"Austin is still a place where people can pursue crazy ideas and turn a passion into a paycheck,” says James Taylor, the general manager of Holy Mountain, a bar and live music venue in the heart of downtown’s Red River Cultural District. Between sips of Pearl Snap, we are chatting about the breakneck speed of Austin’s growth. With his buzz cut, plaid shirt, and crisp, dark denim, Taylor has the retro charm of a 1950s comic book hero. But he’s firmly committed to the future of his favorite city.
“Our rich history means that many other music communities around the country and world are looking to see how the creative class will address this growth,” he says. “Can Austin stay affordable? Can the cool that entices companies like Google and Facebook and X Games stay relevant, so those industries stay? We’re at a pivotal time with the opportunity to develop a model that works here and for other creative cities.”
For his part, Taylor, a Houston native who graduated from the University of Texas in 2004, is keeping his knees bent. After years spent booking and managing bands, he found himself yearning to launch his own venue. Holy Mountain (named for a 1973 film directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky) opened last year. With spare, woodsy decor (it’s modeled after a Midwestern basement where you might steal a nip with your grandfather), solid drinks, and an eclectic roster of music, Holy Mountain is poised to evolve with the imminent development (and subsequent shifting demographics) of Waller Creek.