Austin's guitar glut is amplified this time of year.
When the thousands of musicians arrive for SXSW, they’ll yank their guitars out of airplane bins, walk down the Austin-Bergstrom International concourse past strumming guitarists, wait for the rest of their gear to arrive on the bag carousel bedecked with oversized guitar art, then cab into town to merge with other guitar players.
Some will fall in love with Austin and decide to move here, adding to our set of the young and the gigless. Some lead guitarists may be forced to learn bass, keyboards, or (shudder) drums to find a spot in a band. Others will hope the gigs will come to them. Some turn into Mr. Angry Guitar Player, who busks sullenly on Sixth Street, or Mr. Manchaca Unplugged, who picks at an ampless electric guitar at the Ben White intersection. Sometimes, being a guitarist has to be its own reward.
All of Austin, of course, is fair game for guitars. They’re played in bars and restaurants, but they also crop up in front of body shops and inside clothing boutiques. Basically, if you can find a few square feet of space without anything else on it, there will be somebody playing a guitar.
One recent day, an acoustic guitarist played as he welcomed drivers into the parking garage behind Guero’s on South Congress and helped insert their validated tickets upon departure. He struck a fresh chord as the machine barked out, “Please insert your parking ticket. Please insert your parking ticket.” A driver did so, nodding to the guitarist: “You need more lyrics.” Strumming, he smiled: “Workin’ on it.”