AUSTIN (KXAN) - The ticket for Thursday's KLRU Opening Night Gala at the Moody Theater said the dress code for the event was "Austin chic."
The party was a fundraiser for KLRU -- the guiding force behind the historic television show, "Austin City Limits" -- held in advance of its first live taping coming up Saturday night. It was dubbed "Same Spirit -- The Next Stage."
The crowd answered the call: chic was all over the venue's three floors -- from sequins and pearls to blue jeans and tattered hats. Austinites defined "chic" in their own unique ways, coming together to eat, drink and be part of history as the new backdrop for the TV show was unveiled for the first time to the public.
The manners of dress and energetic ambiance flowed as partiers arrived and mingled in anticipation of the concert by headliner Steve Miller Band. Houston-born, Austin-based singer Carolyn Wonderland first blazed the way with her fiery guitar and throaty blues rock sound before Miller and his crew took the stage.
Festivities of food and friendship started early for those who paid $500 a ticket for dinner, the bulk of the cost serving as a donation to KLRU. Round tables set on the floor of Moody Theater were decked with tablecloths, candles and orchid centerpieces. Even at that cost, tickets sold out quickly when put on sale in December.
Others paid $150 for the mezzanine (balcony #1) and balcony (balcony #2) spots -- again, food included for some, and the bulk of the cost a donation to KLRU to kick off its new season of the TV show.
Steve Miller Band played all the old favorites: "Abracadabra," "Jungle Love," "The Joker," "Fly Like An Eagle" some of the highlights of the night. Miller switched guitars for nearly every song, and he drew from each one notes, slides and familiar riffs that the crowd expected to hear.
Before the show started, three men who are noted for their contribution to starting "Austin City Limits" were honored: Bill Arhos, Beau Armstrong and producer Terry Lickona.
The new backdrop is familiar, but different. It shows Austin from the same perspective as the former backdrop at the University of Texas studio, but is updated to show the current skyline. It highlights with back-lighting the University of Texas tower and Texas State Capitol. The expanse of the artwork extends beyond both sides of the stage. Audiences will soon know if this one works as well on TV as the old one did.
Not to be missed was the photo gallery on the mezzanine lobby level. Famed singers, musicians and their bands are bigger-than-life in some cases, each photograph by Scott Newton -- who has been the KLRU photographer since 1979 -- striking in their energy and expression of the huge talent pool that has plucked and sung notes for "Austin City Limits" since 1974. There are 78 photos in all, with all the familiar faces: Willie Nelson, June Carter and Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones -- the list goes on and on.
Concert-goers had to be prepared to climb lots of stairs to that uppermost balcony, though there was an elevator to use. The furthest seat is not more than 75 feet from the stage, which means the steps inside the theater are at a steep pitch. One man tripped in the dark Thursday night leaving his seat, fell and hit his head, and an Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service crew was called to care for him just before 11 p.m. as the event ended.
Other concerts scheduled in the new venue are chosen and produced by the new programming staff of the Moody Theater, ACL Live at the Moody Theater . This group is independent of KLRU and "Austin City Limits," but together work to make music, continuing to promote Austin as the most chic spot for entertainment in Texas.
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