When musician Benjamin Booker recorded his first EP, Waiting Ones, in 2012 in his parents’ bathroom, he intended its release to be a private affair. Instead, he almost immediately found himself gaining recognition as one of the best up-and-coming rock acts in recent memory.    

“A blog had a satellite radio show, and they played it,” Booker said. “Suddenly, people were hearing my music. It was an odd feeling. I hadn’t even performed for a crowd yet, but my phone was ringing.”

The 25-year-old singer-songwriter’s breakthrough led to performances on “Letterman” and “Conan,” a tour with Jack White and critical acclaim from Rolling Stone — all before his debut album came out.

Booker, who graduated from the University of Florida, said he has always been interested in music. He attended punk shows regularly in middle school and has played guitar since he was 14. Still, he never felt the call to perform.

“I really liked playing,” Booker said. “But the idea of playing for someone made me nervous. I never wrote songs; I just never felt the urge.”

After his EP breakthrough, Booker began performing around New Orleans as a solo acoustic artist. Although he still writes on an acoustic guitar, Booker found the low-key performance style didn’t suit him well.

“It’s boring to me,” Booker said. “I like it when people are excited, when people are rowdy. Shows need to have that thrill, and acoustic didn’t provide that.”

To amp up the energy of his gigs, Booker formed his first rock band. He teamed up with drummer Max Norton and later added bassist Alex Spoto to form the band, which they named Benjamin Booker.

Once the band signed with ATO Records, Booker threw himself into the project full time. After experimenting with a variety of instruments and post-production techniques, the band chose to abandon a complex style and recorded their first album, Benjamin Booker, live over the course of six days.    

Electrical engineering freshman Juhi Pathak noticed the album’s lo-fi style the first time she listened to it. “His sound manages a good balance between modern indie and throwback ’60s,” Pathak said. “It’s definitely a simple album, but it’s something you can jam out to.”    

Since the release of Benjamin Booker in August 2014, the group has received praise for its raw blend of garage rock and blues. Mechanical engineering freshman Claire Harrigan said the combination of multiple genres creates a distinct listening experience.

“It’s frenzy of garage rock, but there’s a good helping of blues influence,” Harrigan said. “It’s really interesting to hear the two blended together.”

Booker addresses themes of home and family in his natural raspy singing voice, but he said he might explore different ideas in the future.

“I usually write about people around me,” Booker said. “But, I’ve only done this one time before. I’m not sure what I may be writing about in years to come.”    

When thinking about the band’s future, Booker said he just hopes the group will stays true to its roots.

“We’ve always been about making music that interests us,” Booker said. “That’s always been our goal. People seem to appreciate our sound; they get into it. As long as that’s happening, I know our goal has been accomplished.”

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

When Austin musician Elizabeth McQueen was growing up in Columbia, Maryland, she thought she would become a professor. She didn’t expect to make a living as a musician and certainly never thought she would one day perform a live duet with Willie Nelson.

“I never thought I would make a living as a performer because I didn’t know anyone who did,” McQueen said. “It didn’t even seem like that was something you could do.”

McQueen developed a love for performing when she was young but didn’t decide to pursue it as a career until after she graduated from college. She wanted to escape the East Coast’s fast-paced lifestyle, so she headed to Austin in 2000.

“I came down here thinking, ‘I want to be a musician,’” McQueen said. “That was my plan.”

McQueen spent eight years as the front woman for the Grammy-nominated band Asleep at the Wheel. During this time, she performed with Willie Nelson, released three solo albums and had two children.

Her latest project is recording an album as EMQ, a band she formed with old friends — guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo and multi-instrumentalist Lindsay Greene. On Thursday, EMQ and local artist Jerome Morrison will launch an exhibit at the Museum of Human Achievement called “Infinity + Infinity.”

Infinity + Infinity is an interactive art project in which audience members’ body movements control holographic images projected onto structures Morrison built. EMQ will play live music while spectators walk through the projections.

