It seems every tourism publication I see about Austin, Texas, gives heavy emphasis to the "live music scene" one encounters in that city. In the research I did before visiting, it seemed the topic of music came up more often than the mention that Austin is the state capitol of Texas! These research findings were reinforced as I stepped out of the plane, and into the airport terminal, upon my arrival there last week. At the luggage claim area where travelers pick up their checked bags, there are huge (and beautifully painted) works of art in the shape of guitars (top two photos of collage) that have been sponsored by various entities of the city. The one that I liked best was the bright yellow guitar, with a bicycler giving the victory salute. (No surprise----it was sponsored by the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Austin is considered Lance Armstrong's home town, and perhaps for that reason, bicycle advertisements/signs are almost as prevalent as guitars!) In addition to the works of art in the shape of guitars, there is a huge LED screen on one wall of the airport (middle photo of collage), reminding visitors that Austin is "keeping it live". As I was photographing the "work of art" guitars at the luggage claim area, another traveler got out her camera, and started taking photos as well. To do this, she had temporarily laid down the guitar she was carrying on top of her luggage (lower right photo). Obviously, I was not yet part of the "in" crowd, because I was not carrying a guitar. However, my anxiety soon eased, whenever my ride came to pick me up, and there were two guitars in the back of their van. So "guitar separation anxiety" is apparently a condition a lot of people in Austin have to deal with! I even saw one homeless man (or "urban camper") downtown who had his guitar and his bedroll strapped on his back.
The photo of the wall mural in the upper left shows that the city boasts that it is the "Live Music Capitol of the WORLD!". The reminder of the photos in this collage show why I am tending to agree with their claim. There was live music in the Austin City Limits retail store, in the Waterloo Records store, in the main terminal of the airport, and in the worship services (middle photo). The lower left photo even shows a guitar-strumming granny, while the lower right shows that there is even music (in the form of bagpipes!) out on the football field for a "Friday Night Lights" experience in the Austin area! In one local newspaper, I counted approximately 200 separate venues that were offering live music performances for the weekend I was there! These included everything from a Whole Foods Market grocery store, a barber shop, numerous retail establishments, dozens of food establishments and bars, theaters, and Costco (ok, so the Costco music was just supplied by random customers who wanted to try their hand at the numerous electronic musical instruments for sale there!)
So with the background I have written in the previous paragraphs, you can imagine how delighted I was to realize the dream of doing an interview with one of the up and coming bands in the Austin area---Project 11. Their website on Facebook lists their genre of music as "hybrid" and also lists the four members ( Brandon Raschke, lead guitar; Colin Tompkins, Drums & Ukulele; Thomas Cochran, guitar-vocals-mixer/producer & keyboard; and his brother Ryan Cochran, Guitar & Vocals) that comprise the band. The two that I was able to interview for this article were the Cochran brothers, and are pictured in this photo collage in their recording studio, known as "204 Underground Productions".
Their sound booth (upper left photo of collage) helps set the mellow mood for whoever is doing the vocals for a particular recording. The abundant supply of guitars of all types (upper right photo) provides inspiration for musicians specializing in strings. And so much electronics!! They don't call Austin "Silicon Hills" for nothing! There were several different kinds of microphones, keyboards, computers, mobile devices, and dual screen monitors for music software applications! All the electronics I saw made me better understand the advertisement for AMD that I heard on the Austin City Limits ( http://www.acl-live.com/ ) show, that said "Technology designed to amplify the creative genius of musicians!". There is plenty of creative genius going on with the musicians at the "204 Underground Productions" studio!
This photo shows younger brother Thomas Cochran working on new releases/song ideas in the studio. It seems that throughout the time I visited with him, he always had something music-related either in his hands, or somewhere in a pocket of his clothing!
Lest the reader think that Project 11 band members, are one-sided with no other interests, I included a photo of older Cochran brother, Ryan, at his high school football game (photo on left), AND baking up a delicious panini sandwich for the interviewer! In addition, both brothers are active on their debate team at school.
The Cochran brothers tried to help provide material for my article about Austin by giving me a tour of various highlights of the area, especially around the campus of the University of Texas. It seems sympbols of Longhorns are everywhere there---from bronzed sculptures, to bus stops, to store fronts, to street signs, to coffee advertisements, and even in the form of crochet!! Since the author was "born and bred" in Razorback country, all these Longhorn symbols brought back many memoires of days gone by, when the Longhorns and Razorbacks were in the same college football league----what a rivalry we had!!!
Fortunately, however, rivalry was not seen between members of the Project 11 Band! I had the opportunity to not only hear some of them play their instruments "live" (pronounced with a long ' i ' ), but also spend time with them where they "live" (pronounced with a short ' i ' ). They were a wonderful example of the truth of the verse in Psalms 133:1 that says "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" If you would like to follow the careers of these guys, you can check out their Facebook information. If you would like to plan you very own trip to experience the live music scene in Austin, just log onto http://www.austintexas.org/ . Miles of musical smiles! Tricia