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Musical Threedom! Why Everybody Should Own an MP3 Player

MP3 players tell us a lot about ourselves, and not just what sort of music we enjoy on an individual level. The discovery of a rudimentary flute crafted from a vulture's wing-bone and found to be at least 35,000 years old tells us an awful lot about ourselves. Human beings need music, we thrive on it. As a way of communicating without words, or making those words we do use bolder and bigger, music is and has always been an integral part of our lives, our spirituality and culture. There is no idea that cannot be expressed in music, and no force that reaches people's emotional depths as profoundly.

Music is an art form, but it is more than that, it is potentially Humanity's greatest achievement. It comes as no surprise, then, that we are constantly looking for new ways to create, perform and distribute music. You may roll your eyes when you read interviews with pampered pop stars who claim that songs are 'in the ether' explaining that they simply pluck fully formed songs out of thin air like you or I might absent-mindedly pick dandelions on a warm Summer's day, but trust me, as a part-time singer-songwriter, it's a lot like that.

Technologically speaking, music has come along in leaps and bounds over the centuries, being recorded and reproduced in any number of ways. Initially, songs were simply repeated, taught to new artists and performed over and over again as a method of recording. You may laugh, but this method of recording has kept millions of songs alive for more years than you could possibly live. The next innovation came with the dissemination of a structured musical language, which explained to the educated performer how to re-create these sounds.

Musical 'notation' and the ability to 'read' music, ensured that even more beauty was correctly catalogued and stored for future generations, an archive of magnificence gifted to us by ancestors we could never physically meet. In this way, music is truly transcendent, not just emotionally, or in a Psuedo-Platonic sense, but in a very measurable, quantifiable way. Music transcends cultural barriers, racial prejudice and social concerns, to be re-born, Pheonix-like, as a redeemer for each successive generation. Likewise, social songs take their place in history as snapshots of an age, but, more directly, as a catalyst for social change and reform.

As technology raced forward, sounds could be stored and placed on wax discs, which could then re-produce them at will. I won't bore you any more with technical data (not least of which because I don't know it myself) but suffice to say that the phonograph begat the record player and the record player begat the CD player. Or something like that. MP3 players, our current system of choice, celebrate music's return from the confines of the physical world and back to the intangible dreamscape from whence they arrived. In addition to being the first truly portable music medium (think about it), MP3 players benefit from never needing the disc changed, the tape re-wound, or the side switched.

MP3 players run on the same basic need as that which created the vulture-wing flute 35,000 (or more) years earlier, it's a need to hear music, a need to enjoy music and, to be more precise, an emotional release caused by the feel of music. I like to think of MP3 players as a sort of time machine, using which I can trace the echoes left by the victims of black oppression in 1930's America, the ingenuity and majesty of eighteenth-century Europe, the buoyancy and spirit of the 1960's, the didactic morality plays of rural Africa, or what it felt like to be a punk in the UK, circa 1977.

Using MP3 players, we can all become time travellers and connect to a tapestry so impossibly vast and exciting that it almost defies comprehension. MP3 players have given us the most precise and direct passport to this land of self-discovery. In a world where we've barely got time to sit on the toilet, we're suddenly able to drag our personal musical libraries into this morass of modernity with us. This is no accident, we invented it because we needed to. Today, our music goes where we go, colouring the landscape and flavouring it with feelings of our choosing. A drab, emotionless dirge of a tube ride can now become a psychedelic journey, complete with schizoid guitars and drug-addled squeals. A pleasant, autumnal bike ride can give way to a frenzied assault on the senses via some heavy metal thunder. MP3s are the newest, coolest way to listen and learn of very old things.

Differences Between Internet Radio and Music Download Sites

Using the power of the internet, the music industry has also invaded the internet. It has taken advantage of the exponential positive effects of using the internet to become more popular. Since most people are using the internet on a regular basis, the music industry has even become more successful. The internet has probably superseded the conventional way of listening to music. You can now find websites which will allow you to listen to your favorite songs. You can either find internet radio or music download sites.