McQueen said the project is conceptually complex because it combines electronic music, jazz and 1920s songbook-style writing with holographic art.

“I don’t know exactly what [the music] is, and I don’t know how to describe it — but I like it,” McQueen said. “And I like playing it.”

McQueen said she has always been a fan of experimenting with her approach to music. On her previous albums, she explored a variety of genres including Americana and pub-rock. She asked Gurgiolo and Greene to form EMQ with her so that they could experiment musically. 

“I just keep expanding and changing,” McQueen said. “I guess I’m just not the kind of person who is going to make the same record over and over again.”

In addition to writing and recording her own music, McQueen is a DJ once a week for KUT. In her podcast, “This Song,” she asks artists about songs that have had an impact on them.

“It’s not your favorite song — it’s the song that made you realize you could become a musician, or play an instrument, or what influenced your latest project,” McQueen said. “It’s about who inspired us and whose shoulders we are standing on.”

McQueen said the most important song to her is “Empty Cans” by The Streets. She said the song taught her it is possible to be emotionally honest and open with her music.

“When you get really emotionally honest with your music, you are opening up the door for people to really feel something,” McQueen said. “I don’t think I’d ever thought to really attempt to try something that emotionally honest until I heard that song.”

She said her goals for her music career are always changing, but, for now, she wants to focus on emotional honesty.

“My ultimate goal as a musician is to make music that makes people feel something  more than just having a good time, but makes them really feel,” McQueen said. “But that’ll probably change next week.”

The eighth annual South by Southwest conference featured Johnny Cash, a Charles Manson controversy and plenty of “schmoozing,” according to a March 1994 article in The Daily Texan,  

In the article, staff writer Chris Riemenschneider gave a review of the 1994 SXSW convention. He called SXSW a place for record executives, journalists, musicians and public relations workers to “find avenues to sell their products or themselves; and, most importantly, kiss each others’ asses.” 

Cash kicked off the event with a keynote address. According to the article, Cash said he was interested in coming to SXSW since the first one took place in 1987. 

“It’s very stimulating for a songwriter to come to Austin for [SXSW],” Cash said in his speech. 

According to the article, Austin City council member Max Nofziger later gave Cash the key to the city and declared March 17, 1994, “Johnny Cash Day.” 

Riemenschneider wrote that panel discussions took place throughout the week, including “Alternatives to MTV,” “Why is My Record Not in the Stores?” and — most contentiously — “Helter Skelter.” 

The “Helter Skelter” panel focused on Charles Manson, a musician and a criminal found guilty for the murders of seven people in the ’60s. The panel discussed the newfound popularity of Manson that was occurring in the music industry at the time. 

Marilyn Manson, a singer whose stage name is based on the imprisoned Manson, attended the panel and offered an explanation for the increased popularity.

“[Charles Manson’s] anti-authority messages are things which kids can identify with today,” Marilyn Manson told the panel. 

Riemenschneider noted that the audience did not receive the discussion well. He wrote that panel members experienced hostility from audience members who believed the people involved in the panel “were cashing in on an evil man.”

One audience member asked, “How can stabbing someone in the back 65 times be looked up to?”

Aside from the panels, the article said over 500 bands performed SXSW shows that year. The 1994 event was the first to incorporate an additional component called the “SXSW Film and Multimedia Conference.”

Now in its 29th year, the SXSW music event includes about 28,000 conference participants, according to the festival’s website. The Film and Multimedia Conference has since evolved into two separate parts — film and interactive.

One aspect of SXSW has remained constant — the Austin Music Awards. The event takes place during SXSW and gives artists awards based on votes from Austin Chronicle readers. 

According to the article, the 1994 results “showed the rich diversity in Austin’s tastes.” Singer-songwriter Ian Moore tied with Jimmie Dale Gilmore for musician of the year. The Ugly Americans won best new band.

Although SXSW expanded to include film and multimedia events in 1994, the article stated most people were still there for the music. 

