AUSTIN, TEXAS - Richard Austin, head of the of the Books & Manuscripts Department, and I traveled down to Austin, Texas on Wednesday night for the traveling exhibition of You Might Well Arsk, a sale of original drawings and manuscripts by John Lennon taking place in New York on 4 June. Austin, TX is currently hosting the SXSW music, film, and interactive festival, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year looking for the best food, newest music, and the next big thing in tech.
Two visitors checking out the traveling exhibition of You Might Well Arsk at South Congress Books.
The adventure began with the flight out, on which the first boarding call was not for passengers but instead for instrument cases that wouldn't fit in the overhead bins. The flight attendant promised to "take care of everyone's guitars, not to worry!" On Thursday morning, the traveling exhibition opened at South Congress Books, located on one of the main drags of the music portion of the SXSW festival. In attendance throughout the day and a reception yesterday evening were music and visual artists, label representatives, managers of major bands, publishers, and at least one notable author, all interested in viewing this unique set of original John Lennon material that comes straight from the private collection of Tom Maschler, the publisher of Lennon's two books A Spaniard in the Works and In His Own Write. Richard had a great chat with famous science fiction author Michael Moorcock over some Shiner beer and delicious BBQ from Ruby's, and we enjoyed some entertainment by local musician Raina Rose, who played Beatles tunes in honor of the exhibition.
A local band plays at a makeshift outdoor stage on South Congress Avenue at SXSW. Many of the setups have a strong Americana vibe. This is Texas after all!
The street on which the South Congress Books lives is very vibrant (to say the least), with every empty lot turned into a stage and every alleyway now a parking spot for a delicious food truck. While here, Richard and I have stumbled upon a new Irish band The Strypes playing a lively rendition of "You Can't Judge a Book By the Cover" in the courtyard of a local hotel at 10 am (the same song the Rolling Stones submitted as their demo in 1962), eaten our fair share of migas (a Mexican breakfast specialty) and tacos from Guero's Taco Bar, and found a local bluegrass band jamming to a big crowd in a nearby hat store while shopping for Stetsons and cowboy boots.
Me shopping for boots and a Stetson at Al's Boots on South Congress Avenue.
After a quick visit to see the copy of the Gutenberg Bible at the University of Texas's Harry Ransom Center and a pit stop to see more music at the Yard Dog Art Gallery, just down a few doors, we're back today hosting many visitors, some who have sought us out and some accidentally finding us while perusing for books by their favorite authors here at South Congress Books. The sea of music fans, artists, and those who work in the music industry have welcomed us and shown great interest in the sale.
After a wonderful response from the people of Austin, we now turn to the traveling exhibition of additional material from the sale in London next week and the eventual preview and sale in New York on 4 June.