Category Archives: Austin Food

A Semester of the South

Prior to this class, I tolerated country music. If it was on I would not be upset, just indifferent really. I did always enjoy any country song if the singer would say “Can’t” with such a twang that it sounded like “Caint.” Although I still cherish the twangy, slight mispronunciation, of words, country music has become so much more to me. It not only has become the only music to fill my car, but the music that drives my thoughts throughout the day.

Walk the Line

WalkTheLine“That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.”-Steve Martin in “Grand Cayon.” As somebody who has seen 58 of the top 100 movies rated by IMDB, it is no secret that I love cinema. I think that I fell in love with movies because of the stories they tell, and looking back at this class I fell in love with country music for the same reason. Songs like Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses” could easily be adapted into full length films. From the first essay on, finding out the story behind every country song made listening to it even more enjoyable. For no song is this truer than Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line.” In the movie with the same title, Joaquin Phoenix portrays Johnny Cash to perfection. Each and every internal demon that Cash faced throughout his hard life was played up to perfection. Phoenix’s dark eyes gave viewers a window into Johnny Cash’s soul, and it was wonderful. In this scene June Carter Cash (Reese Witherspoon) lectures Johnny and the band about walking a line. Although I doubt it sprung up as quick as the movie suggests, this lets you see into how one of the more recognizable songs in country music was created. Whether it was explained by a Hollywood film, or Dusty in class I will always love learning what inspired a great country song.

Dancing Across Texas

(Distracting Right?)As some of you read about in my last blog post, I recently went two stepping. This was an experience that was uncomfortable at first, but quickly grew on me. I would have never been able to do this without being exposed to country music by this class. If it wasn’t for the familiar voices of George Strait, Cody Johnson, and Randy Travis I would have been a nervous wreck out on the dance floor. After having my own two stepping experience, songs like George Straits “I Just Wanna Dance With You”, Lee Brice’s “I Don’t Dance” and of course Brooks and Dunn’s “Boot Scoot Boogey” have instantly become more relatable. With a helpful push from this class I was able to take a step out of my comfort zone and have a great night.

Franklin’s BBQ

franklin-barbecueAs a swimmer I am up early all too often. Sundays are the one day that are free of practice, and free of alarm clocks. For some odd reason, I chose to get up at the crack of dawn to go wait in line for Franklin’s. “Alright folks, only three and a half hours to go! Thanks for coming out and waiting!” exclaimed the head cook of at Franklin’s Barbecue. We were about tenth in line and I was about ready to give up and go back to bed, it was still only 7:15. Just as I was having these thoughts Johnny Cash’s “Get Rhythm” began playing. I figured that if a little boy could shine shoes with a smile, I could at least wait in line for the best BBQ in America. As Johnny Cash songs kept playing, I got some full country nostalgia. Talking with two friends about everything we experienced in our first year as Longhorns. Our time in line flew by as barbecue filled our noses, and memories filled our minds. It was almost like we brainstorming for a country song of our own. With a nostalgic conversation, Johnny Cash playing, and the best smell in Texas I was ready to grab a guitar and start strumming up the next hit country song. This thought would have never crossed my mind had I not been exposed to country music through this class.

I can’t say enough great things about this class and the experiences that it generated for me. I hope that Dusty finds a way to keep it going as he moves on the next phase of his life as country roads take him home to West Virginia. I feel extremely fortunate to have ended up in this class, and I feel bad for every University of Texas student that didn’t get a chance to take it. Whether I hear it in a movie, on a dance floor, or in line at the best BBQ joint in Texas, I can confidently say that I love country music, and attribute most of that to this class.

