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3/18/11: Third Day of SXSW

For me, the third day of South By Southwest started with a breakfast at The Tavern on Lamar Boulevard just at the north end of downtown. Breakfast was something they had just started doing, but it was decent and got me started for the day. Once I got downtown, I headed over to the Louisiana tent, across the street from the Convention Center, where some artists were performing. But my panel on which I had to speak was being held at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center in East Austin, so I had to walk a considerable ways from the community center to get there.

My hip-hop panel was, to say the least, disappointing; because the festival had moved it from the Convention Center to East Austin, attendance was slimmer than normal. There was no formal, scheduled transportation between the locations, either, which hurt even more. The organizers thinking was that the East Austin location would bring out more local artists, but it did not seem to, and the conference attendees had trouble getting out there, or perhaps just did not bother to do so.

But the walk put me in East Austin, and the walk back I found pleasant, taken at a leisurely pace. There were all kinds of restaurants and small shops; East Austin had been a Black and Hispanic neighborhood, but was now gentrifying in an odd pattern; bike shops and coffee bars stood chock-a-block with projects, churches and old juke joints. A barber shop had a DJ performing out in front of it. The streets swarmed with people. One old building had a sign identifying it as the “Historic Victory Grill,” and another sign stated “Since 1945.” It had been a famous stop on the Black entertainment route called the “Chitlin’ Circuit.” A rock band was loading in their equipment through the back door.

Back by the Convention Center, the German Reeperbahn Festival had taken over the Downtown Burgers truck, and were giving away charcoal-broiled hamburgers. The only thing better than charcoal-broiled hamburgers is FREE charcoal-broiled hamburgers, so I grabbed one and dug in. It made a satisfying dinner indeed.

Afterwards, it was mainly lots of walking; down Sixth Street, a coffee from Halcyon on Second, and then finally into one of the Texas rap showcases where I encountered a group from Austin called the League of Extraordinary G’z, with which I was quite impressed. Then it was more walking, under I-35 and back to the east side, trying to catch a performance by the Oklahoma City artist Jabee, which I missed, although I caught up with him under the tent afterwards.

On the east side were more crowds, more DJ’s, and lots of food trucks. Austin in fact had lots of food truck courts, kind of like trailer parks, except all the trailer parks sold food. They were generally shaded by trees, colorful and funky, with plenty of picnic tables for the patrons. Nobody seemed to feel like going to bed. Except me.

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