Will Wynn has it in for AMN, as does the Austin Hotel & Lodging Association

The Upside-Down Year

From the back of your cab, Austin probably looks just like 2003: same owlish UT tower, same pinkish state Capitol, same Houston-like traffic jams. Truthfully, things couldn't be more different. Why? Funny you should ask ...

Clifford Antone Molding Young Minds: Antone, subject of SXSW Film 04 entry Antone's: Home of the Blues, was confined to Güero's last SXSW as a condition of his release from prison. This year, not only is he free, he holds court every Tuesday and Thursday as co-instructor of UT's the Blues, Race, and Society course.

Hole in the Wall Goes Hip-Hop: Last year, the venerable Hole was locked up tight and about to be bought by the Austin's Pizza chain. Today, it's remodeled, reopened, and again a musical hot spot, especially at Wednesdays' Stimulus/Response hip-hop throw-downs.

Live Music on Sixth Street: No, all those SXSW rooms don't usually host live music. However, new clubs Bigsby's, the Capitol, and Rockstars have joined the Flamingo, the Vibe, the Ritz Upstairs, and the Parish, which you may remember as the Mercury, to help offset the glut of tourist-trap piano bars and jailbait-heavy dance clubs.

Hipsters Discover the Eastside: Austin may still be the most racially divided big city in Texas – we've had all sorts of minority/police trouble this year – but since the Longbranch Inn opened on East 11th Street in September, the color line has gotten at least a little fuzzier.

The Austin Music Network Is Cool – Really: What happened when council took a Weedwacker to the budget for AMN – long the City Council's favorite money pit and the music scene's favorite punch line – and installed former SXSW creative director Louis Meyers as general manager? Vastly improved programming and a near-mutiny this month when Mayor Will Wynn tried to kill it.

Illustration By Nathan Jensen

The Dixie Chicks Are Back – Sort of: After Natalie Maines' anti-George W. comments last March, she, Emily, and Martie went straight from heavy rotation to the top of Clear Channel's blacklist. A year later, the flag-waving megacorp has decided it's safe to let them back on the air – albeit only after midnight.

Sixth and Lamar
Sixth and Lamar (Photo By John Anderson)

Traffic Report

Since even ESPN's Dick Vitale mentions it every time he's in town to call a Horns game, we figure you may have heard of Sixth Street. Here's the lowdown on some other major Austin byways.

RED RIVER: Austin's main drag for live, original music, it's even spawned its own magazine, the estimable Rank and Revue. With several shelters nearby, it's also the nexus of the city's indigent population, so be careful – but be nice.

LAMAR BOULEVARD: South of Town Lake, Lamar is South Austin personified with the Broken Spoke, Matt's El Rancho, Planet K, Saxon Pub, and Maudie's. On the north side, in-store alley (Waterloo, Cheapo) has been virtually shut down by construction. Even further north is Austin's No. 1 gentleman's club, the Yellow Rose. You'll come to know it as "expense account central."

NORTH LOOP: Cozy strip in north Austin with kitschy vintage stores and good eatin' at Ararat and the Parlor. Where all the locals will be hiding while the town is overrun.

SOUTH FIRST: Like Lamar, South First has been wracked by construction, but it boasts several of Austin's best mom-and-pop Mexican eateries and quirkier boutiques. Largely a SXSW-free zone, thus well worth investigating.

SOUTH CONGRESS: Even for Austin, South Congress has become almost insufferably hip, but the wide variety of salons, restaurants, and antique shops will gladly take your money. Further south is Trophy's, one of Austin's true dive bars.

RIVERSIDE DRIVE: As the quickest route to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the most important thoroughfare of all. See y'all in a year!

Alejandro Escovedo
Alejandro Escovedo (By Todd V. Wolfson)

SXSW Sprinkles: Big Guns

Here's a brief field guide to boldface names who might be in front of you at the bar: Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale is expected to attend the Alejandro Escovedo tribute Saturday afternoon at Las Manitas... Presumably against doctor's orders, Escovedo will do his traditional Sunday night wrap-up at the Continental Club... Look for ex-Columbia Records president Walter Yetnikoff hawking copies of his new book, Howling at the Moon, and sitting for a SXSW interview at the Convention Center Friday... Former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham gets the same SXSW interview treatment Saturday... Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban participates in Thursday's Policy, Legislation, & the Next Music Business panel round table... Spin scribes Chuck Klosterman, Andy Greenwald, and Marc Spitz read from and sign their new books Thursday at FactoryPeople... Other notable music writers to throw questions/epithets at are Alan Light, Dave Marsh, David Fricke, John Morthland, Joe Nick Patoski, and Texas Monthly Editor Evan Smith, all sitting for panels... Your band could be scoped by Matador head Gerard Cosloy, Nirvana signer Gary Gersh, or R.E.M. inker Jay Boberg... Ry Cooder will be in town, though no one seems to know why... Poster bonanza Flatstock gets under way with a pair of Thursday events at Ruta Maya International Headquarters, the Seen & Heard lecture and silent auction from 5-7pm and "Complimentary Headache" fine arts show from 7-10pm.

