Quantcast
Photo courtesy of Old Settler's Music Festival

Music festivals nearby are one of the best benefits of city living, but sometimes they could stand to be a bit more rural — even if they’re not country festivals. OId Settler’s Music Festival fills that niche without sacrificing relevance; the festival, taking place this year from April 20-23, brings in some of the best names in folk, Americana, and Southern traditions. As announced on January 25, this means 31 groups and solo artists across four days of camping and enjoying the outdoors in Dale, about an hour-and-a-half northeast of San Antonio.

Old Settler’s Homestead, a 145-acre ranchland, has been hosting this barn dance, so to speak, for 36 years. Over time, it’s succeeded in drawing some major talents, but stayed grounded. While the lineup will excite many yearly attendees and fans of similar artists, these approachable sounds are great for visitors new to the fray without pandering with crossover names.

  • Yola sounds like the American South but hails from the United Kingdom. The powerful singer is known for her emotional rawness over smooth instrumental arrangements, both leaning into genre conventions (country, soul, disco, and beyond) and floating stoically above them.
  • The Wood Brothers bring the poetry to the festival, and that’s saying something in such a lyric-heavy genre. The trio has stuck together for nearly two decades and been in the industry even longer, and the wisdom comes through the introspective acoustic-electric jams.
  • Shovels & Rope play with chemistry, abundant between Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, whose weathered, twangy voices bring a frankness to dramatic songwriting. This duo could play their own festival as moods and styles change from track to track.
  • Shinyribs is a warning from Austin to anyone who thinks folk music is always reserved. Frontman Kevin Russell, initially from Beaumont, is known for his performance antics — a force to be reckoned with, or otherwise, willingly swept up in.
  • Buffalo Nichols is turning the green venue blue with twangy slide guitar and a rich, nearly gravelly voice. The singer commanded a small, but dense crowd at his first year at Austin City Limits Festival in 2022, with a mellow tone amid the madness.
  • Matt the Electrician represents more country than many on the lineup, and has been active in the Austin music scene since 1998. His songwriting comes from cerebral origins, but sounds welcoming and promises easy listening as the festival rolls on.
  • Ley Line, also from Austin, is a standout for its comparatively exotic style. The four women sing in English, Portuguese, Swahili, and more, reminding fans in attendance — mostly seeking Americana — that the sphere of folk music extends far beyond our own borders.

In addition to the main attraction — the music — there will be food and artisan vendors, music workshops, and a youth talent competition. The camping, powered with renewable energy, sprawls around the active performance area, and the festival prides itself on the atmosphere away from the stages. Old Settler’s is a 501(c)(3) organization staffed by volunteers, so in addition to providing a good time, it aims to foster a lasting appreciation for Americana and the human connections available through it.

"This is one of the greatest festivals I've ever been a part of,” said Kevin Russell of Shinyribs in a press release. “In fact, I think of this as my home festival."

Tickets (starting at $35, kids under 12 free) to Old Settler’s Music Festival 2023, from April 20-23, are currently on sale at prekindle.com.

Photo by Chandra Maharzan on Unsplash

San Antonio announces first 14 affordable housing projects of landmark $150 million initiative

Now Projected

The City of San Antonio made history in May when voters elected to approve its first full-scale affordable housing bond. It brought $150 million to the table, with five years to invest those funds, starting now. On December 16, the San Antonio City Council approved funding for a round of 14 projects, utilizing $43.9 million in bond and federal contributions to create or maintain 2,523 affordable housing units. A second round of projects is expected to be revealed in spring 2023.

“Affordable housing has been a top priority of our residents and over the past several years, the City of San Antonio has made record investments to make housing more affordable,” said city manager Erik Walsh, as quoted in a public release. “The Affordable Housing Bond is bringing new housing options online, while also preserving the availability of housing units for those who need it most.”

In total, the 14 projects include more than 2,500 units, with 2,461 rentals and 71 units for purchase. The bonds will produce more than 750 new units to rent or own, and 1,775 rental units will be rehabilitated.

Nearly a quarter of the units will be used as public or income-based housing. The remainder still focus on equity, as determined by a committee that considered factors like “deep” affordability (for renters earning less than half of the median area income, and homeowners earning less than 80 percent), universal design (for many ages and abilities), sustainability exceeding city code, and a number of measures of accessibility for residents.