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Filed under Austin Food, Blog Post 5


Before taking this class, I admittedly didn’t know that Florida Georgia Line was so horrible. I went to their concert this past summer and actually thought they were good, but after seeing them again at the Houston Rodeo a few weeks ago, I know I was wrong. I was on my way out of town with some friends and we stopped in Houston for the night, and went to the rodeo sort of spur of the moment. We ate corn and funnel cakes, and headed inside to see the show. Florida Georgia Line came out on stage, and immediately I knew something wasn’t right. They were wearing camo tank tops, Tyler Hubbard had his hair straightened, and there were pink lights and flames everywhere. The slideshow on the screens was made up of mostly license plates with the lyrics spelled out across them, and I could hardly watch. They even started the show out by playing “Started From The Bottom” before their first song!! To all of you who I silently disagreed with when you said they were no good, I take it back!

IMG_2229On a happier note, I went to Threadgill’s on Riverside with my dad while he was in town. The second we walked in my dad said, “Can’t you just feel it? People like Ronnie Milsap used to sit at these tables”. From the other customers to the people who were waiting on us, we really could feel the history of the place. My dad ordered chicken fried steak because he “felt like he had to”, and we shared a few appetizers like the fried green tomatoes. If you’re looking for a place to bring someone from out of town and want to show them what Austin is really like, Threadgill’s is the place to go!

When my dad visited earlier in the semester (he went here for undergrad and is having some serious trouble letting go of the glory days), we went two stepping with my sorority at Wild West. Two stepping was a skill I didn’t know I had until I started going to tailgates my freshman year. My parents love to dance and I’ve grown up dancing with my dad around the house and at neighborhood parties, but I had no idea I’d been two stepping all my life, and I really didn’t know I knew how to pretzel! We couldn’t keep up with most of the line dancing, but we held our own spinning around the dance floor between all of the other fathers, daughters, and Wild West regulars.

1911834_774356375961438_3650098447414466280_nMy view of country music has changed more than I ever thought it would after taking this course. I have learned so much about not only the music itself, but the people behind real country music and how to really appreciate the genre as something that truly is a part of how so many people grew up, and has shaped the lives of so many people. Going two stepping and seeing live music at Threadgill’s, along with the rodeo further proving what true country is, has helped me learn to appreciate music that is written from the heart and written about true experiences rather than being written to get a radio hit or collaborating with an R&B artist to land some listeners from other genres–for the record, I at least knew that song by Usher and Florida Georgia Line was bad from the start. Thanks to this class, I promise I’ll know the difference between real and pop country from here on out!

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Filed under Austin Food, Blog Post 5, Concert, Country Pop

Town Lake Country Series

Rockin RiverCountry music has always gone hand and hand with warmer weather and water. As summer begins, country artist begin to release new albums and singles made for the season, and things that go along with it. Songs are filled with lyrics about cold beer, the scorching summer sun, bathing suits, and great times out on the water with friends. Summer country songs are usually up beat and high-spirited, and the good ones will make you want to roll the windows down as you sing along. Around this time of year all I want to do is float the river or hop on a boat at the lake with friends and listen to country music. Fortunately enough, my hometown of Fort Worth has recognized the relationship between country music and water. They have done so by bringing a concert series called “Rockin’ the River” to town.

“Rockin’ the River” is a concert series held on the Trinity River in Fort Worth every summer from June to August. Each Thursday an up and coming Texas country artist will preform at Panther Pavilion. This is an elevated stage that sits on the riverfront, and the downtown skyline serves as a backdrop for the stage. Past performers include The Damn Quails, Cody Jinks, Brandon Rhyder, and I have even witnessed a performer do a backflip off the stage into the river.

Admission to this event is free, all you have to do is rent a tube to float in the river if you don’t bring your own. Backwoods is also there so fans can rent kayaks and paddle boards to relax in as they listen to the concert. Of course there is beer and food available for purchase when you arrive. Don’t feel like getting in the water? You can grab some lawn chairs to throw out on the lawn by the water. Lastly, the night is ended with a small firework show. It makes for a great summer evening.

