According to an Associated Press article in today's Houston Chronicle, Austin's self-proclaimed status as "Live Music Capital of the World" is under siege by everything from condo-dwelling yuppies demanding those darn nightclubs turn that blasted music down and let them get some sleep (sound familiar, Walter's?) to lack of available downtown parking spaces (sound familiar, everyone?). Boo freaking hoo, Houstonians weary of all the fawning attention lavished on our northwesternmost suburb when it comes to all things musical might say.
"We're kind of at this pinnacle moment, where we can either continue the status quo and watch a dilution of the music scene, or we can value it and recognize that it's part of the fabric of who we are as a city," Paul Oveisi, owner of popular Austin music venue Momo's and head of the Save Austin Music task force, told the AP's Jay Root.
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As tempting as basking in Austin schadenfreude might seem, Houston can learn a lesson or two from the state capital's predicament. Because, like the city itself, our local music scene is so amorphous and disorganized, we have a chance to address the same problems facing Austin musicians - gentrification, lack of health care, no voice at City Hall, etc. - before they reach as advanced a state of affairs as they have on the banks of the Colorado.
And now would be a good time for the Houston music scene to step up its PR campaign. From relatively lower property values to significantly less crowded booking calendars and the fact that it actually rains here once in a while, Houston has a lot to offer that Austin simply can't anymore. Who knows? If things keep going the way they are three hours up U.S. 290, maybe the dozens (if not hundreds) of Houston-area musicians who moved to Austin in search of greener pastures might even consider moving back. - Chris Gray