Other considerations for more holistic equitable living included high-speed internet access, more diverse geographic distribution, and “meaningful, on-site resident services.” The reviews also considered what would happen to communities already in the area, and required developers working on new construction to fill out displacement assessments.

“Addressing housing affordability has been a key priority of mine, and over the past five years, it’s an issue that San Antonio residents have come together to rally behind,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “This direct investment in affordable housing will considerably boost local housing supply, preserve our aging housing stock, protect our neighborhoods and will help ensure that everyone has a place to call home.”

The City of San Antonio, Bexar County, and the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH) have requested proposals by January 23, 2023, for permanent supportive housing (PSH), which combines affordable housing with support services to address chronic homelessness or other barriers. Since the current 14 projects don’t use all the bond’s resources, this represents the remaining category.

A full breakdown of projects by income is available at sanantonio.gov.

Photo courtesy of Brendan van Son

San Antonio steps to top of list of U.S. cities with lowest carbon footprints

By the Footprint

People looking to travel to a sustainable city probably don’t have Texas spots at the top of their lists. Images of oil, cars, and blasting air conditioners spring up. The Texas power grid, no one need remind us, is barely hanging on.

But Texas blew other states away for lowest carbon footprint per capita, landing Houston at the top of the list compiled by travel blog Park Sleep Fly. Austin followed (No. 3), then San Antonio (No. 4) and Dallas (No. 9). Only Florida appeared twice in the top 10, and none matched Texas with four cities.

Among the 50 most visited in the U.S., those with the lowest carbon footprint are:

1. Houston
2. Los Angeles
3. Austin
4. San Antonio
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Salt Lake City
7. Phoenix
8. Miami
9. Dallas
10. Portland, Oregon

Houston is not exactly a green place, with less-than-ideal utilization of public transportation. It and Dallas tied for third place among least sustainable cities in the same report.

“Public transit isn’t the most popular mode of transportation in Houston, but it does exist,” an online publication called TripSavvy drably admits. The city takes credit for employing “nearly one third” of the nation’s oil and gas extraction workers.

On the renewable side, however, Houston claims more than 100 solar energy companies, and at least half of its corporate research and development centers pursue “energy technology and innovation.” And its huge population spreads the load, leaving only 14.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per resident — the same as Los Angeles. Big cities seem to have an advantage in this rating system.

Austin is just behind Houston at 15 metric tons per capita, neck-and-neck with San Antonio at 15.2. These two cities have smaller populations to distribute their total footprint, but are generally seen as eco-friendly. Austin got a big head start in 1991 with the introduction of the Austin Energy Green Building program — the first of its kind in the whole country — which created an evaluation system for individual building sustainability that’s still in use. Dallas' carbon footprint is the largest of the Texas cities in the ranking, at 16.5 metric tons per capita.

As such a multifaceted issue (especially tied up in economic concerns), sustainability is hard to pin down from city to city. The multiplicity of this list is yet another indicator that Texas as a whole is a much more nuanced place than many people think.

Sean Pavone Getty Images

Houston steps to top of list of U.S. cities with lowest carbon footprints

By the Footprint

People looking to travel to a sustainable city probably don’t have Texas spots at the top of their lists. Images of oil, cars, and blasting air conditioners spring up. The Texas power grid, no one need remind us, is barely hanging on.

But Texas blew other states away for lowest carbon footprint per capita, landing Houston at the top of the list compiled by travel blog Park Sleep Fly. Austin followed (No. 3), then San Antonio (No. 4) and Dallas (No. 9). Only Florida appeared twice in the top 10, and none matched Texas with four cities.

Among the 50 most visited in the U.S., those with the lowest carbon footprint are:

1. Houston
2. Los Angeles
3. Austin
4. San Antonio
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Salt Lake City
7. Phoenix
8. Miami
9. Dallas
10. Portland, Oregon

Houston is not exactly a green place, with less-than-ideal utilization of public transportation. It and Dallas tied for third place among least sustainable cities in the same report.

“Public transit isn’t the most popular mode of transportation in Houston, but it does exist,” an online publication called TripSavvy drably admits. The city takes credit for employing “nearly one third” of the nation’s oil and gas extraction workers.

On the renewable side, however, Houston claims more than 100 solar energy companies, and at least half of its corporate research and development centers pursue “energy technology and innovation.” And its huge population spreads the load, leaving only 14.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per resident — the same as Los Angeles. Big cities seem to have an advantage in this rating system.

