A Great Day In Austin, Town Lake

Wednesday Night

A Great Day In Austin

Town Lake

South By Southwest 2000's first big schmooze wasn't at the Four Seasons, but on Town Lake. And this time of year, it's not even that surprising that while there were over 100 Austin musicians (plus Billy Gibbons) lined up for this gig, not a note was played. The occasion was "A Great Day in Austin," a forthcoming photo for Texas Monthly inspired by Esquire's classic "Great Day in Harlem" photo. For a gatefold in Texas Monthly's special May music issue, the magazine invited a highly arbitrary, but theoretically representative, collection of Austin-area musicians to pose for one group portrait in front of the Stevie Ray Vaughan memorial statue. It was both an obvious logistical nightmare and perfectly planned. Once the bulk of the musicians showed up, shook a few hands, and headed for the risers, the real show was watching who chose to stand by whom: Obvious pairings included Don Walser and Mark Rubin, Shawn Colvin and Abra Moore, Stephen Bruton and Jon Dee Graham, and Tommy Shannon and the statue. Less obvious were a life-sized stand-up Chris Layton photo and the statue, Sixteen Deluxe's Carrie Clark aside Kent "Omar" Dykes, and Gibbons chatting up the Damnations TX's Amy Boone. Gibbons also got off the best line of the actual shoot: When photographer Andrew Yates warned the slightly piled mass that if they couldn't see the lens, "you're out of it," Gibbons snickered, "We're musicians, we're all a little out of it." Really out of it were the select few who just couldn't make it: Jimmie Vaughan, Charlie Sexton, Willie Nelson, Ray Benson, Bob Schneider, and Alejandro Escovedo. But more than anything else, the photo was about just who was actually there: from two-thirds of Fastball to all the Bells of Joy, from Paul Leary to Joe Ely and Kinky Freidman to MC Overlord. Best of all, there were no attitudes, no stars bigger than anybody else, and absolutely no tension. And while it was obvious there were hundreds of conversations and hundreds of stories exchanged, plus hundreds of reasons an event this size shouldn't have worked, the inherently cool thing is that there will be just one photo. And there definitely won't be another chance to schmooze like this at SXSW 2000.

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