Austin City Limits

Siren Song

Chinese folk music wasn’t on my list of expectations going into the Austin City Limits Music Festival, but it definitely ended up on my list of highlights. We started Day 3 with Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet featuring Bela Fleck (AWATSQFBF for short). They're in the midst of a US tour, but nobody here knows the words to Taiyang Chulai. When the group toured Tibet, thousands of school kids sang along to the traditional melody.

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Mud Booger Plague

This guy walks into a bar, sits down next to a girl and introduces himself as a professional serial lady-killer. “I’m already dead,” the girl responds.

That scene, from the Old 97’s tune “Barrier Reef,” helped kick off Day 2 of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. After wandering a bit through the morning, our strategy was to stake a claim at the AMD stage and stay there. The line-up: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Robert Earl Keen, John Fogerty and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

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Whoo-hoo!

Fans: 65,000. Bands: 130. Stages: 8. Days: 3.

A game plan about who to see: priceless.

If you really want to, you can get right up front for any band at the
Austin City Limits Music Festival. You just have to show up early enough, sometimes before the preceding act. Just try not to think about who you’re missing.

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Cranes and Bats

The former clutter up the Austin skyline, circling as the condos rise. The latter roost with their pups under the Congress Avenue Bridge, coming out at twilight to feed. There's music in the air, too. It spills out of bars like The Continental Club. We happened to be walking past it last week. A sign in the window read, "James McMurtry." A guy in the doorway said, "Seven bucks." The Austin City Limits Festival was still more than a day away, but the town was already starting to earn its reputation as the live music capital of the world.

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Autumn in Austin

I’m heading to Texas tomorrow and hope to post a few dispatches from the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The line-up includes Gnarls Barkley, Jakob Dylan, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Iron & Wine, Erykah Badu, Manu Chao and Foo Fighters. It's a good variety but with the local forecast calling for 90-degree high temperatures, I might decide which band to see based on proximity to the misters!

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