Saturday, April 03, 2010

In the old 'hood . . .

Stumbling into Austin blues diva Carolyn Wonderland yesterday got me thinking about my old Zilker neighborhood, Kinney Avenue, and the wonderful house that was the last house I bought before our current nest. I have to say that I've loved three of the four houses I bought, but this beauty was special for lots of reasons, an old Craftsman home, built around 1915, and moved, at some point, from downtown into the Zilker 'hood. The previous owners had been architect and landscape architect and evidence of their passions was all through and around the house. Old skool Austin folks; when I bought the house, there were no keys, no working locks - never had been: true old Austin spirit.

My favorite place was the garden room, just off the master bedroom. No curtains in the bedroom, just a lush gorgeous shower of coral vine that made curtains absolutely superfluous, save in January and February, when it froze back. Bath had a huge, walk-in, room-sized shower with walls of glass brick and a floor paved with black river stones. Huge windows in the bedroom, old elementary school roll-up windows . . . okay, enough: I meant to drool on about the garden room: out the bedroom door, into the room, paved with big limestone flagstones. A hand-crafted stone bench, and then at the south end was a two-story tower, open to the sky. The walls of the circular tower were "paved" with wine bottles that had been cut in half, to create a glorious stained glass effect. The piece de resistance: at the base of the tower was a hot tub. Could lie in the tub at night (or anytime, of course) and sometimes see the moon through the open top.

Nuff said, nuff ruminating. This ain't really all about that stuff, anyway.

One of the many cool things about Zilker was the fact that it seemed to be a haven for Austin musicians. I have no clue whether Carolyn Wonderland actually lives there now or not, but I like to think that she probably got lured in with the others below.

Ball. Marcia lived a couple streets over, big sprawling old cottage, lots of good trees. I used to walk by with Thunderheart AKA Mr. Handsome, my gorgeous red bullmastiff - and did he ever know he was gorgeous. He sure weren't no poodle.

Lou Ann
Barton. Never saw LAB in the neighborhood, but she lived only four or five houses down on Kinney. Simple house, quiet, had to wonder if the girl was even in there.

Vaughan, big brother of Stevie Ray (I have a student at the Instituto whose parents named him after Stevie Ray), lived about four streets over, right on the big bluff that overlooked Zilker Park and the famed Barton Springs pool. JV could probably have rigged up a giant rope swing or zip line and dropped right on into the BSP.

Escovedo. AE lived just around the corner, one street over, notorious for his early morning rooster - the scourge of the woman who lived in the house just behind mine. Many was the time I'd hear her screaming in her back yard, "Shut that f-ing rooster up!!!" Rooster never really woke me up, but she sure did. I had always assumed that Alejandro was the son/nephew of Santana percussionists Pete and Coke, but the WikiFolks have him as their brother. Jury's still out on that one.

Harold McMillan
. Harold lived in an apartment down the street. He and I went all the back to social work grad school at UT; spent a summer together wandering around central Texas, north and east of Austin, as part of a needs-based survey group. Had some good times camping at Fort Fisher in Waco, of all places. HM left the social work program after his first year, went on to get a master's in another program, but more importantly, started, in the parking lot of a west Austin liquor store, the Clarksville Jazz and Arts Festival - still going strong now as the Austin Jazz and Arts Festival, pulling in some great musicians through the years - McCoy Tyner, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Smith, and several members of the Marsalis familia. I saw awesome sets with Nicholas Payton and Jason Marsalis at the historic eastside Victory Grill.

Wonderland. CW's new to the pantheon and, as I say, I ain't got no idea where she be livin' in Austin; her bio sez she that when she first moved from native Houston to Music Mecca, she lived in her van for a couple of years. (Down under the pecan trees in Shady Grove?) Girl's definitely got the groove: great chops, great growly blues voice.

Sis Deville
. Found these folks, while falling into Wonderland. CW's one of them. Fun stuff, too. Surely one of them's in the Zilker 'hood.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are forgetting Glover Gill who played in 8 1/2 Souviners. He lived on Garner & had the large picture window with the Jesus Saves neon sign. That sign warmed up a lot of cold nights while walking past. He now plays tango on the piano for Austin Tango. Incredible!

3:19 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Anon: Wonderful addition. Didn't exactly forget: didn't know, though I certainly loved me some Happy Feet. Thanks for the update, too.

4:06 PM  
Blogger anno said...

That's sure a fine neighborhood, a great place for taking walks, enjoying the sounds, sitting on the porch and watching life go by. Lovely turn of memoir; always enjoy the mix of music commentary and story we get when you feel like spinning disks.

5:37 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Anno: Glad you enjoyed the walk. Funny thing: when I first moved to Austin in 1978 for grad school, I rented a house just a few blocks away from the Kinney house.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Dee Martin said...

Who needs jukeboxes and old fm radio - we have you :)
great stuff and I love the commentary. The garden room sounds amazing.

9:52 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Dee: All the reminiscing is just fun: fun to stretch the writing a bit, too. I miss that tower and the black river stones in the shower.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

This was fun.

11:07 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Teresa: Music was fun, and so was the reminiscing.

6:32 AM  
Anonymous carolyn wonderland said...

When I was in my van, I parked most nights in the '04 behind Ray's Heart of Texas Music. Before that, I rented a sweet little duplex Ethel @ Treadwell. Artists are generally priced out of such a cool spot, and while I visit when I can, I am currently residing where the sidewalk ends down south...nice to run into you & thanks for the extremely kind words!

12:41 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Ms Wonderland: What an honor to have you drop in here to these Muravian digs. Post-Austinite, I am usually very late to the party for current events, but let me tell you, I am very happy to have run across your "be true to your school" awesome voice. Hope to see you sometime in the future fer real - you and your Deville sisters. With y'all around, Austin music is still in very good hands.

6:47 PM  

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