Online listeners have treated these two music resource as one. Well, you probably have seen few of these sites on the internet if you are one of those people. Although there are some similarities, internet radio is quite different from music download sites.

The primary difference is the website content. Internet radio is simply a website that plays live radio program. Through live streaming, we can now tune in to our favorite radio station to listen to our favorite music, get the latest headlines or the hottest trends. Internet radio relies on satellite broadcasting. It operates the same way the actual radio does. The music that you hear from a conventional radio is what you would hear from an online radio. Advertisements are also present. This time, it will be seen and heard on the website. You will still hear advertisements in between songs while you will see ad banners posted on the website of the online radio. Music download sites are like a huge archive of play list. It is arranged so the website visitor can choose which songs to play.

The rate is the next thing that shows the difference of internet radio from music download sites. Most internet radio provides free listening experience while most of the music download site requires membership. Although there are some sites that are also free, these website were banned by the power of copyright laws. Music album pirates have quick access to reproduce. The copyright law dictates that it is prohibited to reuse or reproduce a music album without permission. Through unpaid music download sites, it will be easier for these people to gain access to free resources.

The flat form may be the noticeable difference of this online music source. Usually, internet radio only requires Adobe for a computer to gain access while music download sites usually require downloading applications such as media players. If a computer is not compatible or does not have this component then it will be difficult to listen to music.

Internet radio has contributed some advantages to its audience. It is convenient and easy to use. A lot of website owners and developers have made partnership with online radio sites due to the potential revenue growth it could bring their websites. The public is being discouraged to patronize music download sites for its association with piracy. This pertains to free downloads as there are some legal websites in existence. Being in the know of the latest technology can help you understand its significance.

Five Essentials For Getting Your Big Break in Music

Has music always been your passion? Do you find no greater joy than performing for a live audience? Are you looking to make your passion become a reality? If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then you should seriously think about working toward your passion at all costs. There are ways you can do this. Even ways you can go about getting your big break in music. But first, you have to be smart. Plan for the big time by knowing the essentials. Know the absolute musts before you get started, and you're halfway to reaching your dream. And these essentials are:

Hone your skills locally: Music distribution and single song distribution will only take you so far. You must play off an audience to see what works and what doesn't. This can be a scary step in the beginning, but it gets easier the longer that you play. And the adrenaline makes any case of stage fright completely worth it.

Work every day on the creative side: You have to show the right amount of business acumen to make a career in the music industry. You cannot simply create and leave it up to your music distribution service or manager to turn you into a superstar. You have to put yourself out there. No getting around it. Still, it can become a chore really fast if you are not constantly revisiting the creative side. Keep your skills sharp by returning to what you love every day. Even though it may count as work, it will certainly not feel like it. And if it does, that can be a good gauge for whether or not you belong in the industry.

Be confident and realistic: Marketing your music to major record labels cannot come, realistically, until you have taken the steps needed to start your career. Once you are ready, be confident and realistic about where your efforts will take you. If you've built your music into something, you will have the platform necessary to break in. When this occurs, network with people inside the industry. It doesn't matter how small. Everyone is connected. Everyone is always looking for the next big thing. Be friendly and open to anyone you can within the industry. Let them know who you are and what you do. Taking it one step further, give them examples by pointing them to your audience. Turn them on to demos and quality archived performances. Achieve this, and your dreams will fall into place.

Network online: Try to work with other musicians with similar aspirations. As your network grows, more people will start to know your work and there will be more opportunities to promote your music.

Perform for others often: Whether you are creating music videos or performing live, it's always good to be able to improve your performing skills. Sometimes, it takes more than just music talent in order to succeed in this competitive industry.

Music distribution or single song distribution is essential to future success, but you're not going to get in with the big boys until you've become as comfortable with performing and publicity as you are with your music.

