One look at my blog, my Facebook profile or just spending any amount of time around me and most know that I am an avid and passionate resident of the great city of Austin, Texas and strong supporter of our local music scene. A few weeks back, I stumbled upon an excellent representation of the essence of our city and its “musical backbone,” that being a newly-produced coffee table book called The Sound of Austin by uber-talented local photographer, Mathew Sturtevant. Mathew’s work here is truly exceptional, a beautiful collaboration of portraits of some of the finest musicians to ever call Austin home or spend time in our fair city, along with stories from these same musicians describing what they love most about our city.
In the event you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for any fan of Austin or passionate music aficionado in your world, this one’s a must! You can currently purchase The Sound of Austin at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, Book People, Waterloo Records, Whole Foods Market, Hotel San Jose, Wild About Music, Roadhouse Relics, Strait Music, South Congress Books, University of Texas Co-op and Stag.
Musicians featured in The Sound of Austin include: Adam Carroll, Aimee Bobruk, Alejandro Escovedo, Allen Hill, Amy Cook, Ben Kweller, Billy Gibbons, Billy Joe Shaver, Bob Schneider, Brad Rice, Brannen Temple, Carrie Rodriguez, Casper Rawls, Charlie Sexton, Chris Gates, Chris Layton, Cindy Cashdollar, Dale Watson, Darden Smith, David Grissom, Denny Freeman, Doyle Bramhall II, Eliza Gilkyson, Ephraim Owens, Eric Johnson, Erin Ivey, Fastball, Gary Clark Jr., Glenn Fukunaga, The Gourds, Gurf Morlix, Guy Clark, Guy Forsyth, Hayes Carll, Ian McLagan, J.T. Van Zandt, James Cotton, James McMurtry, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Jimmie Vaughan, Joe Ely, Jon Dee Graham, Junior Brown, Kacy Crowley, Kat Edmonson, Kevin Welch, Lavelle White, Li’l Cap’n Travis, Lloyd Maines, Los Lonely Boys, Lyle Lovett, MC Overlord, Malford Milligan, Marcia Ball, Mike Barfield, Patrice Pike, Paula Nelson, Ray Benson, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Reckless Kelly, Redd Volkaert, Rick Broussard, Robert Earl Keen, Roky Erickson, Rosie Flores, Sahara Smith, Savannah Welch, Shawn Colvin, Shawn Sahm, Slaid Cleaves, Suzanna Choffel, Teri Joyce, Terri Hendrix, Trish Murphy, W.C. Clark, The Wagoneers and Willie Nelson.
More information about The Sound of Austin is offered below, as well as at the web site – www.soundofaustin.com.
The Sound of Austin
~Coffee Table Book about Austin and its musicians called “soulfully constructed”~
An unprecedented collection from Mathew Sturtevant’s singular vision: a book of intimate portraits and interviews of nearly 100 musicians who define The Sound of Austin. While Barton Springs may be the heart of Austin, this is a comprehensive look at the artists who give Austin its soul. Including Bob Schneider, Alejandro Escovedo, Kat Edmonson, Shawn Colvin, Lyle Lovett, Billy Gibbons, Robert Earl Keen and Willie Nelson, these portraits offer a glimpse into the personalities that make Austin a place like nowhere else on earth.
Mathew Sturtevant, whose portraits are featured in the book, is an editorial and commercial photographer who lives in Austin. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Fortune, Men’s Journal and Texas Monthly magazine. Sturtevant has been photographing Austin’s musicians for more than twenty years. He decided to create The Sound of Austin because of his passion for music and his appreciation for the stories behind the musicians who live here.
A portion of the proceeds from The Sound of Austin will benefit the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM). HAAM provides access to affordable health care of Austin’s low income, uninsured, working musicians with a focus on prevention and wellness.
“A Mathew Sturtevant portrait is like a Jimmie Vaughan guitar solo; it’s soulfully constructed with economy, dignity and grace,” comments Rock and Roll Hall of Fame deejay Jody Denberg in the book’s introduction. The Sound of Austin is a collection, a testament, a love note and a guidebook, honoring and preserving the musicians who define the sound of Austin, Texas.
Artist statement from Mathew Sturtevant:
“There is this moment when you are listening to an artist perform in an intimate venue like the Continental Club or the Cactus Cafe. You are a part of a small audience. The artist is up there, risking everything, to express themselves to just this audience on just this night. The years spent not quite making a living. The pawn shops, the late fees, and yet the undeniable need to express themselves through their craft just as much as the waves need to crash on the shore. On this night, when the strings bend in such a way that the hair stands up on the back of your neck and your eyes meet a total stranger’s across the room who felt that note exactly the same way you did and you both nod because you know you are both very lucky to experience this sublime moment . . . that’s when you know this is Austin, Texas. You have just shared a sacred moment with someone whom you’ll probably see tomorrow at the library or next week at Jo’s. You smile and nod again, the smile curiously lingering.
Or the time when you are listening to the car radio, singing along to “Levelland” waiting at the light at Riverside and Congress and James McMurtry pulls up in the lane next to you and you are kind of embarrassed but you want to call out, “Hey, you’re on the radio and sitting in the car next to me” but you don’t, because it’s awkward (and no less amazing). I have had this happen (once with McMurtry and twice with Darden Smith).
There is really no place on earth like Austin, Texas. We are very lucky.
There is a spot on the steering wheel of my 1991 Honda that is worn through completely from a combination of the relentless Texas sun and me tapping the side of my thumb along to the radio. The artists I have photographed are a large part of the soundtrack of my life. An indelible mark on my soul that is as much a part of me as is the nourishment from the thousands of spicy breakfast tacos I have consumed here in South Austin. At once, sustenance and flavor!
My definition of art is creating something that previously did not exist that inspires beauty, truth or wisdom. Musicians are very good at this, photographers, not as often. I strive to be inspired by these great artists and I do my best to make photographs rather than take photographs. These images are from years and years of needing to capture, if only for a moment, the essence of those who make Austin the amazing place it is.
MATHEW STURTEVANT is an editorial and commercial photographer living in South Austin. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Fortune, Men’s Journal, and Texas Monthly. He has been photographing Austin’s musicians for over twenty years.
JOE NICK PATOSKI has been writing about Austin, music and Texas since he hit the town in the early 1970s. He has authored and co-authored biographies of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Selena and Willie Nelson, all published by Little, Brown and Company.
JODY DENBERG is a thirty-year veteran of Austin airwaves who is featured in a permanent exhibit on rock deejays in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has also produced more than fifty CDs, including a series of interview discs with music’s biggest names.
JEANNETTE HEINDEL received her B.A. in English Writing and Rhetoric from St. Edward’s University, graduating magna cum laude. An accomplished producer, her passion for documentary content and music found the perfect vehicle when she partnered with Mathew Sturtevant on The Sound of Austin.
KEVIN GREENBLAT is an award-winning graphic designer who has been living in Austin Texas for almost fifteen years. His enthusiasm for music in Austin is well represented in the design of The Sound of Austin.