The reason I bring this concert series up is because I love it so much, and have enjoyed it many summers in the past. My only question is why does Austin not hold a series similar to this one? Yes, there is Blues On The Green in Zilker Park during the summer, but that’s just not the same. Austin needs to take advantage of Town Lake. I propose a developer comes into the Zilker Park/Town Lake area and build a stage that hangs over Town Lake. Then we to could float in the lake and listen to our favorite Texas country artists here in Austin. If fans did not want to get in the water, the developer could also make a lawn area near the stage so lawn chairs could be laid out. Just as Panther Pavilion has the skyline as a backdrop, the Austin stage could use the Austin skyline as a backdrop. After all, Town Lake is located in the middle of downtown Austin.

Not only would this be good for country music fans, it would be good for the city as a whole. Local businesses could sponsor the concert series, and benefit off of it. For example, Austin Kayak could be there to rent out kayaks and offer demos. A local brewery such as 512 Brewing Company could sell beer at the event. Local food trucks could find parking on the lawn to serve hungry fans. Yeti could rent out coolers and show new products. At the end of the night you have happy country fans, and local businesses that have advertised and profited off the concert. How would y’all feel about an event similar to the one I described?


Filed under Austin, Austin Food, Blog Post 4, Concert, Live Music, Texas

Country Music Forever

It’s really interesting how country music has had such a big impact on my life growing up, especially since I’ve lived in the south my entire life. It wasn’t until I moved to Texas when I was 11 years old that I actually fell in love with the genre. Country music has a deep history in Texas and popularized some of the best country artists to this day (and my favorite, George Strait). From the places I’ve been to the shows I currently watch, the country music lifestyle is continuing to influence my life in pretty subtle ways. I love this class because it has really made me appreciate my loyalty to this genre.



I went to Threadgill’s a few weeks ago with my friend not knowing much about it other than the fact that it was another Austin hot spot. You walk into the restaurant and there are pictures all over the walls of some of greatest artists throughout the history of country music. Country music lover Kenneth Threadgill opened the restaurant in 1933. Fun Fact: he was the first person to own a beer license in the county. Janis Joplin even made a few appearances in the restaurant. If you want to experience live country music while eating good ole’ southern cooking, Threadgill’s is the best place to go.

Nashville (TV Show)


I started watching this television show as soon as it aired on ABC in 2012. The show stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere and focuses on their character’s clashing careers. Country superstar Rayna James (Britton) struggles to uphold her career with the contemporary direction country music is heading. Her stardom starts fading when Juliette Barnes (Panettiere) becomes the hot new star, appealing to the younger audience. There’s a lot of speculation if the show is based off real life situations that have happened in country music. Maybe Rayna represents Faith Hill’s diminishing career as rising country star Carrie Underwood, played out as Juliette Barnes, comes into the scene. Because Hill and Underwood had rumors swirling several years ago about tension between the two, maybe the creators based their lead characters off their public debacle. Regardless, I am a huge fan of this show and all the drama that is played out on the screen. It really shows the struggle of making it big in the industry, and it even features the renowned Blue Bird Café where several big-time artists were discovered.

2015 CMA Awards

chris and luke

I have been tuning into the CMA Awards for as long as I have been a country music fan. All of my favorite artists coming together to show-off their best work is my favorite awards show of the year. The show has been hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood since 2008, and as their careers are better than ever, I don’t see them slowing down. The Entertainer of the Year award of course went to Luke Bryan, the hottest singer in country music today. Female Vocalist of the Year went to Miranda Lambert while Vocal Duo of the Year went to Florida Georgia Line. It seems that country music is starting to accept a pop sound and these successful singers are focused on creating crossover hits. Probably the biggest shock of the night happened when Chris Stapleton won Male Vocalist of the Year. His debut album was released in May, and he walked away with three awards that night. This is an artist I think all country fans can get excited about. He’s bringing back the traditional country sound with his hits like “Tennessee Whiskey” (which he performed with Justin Timberlake on the show) and “Traveller.” With all the mainstream country music, I’m glad to see that people will still appreciate the classic sound that popularized the genre through the 80s and 90s. Chris Stapleton won some incredible awards that night for someone who has only been on the radio for a few months. Who knows, maybe Chris Stapleton will be the next George Strait.

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Filed under Austin Food, Awards, Blog Post 5, Country Pop, Movies and TV