The Living Daylights

No badge? No wristband? Work nights? Just broke? Never fear: These daytime events won't cost you an arm or a leg. See "Music Listings" for lineups and details.

BEST WAY TO SEE WHAT RED RIVER IS LIKE ALL THE FRICKIN' TIME: Free afternoon parties at Emo's, Room 710, Caucus Club, and Beerland, Thursday-Saturday

BEST PLACE TO ROCK OUT FOR A WORTHY CAUSE: South by Soup Fest at Caritas, Seventh & Neches, 11am Thursday-Saturday

BEST PLACE TO APPEASE YOUR INNER TEXAN: Threadgill's "Thrilla at the Dilla," Threadgill's World Headquarters, 11am-whenever Thursday-Saturday

RUNNER-UP: All-day honky-tonk and succulent soul food at D&L's Texas Music Cafe, 1321 S. Congress, Thursday-Sunday

MOST SOULFUL WAY TO AID LOCAL MUSICIANS: SIMS Foundation Open House and South Austin Blues Review, Jo's Hot Coffee, 1-8pm Thursday

BEST DAYTIME HARDCORE NOISE RIOT: The Apes, Modey Lemon, Unsane, and the Riverboat Gamblers, Flamingo Cantina, 3-7pm Friday

BEST (AND ONLY) PUNK ROCK BIKINI BASH: The Yuppie Pricks' Rites of Spring at the Elks Lodge, 700 Dawson, 12:30-6pm Friday

BEST PLACE TO SEE NEW BANDS IN AUSTIN'S OLDEST BAR: Scoot by Scootwest, Red's Scoot Inn, 1308 E. Fourth, 2-11pm Friday-Saturday

BEST PLACE TO SOAK POWER-POP IN MALT VINEGAR: Pop Culture Press party, Dog & Duck Pub, 406 W. 17th, 12-7pm Saturday

BEST PLACE TO BAG A HOT INDIE BOY/GIRL: Porchlight Pop Fest, Allgo Tillery Street Theater, 701 Tillery St., 12-8pm Saturday


Riddle Me This

A few questions for our visitors:

ATHENS, GA.: How cool is it that the B-52's are still dancing their mess around?

ATLANTA: Can't Lil Jon and the Ying Yang Twins sing about anything besides strippers?

AUSTRALIA: Is Jet really the best you can do?

CANADA: Why do your bands sound like either Broken Social Scene, the New Pornographers, or Nickelback?

CHICAGO: How can R. Kelly stand trial on kiddie-porn charges and be nominated for an NAACP Image Award?

DALLAS: Why haven't you taken more credit for Norah Jones?

DETROIT: If the White Stripes really aren't a couple, why isn't Jack White producing Dolly Parton's next album, too?

GREAT BRITAIN: The Darkness is OK, but when can we expect another Maiden or Priest?

HOLLYWOOD: Aren't Rooney and Maroon 5 just boy bands with guitars?

HOUSTON: How long before Beyoncé kicks Kelly and Michelle to the curb for good?

IRELAND: Could somebody please tell U2 to hurry up and finish their next album?

LOS ANGELES: Chinese Democracy? Hello?

MEMPHIS: Will Elvis ever not be cool?

NASHVILLE: How much do we all miss Johnny Cash already?

NEW YORK: Does anybody really believe Jay-Z is retiring?

OKLAHOMA CITY/DALLAS: How long before the Flaming Lips and the Polyphonic Spree go totally easy-listening?

PORTLAND: Will anyone besides music critics and lovesick college kids ever care about the Shins?

SAN ANTONIO: Can't Clear Channel create a roots-radio format for Wilco, Pat Green, and the Drive-by Truckers?

SEATTLE: What's the big deal about Death Cab for Cutie?

VIRGINIA BEACH: Are the Neptunes great producers or just great with Pro Tools?

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