Joe Nick Patoski

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Joe Nick Patoski talks with us this week about his latest book, Austin to ATX: The Hippies, Pickers, Slackers & Geeks Who Transformed the Capital of Texas  (Texas A&M Press, January 23, 2019).Show More

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Photo by Wyatt McSpadden

Joe Nick Patoski has been writing about Texas and Texans for five decades. His latest book, Austin to ATX: The Hippies, Pickers, Slackers, and Geeks Who Transformed the Capital of Texas is published by Texas A&M University Press.

A former cab driver and staff writer for Texas Monthly magazine and one-time reporter at the Austin American-Statesman, he has authored and co-authored biographies of Willie Nelson, Selena, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He has also written the books The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America; Generations on the Land: A Conservation Legacy; and Texas High School Football: More Than the Game. He has contributed essays to the books Homegrown: Austin Music Posters, 1967-1982; My Guitar Is A Camera; Pickers & Poets; Conjunto; and the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock N Roll. Patoski also collaborated with photographer Laurence Parent on coffee table books about the Texas Mountains, the Texas Coast, and Big Bend National Park.

Willie Nelson: An Epic Life, published by Little, Brown, was recognized by The Friends of the TCU Library in 2009 with the Texas Book Award for the best book about Texas written in 2007-8. Generations on the Land, published by Texas A&M University Press in January 2011, profiles nine families across the western United States who have been recognized for outstanding stewardship in practicing sustainable farming, ranching, logging, and wine-grape growing. Texas High School Football: More Than The Game is a catalog of the exhibit he curated for the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in 2011.

The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America, published by Little, Brown in October 2012, is an expansive eight hundred page history explaining how and why a 1960 expansion franchise in the National Football League became America’s Team and the most valuable franchise in sports.

Patoski’s byline has appeared in Texas Monthly, Texas Highways, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Creem, Spin, Westways, TimeOut New York, Garden and Gun, and No Depression magazines. He also recorded the oral histories of B.B. King, Clarence Fountain of the Blind Boys of Alabama, Memphis musician and producer Jim Dickinson, Tejano superstar Little Joe Hernandez, and 15 other subjects for the Voice of Civil Rights oral history project sponsored by AARP and the Library of Congress, some of which appeared in the book My Soul Looks Back in Wonder by Juan Williams.

Patoski writes about water, land, nature and parks for a number of publications including The Texas Observer, Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine, and National Geographic magazine, where his story about the Transboundary Megacorridor of southwest Texas and northern Coahuila and Chihuahua appeared in February 2007. He also wrote a four-part series about water fights throughout the Guadalupe River basin for the San Antonio Current.

Patoski hosts The Texas Music Hour Of Power on Marfa Public Radio every Saturday night.  He lives in the Hill Country near the village of Wimberley where he swims and paddles in the Blanco River.

About Austin to ATX – The Hippies, Pickers, Slackers & Geeks Who Transformed the Capital of Texas by Joe Nick Patoski  (Texas A&M Press, January 23, 2019)

In this gonzo history of the “City of the Violet Crown,” author and journalist Joe Nick Patoski chronicles the modern evolution of the quirky, bustling, funky, self-contradictory place known as Austin, Texas. Patoski describes the series of cosmic accidents that tossed together a mashup of outsiders, free spirits, thinkers, educators, writers, musicians, entrepreneurs, artists, and politicians who would foster the atmosphere, the vibe, the slightly off-kilter zeitgeist that allowed Austin to become the home of both Armadillo World Headquarters and Dell Technologies.

Patoski’s raucous, rollicking romp through Austin’s recent past and hipster present connects the dots that lead from places like Scholz Garten—Texas’ oldest continuously operating business—to places like the Armadillo, where Willie Nelson and Darrell Royal brought hippies and rednecks together around music. He shows how misfits like William Sydney Porter—the embezzler who became famous under his pen name, O. Henry—served as precursors for iconoclasts like J. Frank Dobie, Bud Shrake, and Molly Ivins. He describes the journey, beginning with the search for an old girlfriend, that eventually brought Louis Black, Nick Barbaro, and Roland Swenson to the founding of the South by Southwest music, film, and technology festival.

As one Austinite, who in typical fashion is simultaneously pursuing degrees in medicine and cinematography, says, “Austin is very different from the rest of Texas.” Many readers of Austin to ATX will have already realized that. Now they will know why.