By Michael Corcoran
Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 11, 2013
Sunshine Williams is a 79-year-old great-grandmother, but she’s no old fogey. When she moved to Austin from Houston in 1974, she opened a music venue on Lake Austin called Sunshine’s Party and hosted all kinds of bands. Willie Nelson used to stop by for a beer and a bowl of chili.
Sunshine bought Michael Martin Murphey’s house on Comanche Trail in 1975 when he chased "Wildfire" to Colorado. A few years later she was also living in the Rockies and booked all sorts of Austin bands, such as Jerry Jeff and the Gonzos, Delbert, Willie.
This is all worth mentioning to set up the letter which follows. Sent to our music writers, it questions having a six-day music festival in a city park so close to residents. We’ve all had our say about how fabulous the music and vibe has been down at Zilker Park this week. Let’s let Ms. Williams have the floor:
"I live on Rabb Road just off Robert E. Lee and I was not a happy camper last weekend. I had to close my doors and windows, drop the wood blinds, close both bathroom doors because of the skylights, turn the TV up to 10 to hear the football games and still the rumble continued unabated. The cacophony of sound, not music, is horrendous!
Friday night was bad—Depeche Mode?, prompting me to call 311 and asking her to tell the police to have them turn it down. Sunday night was even worse—Atoms for Peace (what peace?) That time I called 311 and couldn’t even hear the message so I called 911 and asked the dispatcher to have the police lower the volume. I was told the motorcycle cops in the park didn’t have decibel meters, but they should! Radio Shack has them for $49.95.
I am going to invite you, Mayor Leffingwell and the whole City Council, Chief Art Acevedo, and Charles Attal to my deck this weekend so they can experience what I and many of my Zilker and Barton Hills neighbors endure during this festival. And now we have to endure two weekends of it! Every year! This is not to mention the inconvenience that people have to experience because the roads are closed and they cannot enjoy the park for several weeks. Reportedly, the noise was heard as far as Jester Estates and Cat Mountain, south of Ben White and over to I-35 in Travis Heights. I’m sure Roillingwood and West Lake Hills got their share, too.
They should take this festival out to COTA and run shuttle buses back and forth to insure the hotels, restaurants and shops get their millions in business and the city gets it’s millions in taxes. They could have the festival for 4 weekends or more, and sell 500,000 tickets and have 20 stages and hundreds of bands. They could have the biggest festival in the world! The sky’s the limit!
And now I’m looking forward to next month when we have to listen to the helicopters take off and land at Barton Oaks Office complex across Barton Creek for Formula One at COTA. The people who work there on Friday are not happy about it. The noise is unbearable and the buildings shake, I’m told.
But we don’t matter—we just live here!"