Web Radio Player - The Best Source to Listen to Online Music

The world wide web offers us with so many options where we can listen music online from any parts of the globe. Radio, which is considered as the basic source of entertainment, evolved from a simple transmitter to highly sophisticated gadgets such as mp3 players, iPod, and so on. With this type of music source, you can listen to as many songs as you can, even while relaxing, chilling out with friends, or mainly doing other activities. Since most people browse the Internet almost everyday, more and more companies are creating such radio broadcasting software, which allows you to listen International songs, along with thousands of radio stations worldwide. This is also known as web radio player.

There are wide arrays of advantages accompanied on this type of music software. Internet music stations are easily detected since the software is programmed to display thousands of International radio stations with no extra cost. It also does not require further downloading on radio stations that work with frequencies since the software itself is capable of detecting frequency-based stations. The only thing that is needed when using this type of radio player is that it requires Internet connection. Although there are music software that function even without Internet connection, most of these songs are previously recorded or saved, thus giving you restrictions on other newly released songs. Music enthusiasts recommend to have a software that is always connected to the Internet for you to be able to connect International radio stations and listen to updated music and news.

Another benefit of stream radio software is that it supports thousands of radio stations of 200 countries, and classified into various music genre. In this way, listening to your favorite music type and genre are much easier and better than a traditional music player. The good thing about radio over Internet covers not only music streaming, but there are also live radio stations that let people listen to latest programs. Through Internet radio streaming, you will be updated with the latest news in various sections such as sports, movies, political, social, and other entertaining fronts. With radio software, online listeners can listen to music Internet station with great ease since they can choose their preferred channel stations of their taste. This can also be archived in the software itself, thus giving you less time to search on your frequently visited radio stations.

Keeping you updated with the recent and most fresh news from other countries can be done through live radio listening. It is something that does not only keep you entertained, but it provides you fresh and useful information as well. This is a type of software that can be used even by youngsters. Instead of accessing each site for every music that you would like to hear, using a web radio player can help you listen top-listed music in International billboard just from a single radio station. This radio software offers excitement and entertainment to listeners across the world.

The Versatile Appeal of Music Videos

Everyone loves music videos. They're a highly enjoyable form of entertainment. If you like music, its almost a given that you will like music videos. My dad is 65 and he quite likes Eminem's music videos, he even likes some of Green Day's music videos. He has a taste for off the wall, my dad. He also has an eye for the ladies, not the half naked ones in the R&B videos or most of the rap videos but he likes Pink, thinks that she is pretty because she has character (and a hot body that she is not afraid of showing off), he digs her music too. He likes Annie Lennox for the same reason, she doesn't show off her body but she has character and it comes out in her music and music videos. He's also a bit eclectic is my dad.

Everybody has his or her own unique taste in music. Some people have very specific tastes and some people's tastes are very broad, they're the lucky ones because they can listen to a wide variety of music and not get irritated by what they hear very quickly. Very often people have a secret taste in music that they are a little ashamed of. This is because it's often something that they would ordinarily mock but suddenly they find that they like some of a particular artist's music and they feel the need to buy the new cd. They feel dreadful doing it and the self-chastisement and self-flagellation that they go through is enormous but don't think that they don't get enormous joy out of the cd also. They just don't tell people about it. Only mutual sharing of embarrassing music will allow the secret to be told and only if the other person's music is deemed to be more embarrassing than theirs. Key point, panpipes always wins in the embarrassing stakes, nothing beats panpipes, nothing, not even Spice Girls (but its close).

