Page Two

The cover of this issue is a reprint of the cover from the first Chronicle Music Poll results 20 years ago. The poll results in this issue are just the latest chapter.

Page Two
The cover of this issue is a reprint of the cover from the first Chronicle Music Poll results 20 years ago. That was March 1982; we hadn't even been around a year. For the next two decades, the people in Austin who lived the music, bought the CDs, attended the shows, and supported the bands and clubs (and clubs are the veins that carry the blood of music) have spoken up once a year, laid down the law as to what was really happening musically in Austin, Texas. If you look at the past 20 polls, you will see the real history of Austin music -- made by those who were playing, sleeping, living, eating, and drinking it all day, every day. They've done it again. Welcome to the 20th Austin Chronicle Music Poll results issue. The cover charts our beginning, and in your hands, you hold the latest chapter. Enjoy reading the poll results (in the SXSW insert).

As I write this, the Austin Music Awards Show at the Austin Music Hall (co-sponsored by our good friends at KGSR-FM 107.1) has not yet happened. By the time you read this, it will be over. I'm sure it was a helluva of a show. Hats off to Awards Grande Dame Margaret Moser.

The show, of course, officially kicks off the SXSW Music Festival (the conference panels and workshops start Thursday). Five nights, 50 clubs, almost a thousand bands -- information about it is strewn throughout this issue (kudos to the remarkable Raoul Hernandez for the extraordinary music coverage and to the endearing Sarah Hepola for film). Buy a wristband ($105 at all Star Ticket outlets) and have access to almost everything. Or don't buy a wristband and just go to a free show in the park. Enjoy.

SXSW Film has several more days left. There are terrific films showing till Saturday at five theatres around town. This year's Film Festival is getting raves. (Film passes are still available at Waterloo Records for $45.)

Standing on the roof of the Waterloo Brewing Company Sunday night, looking over Austin, I feel a moment of calm. I'm at what has become my favorite SXSW Film party. Thrown by the Chronicle, SXSW, and (of course) Waterloo Brewing Company, this party is no frills -- no food and a cash bar. And yet I've come to really love this event, held on the roof of the Brewing Company, packed with SXSW Film registrants, loaded with new and old friends. Ron Mann, Jacob Young, Jeff "the Dude" Dowd, Jay and Harry Knowles are standing around talking. And the list goes on (like running into both Jeffrey Tambor and D.A. Pennebaker at the SXSW Film party at Antone's thrown by the UT College of Communication's Radio-Television-Film Department). Everyone is standing around, talking nonstop, barely noticing the really lovely evening because they are so consumed by ideas, passion, and each other. The energy is terrific. It always is at this party -- maybe because it's so unpretentious, maybe because after three days of SXSW, film, and Austin, folks are outright intoxicated, feeling the energy flow that makes life a little richer. I'm standing in the only quiet spot, a corner of the building that the crowd hasn't expanded into yet, looking over Austin and thinking about the city. It seems so quiet and smells so lovely, but everywhere I look I see construction. In the Eighties, the collapse of the economy -- as devastating as it was to so many people -- saved Austin by slowing down the vast changes. As the economy is slowly collapsing, I look out at these many buildings under construction and wonder about Austin's future. But then, the incessant chatter from the grackles overhead overwhelms me. I think of "The Birds" -- the short story, not the movie -- which scared the hell out of me when I was a kid and first read it. I couldn't sleep for weeks. Now I am standing in the evening air atop the Brewing Company, enjoying my first deep quiet in what seems like days, not yet even hearing the grackle sound. Coincidentally, I have the same feeling of dread that I did so many years ago when I first read "The Birds" -- what happens when the familiar turns on you? Only my current dread is not based on any fiction.

It is appropriate to think about Austin deep in the heart of SXSW. The event is in and of this town. People come from all over the world to attend SXSW, but they are also, really, coming to visit Austin. To visit the clubs, the movie theatres, the restaurants, the hotels, and the stores that are Austin. They're here to visit people, and those people define Austin. But more than anything, they are here for the idea of Austin. The idea that there is a community with a passionate commitment to the arts (and all the arts -- the arts of the streets and the arts of the institutions, the arts that define our lives). A city with a ferocious political intelligence, a livable environment, and a surprising intellectual grace. A city of great parties and great arts experiences and great conversations. The idea of Austin that most of us, I think, carry around in our heads and in our hearts. Happy SXSW week to all.

Thursday is the first of our special SXSW daily issues. We will be doing four this year. This awards issue will be distributed Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.

The first Texas Film Hall of Fame went smashingly. Photos from the event are in this week's issue ("Lone Stars"). end story

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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Longtime SXSW Film & TV Festival Head, Indie Film Icon Janet Pierson Transitions to New Role
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sxsw film, sxsw music, sxsw 2001

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