“It was obvious how important music really is in Austin,” Riemenschneider wrote in the article. “And no event demonstrates this more than the South By Southwest Music and Media Conference.”

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Jesse Crandell spins a wooden staff on South Mall. Crandell is a musician and a licensed massage therapist who also studies Hispanic linguistics at UT.

Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Jesse Crandell perfects his craft every Tuesday and Thursday on the South Mall lawn. Crandell spins a wooden staff around his body, sometimes flourishing behind his back, but never losing focus.

Crandell, 34, is a Hispanic Linguistics and Portuguese senior at UT. Although he was born in South Carolina, he grew up mostly in Vermont and Illinois. At age 17, he dropped out of high school and lived on his own as a musician. Later, he decided to get his GED so that he could get a degree in music. In 2002, Crandell graduated from Parkland College in Champaign, Ill. with a degree in music performance. 

As far as the staff spinning is concerned, Crandell said there is no official name for what he does, but he practices it every day. 

Crandell’s gestures, steps and even his words are succinct and deliberate — efficient to a fault. A man of medium height, Crandell walks with an innate dexterity — a visual manifestation of the kung fu training on which his staff spinning is based.

“It’s a combat form,” Crandell said. “But the whole philosophy isn’t to learn how to hurt people [but to learn] how to defend the peace. The real master avoids the conflict altogether.”

The philosophy behind the staff spinning, and kung fu allows Crandell to draw a meditative benefit from what he does. He says it’s relaxing but also practical. He says, if he’s coming from a Spanish class and has to switch gears and think and speak in Portuguese for the next hour, spinning the staff is the equivalent of wiping the slate clean.

“I can forget everything,” Crandell said. “I can just start fresh.”

Crandell gained his appreciation and interest in Spanish and Portuguese from his musicianship. He’s been a musician since he was a teenager, and his musical interests span from playing Nirvana and Metallica covers in his adolescence to playing in a touring bluegrass band in his twenties.

“I’ve been a musician for a long time and was kind of searching,” Crandell said. “When you realize you can’t play everything and learn every song you love, you think, ‘OK, I’ve gotta pick a direction. I’ve gotta focus, so I can build something progressive.’”

Now, he plays with Austin Samba, one of the oldest samba schools in the country. Crandell plays surdo, a giant bass drum, and is learning the djembe.

“I think the language is equally beautiful [as the music],” Crandell said. “They developed alongside one another. Neither developed independently.”

Through Austin Samba, Crandell met Abou Sylla, a percussion teacher from Guinea, a small country in West Africa.

“I met Jesse when he was playing the guitar,” Sylla said. “He saw me playing the djembe and said he’d like to play the djembe, too, so that’s when I start teaching him how to play.”

Sylla took a class of his students, including Crandell, to Guinea over the winter break. Crandell said he dove deeper into his instrument while in Guinea and witnessed firsthand what Sylla did for his people and their community. The money for the trip went to people in Sylla’s home village. They brought bikes to transport water. The year before, Sylla brought food and money to give to his family members and neighbors. 

“We didn’t go anywhere in the three weeks I was there where he didn’t give money or food to someone,” Crandell said. “We need more people like [Sylla] in this world.”

Crandell’s interest in Afro-Latin cultures has brought him all over the world, including England, Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil and Guinea. For many of these trips, he applied for scholarships and studied abroad. He’s currently applying for a Fulbright scholarship so that he can further his travels and become more involved in international relations. 

To support his pursuits, Crandell is a licensed massage therapist. On top of all of this, Crandell is a UT Service Scholar, often participating in community development projects around Austin.

To balance his myriad interests and passions, Crandell searches for and puts effort into things he truly loves, allowing him to make time for everything. 

“Every day I’m doing homework, I’m practicing music,” Crandell said. “I meditate. I exercise. I garden. These are just part of my daily routine. Above all, I enjoy doing them, so there’s an automatic appeal there. It helps me not lose my mind.”

