I am here to report that all of the rumors are true: South by Southwest is the most incredible stretch of creativity, insanity, opportunity, connections, and chaos out there. SXSW arguably put Austin, TX on the map as one of the "hippest" cities around. The excitement and heavy surgence of talent within the city walls during this time comes as a wave of inspiration to many of us living here year round. As a first time South-bee I had much to learn by way of navigating the city. Austin became SXSW and SXSW transformed Austin. With water strapped to my back and chargers for all electronics hidden in my purse, I ventured out into the beautiful pandemonium.

It was glorious. Looking back, there was one particular day among the days that showed this Yankee "true" Texas and the power of good music: my day spent on Willie Nelson's Ranch. Every year, Willie Nelson opens his ranch up to flocks of beautiful musicians and fans alike to celebrate the annual "Heartbreaker's Banquet."  Lucky enough to be amongst the crowd, I hopped on a bus to Willie's Ranch, "Luck."  The event was just about as Texas as can be. Upon first arrival I noticed how interesting and unique the Heartbreakee's were. The look was "Lonestar " and the masses were hip, western, and awesome. I felt as though I had stumbled off the bus into chic-ville. Er...chic-ranch? Regardless, it was oh so cool. I hung out by the trees a while to take it all in.

Vendors lined the fences with original jewlery, homemade barbecue and lots of beer. Old friends and new buddies sat around on the grass and listened to music. Monica Ayala Talavera, journalist for KXAN news, and I decided to get Pig tatoos on our hands. Don't fret, I won't regret this decision in 3 years, they were temporary tats named Bacon and Eggs.

For hours we wandered the ranch meeting new people from all over and collecting free t-shirts, guitar picks, and posters. At dusk Shovel and Rope took the stage. I was blown away by their powerful sound and intensity. The passion and energy that connected the duo was truly incredible. I was hypnotized by their chemistry. 

The excitment continued when Lucas Nelson took the floor. Like his father, this guy knows how to give the audience a real show. From his raspy rock-star vocals to his fast fingered picking this dude has got TALENT. He even played a riff on his guitar with his TEETH. Do yourself a favor and watch that video for sure. 

As the stage was reset for the "Suprise Guest," whispers traveled through the crowd about a possible performance from Willie Nelson himself. Front row (lucky me) and center on the stage I nearly jumped when I saw one of the technicians bring out Willie's signature guitar with a hole in the body. "That's Willie's guitar!" I heard someone say. Moments later he came out in New Balance sneakers and his braids (so well remembered), and appreciation like I have never heard before erupted from the crowd. The man. THE Willie Nelson. 

As the lights went down I thought to myself, "Man that was music."

Post-SXSW I have returned to the normalcy of my life with the taste of my day with Willie Nelson fresh in my mouth. It's these experiences that make the heart long for creativity and human expression everyday.