A Sit Down with Hudson Burger
Hudson Berger, a reoccuring brunch singer at Aquabrew sits down with me. With an Ape-pricot Wheat in hand we talk music, tours, life and inspirations. This past Sunday I was thoroughly impressed at Hudson’s performance. The flow of every song was seamless, and hearing and seeing him was a very personal and moving experience. I even noticed the patrons in the crowd entranced as if it was their favorite artist.
Hudson moved from Upstate New York to Austin in 2018 for better opportunities and warmer weather. His stage name is Willow Speak, based off a “song that came out of nowhere, kind of a visual scene I saw in my head and it was like a story but no context so I just wrote a song inspired by that and at the time that was my favorite song I’ve ever written. I kept coming back to it. It’s super cool to expand on this sort of glimpse in the story, so I’ve been working on writing other songs based on this fictional story I’ve been writing. So Willow Speak is basically a form of communication in that.”
This story was originally created during his time in college and is the overall theme of the music. This gives Hudson’s music a sense of originality and passion that’s usually not found on the top 40. His start in music was at age 13 with the bass guitar and eventually fell in love, after that he joined the jazz band at his highschool and continued to go to college for music. Hudson also performed at SXSW in 2014 with his previous band, Joywave. SXSW was Hudson’s first time visiting Austin and was very fond of the aesthetics of the town and knew he had to return.
“I was doing some traveling about a year and a half later (after SXSW), came back to Austin for a week just to be here and experience it and I think that kind of planted the seed like yea I could definitely see myself here. After another year or so and we passed through Austin one more time and I decided at that point, this is the place for me” said Hudson.
Being a full-time musician is not easy work but he explains he spent a lot of time just networking and e-mailing, “it just kind of paid off by the end of last summer, one time I had 9 gigs in one week. I was like, I guess I could make a living doing this, so I do this full time. Always in the process of writing and hopefully recording another album either the end of this summer or early Fall.” Hudson also explains the importance of supporting local music and the hidden gems found within them.
Hudson Berger’s progress to become a household name is steadily climbing and the never ending work to become a famous musician will become a little easier. Be sure to look out for the upcoming album, and tour dates. Also, on Aquabrews website there’s a calendar of events for the month so be sure to support local music as much as you can!
Be a Traveler, not a tourist
With Amanda Wick
Texas State Student and Aqua Brew employee, Amanda Wick, dives into her recent travels for a look into how to be a better traveler and the experiences she went through. Amanda spent her 2018 Summer traveling to 20 countries in Eastern Europe to places such as Bosnia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sylvania, Kosovo and many more. This Summer, Amanda will be leaving at the end of May to take on South-East Asia, traveling to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
From an Early age Amanda was introduced to traveling from preschool teachers, mission trips and her personal interest. Her first big trips were missions to Dominican Republic and Cuba.
“It was a gorgeous country (Cuba), just the history and everything about it…I swam in the Bay of Pigs, just sitting there thinking about the battle. I’m really big into history.” said Wick. She also explains there’s a difference between locals and the government, giving the country an interesting aspect. Even the difference in attitudes between tour guides and the information given were obvious as well.
Amanda goes on to talk about the Dominican Republic to say she was staying in “landfill” type villages and bathed with buckets. “I’ve always been really easy to adjust to where I am,” which gives this Texas State Senior a different view on how to travel to different countries.
Transitioning from mission trips to her own personal trips, she explains having her own itinerary is “10x better.” Meeting her own travel goals, gaining personal knowledge and becoming cultured gives her the ability to help when she can without a restrictive trip joined by a group of people. Amanda’s choice of living locally and meeting real people gives her an advantage normal travelers wouldn’t have from a five-star resort. “Travelers are negatively viewed because when they do travel, they wanna see these top places like Rome and Paris but they don’t immerse themselves. They look at how different things are, and they don’t want to fit in.”
Leading up to the trip through Europe, she spent the last year saving from her job as a server to fund her through the Summer long journey. The countries she chose were mainly for financial reasons and they weren’t the typical tourist spots, “When you go to places that are more inclined for tourism you find out it’s kind of fake almost, because they want to meet the tourists expectations.” She goes on to explain her favorite local she met was a Muslim man from Bosnia. The country isn’t the most popular for tourism so her new friend has happy to show off the local spots while Amanda drank local beers and he sipped on coffee.
