Austin, TX: Bridge Beats and Cafe Treats
There are two happening spots in Austin right now well worth noting. One is a Moto-foto-turned-cafe and the other is a pedestrian bridge concert venue. Both are bustling with Austinites.
Hot Spot #1: Since it opened in March, neighbors have been calling the Emerald City Press , the café off Lamar Boulevard, “the bank building.” With its old night-drop instructions and narrow drive-through it’s perhaps all one could imagine the structure ever having been, but actually, the split-level stucco block was born a Moto-foto with the drive-up film drop. Utilizing the old drive-through, the goods are served on the run or over a wide counter that encourages lingering.
A steady flow of eclectic people and dogs mill around out front during the day, sampling the soft-serve and flipping through sun burnt copies of The Nation and Bon Appétit . The “Press” of the café’s name refers to the plethora of periodicals they stock. When stopping by Emerald, try either of these favorites: “Boomerang Pies” (a veggie pot pie) with “Awesome Sauce” or “Lone Star Kolaches.”
This place has a lot of the things that people in Austin love dearly – breakfast tacos, utensils made of soy that biodegrade in an hour (a.k.a “spudware”), national newspapers, and flowers by the stem or bunch – everything we need to get into “keep it weird” heaven.
Emerald City Press
915 N Lamar Blvd (just south of 10th)
Austin, TX 78798
Hot Spot #2: Usually reserved for joggers and bicyclists, the Lamar Bridge has become a popular spot for unlikely bridge patrons— dancers. On two recent Saturday evenings, The Just Desserts , an Austin-based cello and accordion duo, performed on the Lamar pedestrian bridge over Town Lake (which we’re suppose to call Lady Bird Lake now?). The bridge is a hot-spot of the hike and bike trail, so when The Just Desserts were playing tangos and bistro music, joggers and bicyclists slowed down to take in the tunes.
The Just Desserts specialize in international folk music, a refreshing experience in a city built on country blues and college bands. I asked Michael Shay, the cellist, if there was any “red tape” to cut through in order to play. According to him, it’s just show up and set up, “street style, just like we do all over the world.”
Pedestrian bridge gigs are promoted by word of mouth, band mailing list, and rumor. During the city’s more famous music festivals, smaller acts take advantage of the swarm of music fans in town and play the bridge at all hours. During SXSW this year, a punk band took to the “stage” at 3 am and played to a packed bridge.
For their twilight performances, The Just Desserts kept it low-key. “We did let our friends and tango dancers know ahead of time, so the dancers could bring their shoes,” says Shay. Performances usually start at dusk, and you can count on someone showing up to play on any temperate weekend evening.
Posted by Ann Raber