Live Music As
Life’s Blood

New TVD Austin Editor Buckley Wineholt remembers why live music is life’s blood.

Growing up in Baltimore in the mid-’70s, it was easy to see why a gritty scene like punk could develop. My tastes ran more towards the blues bars, and one Nighthawks show at the Famous Ballroom on N. Charles one New Years Eve really got me hooked. Arena shows that followed, like Zappa on the Overnight Sensation/Apostrophe tour, and Little Feat with Lowell George cemented my attraction to the live music scene.

Decades later, here in The Live Music Capital of the World, a yowza set by ’60s psych-era icon Arthur Brown (“Fire”) backed by Austin’s own Flounders Without Eyes, opening for DeadEye at Ruta Maya for a Jerry Garcia birthday show kept the fire burning this past weekend. (Ruta Maya, sold-out, at about five hundred degrees… ouch.)

Seeing Arthur Brown, so many decades on, and hanging out with this R’nR vet, watching him work his magic both onstage and off, really made my night. This cat played with the Dead, Zappa, and many others at the Atlantic City Pop Festival, the week before Woodstock. And he remembered it! His inspired vocals, many of them improvised, were wild, wild, wild.

The free-wheeling social mores and laissez-faire attitudes toward hedonistic activities one experiences at good live music events can be very life-affirming, if that’s your cup of tea. Twenty years immersed in the live music scene in New Orleans, and 24 SXSWs under my belt, I can safely say that the environment of a good live music event is the heartbeat of a healthy city’s culture.

I’ve enjoyed the most diverse music scene in America living here in Austin, and it seems like it only gets better. A culture that permits us to blow off a little steam and enjoy the company of like-minded music fans, while gleefully twisting in the wind. Just designate a driver, take a bus or cab… It’s smarter and safer! Cheers!

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