Austin Dads Reflect on Fatherhood

A few years ago, we had a very popular Father’s Day post in which we asked prominent Austin dads a few questions about parenting. We had so much fun putting that together, that we decided to do it again! Thanks to these awesome fathers for being a part of this year’s article and helping make Austin a great place to raise little ones.

Gene Davis, one half of the kindie rock duo The Que Pastas, buying formula after a show.
Gene Davis, dad to Helen (5 weeks), buying formula after a recent show.

Gene Davis is the founder of the kindie rock duo The Que Pastas. We’ve had the pleasure of hearing the band perform at last year’s Family Music Meltdown, the Back to School Bash and this year’s Rock + Chalk. The band recently performed on KXAN’s Studio512 – you can check it out here. Gene’s daughter, Helen, is just five weeks old! Given the fact that he has a newborn, we were very impressed Gene had the ability to answer our questions using more than one complete sentence.

What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?

While this answer is seemingly self-serving because The Que Pastas play both these venues, I truly love how Strange Brew and Cherrywood offer live family music concerts every weekend on Saturday and Sunday mornings, respectively. I don’t know of any other city where you can go see live music with your kids for free every weekend of the year. This is one area where Austin actually lives up to its self-proclaimed reputation as Live Music Capital of the World.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?

Since my daughter is five-weeks old, I probably need more advice than I can give. That said, the most important thing I learned during those insane first two weeks is that whatever you are going through as a dad—sleep deprivation, anxiety, terror, extreme joy, all points in between—your wife is going through times 10. I knew that theoretically going in, but it’s easy to forget when you yourself haven’t really slept for three days and are surviving on granola bars and caffeine. Also, your wife is going to cry multiple times for seemingly no reason during the first two weeks, and it’s nothing to worry about. Just tell her you love her and put on Gilmore Girls to watch.

What do you really want for Father’s Day?

I really want to go see the new Mad Max. Or I’d like a million dollars so I can hang out with my family all day instead of going to work. One of those two things would be great.


Rich Garza
Rich Garza, Pachanga Latino Music Festival founder and father to Luci (9) and Sabina (7).

Rich Garza is the founder of the Pachanga Latino Music Festival, which has brought the hottest performers in the Latino music scene to Austin for the past 8 years. Rich and his wife, Elaine, are Principals of Giant Noise, a public relations firm with offices in Austin, San Antonio, New York and Sacramento. Rich also serves on the board of the Austin Music Commission, which advises City Council on local music industry and development issues.

What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?

I love how our community is full of so many interesting people doing so many interesting things and that we are fortunate enough to give our kids access to these people. Our kids have the good fortune of being exposed to: musicians, writers, entrepreneurs, radio DJs and event promoters from all over the world who have chosen to make Austin their home. It’s opened their eyes to possibilities for them and hopefully it’s encouraging them to be open minded and seek out new and exciting interests.

 What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?

Read Babywise.  It’s not for everybody, but it sure did work for us.  This idea that newborn babies don’t know anything except that you’re supposed to take care of them really resonated me.  Don’t be nervous because the kids can sense it.  That’s real. Also, as cliche as it sounds, it does go by really, really fast, so make sure to savor the moments because before you it know those babies will be toddlers, and those toddlers will be kindergartners, etc.

 What do you really want for Father’s Day?

Honestly, I’m the luckiest man in the world and don’t really need much.  I’d really happy with just being able to sleep in as late as I want for once.  That, and maybe a fancy new bicycle, but I don’t want to push my luck.


Sam Hovland with his wife Lee and his sons,
Sam Hovland with his wife Lee and his sons, Hopper (6) and Rowan (4)

Sam Hovland is the Buyer at East End Wines, a boutique retail wine shop in a Victorian house which was once the home of a former City Council member and the first African-American pharmacist in Austin. Sam has been in the Austin food and wine business for over twenty years, including stints at the Austin Wine Merchant and the Headliners Club. He has also acted as a consultant for many other restaurants and retail shops, including a brief stint on the wine committee for Twin Liquors and as a wine buyer for Swift’s Attic.

What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?

I am happy with the school that we were able to get my oldest son, Hopper, transferred into, Pease Elementary. I grew up here, and I was always happy with the amount of green space. I am also excited to have the kids grow up in a spot that has a thriving fine arts, music, and restaurant scene. I think Austin is relatively down to earth, and if I am going to be in Texas, I want it to be in the blue dot. I am happy we can raise the kids with the influence of Mexican culture as well.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?

You will get lots of advice, but trust your instincts as well. Get help from people who offer so that you are not overwhelmed by all of the new things that you will have to do to keep the new kid maintained and detailed. Laugh at and with the new and entertaining family member. Quickly replace the old poop filled diaper when changing the new kid.