Austin is just behind Houston at 15 metric tons per capita, neck-and-neck with San Antonio at 15.2. These two cities have smaller populations to distribute their total footprint, but are generally seen as eco-friendly. Austin got a big head start in 1991 with the introduction of the Austin Energy Green Building program — the first of its kind in the whole country — which created an evaluation system for individual building sustainability that’s still in use. Dallas' carbon footprint is the largest of the Texas cities in the ranking, at 16.5 metric tons per capita.

As such a multifaceted issue (especially tied up in economic concerns), sustainability is hard to pin down from city to city. The multiplicity of this list is yet another indicator that Texas as a whole is a much more nuanced place than many people think.

wallpapers.com

ERCOT requests Texans conserve power to avoid rolling blackouts

Blackout News

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is asking Texas residents to conserve power in order to avert rolling blackouts.

According to a release, no outages are currently anticipated, but as extreme hot weather continues driving record power demand across Texas, the power grid operator is issuing a Conservation Appeal for Wednesday, July 13 between 2-8 pm, requesting that residents and businesses voluntarily conserve electricity during this time.

Conservation is a reliability tool ERCOT has deployed more than four dozen times since 2008 to successfully manage grid operations. This notification is issued when projected reserves may fall below 2300 MW for 30 minutes or more.

On July 11, ERCOT asked residents and businesses to cut back on energy use between 2-8 pm, when record temperatures were expected.

The dire situation is the result of two factors happening at the same time:

  • a record heat wave with high demand
  • wind power is generating less energy than usual

ERCOT is suggesting that we turn up our thermostat a degree or two, and postpone running major appliances or pool pumps.

A spokesperson said we are not yet in an emergency situation, but they're asking for voluntary energy reduction where possible.

"If rotating outages became necessary, ERCOT would direct transmission and distribution companies to shed load/reduce demand in their areas/regions," the spokesperson said. "Each area has an amount they would need to reduce demand by. It is up to them to manage the rotating outage if it were to occur. At this time, we do not anticipate this happening."

Rendering courtesy of GameTime

Expansive new San Antonio park sets sail with inclusive playground

Move Yer Booty

“New park” might be a stretch for something that’s already been in the works for years, but that’s what San Antonio will be getting soon. City officials aim to have the first phase of Classen-Steubing Ranch Park open to the public as early as the end of summer 2022.

Funds for these primary developments came from the 2017 city bond program, although some development funding came from Marvin and April Chang, who lost their 3-year-old, Mitchell, to drowning in 2018. The Changs' funding spurred many other contributions over time. They are donating the playground equipment and safety ground cover, along with covering installation costs, while the city manages infrastructure around the playground and through the rest of the park.

"Personally, [I think] the park feels peaceful and like untouched Texas," Chang wrote to CultureMap. "This is how the meadows around San Antonio looked 100 years ago. It is natural Texas in its simplest but most beautiful form."

A playground dubbed Mitchell’s Landing is the main attraction, an expansive themed space that honors Mitchell’s love of pirates and invites all kids for “inclusive play” on a pirate ship, a “thick marsh” and “abandoned Spanish Mission." The playground’s website shares that it is designated a National Demonstration Site by PlayCore, a playground equipment company running initiatives to promote “evidence-based best practices” for play as an educational and community-building practice.

The list of 19 toys, activities, and accessibility considerations on the playground span physical and emotional needs, addressing overstimulation as well as seeking to entertain or teach. A merry-go-round structure is built into the safety ground cover to allow wheels to roll safely on, and "zero gravity expression swings" come in a regular swing shape and one with a higher back for better torso support. Another circular swing projects colors onto the ground for added sensory stimulation, and a "sensory cove climber" provides a small safe space for kids feeling overstimulated, without having to leave the playground.

These play structures were mostly developed by GameTime, a playground equipment supplier, including a brand-new slide design with a safety transition bench. The city also gave input on what it could afford and maintain into the future. But the most meaningful designs came from Mitchell's older brother, Evan, who contributed a beach design and a hammock swing.

Outside Mitchell's Landing, the park will also feature an open play field, two pavilions, an education center with a view, three baseball fields, and a concrete path leaving large areas untouched. The paths will connect with trails through the neighboring Stone Oak Park. Although the entire property spans 204 acres, the developed space is contained to 43 acres.

Park renovations have been thanks to collaboration between a dizzying list of local officials, private citizens, existing conditions both natural and man-made, and family ideals.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio rent prices increased 7 percent from 2022, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio rent prices increased 7 percent from 2022, report finds. Despite rent increases showing small improvements month-over-month, overall prices in the San Antonio area are still on the high side from the previous year.

