“Change. It ain’t what it used to be.”

My ex said that to me once, apropos of almost nothing, and it made me laugh so hard I had to grab a pen and write it down. I had to grab a lot of pens with him around; he was pretty witty, and his word bombs were usually worth remembering.

Especially when they were so dead on. People, places, and things change all the time, and you can’t do a damned thing about it really. I mean, Charles and I aren’t together anymore, so there you go.

Austin, my adopted hometown, has changed — it has exploded with change — since I landed here in December 1997. Some of this growth has been beautiful, and some of it I mourn. I could write 50 posts on the subject, and maybe I shall.

But right now, I’m thinking about all the good live music venues for singer-songwriters and bands that have closed in just the past few years. Momo’s was my favorite (closed December 2011), and I can confidently say that it was the only venue that regularly booked a great ratio of both men and women to perform.

Artz’s Rib House was the first place I met my tribe of players and friends. It closed in 2010, and last month we lost its wonderful owner, Art Blondin, who was himself a player, a booker, and a great friend to every musician he know.

Cafe Mundi became a Thai restaurant that tried music but only kinda sorta. The Cactus Cafe became something… different. The landmark Antone’s (where I first saw Charles play guitar), closed, then re-opened elsewhere, then closed with the hope it may again re-open. It’s actually a pretty long list of places.

Antone's, Austin, live music, Jean Synodinos
Playing at Antone’s in a benefit for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.

 

And then we lost Flipnotics, a fabulously odd coffeehouse in South Austin that stood its ground since 1992 as the city grew up around it. It was an intimate little room inside. You’d get 30 people in there and you’d need to open some windows for fresh air.

Flipnotics, Austin, music, Jean Synodinos
The view from the stage at one of our Flipnotics shows.

The staff all seemed like they were happy to come to work. Dogs drank from the communal bowls around the porch. The wifi was strong, and so was the coffee. They had a great selection of beer and wine, but the food was lousy.

The sound system left a lot to be desired, too, but for anyone who paid attention to mic technique, the challenge could be overcome. Flipnotics was actually a great listening room, an easy hang, and I saw a lot of great players there over the years.

I got lucky at Flips, and my trio held down an 18-month residency from 2012-2014 where we were finally able to grow our fan base. I’m so grateful for it.

Here’s a video grabbed from our last show before it closed:

I’ve no doubt that ground will be broken for an upscale condo development on that spot within the next year. There is serious coin to be made in the Austin housing market.

And while there are newer places for acoustic music and singer-songwriters in town, most notably Strange Brew, live music isn’t the growth industry it used to be here in the “Live Music Capital of the World.” More to come on that subject, no doubt, in future posts.

Change. It ain’t what it used to be.