The fact that we can feel such acute embarrassment by something as silly as the music we listen to just goes to show what a powerful role music plays in our lives. We identify ourselves by the type of music that we listen to. Take a look at the Goth subculture; they are heavily influenced by the music that they listen to. The clubs that they go to only play Goth music, everyone dresses in a way that identifies them as Goth. The ravers are the same, they listen to rave music, dress a particular way, talk a particular way and have identified themselves as part of a particular subculture. They take pride in their identity. There are subcultures for every kind of music, even teenybopper pop as little girls identify with whoever the current icon is (no longer Britney Spear, thank goodness). There is very little crossover between subcultures. They tend to stick very much to themselves and to judge other music subcultures as inferior in every way possible.

Even if we don't identify so strongly to a subculture that we adopt its dress, make-up, language and mode of life, music still plays an important role in every day life. It affects our moods or we play music to reflect our moods, we use it to keep ourselves company in our cars or when we are alone in our homes, it helps concentration, it relieves stress and tension and helps us relax, it sets the mood for a party or for a romantic night in with our partners. Scientific research has even proved that if played to babies while still in the womb it can make your children smarter, but that has to be a certain type of music, not just any old keys will do. Love of music is inherent, babies smile laugh and dance from before they can stand when they here music and they develop their own taste early on. It may be similar to their parents but not necessarily. Its all part of what makes life interesting.

When it comes to music videos you may not necessarily like the artist but you can still like the video. Ricky Martin for instance, not that musically gifted but that man can swing his booty like no one's business. His music videos are a joy to watch.

The advantage of the Internet is that you get free streaming audio and sites that offer music videos via free streaming audio, which means that you get to see your videos almost as soon as you choose them. It also means that you don't have to wait for ages for your favourite videos to appear on TV, you just pick and click. Some sites have vast archives of videos for you to choose from in any genre that you like. All tastes and subcultures are catered for. It's great living in an age where entertainment and technology work hand in hand to provide convenient and easy access to the latest and oldest music videos that you might have a yen to see.

Seven Top Free Digital Music Services

It's the age of freebies. These days, we can download e-books, stream movies, and listen to music, all for free - and legally! It's just a question of where to find these goodies.

So as far as music is concerned, where can we get them for free? Here are some sites you would want to check out:

1. Grooveshark ( is one of the largest music streaming services in the world. This site allows you to find and listen to your favourite music, make your own personalized playlist, browse for new songs, and share them on social networking and bookmarking sites with just one click.

You can listen to free unlimited radio on your Android, Blackberry, Nokia, Jailbroken iPhone, or HP Web OS smartphone by simply downloading the Grooveshark app.

It also has features such as the video mode, which lets you watch YouTube videos of your favourite songs; the Power Hour mode, which automatically moves you to a new song every 60 seconds; and the visualizer, which adds a visual element to accompany your music.

2. Spotify ( The Spotify free account gives you instant access to millions of tracks for your streaming pleasure. You can play and organize your own MP3s, and you can share them with your friends, as well as get your friends' recommendations, and listen to them instantly with just a click of a Facebook button.

If you want to listen to music offline on your desktop or mobile, though, you'll need to get the paid Premium account.

3. We7 ( is a free music-streaming service available to users from Ireland and the UK. It has more than 6.8 million tracks from four major record labels and a huge number of independent labels. If you wish to purchase the tracks, you can do so from the in-site store.

4. ( you like listening to music but are too lazy to search for the music you like, try, a music recommendation service. Just sign up, download the Scrobbler software, and let that little tool deliver personalised recommendations based on what songs or artists you listen to most often.

5. Soundclick ( site has been around since 1997, so it must be good, right? To date, its catalogue holds over 2.5 million tracks that you can listen to through live streaming. Some of the music is available for free and legal download.

6. Audio Archive ( you're looking for free songs, poetry readings, audio books, old-time radio shows, and even alternative news programs, you can find over 200,000 of those from Audio Archives' MP3 and audio library.

7. ArtistServer ( looking for non-mainstream artists and their music can find them at ArtistServer. Choose from over 8,000 free and legally downloadable songs from this website. There is a full range of genres to choose from - country, rock, jazz, metal, blues, classical, hip-hop, folk, and many others - all recorded by unsigned artists, who use the site to promote their work.