2. Popular San Antonio doggy daycare opens new location in Alamo Ranch. The award-winning Dogtopia has gained so much love from the local community thanks to its thoughtful design approach and programming.

3. Bask in local artistry with the inaugural San Marcos Studio Tour in April. The inaugural, self-guided San Marcos Studio Tour will feature more than 50 artists all across San Marcos and the surrounding area.

4. Own a piece of Utopia with this Hill Country riverfront retreat listed for $2.5M. This secluded, tree-filled, riverfront estate boasts nine guest cabins and "the Fortress," a historic lodge that can sleep 12 guests.

5. Blockbuster Western art exhibition and sale stampedes into San Antonio. The Briscoe Western Art Museum's annual Night of Artists Exhibition and Sale returns to San Antonio March 24 through 25.

These 6 San Antonio brunch spots are worth a return visit (or two)

brunch hunches

Anyone who says magic doesn't exist clearly hasn't snagged a coveted reservation at the Box Street Social for brunch. It's one of the local spots that nails that sacred ritual, brunch with the besties: a magical experience where Monday doesn't exist and stress is forbidden.

Here are some of our top local brunch spots that'll leave both your appetite and your soul satiated (even when Monday actually hits.)

Box St. All Day
Not only does Box St. All Day look like the dreams that Instagram reels are made of, it's got a high quality menu to match, courtesy of chef and co-owner Edward Garcia III. The all-day brunch restaurant (at 623 Hemisfair Blvd, Ste 108) offers hearty options like strawberry cheesecake French toast, steak-eggs and frites (the fries alone are dangerously delicious), the Box St. Brekky sandwich made with house-made bread, and more. Pair your meal with one of its cute coffees, cocktails, or zero-proof cocktails, and save room for plenty of pictures with your brunch buddies before you leave — the details in the decor have a sophisticated feminine flair, thanks to Box Street's innovative creative director Caroline Garcia-Bowman. Reserve on Toast.

Full Belly
Tucked away in its own cozy corner of the world in the Stone Oak/1604 area is Full Belly Cafe + Bar. Where else can you order a plate of pecan pie French toast while gazing at an incredible hand-painted mural of classic animated characters like Jessica Rabbit, Marvin Martian, Stewie Griffin and more brunching together? Executive chef James Moore also serves up plenty of savory brunch options if you don't have a sweet tooth, like the pork belly benny or a baked eggs and toast plate with roasted garlic and thyme cream. Reserve at fullbellysa.com.

Ocho
Did you know that Chef Kirk of Ocho, Hotel Havana's in-house restaurant, is the only local chef to win an episode of Food Network's Chopped? Brunch at Ocho is also a photo-worthy experience, where brunch items like pan de platano (banana bread), plantain cakes con carnitas (plantain pancakes), and more are served up to guests with a side of San Antonio sunlight, given that Ocho is located in a beautiful (and air-conditioned!) glass conservatory. Reserve on Resy.

The Hayden
The Smoke Shack might be the best spot to get your brisket fix on Broadway, but The Hayden is the spot to be for brunch. You can't miss The Hayden's classic retro sign right in the center of The Boardwalk on Broadway. The interior lives up to the welcoming feel of a Jewish deli, complete with menu options from executive chef Bill Corbett like fried chicken and latke waffles, or a bagel and lox. And don't worry — if you're craving the comfort of pancakes, The Hayden's got you covered with The Hayden pancake stack, among other options. Reserve at buzztable.com.

Vegan Avenue on Main
Chef Griselda Muñoz's entirely vegan menu will make believers even out of the most dedicated meat eaters. The cinnamon roll "bettermilk" pancakes have to be tasted to be believed. (Yes, even the sweet cream in the pancake is dairy free!) If you're missing a classic breakfast sandwich but trying to stay meat-free, try Vegan Avenue's "Honee-Butter Chick'n sandwich" with vegan eggs and crispy, fried plant-based chicken. If you're not near Vegan Avenue but craving its vegan breakfast tacos, you can also get your fix at Vegan Avenue's sister restaurant on TPC Parkway, Plantology. Reserve at squareup.com.

