I think it’s time that I admit that I want Austin, TX to be my new surrogate home. I have had great times here. I have great friends here and quite frankly, it has become one of my top 5 favourite places on earth in less than 24 hours.
We had an unexpected morning off. I would like to take a moment to wish all the health, happiness and speediest of recoveries to the patients at the Dell Childrens’ Hospital here in Austin. Due to concerns involving their health and welfare, we were unable to perform for them today. But, my hope is that after the flu season is over and infections are at a bare minimum, we can come back to Austin and bring a little more happiness into their days.
I instead found myself with a few hours to commune with my new home away from home. Of course, the thing I had to absorb with urgency was the music culture of the city. I was suggested by many to visit the Waterloo record shop. My friends here are the best and they didn’t let me down. Not only was the staff at Waterloo super knowledgeable, they were also hyper friendly. They have records, they have live music and the best part is it’s a record store that also, stocks Duncan Yoyos. It’s enough to make me melt. How many places on earth can you have a conversation about Son House and by a good yoyo? One that I know of. Big points won there.
I then stopped by South Austin Music because it’s hard to resist going into a guitar shop with a 4 meter tall Gretsch Chet Atkins model outside. Seriously, one of the coolest guitars the world has ever seen taller than you’ve ever seen it. Again, I was taken by the friendliness of the people of Austin. I can get picky and particular when it comes to things like this and the guys at South Austin Music were just pleasant as pie when I would have been annoyed by me. I also suppose that the friendliness of Austin rubbed off on Hank and Seth. They didn’t mind weathering my quirky requests and watching me play guitars and shop for records. I couldn’t ask to be on the road with two better people. They will be great friends of mine for life.
We then collectively decided that it was time to take the culture of Austin in a different way, we ate it up….literally! Over on South Congress Avenue, there is a three block section with cool Airstream trailers outfitted to be fantastic restaurants. If you get a chance, we ate at Hudson’s Mega Cone and we all highly recommend it. Besides, if you have a sweet tooth, Big Top Candy Store is right across the street and they are fantastic AND stock Duncan yoyos to boot. I am starting to think this town loves us as much as we have come to love it.
Eventually, we tore ourselves from the joys of Austin city culture and cool and got ourselves to a great gig at Terra Toys. Remalda runs the place and that lady has one great family working along side her. I had already made friends with some of them months ago, they made it feel like I was just visiting home. Honestly, I love them and I refuse to ever stop. Then, just when you think it can’t get more fun, KEYE news stops by and we do a live news spot right here to let the city know that we’re still here and still rocking the house.
Speaking of rocking the house years later, This demo yielded even more surprises and history. The kids and families were a fantastic audience. I am still constantly floored by how easily the kids pick up on intermediate level tricks. And only to sweeten the deal, we got further proof that it sticks with you forever. We met a regional sculptor and artists named Bob Wade. He is from Austin and shared some of his art from his 40 year old body of work. What makes him even more relevant? In the 1960’s Bob was a Duncan junior instructor. He can still bang out the basic ten and beyond. The guy is a regional treasure and it was so nice talking to him and hearing his stories of the “old school” of touring, instruction and yoyo demonstration. I hope I have kind of atmosphere about me 40 years from now.
As a major aside, we also were blessed to see Elliot Pemberton and his daughter Siri. Elliot is an employee of Duncan’s parent company, Flambeau. This only proves that there really is a family behind this thing. We might not be blood but, we are family. Elliot, you have a beautiful family.
After a while, the demo wrapped but, we just weren’t ready to leave our new family. So, we did a little shopping in Terra Toys, and tried out some of there more exotic toys. From there we went off to have drinks and dinner with Sam, Asia and Amy whom all work at the shop. How do they reward us? They took us to what was easily my favourite eatery of the entire year. Conan’s Pizza! Seriously, how can any human being not be excited, intrigued or both by a dining establishment that is entirely Conan the Barbarian themed. Holy Cow Times Ten! We swapped war stories of the toy trade and bonded over our inner nerds. D&D, comic books, cartoons, toys, video games and more were on the agenda. Of course, this meant that we needed to go to a legendary video arcade to end one heck of a day.
We rolled over to the UFO arcade and it was like walking deeper into some fantastic dream I have yet to have. Me, the boys and the Terra Toys gals all played some fighting games, some dance games, some tetris battle and had a great time. If you’ve seen videos from previous tours, you know that I fancy myself a good gamer, especially in fighting games. It is my pleasure to say that on this outing, I was humbled by the skills of another yoyo player and fellow gamer. Jonathan Begnaud, your kung fu is strong and I promise to practice hard until next we meet.
All in all, Austin now owns a big part of me and I hope we did it proud and can take a little of its good will with us. We’re moving on to Houston and beyond. I am sure that the rest of the tour with be beautiful but, Austin sets a very high bar for the rest of North America to rise to. All my thanks will never be enough.