With many digital music services available the CD duplication industry is reducing and digital music sales now eclipse that of CDs.

Have You Ever Lived in Bristol, Virginia?

After almost 20 years of living and working in the St. Petersburg/Tampa part of Florida, and after living through nine hurricanes, we decided to make the move to what we considered to be the "real" South, Bristol, Virginia.

I have written before about the neighbors we had in Florida, they were not caring, they were not friendly, they really did not seem to care about anyone that lived around them. Now, there might have been a few that did, but they really were the exception to the rule. Most of them just could not be bothered with anyone...they were too busy working to keep their heads above water in a state that was supposed to be one of least expensive to live in. Guess they were wrong.

Now, Virginia is just the opposite. Here in Bristol, Virginia, I have the best neighbors. You could not ask for kinder, sweeter, or more caring people to have as friends. They are always there if you need them.

If someone is sick, then they bring food to you, they give you flowers from their gardens to plant in your garden, they phone each other to tell of one of the neighbors mom that passed away, and make enough food to feed their family for a week. They want to share with you. It is a true neighborhood.

Something I have not experienced since I lived in Bridgeport Connecticut in the North End when I was growing up. We had neighbors there, that you could depend on. It is the same here in Bristol....they really do care about each other, and I care about them.

Beside the great neighbors we have here, we have great weather, not as much snow as Connecticut, and not the horribly bitter cold that we had there either. Still have the change of seasons, which I didn't realize that I missed since I moved from Florida, but....strange as it may seem, I did miss it. I missed seeing the beautiful yellow, orange and redish gold colors that fill my view from all the windows in our large Victorian home.

There are so many other amenities that make Bristol such a great place to live. Because we are right on the border of Tennessee, all of our services are shared. We only have one Chamber of Commerce. If you want to know something about Bristol Tennessee, or Bristol Virginia, the Chamber is the place to go.

We are also known for the thirteen colleges we have in our area, and of course one of the most popular attractions of the area is the Bristol Race Track. People come from far and wide to see the races in March and in August. So many of our friends and family are envious because we live so close to the NASCAR track.

Bristol is also the birthplace of Country Music, and it is kept alive by presenting concerts, collaborating with local organizations, taping programs for national broadcast, and maintaining archives of recorded music and spoken word.

There is live music every night of the week here. There is always something to do or hear in this area. The Paramount Center for the arts serves as a showplace for the arts in Bristol. They feature nationally known musicians, host Broadway touring shows, and present a varied line-up of performances. There is always something to do in Bristol, and my husband and I take advantage of this whenever we can.

Real Estate is also more affordable in Bristol. A home that we could not have afforded in Connecticut, and the kind they just didn't have in our part of Florida either. That was one of the reasons that we are here, we could afford the home we wanted, a home with high ceilings, and big rooms. That was what we were looking for, and never thought we could afford. But we could afford it here, because the taxes and the insurance are not as high as it was in Florida.

Florida went out of sight because of the 9 hurricanes we had in one year. The insurance and taxes just went sky high, and we decided we had enough. The same way as many others in the state are doing. We packed up everything and moved here. We are glad we did. I miss my children in Connecticut, so we are closer to them now. Takes about 12 hours, but that's not bad compared to driving to Connecticut from Florida. Now, that was a drive!

All in all, we are very happy to be living in the "real" South, with people that we care about, and that care about us. It's nice to be included in their parties, their holidays, and their family gatherings. So very different from what we experienced in our old neighborhood. Here, our friends are our family!

If you are interested in a small town that wraps their arms around you when you move into your home, and opens up it's heart to new people, then consider moving to our new favorite part of the South, Bristol Virginia, you won't be sorry!

Music on the Internet

It's clear that on the internet the artist has freedom, and it's also clear that the listener can listen to music whenever they want - exactly as you can do in the real world, putting the content onto a CD.

