Proclamation honors 20 years of Austin music prestige

Nina Hernandez

The Austin City Council marked the 20th anniversary of its city’s self-declared reign as Live Music Capital of the World with a celebration honoring the original music commission, which helped create and pass a resolution that gave the city its title on Aug. 29, 1991.

Last year alone live music brought in a billion dollars to the local economy, said Matt Curtis, spokesman for Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

“More than just being an economic generator for the city, our music industry is a major part of our local culture,” Curtis said. “People know Austin for our music and our creative industries, and we like to support those creative industries.”
Curtis said Austin has always been known for its music, and the 1991 resolution is the reason its so well known around the world as a live music hot spot.

“We like to cultivate local talent, and the rest of the world likes our local music,” Curtis said.

Max Nofziger, a councilman in 1991, formed the music commission in an effort to support local talent.

Nofziger said he has spent the past several years getting back in touch with his musical roots, and he helped shape Austin’s capital of the world title. Nofziger said Nancy Coplin, chairwoman of the original commission, came to his office and pitched an idea that would call Austin the Live Music Capital of America. Nofziger liked the idea, but wanted to add his own spin.

“I said, ‘This is Texas; now is not the time to be modest,’” Nofziger said.

Together, Nofziger and Coplin decided to call the city the world capital.

“My charge to them was to figure out every way the city could help local musicians,” Nofziger said. “I had lived in other cities and I knew the music that was happening here was very special.”

Marcia Ball, a blues musician and pioneer of the Austin music scene, played a song at the celebration, which ended with a proclamation by Mayor Leffingwell. The original members of the commission received certificates and medals to commemorate the occasion.

“In ’91 my husband and I opened La Zona Rosa,” Ball said. “It was the heart of the scene for a while.”

La Zona Rosa is one of more than 250 live music venues around Austin, and more than 50,000 concerts are played here every year, according to a city press release.

“Marcia [Ball] has been very influentual in the Austin music scene and to have her come perform tonight to honor the people who worked on the ’91 effort is a big honor,” Curtis said.

Ball said Austin has continued to evolve musically throughout the decades.

“They didn’t pass a resolution that made Austin the Live Music Capital of the World,” Ball said. “They passed a resolution calling it the Live Music Capital. It already was.” 

Printed on Friday, August 26, 2011 as: Music brings culture, global fame decades after resolution.