After this Spring semester is over Amanda will head to Vietnam to start her South-East Asian tour. After Vietnam, she’ll travel to Cambodia and Thailand. When asking what her first step is when she arrives, she replied “what I learned from my last trip is to not plan as much, so where I’m staying is unknown.” Her flight lands early in the morning, leaving her time to find a hostel which averages $7 a night. The hostels she stays at are dorm style, about 12 people a room, and lots of bunk beds, “I don’t care, I have a bed and a shower.” Her necessities consist of two carry-on sized backpacks, a power pack and her Go-Pro. Wick explains she’ll probably have to get a sim card or a simple flip phone, which phone plans in Vietnam go for about $10 a month. Her phone is usually only used for practical purposes like maps and emergencies.
America is in a technological era, not being able to fully use a smart phone seems like a hard transition. Amanda explains “that’s one of my favorite things, It might sounds really bad but I don’t feel home-sick,” she likes being disconnected and being able to focus everything on where she is and what’s around her. The most impressive thing is doing all this not only for Instagram or bragging to friends, but to truly learn from these experiences.
Every day of her trip is not planned, but for Cambodia she will see Angkor Wat and any suggestions from people that have been staying in the hostels. For Thailand she plans on eating lots of food and attending the Full Moon Fest. Having never been to an Asian country, she expects to learn and grow from her new experiences.
Amanda grew up fortunate enough to have support from her family but says “I feel pride in the fact that I pay for my own trips.” Ever since she was able to work, she did. There were still sacrifices she made to be able to pay for a trip like this, with enough determination it can always be done.
To prospective travelers, “Don’t be afraid of different cultures, go in with a complete open mind, don’t have this line up of things you’re used to when you go to different countries” said Amanda.
Talking about her future travels brings a huge smile on Amanda’s face and anyone would be able to tell this is a true passion of hers. The cycle will continue long after graduation, there’s no stopping this natural traveler.
A Sit Down with Corey Ticknor, Legislative Director
For Corey Ticknor, a suit and tie is nothing new, neither is Austin traffic or the law. Don’t worry he won’t arrest you but he does have influence. Corey is the legislative director for Representative Ryan Guillen and I had the opportunity to chat about his life in San Marcos, to his life in the Capitol.
After graduating from Texas State University in 2015 with a double major in history and political science, he made the move to Austin and started interning for his current boss, Ryan Guillen. After the internship he contemplated going back to school but realized through advice from fellow students he would just be working more to get a job that he already had. Corey came back on to Representative Guillen’s team to be communications director for session in 2017.
Corey said “It’s a lot of work, I hated living in austin it was a lot of pressure besides just working at the capitol for your first job.”
For the current session Corey is the legislative director and literally makes some of the laws that govern us Texans today. Not only does Corey have an amazing position at the capitol, he can be proud to say his representative passed the most bills in the house totalling to 46 bills which is the most that’s been passed since 2001.
Corey’s favorite bill to work on was the sand-mining bill, he explains he had no idea what it was when he started, and I doubt not to many other people know too much about it either. As this new mining process grows larger due to fracking and other production uses, so does the depletion of land due to the mining of sand, now taking place in Texas.
“A lot of the bad actors will mine the 30 acres and once they’re done they’ll move onto another 30 acres and leave that other 30 acres as barren, it’s pretty gross. A lot of locals happen to hate it, it happens to be in my district so I have a bunch of phone calls” said Corey.
The legislative director made some magic happen to please the big oil and gas companies as well as the people dealing with the mining happening in their backyard. A former USDA employee discovered a way to bring back vegetation to the wastelands caused by sand mining and turn it into more of an oasis in about 2 years. The oil and gas companies were reluctant about being told what to do so they went along with the solution for an agriculture tax exemption. With Corey’s excellent communication and problem solving skills the bill was a success, “It’s all about not making any enemies and just finding compromise, its something I’ve always been good at.”
Originally from Arlington, TX he has now found his home in San Marcos where he enjoys the wildlife, the river and of course Aqua Brew beer! “I went hiking the other day at Purgatory Creek and saw a little porcupine. It’s neat, you’d never see that in Austin, not anymore and there’s deer everywhere, I like that a lot too.”
For all you future politicians, San Martians and anyone needing a push towards the future, Corey says “I like Richard Branson’s quote which is if you ever get an opportunity that you didn’t think you could handle, take it and figure it out later. It makes a lot of sense, I think a lot of people are scared to fail so they won’t take opportunities and I learned in my life that its best to try it.”