Get Adobe Flash player

Sharing Love With Austin – SquareRüt, Beyond SouthBy

March 18th, 2014 · Tags:Arts · Cities · Coffee Shops · Wi-Fi

A good friend of mine just posted a story from The Austin-American Statesman that questions whether or not Austin “drinks too much.” Ha … Define too much. What was it Jimmy Kimmel said, he was in town not for The SXSW Festival, but an intervention. Something like that.


Anywho … Then there is the ongoing love/hate thing Austin has with SXSW. Some think SXSW is right up there with burnt orange. Others — lots and lots of locals hate SouthBy. I mean … There are lines for admission everywhere you go. Even more traffic. Locals go on about everyone at the festival looks the same – Justin Bieber hair, beard, nerd glasses, skinny leg jeans … Oh … and there was that horrible drunk driving thing this year. Yet, SXSW brings the best entertainers in the world to Austin … and Lady Gaga.


Well … I think I have found the cure for all that ails Austin. The Rüt! … SquareRüt, Texas’ first kava bar.


Mike Love, courtesy SquareRüt


Just like last year, I rode a motorcycle down to Austin during SXSW this, only difference, I didn’t shell out $1200 for “media passes” so that the media relations people at the festival could treat me like crap, since I am an independent blogger. This year, I was in town and didn’t even go to SXSW. I’m not sure if that makes me a loser, or a wannabe non-poser. I digress …


Instead, this year I saw a music act that was in Austin for SXSW — traveling all the way from Hawaii — performing at a non-festival sanctioned event. Ha … I guess going around SXSW was like that song “take back the power.”


Guess what? I liked this event better than anything I have done at several SXSWs in the past.


Yes i have been to Austin’s SquareRüt Kava Bar numerous times, but last Friday I think I saw the place really hit its stride. There was something about roots reggae and the kava root that worked. Vibe they call it. (Ha … and no hangover.)


So, If you want to keep Austin Weird, I think the atmosphere at the show was right for you. If you were a holistic medicine practitioner, you might have found a new source for healing there. If you like reggae …. well … irie! There was quite an eclectic mix, both reggae fanatics and kava connoisseurs. But no alcohol.


The kava flowed freely, with a one-time charge for a wristband (merely a two-digit wristband if you can believe that during SXSW), which also included island food and a hula demonstration at the end of the evening. Ha … my coconut shell runneth over … The place was full too, but luckily The Rüt has lots of patio space where the crowd could overflow and fire up their e-cigs or more traditional smokes.


But about the music … My friends have been telling me about Mike Love for a couple of years. (No, not the 70-year-old Beach Boy … Happy BDay to that Mike Love, btw). This Mike Love is the leader of a two-mon ensemble that can hold their own with just about any living reggae act. (I read they recently toured with one of of my favorites — Groundation — pretty impressive.)


Share the Love:

Mike Love


And so interesting visually … not to be racist, but these guys are noticeably white. I mean, admit it or not, you would notice that too if you saw them perform. But this ain’t your average white band. To demonstrate their love of Jah, and reggae and I assume all the herbs that go with reggae, these Love brothers have the traditional dreadlocks on overload. We’re talking mega natty dread … Singer, guitarist, Mike Love has blond ropes dangling down to the back of his knees, when he stands up to poke a foot pedal with his bare feet. (I’ve only seen one guy in Austin with longer hair – David Allan Coe, Farm Aid, 1986, but rumor has it those were extensions …) Love’s “brother” … baba maybe raw baba Sam Ites, the percussionist of the group, has dark dreads to his waist …. ha, pretty conservative in comparison. Great duo … thank to lots of talent and lots of looping technology and pedals … they sound like a bigger group. But the thing that really worked for me was their ability to harmonize. I am a sucker for two-part … and falsetto … and man can Mike Love hit a high note … huh huh … get it “high note.”


And like I was saying, SquareRüt seems to be coming into its own. Wonder how a regular, weekly reggae night would work out, although I know they have had other groups like Ashes of Babylon and such … and helped sponsor a Wildfire event a while back.


All of this is to say … the world is flocking to Austin’s door, seemingly trying to discover the next big thing by shooting their selfies at SouthBy. And here on South Congress, Austin has an island gem … the only kava bar for thousands of miles … perhaps the best one this side of Tonga … and you would think it was too weird for Austin. Can that be? I don’t think so … I think that once the five coolest people in Austin discover SquareRüt, the rest of the Longhorns will get in step.







Oh … and of course when I wasn’t draining kava from a coconut shell, I was up and running on the free Wi-Fi. I saw a few folks shooting videos of the show too, which I assume they were uploading from SRüt’s hotspot – 6 pings. (I took off one point because although the caterer’s food was excellent, a little Sterno ritual fire under the pans might have helped.)


Bula! (That is islander, for know what I sayin … sorta.)