A Great Day In Austin

What do you get when 106 musicians gather for a group photo? A little history, a lot of schmoozing, and . . .

Steel-gray clouds filled the Austin sky on March 15, 2000, as they had for the previous two days, but when four o’clock rolled around, they miraculously parted, as if the powers above couldn’t bear to rain on our parade. And it was a parade, sort of: At that hour, on that day, 106 musicians marched through Town Lake Park, schmoozed a bit, and lined up in front of the statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan to have their picture taken together.

The cliché, for once, was true: Everybody who was anybody was there. Well, not everybody; Willie Nelson and Ray Benson, for instance, had commitments out of town. But the attendees were an impressive bunch, from old-timers to newcomers, chart toppers to club hoppers, pop stars to punks to country hunks—all of them invited to be on hand for the simple reason that they are, either individually or as part of a band, integral to the local music scene.

The idea for such a gathering was, alas, not original. It was inspired, in a sincerest-form-of-flattery way, by A Great Day in Harlem, Art Kane’s 1958 group portrait of 57 jazz giants for Esquire—one of the most iconic photos in the history of the magazine business. Time will tell whether the shot you’re about to see has any lasting impact, but we’re satisfied knowing that it came off at all. And that the day, in the end, turned out to be great.

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