For many music lovers, the wait is (almost) over. This Friday, the 10th Austin City Limits Festival will get underway at Zilker Park.
Right now the forecast calls for highs in the 90s and lows in the 70s with partly cloudy skies. Sounds like perfect weather for festival-going. The Zilker Lawn has never looked so green, thanks to the parched earth all around Austin and a new irrigation system put in place at Zilker after the 2005 dust bowl. Smokers will have to go without at ACL because of the drought, a development which will likely be welcomed by families attending the Festival.
Although we had a blast covering ACL last year, we at LiveMom will be taking a break this year. One of our writers recently had a baby, one is recently pregnant and we all agreed that we’d like to attend in the future. That said, check out our post from last year about getting ready, how to enjoy ACL with kids and what to bring.
We didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to talk to one of the Austin artists (and moms) who will be playing at the Festival this year, Sara Hickman. Sara is the Official State Musician of Texas, a champion of countless causes and a favorite singer/songwriter for both adults and kids. You can catch her and her band, Family Time Rocks!, on Friday at 2:30 and on Saturday at 1:30 at the Austin Kiddie Limits stage. Through Family Time Rocks!, Sara and her bandmates, Jason Molin and Gray Parsons, use interactive performances to show “how fun, easy, and rewarding it is to make music and art with your family”. How cool is that?
LiveMom: What is your favorite part about performing at ACL?
Sara: My favorite part about performing at ACL is the amount of happy, energetic enthusiasm in the air. When I’m on the children’s stage, I love seeing the interaction between children and their siblings, parents, friends and family members; the delight on faces, whether they are singing, dancing, clapping hands—especially when ALL of it is combined! It’s one big family of joy, and it’s so much FUN to be on stage creating the music for everyone there!
LiveMom: Who are you looking forward to hearing/seeing at ACL?
Sara: I am excited about seeing Stevie Wonder!!! I can’t even BELIEVE he’s going to be there! To me, he IS music, he is an inspiration to millions upon millions of people, and he’s a national treasure. I. Just. Love. Him. So. MUCH!!! Kudos to ACL for getting him to come perform!!!!!!!!!!!!
LiveMom: Do your kids go to ACL? If so what do they like to do/hear/see during the Festival?
Sara: Both my children have attended ACL Fest. When I played on a main stage three years back, they sat on the stage in the special seating and got to see the crowds from our vantage point. Since then, they’ve gone with my husband and me after one of my kids’ shows or with friends. They have enjoyed getting to see Bjork, The Strokes, Flaming Lips (we were dancing like CRAZY!!) and The Black Keys. They love seeing friends when we walk around, and they like the art displays and the crafts booths.
LiveMom: What do you like best about living in Austin?
Sara: I love living in Austin because it has everything that makes a town “home”. We can hike, kayak, go see fantastic live performances—theatre, dance, poetry, music—eat international cuisine. We have the state capitol, we have amazing museums, universities, film festivals, diversity of ethnicity, religions and cultures. Our public schools are terrific—I have performed or taught classes in a majority of them and the children and teachers are so engaged! Of course, there is the wonderful, unique and creative wackiness that Austin is known for, which continues to flourish with local businesses making everything from handmade one-of-a-kind clothing to cupcakes! What’s not to love?! Perfect environment to grow with your family.
LiveMom: What are your favorite Austin family friendly activities?
Sara: The Veloway, going hiking on the Greenbelt; renting the electric dinner boats (seats 10) on Lady Bird Lake, enjoying dinner as we quietly glide along at sunset; riding the Zilker Zephyr train, swimming at Barton Springs, going to the Alamo for their hilarious previews before a film, going to the Blanton Art Museum, drawing with chalk, staying at home and having family game night or sing-a-longs.
LiveMom: What advice would you give to parents of budding musicians to encourage a lifelong love of music?
Sara: Have all kinds of instruments readily available all around the house…introduce kids to live performances of ALL kinds of music (polkas to opera to slack-key guitar, not just “pop” music). Have friends that are musicians, if the parents aren’t musicians themselves, come over and jam with the kids. When you travel, bring home an instrument, even if very small, to build your family’s collection and memory baskets—let the kids choose if they are with you. Encourage them to try choir, handbells, bands—any sort of making music that involves a group. And, you can always make instruments out of things you already have at home. See how your family can become a spontaneous band by everyone picking out something not normally seen as an instrument & make up songs and music together. Video tape yourselves and watch it a year later!
Thanks so much to Sara for taking the time to answer our questions. If you can’t catch Sara at ACL, be sure to see her at Waterloo Records on September 29th at 5pm to celebrate the national release of The Best of Times, a compilation of her songs performed by other Texas artists, which will benefit the Theater Action Project. You can also see her perform at 4pm on Sunday October 16th at the Nutty Brown Cafe to benefit the Groundwork Music Project.
Are you going to ACL this year? Will you be attending with your family? Who are you most looking forward to seeing? Any tips to share?
Written by: Nicole Basham
Photos courtesy of Ashley Garmon and Lili Hickman Waldon