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Mack, Jack & McConaughey, Umlauf Garden Party and more

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com

CHARITY. Still can’t get used to it. The man who gently bumped me was Colt McCoy. On either side of him were fellow Longhorn and NFL players Vince Young and Jordan Shipley. Not far away were the stars of the benefit at ACL Live: Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, national championship coach Mack Brown, CMA Award winner Jack Ingram and their wives, Camila Alves, Sally Brown and Amy Ingram. They had gathered with a few hundred guests to raise money for five children’s charities. All around the happy diners were solid gold names from sports, movies and music. In the first night of its second iteration, Mack, Jack and McConaughey raised more than $500,000 from the live auction alone, including $200,000 bid for a 2014 Aston Martin Vantage Coupe. (They’ll easily top last year’s $1 million by the end of the second night, which will include Ingram leading songwriters singing their own compositions.)

ARTS: It took just one song. As I rounded the corner of Robert E. Lee Road, the strains of a Nash Hernandez’s big band playing “Beyond the Sea” floated from the Umlauf Sculpture Garden. That’s when I knew: Everything would be OK. Guests in their summer linens strolling around the shady, soothing landscape. Bites and sips to be had at each bend in the path. My fave was a green chili pork stew with white wine-pepperjack fondue wrapped in a flour tortilla from Roaring Fork. All the hosting eateries seemed to have upped their game, perhaps because the Austin Food and Wine Festival had started with a seated dinner just down Barton Springs Road on this very busy weekend. Of course the proceeds go to the museum and garden that bear the name of Austin sculptor Charles Umlauf. (Eager to find out the progress on the Umlauf family’s nearby hilltop house recently deeded to city.)

FOOD: Three wine bars that do their best to make guests feel at home. From Matthew Odam’s story in the Statesman: The thought of wine bars a decade ago inspired images of stuffy cosmopolitan spaces populated with people snacking on almonds. Most felt like date-night destinations, and with few exceptions they were confined to downtown. Wine bars have integrated themselves into the cultural fabric of neighborhoods over the past several years, serving as casual hangout spots for groups and dates to not only sip and snack but to eat the kind of quality dishes you’d expect from a full-service restaurant. Below I take a look at three wine bars that serve as a regular haunt for neighbors, homey places that forsake fuss to give diners and drinkers a sense of community and comfort. http://shar.es/TRxgu(Matthew goes on to describe the Apothecary Café and Wine Bar, Winebelly and Wink Wine Bar. Yum.)