the heart of austin

This past Saturday, I had my official debut CD release party, here in Austin, TX. I had pre-release shows in California and in South Carolina last year that were well-attended, but would you believe me if I told you I was terrified to have this party? 
I've only been living in Austin a little over 2 years and have spent the majority of my time with one of many 'day jobs.'  Sure, I've made some friends at my church and at the Austin Songwriter's Group (ASG) events, but more often than not, I've been a little lonely in Austin.  On top of that, there are an obscene amount of uber-talented artists in this town.  The competition for the door is fierce in that respect. 

I mailed my CD to every radio DJ, blogger, editor, and free-lance writer around.  I assaulted the airwaves of twitter, facebook, you name it... I hung posters, I emailed, and I texted until my little thumbs were blue.  My sister and brother-in-law offered to come up to help with merchandise, but honestly, I also needed the moral support.  What if this was a big flop?  I hired a band.  I gave away beer. I decided to give a portion of the door to my beloved ASG-- maybe people would come out to support the organization?  I begged almost a dozen of my friends to volunteer a song or two for a Hootenanny to open the show.  Maybe their fans would come?

Mostly, though, I tried to keep my expectations low.  What could I expect, really?  I mean, I move to the Live Music Capital of the World as a relative nobody.   Just last year, for example, I hosted an elaborate home-made Easter Brunch with all the fixings and invited almost 30 people.  2 people came.

But this past Saturday, nearly 100 people walked in the door of Skinny's Ballroom for the Tonya Tyner Farewell to Austin CD Release Hootenanny. And not just that-- but they didn't walk right back out, either! :)  Students, ex-coworkers, church friends, neighbors, music friends, Carolina friends, old friends, new friends...they showed up.  They had my back.  They stayed, they listened, they hooted, they applauded.  Did I mention they listened?  If I had been in my sappy, quiet frame of mind, I'm sure I would have fallen apart.  I was completely overwhelmed with the support and love in the room.  What a night!

Next month, I must take my leave-- I'm Carolina bound-- but let me make one thing clear before I go.  Austin has a gorgeous greenbelt, Town Lake, Barton Springs and many other lovely  natural features, but none of these are the heart of Austin.  Austin has some of the most incredible food on the planet, but these culinary delights are not the heart of Austin.  Austin is the 'Live Music Capital of the World,' but not even music is the heart of Austin. 

The heart of Austin is her people.   

Their faith.  Their encouragement.  Their friendship.  Their support.  Their kindness.  Their acceptance.  Their love.

And so I offer this scant word of thanks as I bid adieu and fare thee well-- from the deepest nooks and crannies of my heart-- a heart that will be making her way back to her Carolina home, but a heart with a memory that will still... and always... find her home with the heart of Austin.

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