Now I'm not saying that the internet is a waste of time. It's a very important tool and as Marcelo Abud, publicist, composer and writer of the article "Liberty and Independence" said:

- "Everywhere, the artists that learn to administer, divulge and distribute their own work are being listened to more and more."

Repeat, ", the artists that learn to administer...".

The internet is an important tool just like any other, but it needs to be used in conjunction with other tools. It's at this point that a lot of bands and artists fail. They think that one tool is enough! It's not true.

Companies like Trama Virtual also say that their services are important, of course, they are talking about themselves. If you ask Trama Virtual where the biggest source of income comes from on their site, they will say it comes from advertising and not from the sale of online music. In monetary terms the artist receives almost nothing for their investments.

Let's look at some data.

Without taking away merit from the good intentions of Trama, its' site has 8731 pages of musical archives totalizing 96080 MP3's sent by 38390 artists. Just for highlighted bands there are 97 pages, 20 archives per page, or in other words, 1840 highlights. How can anybody feel highlighted amongst 1840? And those bands and artists that are not highlighted? Where do they end up? Many times successful bands on this type of site are supported by the site owners in the real world to:

Earn money for the company, just like any band in the real world. Do the marketing for the company with the artist saying that they were discovered on that site and in a short space of time became a success, insinuating that just their presence on that site was the principal motive for their success. The reality is that each band and artist needs to follow a direction to earn their success.

John Paterson, ex CEO of the site (the site folded), said in an interview:

- "You can't earn a living selling MP3's.".

He continued saying that even though his site had been receiving a lot of visitors, very few would buy music online, preferring to just listen to the free stuff.

- "A long way from threatening the musical industry and major recording companies, online music still depends on them to survive. Everything that I hated in the music industry is true. 90% is marketing and media. The public don't want to decide for themselves, the people need their friends and the media to say that something is good. Few people would buy a song which they have just heard by an unknown band ".

People buy what they already know, the majority of the time through conventional media..

Promotion of bands and their sites on the internet in the real world through printed press and their live presentations will still be vital for the success of internet marketing for the future.

Research group Forrester published a report saying that the legal downloads market took just 4% share in the music market during 2005 in the United States, a long way short of the CD share in the same market.

- "The internet will not sell music," - declared Neil Cooper, manager of the band Stumble, which is distributing its' music at the site of

- "It's just a means of distribution. You wouldn't just go into a CD shop in the real world and just by looking at the CD cover think: - That should be good, I'll buy it ".

The band owes part of their success to intensive coverage of mass media. The secret is to contract a specialist to deliver your music to conventional radio stations and convince the presenters to publicize the address of the bands' site.

Cooper said:

- "Some bands could put their music on these sites and think that it's sufficient, that it's just a case of waiting. But it's like putting your CD in a shop and ot publicizing the fact that it's there."

The recording companies in the real world only select those artists that they think will make money. That's no secret. By the way, this upsets many musicians, especially those who were not selected!

The recording companies make sure that the bands have a good "look", are professional and have a good recording to be sold.

The problem with the internet is that it doesn't have these demanding filters, nobody judges if a song is worth distributing or not, or that the band will manage to make a polished performance onstage (at least two hours of material) to offer a complete entertainment package which the consumer is looking for. Some bands can have a nice photo and well written release, just to waste the time it takes to download the archive, of the visitor because the quality of the recording or the music is terrible!

Nobody is supervising the quality of the recording, nor the production except the musicians who did the work, and the quality is fundamental for the end user.

With so many bands appearing in these types of site, which bands will be more successful? Those that are promoted. It's as simple as that.

The major recording companies, as any well structured company, have a good reserve of resources in liquid funds and physical properties.

It's the smaller independents that can't stand the backlash of a flop in the market, because their profit margins are smaller and cash flow is a lot more restricted, with less money to be spent on marketing and promotion.

Concluding, a site on the internet is important, as in any other marketing action.

