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Making San Antonio more musical

San Antonio is a little jealous of Austin, it seems.

Nelson Wolff

Tired of San Antonio playing second fiddle to Austin when it comes to a live music scene, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on Friday laid out ambitious plans to change that.

Wolff said he’s ready to work with two top-notch promoters to raise San Antonio’s profile in the music world.

“I want to see Bexar County make its mark,” he said.

“Our best opportunity to rival Austin would be to stage a major music festival featuring the new sounds of music along the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River,” Wolff said.


Wolff debuted the proposal during the annual “Bexar Facts” state-of-the-county report to the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. He reported progress on transportation and flood-control projects and urban enhancements including the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

“But there is still a major piece missing in attracting the best and the brightest, and that is the lack of a first-class music scene,” Wolff said.

Despite having venues for major events at the AT&T Center, Freeman Coliseum and theaters, Wolff said, “we are on the losing end to Austin when it comes to attracting tour acts and festivals. Witness Paul McCartney’s sold-out show in Austin this week while he skipped San Antonio.”

Wolff said he’s encouraging two prominent promoters to bring more independent music to San Antonio.

I get why San Antonio feels overlooked. At least back when I was in college, it was fairly common for big music acts to skip San Antonio when they toured Texas – a typical visit would be Houston, Austin, and Dallas. I have several friends who drove to Houston in 1986 to see Pink Floyd at the Astrodome. I might suggest that San Antonio figure out a way to build up its local scene, especially at smaller venues, as a complimentary path to enhancing its appeal to traveling artists. Again, my only frame of reference is my college days in the 80s, but the North Mary’s Strip between Trinity and downtown seems like an obvious place to begin with that. The thing about Sixth Street in Austin is that you walk down it and you hear music coming out of one bar after another. There’s plenty of bars along the Strip, there just needs to be the music. A music festival along the lines of the Free Press Summer Fest would be a good idea as well, especially if the river can be used as a backdrop/venue. I’m not exactly sure what Bexar County Commissioners Court can do to abet either of these, but I wish them luck in their effort.

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