It takes more than a little bit of braggadocio for a city to call itself “The Live Music Capital of the World.” After all, we’re not talking about Vienna, Paris, or even New York or Los Angeles, here. Is there any substantial proof that this capital city of Texas really has the right to make such an audacious claim about its musical supremacy? After all, another well-worn local motto is “Keep Austin Weird.” Maybe its self-styled moniker claiming musical pre-eminence is just that - weird.
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Okay, let’s take a look. Well, first of all, it’s been estimated that, even with over 900,000 residents, there are more music venues per capita in Austin than any other city in the U.S.; and that the zip-code encompassing the downtown entertainment district (78701) hosts more bar or alcohol-serving establishments than any other zip code in the country. Hmm – guess that’s a pretty good start.
It’s likely that a large portion of Austin’s musical heritage began in the German Beer Gardens and Halls of the late 1800s in places like Scholz’s. Then in the 1940s and 50s, Dessau Hall presented such diverse acts as Glen Miller, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley. On the African American, East Side of town, other music venues such as the Victory Grill, Charlie's Playhouse, Big Mary's, Ernie's Chicken Shack, and the Doris Miller Auditorium – part of the “chitlin circuit” - featured big bands, jazz and blues, and performers such as Ray Charles, B.B. King, and Ike and Tina Turner.
Country music thrived in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, popularized by Willie Nelson and others. The famous Armadillo World Headquarters, an old, abandoned National Guard armory turned music hall, opened in 1970, and for more than ten years featured music of all genres, from Bruce Springsteen to Bette Midler, from Frank Zappa to Jerry Jeff Walker, from Stevie Ray Vaughn to ZZ Top, among many, many others. Liberty Lunch was another live-music venue in Austin, and during its heyday in the late 1970s and ‘80s, it featured all kinds of music, including reggae, ska, punk, indie, country, and rock.
And, of course, every American with a TV has, no doubt, at least once, tuned in the PBS live music show, Austin City Limits, which began in 1974 and stands today as the longest running music television program ever broadcast. Initially created to celebrate the music of Texas, including western swing, Texas blues, Tejano, progressive country, and rock’n’roll, the series has also featured regional, national and international artists performing a wide range of musical styles, including jazz, alternative country, alternative rock, folk music, and jam band. In 2011, the show won a rare, institutional Peabody Award "for its more than three decades of presenting and preserving eclectic American musical genres."
Today, in addition to the many traditional music venues on 6th Street, the Red River District, around the University of Texas, the Warehouse District, South Lamar, South Austin, East Austin, and the Market district, where every night over one hundred shows and concerts take place, Austinites can listen to a variety of musical offerings in more unconventional venues. For example: every Friday at noon from April to December, there’s a free concert at City Hall. Live music is featured 11 times a week at four different locations at the Austin-Bergstrom Municipal Airport, and even the city’s Whole Foods Market presents the "Music at the Market" music series every Thursday evening in the spring. Finally, the Austin Marathon hosts more than 30 bands along its race course, and the Capitol 10K race features a band at every mile marker!
Many times, these live performances are prime opportunities for local musicians to promote the sale of their self-produced CDs. And that’s one of the ways that Bison Disc partners with music industry professionals. We duplicate, replicate, and package music CDs so that they can be sold to fans right at the concert site. So, maybe it’s true. If you can’t even outrun the “Austin Sound,” maybe the city truly is “The Live Music Capital of the World.”
But there’s another side to Austin’s cultural life that can’t go unnoticed. Austin hosts several film festival each year, and the University of Texas at Austin has a well-respected Department of Radio, Television and Film. In 2014, MovieMaker Magazine named Austin as the third best big city in the U.S. in which to live and make films. Some movies produced in Austin include: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Spy Kids, Dazed and Confused, Miss Congeniality, Hope Floats, School of Rock, Grindhouse, and most recently, Richard Linklater’s 2015 Best Picture Oscar nominee, Boyhood.
Like Austin, Bison Disc also has two sides, and we’re proud of both of them. For music makers and music lovers, alike, we offer CD duplication and the packages that house them – jewel cases, jackets, sleeves, Digipaks, and more. For film makers and film lovers, alike, we offer DVD and Blu-ray duplication and the packages that house them, too. So, we might as well say it: Bison Disc is “The Recorded Disc Duplicating and Packaging Capital of the World.” Go ahead – try and prove otherwise.