It's important to have YOUR site on the internet and only use these sites, like Trama or MySpace as an opportunity to put a link or a gateway to YOUR site.

The Best Music Resource on the Internet

While there are many excellent music adventures on the Internet, my favorite is the Internet Archives. This resource features live music created by a wide variety of artists in all kinds of genres. Don't worry about copyright violation here, all of the featured music artists have agreed to share their music.

You will find over 42,000 concerts presented by over 2,500 hundred bands. For the most part the quality of the recordings is fairly good. You can not only download the shows to your computer but you are able to "stream" the music if you want to save disc space.

My absolute favorite bands are there. The Grateful Dead collection is extensive. You will find shows which chronicle each phase of their music. Unfortunately most of the sound board recordings have been removed from the Archives, but you can still find some great recordings.

The Little Feat, are well represented here, with many of their concerts being cataloged. The shows available are simply amazing. I was shocked at how good the music is. A band that I discovered through the Archives is The Radiators. This band from New Orleans knows how to rock.

The Archives contains music from some bands and artists you have never heard before. In some cases that may be a good thing. In all fairness though, most of the music I have sampled was quite good, even if I did not personally care for it.

There is so much music contained here, the chances are excellent you will find something you like. If nothing else go to experience all of the wonderful music that is available to you for absolutely no cost. I encourage you to check out Internet Archives. It is simply the most amazing music resource on-line.

To find The Internet Archives, just search for it in your favorite search engine.

Austin - More Than Just Live Music Capital Of The World

Many of the tourists that visit Austin come for its vibrant nightlife; it is after all, the 'Live Music Capital of the World'. However, there are many other attractions in Austin that don't involve music..

Austin offers a wealth of museums and art galleries. The Texas Memorial Museum is the main exhibit hall of the Texas Natural Science Centre. Since it opened in 1939, it has assembled a collection of 5.7 million specimens in the disciplines of palaeontology, geology and biology. The Blanton Museum of Art is the largest university arts museum in the entire U.S.A, and houses some 17,000 works from Europe, the United States and Latin America.

The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre is a library and public archive, specialising in the collection of literary and cultural artfacts from all around the world. It houses 36 million literary manuscripts, 1 million rare books, 5 million photographs, and more than 100,000 works of art.

For a deeper look into the history of the state, The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is dedicated to telling 'the Story of Texas' and is named after former Texas Lieutenant Governor, Bob Bullock. Austin is also home to the O. Henry House Museum. O. Henry is the pen name of writer William Sydney Porter, who lived in Austin for much of his adult life. Porter's 400 short stories are known for their wit and wordplay and he is also credited as being the inventor of the 'twist ending' in literature. The O. Henry House Museum hosts the annual O. Henry Pun Off, which is a pun contest where Henry enthusiasts exhibit their wit and wordplay skills in honour of their hero.

The Congress Avenue Bridge houses the world's largest urban population of Mexican free-tailed bats. Starting in late February, up to 1.5 million bats take up residence inside the bridge's expansion and contraction zones as well as in long horizontal grooves running the length of the bridge's underside - an environment ideally suited for raising their young. Every evening around sunset, the bats emerge in search of insects. Watching the bat emergence is an event that is popular with locals and tourists, with more than 100,000 viewers per year.

As Austin's official slogan is 'The Live Music Capital of the World', the city has a vibrant live music scene, with more music venues per capita than any other American city. Austin's music revolves around the many nightclubs on 6th Street and an annual film/music/multimedia festival called South By Southwest (SXSW). There are also a burgeoning circle of live performance venues in theatres, bars and hotels in Austin.

Austin is full of historic landmarks and unusual tourist attractions, from the beautiful Texas State Capitol building to the Congress Avenue Bridge and its nightly bat flights. There are plenty of museums, places to eat, and of course there's live music just around every corner. So it's no wonder that Austin gets high marks for sightseeing and family trips.