Wearing a large, white T-shirt, red sneakers and navy slacks, Mac DeMarco looked more like a boarding school runaway than a rockstar on stage at The Mohawk. But that, along with a nondescript baseball hat, is what the newly crowned king of indie rock was wearing when he played to a soldout crowd Sunday night.

One of the last times DeMarco was in Austin, he was cursing the city and its festivals at one of his many South By Southwest shows in 2013. He still has some of his old reckless abandon but has since released his third album, Salad Days, and started to grow from a young, gap-toothed rock ’n roll bad boy into a confident, indie rock hero.

Standing in dirty red shoes before a crowd packed with fans who still aren’t allowed to drink beer, DeMarco played a set with songs taken mostly from Salad Days, along with a few older tracks and an almost mesmerizing cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.”

The crowd on the floor of the venue was rowdy. Crowd surfers flipped above the outstretched hands of a hundred teenagers and a steadily growing mosh pit made the ground level of The Mohawk feel more like a water park wave pool than a club. DeMarco’s music and stage presence isn’t necessarily hardcore — misbehavior just follows the Canadian musician wherever he goes. 

DeMarco’s entire performance was solid, entertaining and energetic, but there were two peak moments during his set. 

The first came when DeMarco leapt from the stage with a smug grin on his face, falling confidently into a crowd of people he knows would never let him fall. The crowd passed him all over the venue for over five minutes. In the spirit of fairness, DeMarco even climbed to the top levels of The Mohawk, where fans carried him around.

The second moment came during the band’s encore, which included a cover of “Wicked Game.” Bassist Pierce McGarry started the song off, but DeMarco took over to sing a verse in some sort of indiscernible gibberish. He then demanded that the entire crowd kneel down on the ground — which they did — and “calm the fuck down” while he sang another chorus. 

DeMarco has come a long way since last year’s round of SXSW shows. He’s selling out venues and receiving high praise for Salad Days. The question on his fans’ minds is whether the album title serves as a sentimental goodbye to younger, more reckless days, or a self-realization that these could be DeMarco’s salad days.

DeMarco stayed on stage for a while after the show ended, signing autographs, taking selfies on peoples’ phones and even receiving a kiss from one particularly enthusiastic fan. He spoke with the people who carried him through the venue he filled Sunday night, a newly crowned king receiving his loyal audience.

Bands such as Those Nights perform for web series BalconyTV. The series films bands in 43 cities on balconies and rooftops. Photo courtesy of BalconyTV.

Most bands perform in dark cave-like venues filled with cigarette smoke and graffitied bathrooms. BalconyTV, a global music web series that is produced in six continents, films musical performances on actual balconies and rooftops, with picturesque views of a particular city behind the band. 

The site’s videos have been viewed more than 30 million times. From Tel Aviv to Austin, BalconyTV is filmed in 43 cities that follow the same outline: a musician or band performs one song in a single take on a balcony. 

The concept of BalconyTV was born in 2006 on a rare sunny day in Dublin, Ireland. Co-founder Stephen O’ Regan was admiring the view from his apartment, wondering how he could use his balcony more often. O’ Regan decided he would start holding stripped down, acoustic concerts on his balcony, and he would film them. 

“A television station on a balcony seemed like an over the top idea,” O’ Regan said. “But after we invited a couple of bands to perform, we started getting contacted by lots of bands that wanted to play on our balcony as well. So it became a music website all by itself.” 

The website has increased in popularity every year since then, as well as attracting people who want to get involved and start their own channels in their hometowns. 

“The site has evolved quite organically,” O’ Regan said. “The more videos we make and the more cities we launch, the more people that want to launch channels in new cities. It demonstrates what a powerful tool the web can be.”

Producers Joe Lynch and Barbara Rappaport run Austin’s BalconyTV channel. The BalconyTV Austin channel showcases local musicians as well as popular touring artists, with an emphasis on promoting Austin artists to wider audiences on an international scale. 

“As Austin claims to be the live music capital of the world, BalconyTV Austin showcases the bands and talent of the city,” Lynch said. “It gives prospective visitors a chance to preview the music that they can see live.” 

