Faster Than Sound: Gary Keller Now Owner of One World Theater in West Austin: Austin Music Benefactor Adds One World to Property Portfolio, Alongside Saxon Pub – Music
A world theater (Photo by John Anderson)
After a year of rumors about changes to A world theatera new owner has appeared. Gary Kellerco-founder of Keller Williams Realtybought the West Austin venue known for its renowned world music, jazz, folk and heritage bookings. Nick ShuleyPresident of Keller’s Austin Music Movement organization, confirmed the real estate mogul’s involvement in the sale to the the Chronicle Last week.
Shuley said the team was not ready to comment on specific plans for One World, but noted its continued use as a performance venue. A major advocate for Austin’s music, Keller leads an extensive network of philanthropic efforts under the Austin Music Movement banner, supporting more than a dozen nonprofit organizations, including HAAMthe SIMS Foundationand Red River Cultural District. Keller is known as a regular attendee and supporter of One World, often sitting in the front row.
This isn’t Keller’s first purchase from a struggling music venue. In 2016, when the hub of songwriters saxon pub had to move from his original home, Keller stepped in to preserve the property of 1320 S. Lamar. The billionaire funded renovations and allowed the business to continue operating indefinitely.
Collection of guitars at the office of music fan Gary Keller, as seen in a Keller Williams TikTok from March 4. (via TikTok)
According to Travis County records, One World Theater at 7701 Bee Cave Rd. was sold last September to a commercial entity registered in the Valerie Vogler-Stipe, managing director of Keller Williams Realty International. The property was purchased from BCAC Acquisition LLCregistered with the co-founder and executive director of One World Hartt Stearnswho had owned the property since 2007. Stearns and his wife No opened the One World Theater in 1999.
Stearns declined to comment on the changes to the site in a phone call in early March.
Currently closed, the last show to take place at One World featured Pat Metheny in February. The venue’s website states, “We are changing. No shows or private events are scheduled at this time. Please check back later.”
Last April, inaccurate information was published about this famous podcaster and new resident of Austin Joe Rogan had bought the concert hall in West Austin. (Rogan has since opted to launch his comedy club at the old Alamo Drafthouse Ritz location on 320 E. Sixth.) At the time, “faster than soundconfirmed that no deal had been reached. Still, multiple sources said the Stearns were in talks with new investment partners following financial difficulties due to COVID-19.
The Stearns formed One World in 1993 as a youth education program, branching out into theater in 1999. Along with booking world-class acts like SstarRegion Mendes, Herbie Hancockand Miriam Makebatheir 501(c)(3) nonprofit structure has supported various music education programs and scholarships.
The Tuscan-style building holds juicy Austin history. The 300-seat theater was built by members of the spiritual cult the Buddhafieldunder the instruction of their charismatic leader, known as michael. No longer connected to One World in any way, the Hollywood-launched group moved locally in the 90s, as featured in the 2016 documentary Good heaven.
One World last shared a January 24 website update announcing dozens of cancellations “due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” The post also shared, “We thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to answer everyone’s questions. We are extremely grateful for your patronage and support as we work together to help ensure the future of the live music scene in a city we all love so much.”
Waterloo Records in August 2020 (Photo by John Anderson)
Waterloo Records celebrates its 40th anniversary with two in-store performances
The return of South by Southwest was not quite complete without Waterloo Records‘ Very popular car park parties. The badge-free, all-ages queues provided an accessible entry point on my first trips to the Festival as a high school student from San Antonio. Throughout the pandemic, the owner of Waterloo John Kunz played it safe – going from sidewalk to walk-in shopping to reopening with book and record signings last year.
Finally, on the 40th anniversary of the legendary vinyl emporium (and more), Waterloo is reintroducing live music for the first time in over two years. No joke, the shop opened on April 1st, 1982. To celebrate, Waterloo is hosting two in-store shows from Ray Wylie Hubbard (3 p.m.) and heartless bastards (5 p.m.) this Friday, April 1.
“We used to have stores a few times a week and on average 75 to 100 a year,” says Kunz. “I always say, ‘These are artists from around the corner and from all over the world.’ It’s a big part of us to be a cog in the local music community.”
Masks are mandatory during limited capacity performances on the store’s indoor stage. Fans can receive a guaranteed admission wristband for Hubbard’s performance with the purchase of an LP or CD of the Texas songwriter’s new album, Also co-starred. For the Heartless Bastard split-entry set, the same rules apply to purchasing the band’s 2021 album, A beautiful life.
Say you have already purchased any of the above products? Simply bring your receipt or file as proof to pick up a wristband at the store. After priority bracelet entry, others will be admitted depending on capacity. Austin’s largest and oldest music retailer is also offering “40 Best Staff-Selected Records On Sale For $4 Or More Off,” today through Wednesday, April 6.
Over four decades, the kingdom of Kunz has evolved through cassette signings, the dawn of CDs, dwindling record pressings, and our current vinyl revival. From its original location to today’s Waterloo intersection since 1989, the store has hosted shows from the likes of willie nelson, jim cliff, Gary Clark Jr., St. Vincent, and so many others. Read more in-store stories from Kunz on our Daily Music blog.
COVID concern after SXSW
Everyone in musical circles seems to know a handful of people who caught COVID during the SXSW festivities. As we’ve covered when reporting on live music and the virus over the past few years, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where someone got sick while enjoying the joyous return of official and unofficial megafest events – and all the house and travel shows and out-of-town hangouts that happen in between. While a few people have asked for a report on this, surprisingly including the writer Damon Krukowski of Galaxy 500few groups have expressed interest in confirming the virus status for print, which is understandable.
Safe to say, the cases among musicians were enough to inspire conversations about the potential of COVID to interrupt national tours that artists have waited so long to reschedule and reschedule again. California Sasamiwho led five wild Festival sets under his current metal concept, posted shortly afterwards: “I’m fucking begging you to wear your masks at my concerts. I’m not a big band, if we get Covid and have to cancel gigs, I’m completely FUCKED if you like me at all, wear a mask and buy some merchandise so we can keep touring,” referencing his fantastic new LP.
Based in Toronto Charlotte Cornfieldwhose choppy storytelling I enjoyed mid-Fest at the Ballroom, updated on Twitter last week: “Yes sxsw was a superspreader event and yes my whole band went covid like many others .We obviously knew there was a risk going in but really feeling for anyone whose tours/lives have been derailed by this thing.”