What a weekend to cheer local heroes.
Mandy Patinkin feels at home in Austin. His first concert here in 1991 coincided with the funeral of producer Joe Papp, one of his mentors and the man who made his solo singing career possible. Nerves were raw that night. Nobody will ever forget that searing concert at the Paramount Theatre.
The actor and singer has returned at least four times since then. Last night at the Long Center, Patinkin spun variations on his stripped-down “Dress Casual” series. Patinkin’s voice has darkened these days; it’s less extreme, though no less dramatic. Nobody can take a familiar standard — or even a children’s tune — and make it more intensely human. The big crowd went wild.
Earlier, we saluted, along with another hundred admirers, community historian and activist Danny Camacho. An East Austinite for most of his life, Camacho grew up in a loving and lively family.
At the Emma Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett, former Mayor Gus Garcia, Judge Bob Perkins, Council Members Pio Renteria and Ora Houston, archivist Mike Miller, parks historian Kim McKnight, history advocate Gloria Espitia, school board member, the Rev. Jayme Mathias, MACC board member Kathy Vale Castillo and writer Juan Castillo, looked on as Camacho was granted posthumous honors by Travis County Historical Commission. His sister, Dolly Camacho-Watson, turned in a bravura performance that told Danny’s life story.
The night before, at a kid-friendly party on the grounds of the Carver Museum and Cultural Center, we bid fond farewell Austin cultural leaders Lisa Byrd and Ixchel Rosal. Something called Columbia University has recruited Rosal, so the family is headed to that other Riverside Drive, the one on the west side in Manhattan.
It’s impossible to enumerate all the Austin communities that this pair has elevated over the past 25 years, but let’s make sure some are recorded: University of Texas, Dance Umbrella, Texas Performing Arts, Ballet Austin, Six Square (formerly the African American Cultural Heritage District) and various predecessors to the Mexican American Community Center.