him to come write for us. That trip, the six years of his column, has been a real pleasure, offering his unique voice and thoughts. We can understand that Taggart is ready to hang up his spurs, so to speak, but can only hope that occasionally we'll be able to persuade him to write for us in the future. Thanks, Pat, for the extraordinary run. n