🎸Austin's weather is coming for your Fender
Jack Antonoff of Bleachers performs at SXSW in 2019. Source: Jim Bennett/WireImage
- 6 min read

🎸Austin's weather is coming for your Fender

Plus, what "ACL" creators had to say after 50 years producing the legendary show.

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Introduction

🌧️ Hey there, Austin.

A spot of bad news on this Wednesday morning: Our humidity, rain and rollercoaster temps can wreak havoc on the dozens of cool bands and their instruments that are in town for Southby. We tell you why.

Then, 10 things we learned from the producers of "ACL," which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. And an emergency kit to keep in your car during severe weather szn.


Calling all bands: Don't mess with Texas weather

We're mid-SXSW, and thousands of musicians are converging on Austin to perform at the city's venues, including some outdoor stages.

What those visiting performers might not know is just how unpredictable (and OK, weird) the weather and climate in Texas can be. And bad news: It can cause significant wear and tear on their instruments.

Jack Antonoff of Bleachers performs at SXSW in 2019. Source: Jim Bennett/WireImage

Whether you play a stringed instrument, percussion, brass, or a woodwind, they can be damaged by things like humidity and temperature. 

“When wood takes on moisture, it expands, and when it dries out, it contracts. Any major swings in temperature and humidity are bad, causing warping and cracking,” said Clint Strait, the president and owner of Strait Music Company in Austin.  

To keep a guitar in good condition, you should maintain a humidity level between 40% and 50%. Interestingly, this is the same range a perfectly tuned HVAC system should operate – which, as residents know, is a struggle in Central Texas. 

Relative humidity is a measure of how much moisture is present in the air compared to how much it can hold at a given temperature. A relative humidity of 50 percent means the air is holding one-half of the water vapor it could hold, which is perfect: not too dry, not too wet. 

Depending on the wind direction, Austin can be either very humid (hello, Gulf of Mexico) or very dry (howdy, Big Bend), so getting the perfect humidity is near impossible, but Strait said you can create ~~humidity harmony~~. 

“Most wooden instruments need to be stored in their case because humidity is easier to control in a small space,” Strait said. 

You can even use a hygrometer to measure humidity levels in your instrument's case and invest in a humidification system to regulate moisture levels as needed.

Temperature can also be a stressor on instruments, causing significant problems with tuning and performance. Cold weather can cause notes played on wind instruments to go flat and notes played on string instruments to become sharp. Conversely, warm weather can lead to string instruments expanding and potentially sounding "sluggish."

So how do you shield your instruments from the wonky Texas weather? Strait said don't leave them in a hot or cold car — drastic temperature changes can be damaging.

A good rule of thumb: Put your instruments back in their cases after playing 'cause that Central Texas humidity don't mess around.

— Mary Wasson, Meteorologist


Temperature: 82 degrees | Sun: Behind clouds | What to Expect: Donut weather (drizzle or sprinkles)

The day will start gloomy with overcast skies, fog and drizzle. By lunch we’ll dry out and warm into the low 80s.  Enjoy because it will be the warmest day of the week before rain and storms move in tomorrow.

Mary’s Tip: While we are flooded with out-of-towners, why not do something that will bring you back to your Texas roots … like two-stepping lessons at Donn’s Depot.


10 cool things from longtime 'ACL' producers

Hello again from SXSW. 👋

Guess what: "Austin City Limits" (the show, not the festival) turns 50 this year. It's been a long time since that first episode of Willie Nelson aired in 1974.

So on Monday at Southby, "Austin City Limits" executive producer Terry Lickona, producer Jeff Peterson and marketing director/associate producer Emily Bolf chatted about what went on behind the scenes over the decades.

Here are some highlights and fun facts about "ACL" from the event.

Lickona has been with "ACL" since around season 2. Source: Gary Miller/Getty Images
  1. The show had a rough patch around 30 years ago.

Decades ago, staffers saw the show "as an underdog," Bolf said. It was funded season to season, and there were always worries about trying to get to the next year.

That was compounded when the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s and funders felt the pinch. So the show's creators had to start thinking outside the box, which is around the time that C3 approached them about marketing a new festival with the "ACL" brand.

"I remember the first time someone called it a brand and everyone was like, 'Eeek,'" Bolf said. But despite that initial anxiety, it paid off, and "it just evolved to what it is today."

  1. Willie Nelson has done 'ACL' the most times.
Willie Nelson plays at "ACL" in 2016. Source: Gary Miller/Getty Images

Lyle Lovett has done it the second-most times.

  1. 'ACL' has been filmed in two different studios.

It was in the OG studio, 6A on the UT campus, for 37 years before moving to Moody Theater downtown in 2011.

Peterson recalled a show at 6A with the band Phish, when fans were so eager to see them that they were trying to sneak into the studio the morning of the taping.

Lyle Lovett played the very last show in 6A and invited "ACL" producers, including Lickona, up on stage.

Lyle Lovett performs at "ACL" in 2000. (The last show at 6A is not pictured above.) Smiley N. Pool/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images
  1. Kendrick Lamar said he 'felt like I was playing at a music festival,' Lickona said.

The rapper made the remark when he got off stage at his show taping in 2015.

  1. 'ACL' doesn't tell artists what to play.

They have full liberty to create their own setlist.

  1. Lickona got Ray Charles to agree to come on the show after his manager told 'ACL' no.

Lickona said he waited backstage at Charles' Austin concert, which was at a different venue, to ask him to come on. Charles responded that he was familiar with "ACL" because it's all about the music "and it sounds good." The show's audio was top-notch during a time when live music on TV didn't always sound high-quality.

Charles was on the show in 1979 and again in 1984.

  1. All 'ACL' archives and audio are now digitized.

Bolf said it took a while — the show even brought in a professional archivist to help.

It also has "binders full of photographs" and negatives, including priceless images of the likes of Townes Van Zandt (yes, that Rainey Street hotel is named after an actual, super cool person.)

"It's really important from a historical perspective to try to save it," Bolf said.

  1. There will be 'ACL' merch on sale to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Bolf said.

Get hyped.

  1. Which artist does 'ACL' want to come on?

"Bruce Springsteen," Lickona and Peterson said.

  1. What are some of the producers' favorite 'ACL' acts so far?

James Taylor, Johnny Cash and Jon Batiste.

— Katie Canales, Editor


What to stuff under your car seat, along with your Whataburger napkins, for T-storm season

Texas can experience thunderstorms year-round, but severe thunderstorms are most common in the spring.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

These storms are defined as having winds stronger than 58 mph and hail that’s an inch wide or larger.  The peak of severe weather season typically occurs in May, when we’ve seen a monthly average of 38 tornadoes. This is why many storm chasers flock to the Lone Star State during this time.

As we get deeper into the season, it’s best to prepare and assemble an emergency kit to keep in a backpack or container that’s stored where you would seek shelter during a storm, such as a closet. 

What goes in the emergency kit? 

  • First-aid kit
  • Whistle 
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered radio and NOAA Weather Radio
  • Solar-powered or battery-powered phone charger
  • Three-day supply of food and water for each family member
  • Prescription medicine 

Other items to have on hand when there is a threat of severe weather are a helmet to protect your head, shoes, a change of clothes, credit cards and cash. 

 — Mary Wasson, Meteorologist


Were so glad you found us. Find our bios and contact info here, or reach out at hello@austindaily.com. Behind todays send: Katie Canales and Mary Wasson.