Christine Messina knows a thing or two about staging events. So when her husband, Austin music titan Louis Messina, turned the big seven-oh, she knew just what to do. She threw a tuneful party at Arlyn Studios and made sure that every detail, down to a fantasy candy counter, sang.
An air-conditioned tent invited guests in from this sweltering South Austin night. Studio co-leader Freddy Fletcher welcomed visitors deeper into the quiet, low-ceilinged rooms, which turn out to be ideal for chatting in a crowd. Not far off was Bobbie Nelson, Freddy’s mother and Willie Nelson‘s sister. The guests nibbled from savory and sweet offerings and at one climactic moment, threw back Jello shots, perfect for the music promoter who cut his teeth on the New Orleans scene.
The well-mannered Texas Gentlemen performed, but never far from the stage were major musical artists George Strait, Ed Sheeran, Shakey Graves and Shawn Mendes. You see, the birthday boy runs a high-powered Austin-based promotion business whose clients have include Strait, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney and other top-grossing acts. Ages ago, he also started the concert end of what is now the Live Nation touring behemoth. Swift’s 13 Management team and parents Andrea and Scott Swift were also at the party.
His wife, who serenely oversaw the sprawling scene, held high positions in business and the arts in Houston and, since moving the family — older boys, younger girls — to Austin, she’s been active in philanthropy. She also founded a sweet business, the Candy Jar in the Hill Country Galleria.
Back to the party, DJ ulovei (Miguel Angel) kept things cool. He showed me some wounds from his well-reported sword stabbing earlier this year. Among the other guests were John Graham (director of the Frank Erwin Center), Dan Murphy (VP of the New England Patriots), Ron VanDeVeen (CEO and president of MetLife Stadium), Clint Higham (Morris Higham Management in Nashville), Jason Owen (CEO and president of Sandbox Entertainment Nashville), Steve Moore (former CEO of the Country Music Association).
I talked for some time with Austin’s Anna and Will Hardeman, while passing pleasantries with Rebecca and Bryan Hardeman. Jewelry designer Nak Armstrong and interior designer Mark Cravotta seemed always just out of conversational reach.
Meanwhile, Louis was his usual warm, youthful, slightly mischievous self. Many more such parties to come, I’m sure, after his actual birthday, which is July 25.
By the way Ed Sheeran touched me. By accident, but still …
UPDATE: Additional guests were added to this post and some roles were clarified.