Austin, Texas has long been known for its eclectic music scene, and it continues to be a source of musical ferment and experiment. In the last few years, it’s also become renowned for its Airstream scene—it’s hard to toss a Stetson without it landing on some Airstream business’s antenna, whether the trailer has been converted into a shop selling fiery tacos, vintage cowboy boots or old-school Old Fashioneds.
The Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) is hip to the Airstream act: since 2012 their restored 1976 Sovereign Airstream has been touring the country promoting all things Austin, and doing it with sound as well as style. “It wouldn’t be an Austin Airstream without a sound system for playing albums by Austin artists, and a place for musicians to plug in and play live. Last year we had a new chrome bumper installed to match our new amplifier-inspired wrap with the Austin branding,” says Jennifer Walker, director of marketing communications for the ACVB.
That amped-up Airstream spent three months being overhauled for the Bureau’s business, having been gutted and refitted with leather bench seats, stainless tabletops along the walls (with wooden storage underneath), as well as a cooler for chilled beverages. The trailer has done some serious summer touring, making stops in Atlanta, Washington DC, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York and Toronto, among others. “It’s used to distribute materials, information and Austin promotional swag,” says Walker. “The Airstream is also a VIP lounge for media, musicians and meeting professionals. We also host musical performances in front of the Airstream while travelling—allowing us to promote local artists around the USA.”
The ACVB was clear on the concept that Airstreams were already a part of the Austin air, so they brought their own trailer to the party. “As we were promoting Austin as a destination for visitors, we thought, what represents our city better than an Airstream? In the past 10 years or so food trailers have become a very big part of the culture of our city,” says Walker. “So we thought, an Airstream certainly represents one of the things visitors know about Austin.”
That thought has been met with lots of positive response says Walker. “The iconic Airstream with the custom Austin-branded wrap is quite eye-catching—be it on the highway or parked at a BBQ festival in New York City. We get honks and smiles on the road and lots of folks stopping by for a photo. Musicians and journalists love it too—at festivals the Airstream offers a cool place to sip on a beverage and have an interview or performance.”
The Bureau is now planning their Summer 2015 Road Trip, and they’re considering pulling that snappy Sovereign all the way out to the west coast. Whatever level they turn those amplifiers up, bringing a little bit of Austin way out west sounds just fine.
– By Tom Bentley