Barbaro
One of the best hair-of-the-dog cocktails in town is Barbaro's delicious Garibaldi, a simple concoction of Campari and orange juice, but you can't go wrong with the "Keep It Coming" Bloody Mary bar and Mimosas: For $15, you can alternate between the two until you've had your fill. Soak up Saturday night with eggs Barbaro (two poached eggs on homemade focaccia, Benton's country ham, hollandaise, and spinach) or dive into a skillet pancake (whipped lemon ricotta and seasonal berries, plus extra fine bacon, ricotta salata, and maple syrup).


The 8 best bars in San Antonio have the right mix

MEET THE TASTEMAKERS

Though it's easy to quaff a decent cocktail almost anywhere in Texas, San Antonio's watering holes offer a little something special. Maybe it's the friendliness of the patrons trading rounds with complete strangers. Maybe it's the prescience of the bartenders who know hundreds of regulars' orders. That generosity of spirit is found at almost every spot in town.

But the best of the best mix in something extra — inventive flavor profiles, enveloping atmosphere, and an "it" factor that is hard to define. But we know it when we drink it — we've seen it in all the nominees CultureMap Tastemaker Award for Bar of the Year perhaps too many times.

So, we salute the unassuming dive bars, the swanky lounges, and happy hour haunts. Alamo City wouldn't be half as fun without them. Join us in raising a glass to our finalists below, then pop a cork as we name the winner at the Jack Guenther Pavilion at the Briscoe Museum on May 18. Buy tickets now before they sell out.

Amor Eterno
It's there in the name. This Southtown lounge delivers everlasting romance courtesy of velvet curtains, fuchsia lighting, and orchids languishing on the edge of coupes. The atmosphere gets a little steamier after a couple Bella Noche shots. Suddenly, disco thumps through the speakers, inamoratos file in, and the back booth becomes the most inviting spot in Alamo City.

Bar Loretta
At many upscale restaurants, the cocktail menu is an afterthought. List a serviceable Old Fashioned, add a martini, and call it a day. Not so at this endearing Southtown spot. Though guests can certainly swan with a Gatsby-era Mint Julep, the originals really bring the fireworks. A Lucinda Williams homage, Junebug vs. Hurricane, balances strawberries with Peychaud's bitters. Mariachi Static burns the house down with a dash (or three) of hot sauce.

George's Keep
The three-martini lunch may be a thing of the past, but still, the Éilan Hotel's resident bar knows how to get down to business. Leather banquettes and hunter-green wainscoting set the scene for some hard bargaining of what patrons will order next. Heady tipples like George's signature mix of VSOP Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon keep the deals flowing, even if they are just on Ameritrade.

Hotel Havana - Havana Bar and Ocho
This artfully designed downtown property knows a thing or two about chiaroscuro. The darkness comes from the dimly lit basement at Havana Bar, where peccadillos slink into the shadows. Blazing light illuminates Ocho upstairs, refracted through the turquoise accented panes of a glass conservatory. All revelers have to do is follow their mood.

La Ruina
In a tequila-obsessed town, this East Side hideaway has made a name by focusing on rum. Former Modernist owners Gerry Shirley and Olaf Harmel stir up a vacation's worth of concoctions, from tiki classics like Mai Tais to Brazilian bombshells like Caipirinhas. Steal the tropically wallpapered booth if you can get it. Rum was meant for languor.

Pastiche
Don't be surprised if you see the occasional cat slumbering at this louche East Side bar. Felines know a thing or two about posh surrounds. Guests will purr just as loudly over co-owner Benjamin Krick's sly barcraft. The back bar is an apothecary stocked with hard-to-find European spirits, cordials, and fortified wines — all used in some of the most unexpected cocktails in the city.

The Moon's Daughters
Perched atop the glittering Thompson Hotel, this rooftop lounge is usually recommended for the breathtaking downtown view. The interior offers just as much scenery. San Antonio's see-and-be-seen set sprawl on the luxe furniture, sipping CBD-infused cocktails and nibbling Mediterranean bites. The hospitality program isn't all just for show, of course, but it never hurts to gild the lily.

Three Star Bar
As much fun as it is to clink Baccarat, most days, we'd rather crush cans. For a weekday drink, it's hard to beat the wood-paneled slump of a neighborhood bar. This Grayson Street dive lets guests loosen their belts over craft beers and shots. The new ownership — Los Angeles-based Pouring With Heart — tinkered a bit with the drink menu but kept the meat and potatoes.

Amor Eterno San Antonio

Photo by TX Troublemaker

It's all about love at Amor Eterno