Rappaport said that one of the greatest benefits for musicians from a performance on BalconyTV is the free, global exposure a band can receive after its video is posted online.

“Almost every band is seeking that big break,” Rappaport said. “The only way to really get that break is exposure or to be discovered. This is a free, international music platform, so the question should be, why wouldn’t a band want to perform on BalconyTV?” 

Artists have benefitted from the site by gaining more social media followers, seeing increased record sales and obtaining opening slots on tours. 

“We have had bands get invited to support major artists on tours and be offered gigs thanks to the exposure they receive on the website,” Lynch said. “The direct benefit is that they all get what may be their first live video recordings to share on social media to engage more fans.” 

One band that has gained a broader fan base after being featured on BalconyTV is San Marcos-based folk-rock group Those Nights.

“We’ve found new Facebook and YouTube fans from other countries since the performance was posted, and it’s only increased further since they named our video an Editor’s Pick,” singer Evan Styles said.

Styles feels fortunate that the Austin channel is willing to provide free film recording services for musicians. Otherwise it would be extremely expensive for emerging independent artists to afford the costs of making music videos.

“All it takes is one good spark to ignite a musician’s career,” Styles said. “BalconyTV is creating several of these sparks.”

Sims Ellison, the namesake for the SIMS Foundation, was the bass player for hard-core band Pariah before tragically dying by suicide in 1995. (Photo courtesy of The SIMS Foundation.

Austin is a city that cares about the preservation of its natural resources. Parks and nature areas dot the spaces between buildings and businesses and recycling bins line the sidewalks. However, the resource Austin cares for the most is its wealth of musicians.

There are several organizations within the city that are geared toward bettering the lives of Austin’s struggling musicians. One such organization is the SIMS Foundation.

The SIMS Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide musicians and their direct relatives with access to mental health care and substance abuse care.

Local musicians Don Harvey and Wayne Nagel founded the foundation in 1995. SIMS is named for the late Sims Ellison of the hard-rock band Pariah. 

According to Harvey, Ellison battled with depression for a number of years before tragically dying by suicide in 1995. This was enough to set the wheels in motion for an organization that could help musicians with any mental health issues they might experience.

According to Jennifer Vocelka, a clinical adviser for SIMS, there are very minimal stipulations that potential clients must meet to qualify for SIMS-funded care. Potential clients are screened for eligibility and must be a musician, partner of a musician or dependent of a musician who lives in Travis or one of the contiguous counties. Musicians must also currently be playing gigs or have some sort of presence in the city. This cuts out the thriving population of street musicians who can be heard on numerous street corners and sidewalks when wandering through the city.

Despite this discrepancy, there are plenty of musicians who reap the benefits that SIMS has to offer. Vocelka said that SIMS serves roughly 700 local musicians per year.

According to Layne Lauritzen, SIMS Foundation treasurer, the funds raised by SIMS are sufficient for such a daunting task. 

“We raise between $700,000 and $900,000 a year,” Lauritzen said. “I think we serve everybody that comes in the front door.”

Lauritzen said he would like to see more funding in order to better care for musicians suffering from substance abuse and addiction problems. Lauritzen said this sort of treatment tends to be more expensive, and board members are forced to be more selective when choosing eligible clients for such extensive care. 

While some clients contact SIMS directly through the provided Client Line telephone number, others are referred to the foundation by the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, or HAAM. 

HAAM picks up the bill for local musicians with physical health needs, but it refers those with psychiatric or substance abuse needs to SIMS. However, HAAM treats only musicians while SIMS also treats musicians’ direct relatives. 

Among SIMS’ clientele is Austin musician Nakia, who tells his story of battling bipolar disorder in a video displayed on the SIMS Foundation website. 

“I always had really good experiences with the service providers and the SIMS staff have always been very helpful,” Nakia said. “I have personally seen SIMS make it possible for Austin musicians to stay focused and happy. That’s such a key component of being a successful artist.”

