“Nothing stays the same except the changes, and the changes are here to stay,” the song at the end credits of Nothing Stays The Same: The Story of the Saxon Pub tells us. It really couldn’t be said better. Life is pretty much in a constant state of flux for everyone, but it is certainly not an individual phenomenon. One of the biggest forces of monumental change, especially in the United States, is the rapid gentrification of once affordable cities.
Austin, Texas has often been touted as a “weird” city. There’s a book title that has been a slogan for the city, Keep Austin Weird. It’s hard to do that with the advent of big money real estate companies swooping in to build condos for people who move from all over the country to get a taste of the weird for themselves. Austin is certainly not the first city for this to happen. New York was the first to go, which I can attest to first hand, quickly followed by San Francisco, and now it’s happening in Portland, Seattle, and even my beloved hometown of Atlanta. People move to these cities because they “love” them but then want to change them to be more like the boring suburbs where they came. Basically, the line of thinking is “Oh, I love this record store but oh my God I miss Chipotle,” and enough people feel this way that the record store BECOMES the Chipotle.
“Saxon Pub is one such venue in Austin…in danger of either permanently closing its doors or moving to a new location after 25 years.”
Another bad aspect of gentrification is that the people who make these cities “weird” and “cool” are usually artists and musicians. When a city becomes too expensive to live on an artist’s or musician’s salary (read: NOT A LIVING WAGE unless you’re lucky enough to be famous), they move to other places where they can support themselves. The venues where musicians play are under constant threat of shutdown to build more condos for boring suburbanites to live in while they destroy the spirit of the city.
Saxon Pub is one such venue in Austin, Texas that, at the time the filming of Nothing Stays the Same, was in danger of either permanently closing its doors or moving to a new location after 25 years. I can attest from personal observation that a lot of the time, a venue cannot withstand the financial and logistical strain of a move. Saxon Pub owner Joe Ables expresses his concerns with moving. He has always been a fan of live music and his venue has been home to thousands of musicians who started their careers there, or major names (such as Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Michael McDonald) passing through to join their local musician friends on stage for a set. Saxon Pub has turned into a family for several musicians and regulars.
"…the sense of community...thrives in the Saxon Pub..."