While wandering around East Austin shooting pictures, I happened upon the HOPE Farmers Market. The small farmers market takes place in Plaza Saltillo. It is one of the stations for Austin’s Capital MetroRail. Construction on the light rail system was completed in 2010. The rail line is 32 miles long and connects Austin’s northern suburbs with the city center.
At one end of the plaza there is a pavilion. Each week local artists come and play music for the many people buying everything from fresh produce to handmade soaps. There was a musician named Mike McCarthy playing guitar and singing. I stopped to listen.
Because I enjoyed hearing him play so much, I decided to look him up. I found an email address through his website. I sent him an email, we started communicating and before I knew it he had agreed to do an interview! Mike lives and works in East Austin. I figured he would be a perfect first subject.
We met up on a Saturday. Even though he had to work extra hours unexpectedly the night before, Mike was still gracious enough to go ahead with the interview. Everything went really well and we had a great chat about being a musician and a transplant in East Austin. I will be posting some clips from the interview at some point.
Once the interview was over, Mike suggested we take a walk around the area. He wanted to show me some of the things he had discovered around his neighborhood. Mike does not own a car. He travels almost everywhere on foot.
The slower pace of walking has allowed Mike to develop a very interesting view of the area. He commented on how difficult it was to get from East Austin into downtown on foot. There really are not any easy ways of doing it. By design, Interstate 35 runs north to south and creates a physical barrier segregating East Austin from the rest of Austin.
I say “by design” because when I-35 was built, East Austin was a predominately African American section of town. The Austin American Statesmen has a wonderful article that goes into great detail about this historical period of time. I highly recommend it if you want more historical context of the area.
Five miles later, Mike and I finished our walk at Bucket’s Deli and Sports Bar where he works his day job as a cook. He introduced me to John, the owner of the restaurant. I explained the project I am working on and asked if he would be interested in doing an interview with me. He said he would love to and gave me his email address. Hopefully, soon I will have my second interview scheduled!