Printed on Thursday, January 17, 2013 as: Local Austin musicians offered access to mental health care 

Q&A: Mike Wexler

Mike Wexler's Disposession has acclaimed more attention than his works from the past. His dark side emerges through both spiritual and material worlds (Photo courtesy of David Black).
Mike Wexler's Disposession has acclaimed more attention than his works from the past. His dark side emerges through both spiritual and material worlds (Photo courtesy of David Black).

When it comes to freak folk singer songwriters, Mike Wexler cultivates a sound like no other. His psychedelic and nasally vocals create a completely otherworldly experience. With a busy agenda as of late, the Brooklyn-based musician released his sophomore album this month before stopping by Austin for SXSW. Wexler spoke with The Daily Texan about his artistic community, his musical influences and his s new record, Dispossession.

Daily Texan: Do you feel like you’ve gotten more press because of SXSW?
Mike Wexler:
It’s hard for me to say, there’s been quite a bit of press with the new record. I hope that going down there will generate some more interest

DT: What’s it like to be an upcoming artist from Brooklyn?
It feels pretty normal; I’ve been a lot busier in the past month. I’m happy to have that stuff to do.

DT: Do you feel the Brooklyn scene aids you in any way to emerge as a musician?
I think the scene is a very nurturing environment. There are aspects that make it hard to live here, like having to scrape by and still have time to do this sort of thing than elsewhere where the rents are cheaper. I like the energy here; there are so many different things going on and different circles. What people do is really cutting edge in all different genres, so it’s inspiring to be around that for sure. 

DT: What musical artists made you want to start a band?
When I was a kid it was probably Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen. It’s hard to say. Ever since I could remember I picked up a guitar and I never had the intention of learning other people’s songs, I always used it as a tool to write my own material. I don’t know if I can think of an artist who would be directly responsible for my music. I just like writing songs. 

DT: Was it a conscious decision to go solo?
It’s the way I’ve always operated. I’ve been in bands but I never felt I’ve met anyone who’s an ideal match for my music. It’s easier to write the songs myself so I can put a band together based on what I feel like I need in terms of instruments. I know a lot of musicians and I thought long and hard about the band for this record. It seemed like a no brainer for me that they should be involved in a project together to make that happen.

DT: As a solo artist, do you feel it’s more difficult to rouse a crowd when you perform?
It’s hard to make a definitive statement because every show is so different. Depending on the venue and the crowd and some kind of unquantifiable something in the atmosphere, there’s so many things happening at any given performance. You feel lucky when the stars align and everything goes right. It’s interesting how things pan out.

DT: You said through a Word Press blog that when someone writes something about you feel the need to set the record straight. Would you like to set anything straight for now?
I feel that everyone who I’ve seen write about this record has been more in line with how I was thinking about it. When you have something in mind that you’re hoping to come across and see people get out of it what you think you’ve put into it, it makes you feel like you’ve succeeded on some level.

Fans of a musician Mauro Remeddi looked forward to a solid full-length album to follow up singles, EPs and solo project Porcelain Raft. After Remeddi’s first EP, Gone Blind, audiences had high hopes for his LP, Strange Weekend. But instead of the anticipated ethereal delight present in his previous work, the mechanized dream pop LP falls short of impressive.

A man of many musical endeavors, Remiddi has written music for Italian film scores, traveled as a gypsy musician playing klezmer music with a youth circus from Berlin, played piano for tap performances off-Broadway and was a part of the indie-pop duo Sunny Day Sets Fire.

Perhaps Strange Weekend proves that bouncing around from genre to genre may not be the best idea if you want to release a fresh and synthetic psych-wave album.

A change of pace seems appropriate in the midst of stretched-out guitar loops, keyboard and synthesizer. But this is where Strange Weekend falters. Instead, Remiddi cakes his compressed and shrill vocals on top of conventional lo-fi arrangements.