What do you really want for Father’s Day?

Ironically, I could actually use a tie. I would also like a new shovel for moving coals out of our pizza oven. I would also like a ceramic fermentation crock for making pickles.


Jayson Rapaport and his sons, ages 4 and 7.
Jayson Rapaport and his sons, ages 4 and 7.

In May of 2006, Jayson Rapaport opened the first Birds Barbershop with his childhood friend, Michael Portman. Now, Birds has seven Austin-area locations, employing over 100 people. In 2012, Jayson and Michael co-founded Verb, a hair product line free of sulfates, parabens and gluten.

What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?

Whether it’s hiking up Mount Bonnell, kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, or catching a Drafthouse rolling roadshow in the park, the supply of things to do with my kids is endless. I grew up in a small town without much going on, so I’m very grateful to have access to all the cultural amenities that make Austin awesome.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?Advertisement
Apart from making sure my kids grow up with a good head on their shoulders, I try to remember that my #1 job is to make sure they’re always having a blast. It won’t be long before real life begins staring them in the face, so I want to make sure they are able to just be kids as long as possible.

What do you really want for Father’s Day?

After my uninterrupted 2 hour nap? Pancakes.


Matt Reilly
Matt Reilly with his wife Jennifer and daughter RJ (3)

Matt Reilly is the program director at KUTX 98.9, “The Austin Music Experience”. Matt has been at the helm at KUTX since January of 2013, when the University of Texas’ Board of Regents purchased 98.9FM and split KUT, where he had served as assistant programming director, into an all-news format and shifted all the music coverage to KUTX.

    What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?

    That no matter what the season, there’s always something fun to do. This is a city that is young at heart and being a kid here is more fun than just about anywhere.

    What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?

    Handle that baby! Change diapers, rock them to sleep, carry them around in your arms. Have as much physical contact with that baby as you can. It will ease your anxiety about being a new father and your bond will be that much stronger. It’s also a great stress reliever.

    What do you really want for Father’s Day?

    To sleep late!


    Josh Rodriguez
    Josh Rodriguez, Founder of Texas Dad Blog with sons Matteo (18 months) and Santiago (5). Not pictured is wife Samantha and baby Emma (1 month).

    We met Josh Rodriguez at the Pachanga Fest in May. He was easy to spot, since he was wearing a shirt with the name of his blog on it: Texas Dad Blog. Although Josh is relatively new to blogging, he’s no stranger to parenting, having just welcomed his third child into the world and working to balance family life with a full-time job, school and his blog.

    What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?

    What I like best about raising kids in Austin is the diversity this city has, the awesome parks and natural areas around the city. The picture above was taken at Twin Lakes Park in Cedar Park.

    What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?

    New fathers, be there! Be there for mom and baby. After mom gives birth, it’s going to be a high stress and emotional time for both mom, baby, and dad. Dad, just try and stay calm and be there for mom and baby, I’m sure it will be greatly appreciated. Oh, and whatever food mom wants after she gives birth, try your hardest to get it to her!

    What do you really want for Father’s Day?

    World peace? I just really want to spend the day with my kids and take a hike at one the parks close by and maybe a steak.


    Matt Swinney with his wife Kara and children Sadie and Cashion. Photo credit: Todd White
    Matt Swinney with his wife Kara and children Sadie (8) and Cashion (5). Photo credit: Todd White

    Matt Swinney is a native Austinite and has spent the past 11 years running his own businesses. Matt manages events large-scale events such as Eat Out for Good and Austin Fashion Week and founded Modern Home Tours. Matt is also the Board President of I Live Here, I Give Here.

    What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?

    Austin is home. Both Kara’s and my families are here so raising our kids with their grandparents around is the absolute best feeling. Because Austin is such an active city, it’s an amazing place to raise children — the community is incredibly open to essentially dragging your kids around pretty much anywhere. We have an amazing park system, great kid-friendly restaurants and really cool sporting event opportunities (nowhere in the world do you get FormulaOne and X Games but here).

    What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?

    Being a dad is the best job in the world. Figure out a way, no matter what your job is, to get home with plenty of time before the nighttime routine kicks in. It’s easy to fall into the habit of just coming home, eating quickly, bath, books, bedtime. But that time when there’s nothing that HAS to be done before all that starts is the really special time. The time just to be with your kids. Time is everything — as a new dad, everyone will tell you, but you really won’t understand how fast it all goes until you’ve lived it.

    What do you really want for Father’s Day?

    To sleep in, which by our standards is like 8:00 am. I want some snuggle time with both of my monkeys ideally with all of us falling asleep for a nap (it’ll never happen but I can dream). No bickering between the kids. And a great bottle of scotch.

    Happy Father’s Day to all you father figures!

    About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
    A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

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