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By Deborah Hamilton-Lynne; Photo by Destry Jaimes.

pg10-debWho cares about geeks?

In the early years, that was a question our cover man, Hugh Forrest, director of the South By Southwest Interactive Conference asked himself often. The conventional thinking was that SXSW Music brought in the rock stars and the SXSW Film Conference brought in the movie stars, and seriously, who would pay good money to see computer nerds? As it turns out, the geeks became cool, not to mention rich, and became the stars of the show.

This year, SXSWi will welcome more than 30,000 participants who cannot get enough of apps, social media, websites, games and gadgets. It seems that everyone wants to know who will become the next Zuckerberg or be the first to hear about the next Twitter, Foursquare or Gowalla—all of which got their start at SXSW.

We were fascinated by the rise of the geeks and the force behind SXSWi, so we turned to the man himself to tell us the s tory of how it all came about. SXSW has permeated the fabric of Austin for 27 years. What started as a way to showcase emerging and independent musicians and bands with about 700 people in attendance in 1987 has grown to become the largest music festival of its kind, with more than 2,200 official performers and bands showcased in more than 100 venues, with 12,000 in attendance.

We have all heard the stories of the performers who were discovered and signed contracts as a result of their performances at SXSW, so we wanted to take a look at what it takes to make it as a band today. Music writer John T. Davis takes a fascinating in- depth look at local favorite group, the Nightowls, the changing music scene and the challenges musicians face getting the word out there in front of fans and recording execs.

Speaking of changes, the University of Texas Athletic Department has undergone a sea change with the departure of longtime Athletic Director Deloss Dodds and Head Football Coach Mack Brown. Both men are beloved and leave big shoes to fill, as we look at the end of an era for the Longhorns and what lies ahead for their replacements, Steve Patterson and Charlie Strong.

Also in this issue, we celebrate homegrown Austin innovations, from apps and tech gadgets, to Shark Tank sushi, to an entrepreneurial poker player and chefs moving from trailers to brick-and-mortar establishments, to the launch of the latest fitness videos from our own fitness columnist, Ryan Nail.

Hometown favorite musicians Taye Cannon and Katie Paschall strut their stuff for us, modeling the latest in edgy festival fashions, while an award-winning bartender serves up advice from a pretty woman. The entrepreneurial, creative and artistic sides of our city are certainly thriving. March ushers in my favorite time in Austin. Everything begins to bloom. And whether it is the hopeful musicians who come to town looking to make it big, the numerous SXSW attendees who fall in love with Austin or the roadsides filled with a stunning carpet of beautiful wildflowers, the spring brings joy, hope and renewal.

In Austin, we take the advice of our Las t Word columnist, Roy Spence, the guy who built Idea City, and we play to our strengths. So much so that a crazy idea hatched in 1994 in the early ascension of the tech era would be embraced and become the behemoth it is today.

Austin’s answer to Hugh Forrest’s question, “Who cares about geeks?”

Pretty much everyone. Enjoy all the city has to offer during this most wonderful season and please let us know if you discover the next John Mayer, the next great film director or the next must-have app. Can’t wait to hear from you!


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