Although symphonic concerts could be heard in San Antonio all the way back in the 1880s, the formation of the San Antonio Symphony—the city's first formal orchestra—didn't happen until 1939. It was then that Max Reiter, a native of Italy, was forced from his career and home by a freshly established anti-Semitic policy. Reiter boarded a ship for New York, found the city teeming with exiled musicians like himself, and therefore purchased a train ticket to the South. There, San Antonio's leaders invited Reiter to conduct a demonstration concert for a crowd of 2,500. The success of that initial impression led to the formal founding of the Symphony and an inaugural concert just five months later. Today, Sebastian Lang-Lessing stands where Reiter once stood, leading a full ensemble of 75 musicians with a baton hand honed across the globe.
When he's not gigging at renowned venues such as CBGB or the Bowery Ballroom, Pancho Garza preps others to do the same at Alamo Rock School. Likewise, Pancho's fellow instructors channel years of teaching and performing experience to help students aged 8–17 improve their guitar, bass-guitar, drums, piano, or singing skills.
Weekly one-on-one lessons are the bedrock of Alamo's rock club, whose weekend jam sessions give students the opportunity to play with fellow musicians. Private lessons pair with group rehearsals at the school's summer camp and rock performance sessions, which culminate in a live show at a local venue. Designed for musicians 18 and older, the adult rock program similarly whisks students out of their grownup forts made of utility bills to the stage.
A cozy restaurant by day and rocking concert venue by night, Cypress Creek Cafe pairs hearty casual American cuisine with jams from some of the Lone Star State's most promising bands. As far as the food goes, you'd be remiss to not try the country-fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, and black-bean tacos packed with cheese, avocado, and pico de gallo. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a homemade seasonal pie or a stack of pancakes during the popular weekend breakfast. Just down the hallway, the Buzzard Bar packs them in on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. The reason? Live blues, country, and rock performances that get the crowd moving.
Giggle N Jump's bright, clean, 11,000-square-foot play center thrills frolicking young ones with a great collection of bounce houses, interactive stations, and slides. As children burn off excess energy and make new friends in the engaging environment, parents can supervise little ones' progress from outside the play area or join kids in the fun. A separate section entertains infants and toddlers, the tiniest kiddies, keeping them safe as they explore and bounce.
Kenneth Threadgill stood in line all night to be the first person in Travis County to get a beer license. It was 1933, and the bootlegger and country-music connoisseur had plans to evolve his filling station into something bigger?though even Threadgill probably couldn't have anticipated how big it would become.
It started with touring musicians stopping in for drinks after their shows. By the ?60s, Janis Joplin was on stage, polishing her unpolished sound for crowds from all walks of life. The evolution continued, with Threadgill's hosting artists from Jerry Lee Lewis to Captain Beefheart and expanding into a Southern-style restaurant where the love of music ironed out disagreements and engendered an atmosphere of tolerance.
Today, the original location on North Lamar harks back to Threadgill's beginnings, with current owner Eddie Wilson decking the place out with decor that evokes the Austin of the 1930s to the 1960s, including vintage signs that say, ?I can?t wait for the internet to be invented.? The second location on West Riverside celebrates the 1970s music scene that thrived at the Armadillo?Wilson's former establishment at that location. At both venues, chefs churn out classic Southern food, such as chicken-fried steak and fried green tomatoes, while frequent live music entertains guests.
In what was once a generic roadside warehouse, Patsy's Cowgirl Cafe now brims with inviting, kitschy personality. Shannon Sedwick and Michael Shelton, the entrepreneurs behind comedy hotspot Esther's Follies, decorated the ceiling with tumbleweeds and tree branches and built a bar inlaid with mosaic tilework. There's a stage for live music or tomato-throwing duels, behind which a mural depicts a cowgirl on horseback rearing up against the sunset. In the words of Austin Chronicle writer Virginia B. Wood, "Patsy's has great style and personality, the drinks are good, and the eclectic selection of local music is free."
The food is another popular reason to visit. Chefs prepare Texas staples such as hand-breaded chicken-fried steak with cracked-pepper gravy, and they also put their own spin on the classics with dishes such as chicken-fried portobello mushrooms in vegetarian cilantro-cream sauce. There's also a roster of burgers and veggie burgers named after local celebrities, and libations such as the mexican martini with tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and olive juice.