In Dec. 1981, just months after we started publishing we ran the first Austin Chronicle Readers Music Poll. The results were published in early 1982, though there was no music awards show that year. No way we could have gotten it together. The paper was bi-weekly then, as it would be for the next 7 years.
The Chronicle offices were in a huge loft space above Jack Brown dry cleaners and the old Half Price Books store on Lavaca at 16th, across from Dan’s Liquor. Now it is a parking garage. The space was occupied by Sheauxnough Studios, a collective of infamous post-Armadillo artists who worked out it. The main group of artists headquartered there included Micael Priest, Guy Juke, Danny Garrett, and Dale Wilkins, though others came and went. They produced posters for The Armadillo World Headquarters, Antone’s Home of the Blues, Continental Club, and Liberty Lunch, among others.
The Chronicle rented a chunk of the space. There was no air conditioning. The place looked like the setting for a particularly bleak minimalist off off off off Broadway black comedy as imagined by a blind person. There was no money so we ran off human energy, flesh, energy and enthusiasm. All of which was burnt up rather quickly leading to an ongoing overly intense melodrama. The poll was the late Jeff Whittington’s inspiration, creation and love. We agreed to do it.
At the last minute I objected. Arguing that we didn’t want to be seen as a punk scene (the long ugly story of the cover of our first issue belongs here but who has the energy). As I remember, and may Chris and Tim forgive me, I pointed out that what would happen if the Big Boys won Band of the Year. The Chronicle would seem too street. Which was ridiculous because if we were anything it was street.
Whittington almost had a meltdown. This was his baby. I capitulated, thank God. The rest is history.
The poll runs in the Austin Chronicle again this coming December.