Luv Doc Recommends: Sixth Annual Urban Music Festival
Auditorium Shores, Saturday, April 9, 2011
Holy shit! Close down Highland Mall! It's Texas Relays weekend! Wait a minute … that was two years ago. Austin has totally changed since then. This year we're welcoming Texas Relays fans with open arms – no, not the Journey song (that would be so Austin), but more of a figurative embrace of the black community in general. Yes, there are plenty of white Texas Relays fans. After all, somebody's kids have to be nutty enough to run two-mile relays, toss the hammer, and put the shot. However, Highland Mall didn't close down early during the 2009 relays because they were afraid that OshKosh and J.Crew would be overrun by wilding white kids. No sir, that was the olden days – back when Highland Mall actually had a J.Crew. These days there is plenty of open space at Highland Mall – both in the parking lot and the mall itself, so Texas Relays fans should find the businesses therein more welcoming than in years past. Can the same be said of Sixth Street and Downtown Austin? Hard to say. It's a safe bet that most of Downtown Austin is still feeling dirty, cheap, and used from South by Southwest. Yes, business owners are still bathing in the bathtubs of cash they made from what was arguably the largest SXSW ever, but their overworked employees are bound to be feeling a little burned out at this point. Five solid days of handing free Miller Lite tall boys over the bar for no tips is bound to take its toll on the psyche … if not the rotator cuff. At least this weekend's patrons are more likely to be ordering $8 shots of Patrón than they are $3 cans of Lone Star. Like SXSW, a good bit of the action will be out on the street – not because people's wristbands won't even get them in to see a Latvian klezmer band at the Stage, but because a healthy percentage of Texas Relays attendees are underage. Not being able to drink doesn't mean Sixth Street isn't exciting – far from it. Like any night club, health club, supermarket, or steam room, Sixth Street is all about seeing and being seen – especially if you're some kid who drove all the way from Palestine, Texas, in a janky-ass hoopty to be a part of one of Texas' biggest black social gatherings. Don't believe it? This year there are more than 60 events and parties hosted by a diverse array of black sports stars, celebrities, and entertainers during the four days of the Texas Relays. All over Austin, from the Expo Center to Lake Travis to even, yes, Emo's, black culture will hold sway … if only temporarily … and maybe black people from places other than Austin will discover that Austin isn't so bad after all. In fact, this Saturday things are looking pretty good down at Auditorium Shores for the sixth annual Urban Music Festival. Not only is the weather going to be spectacular, the lineup is going to be pretty fabulous as well. Topping the bill is Charlie Wilson – no, not the guy Tom Hanks played in the movie but "Uncle Charlie" Wilson, R&B artist, Snoop Dogg buddy, and founding member of Tulsa, Okla., funk supergroup the Gap Band, creators of the classic early '80s dance hit "You Dropped a Bomb on Me." Joining Uncle Charlie on the bill will be a trio of chart-topping R&B artists: Tank, Ledisi, and N'dambi. If you're unfamiliar with any of the preceding, it would certainly be worth your while to spend a sunny day at the shores getting educated. After all, if Austin is going to change, it has to come from within.