Remiddi gives in to his urge to use a disparate and layered falsetto. It’s as though the musician tries to cover up his strained vocals with prerecorded loops of his own echoey “ooohs” and “ahhhs,” but the constant reverb proves ineffective. In “Backwords,” Remiddi’s vocals become cheesy, with the same vacuous laptop samples we’ve heard before from artists like Blood Diamonds and Youth Lagoon.

Repetitious distortion at the end of various songs detracts from originality, as listeners seem to experience the same song 10 different times. The opening song, “Drifting In and Out,” brings the notion of meandering to mind. It’s easy to detract from Remiddi’s “hooks” as they distance the audience with the same chords of monotonous strumming, ongoing bell chimes and drum sequences synonymous with one another.

Remiddi’s focus presents the stifled feeling that his vision is overly narrow as he compensates for his lack of meaning with repetition. Droning samples are easily tuned out. Within the mediocrity Porcelain Raft creates, it’s difficult to tell what makes Strange Weekend so strange after all.

The Stevie Ray Vaughan statue stands next to Town Lake under a twilight sky on Monday afternoon. Vaughan was recently named one of the top 100 guitarists by Rolling Stone and he was part of the musical momentum that led Austin to be named the Live Music Capital of the World.

Photo Credit: Jorge Corona | Daily Texan Staff

Smiles came easily whenever the late Austin musician Stevie Ray Vaughan was around because of his positive spirit and the revolutionary sound of his music, said music photographer and friend Susan Antone.

“When Stevie came in the room, he just made you smile — he was really a neat, fun, creative person,” Antone said. “I don’t know anybody who didn’t like Stevie.”

Vaughan, an Austin blues-rock legend, was named 12th best guitarist in Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitarists” ranking.

Antone’s brother Clifford Antone, a close friend of Vaughan’s, opened the music bar and restaurant Antone’s on Fifth Street in 1975 as a place for up-and-coming musicians to play. The restaurant, now known as one of the prime live music venues in Austin, helped launch Vaughan’s remarkable career.

Dallas-bred Vaughan dropped out of high school at age 17 to move to Austin and pursue a career in music. He formed the blues band Blackbird before joining The Cobras in 1975, a band that would become Austin’s Band of the Year in 1976.

Vaughan then became the lead singer of the band Double Trouble and circled through music clubs around Austin and Texas. Musician and record producer David Bowie saw one performance and asked Vaughan to play on his next album “Let’s Dance.”

Double Trouble released several of its own albums, the fourth of which went gold and nabbed a Grammy Award in 1989 for Best Contemporary Blues Recording.

After a Double Trouble concert in Wisconsin featuring other guitarists including Vaughan’s brother Jimmie, Vaughan boarded a Chicago-bound helicopter. It crashed minutes after takeoff, tragically killing 35-year-old Vaughan and its four other passengers on Aug. 27, 1990.

His legend was never forgotten, and Austin Music Commission vice chair Joah Spearman said Vaughan continues to influence the music scene in Austin.

“You can look at how much downtown Austin has changed since he died, but artists are still influenced by him,” Spearman said. “It speaks to the timeless nature of Stevie Ray. I think we can think of him as someone to credit for making Austin the Live Music Capitol.”

In 1994, a statue was placed at Auditorium Shores in honor of Vaughan to remind Austin of a musician who helped shape its reputation as a music-centered city, said Megan Crigger, a spokeswoman for City of Austin Cultural Arts Division.

“It’s been a huge success,” Crigger said. “Not only because we see people leaving gifts at the foot of the sculpture, but because it reinforces Austin’s reputation as the live music capital — it’s been really beneficial to Austin in that way and the reputation of having great music and supporting musicians and artists.”

Susan Antone said she remembered “Stevie Ray” as both a kind-hearted friend as well as an extraordinary musical talent.

“He was and is one of the greats, and he is not to be repeated,” she said. “He is an ambassador for Austin — every place he went, he carried the banner for Austin and for music.”

Printed on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 as: Austin icon Stevie Ray Vaughan noted as 12th best guitarist by Rolling Stone