Danny Young : ‘Mayor of South Austin’ Dead at 67

Danny Young, washboard player with the Cornell Hurd Band, owner of the Texicalli Grille, and Mayor of South Austin. Photo by Carlos Lowry / The Rag Blog.

Washboard ace, neighborhood activist: ‘On Wednesday, a mighty whiff of the Old Austin spirit disappeared’
By Michael Corcoran / August 21, 2008

Someone called Danny Young “the Mayor of South Austin” and it stuck like an arrow because Young’s warm, gregarious personality and passion for Texas music lit up the whole 78704 Zip Code. The big-hearted neighborhood activist was the friendliest guy you could ever meet… and he met everyone who ever walked into his Texicalli Grille.

Danny Roy Young, who also played rub board in Cornell Hurd’s band for years, died of a heart attack Wednesday. He was 67. The stream of shocked phone calls and sad emails from friends started circulating at about 9 p.m. More details will be known Thursday morning.

“What a guy!” Susan Antone wrote in an email. “He was a class act always and a great friend. He’ll be sorely missed.”

A native of Kingsville, where his parents ran a diner, Young and his wife Lu moved to Austin in 1975 and opened the first location of Texicalli Grille (the signature Texicalli sandwich was named after Gene Autry’s “Mexicalli Rose”) on South Lamar Boulevard. He became the unofficial mayor of South Austin in the mid-1980s, when the city planned to widen South Lamar and put in a continuous median, to make it more of a thoroughfare. Fearing an expansion would change the soul of the neighborhood, Young organized other affected business owners, who gathered petitions, took their concerns to City Hall, and eventually got the expansion project dropped.

“It used to be, ‘All them Bubbas live over there with toilets in their front yards.’ And there’s still some of that,” Young said of South Austin in a 2002 American Statesman profile. “But it’s the most beautiful, supportive community. It doesn’t matter if you have long or short hair, Skoal in your back pocket or a joint in your shirt pocket; here people really care about people.”

Nobody spread the love like Danny Young, who tooled around town in Big Lu-Lu, a 1954 Chevy station wagon, waving at friends and playing a mix of music ranging from conjunto to blues to zydeco to western swing.

Young retired in 2006 at age 65 and sold the Texicalli, which brought funky charm to an old Taco Bell on East Oltorf Street in 1989. The restaurant, known for its Texan twist on the Philly cheesesteak, closed in July 2007 because of rising rents.

A storyteller, rabble rouser and minor league baseball fanatic, Young loved to hold court at a big, round table at the poster-covered Texicalli, where musicians, artists and neighborhood eccentrics used to gather to complain about government and “progress.”

“In South Austin, we do things the way we want, and we hope you like it,” Young told former Statesman columnist Don McLeese in 1996. “But if you don’t, we’ll do it anyway.”

On Wednesday, a mighty whiff of the Old Austin spirit disappeared. They’ll never be another Danny Young; you can be sure of that. On stage he kept the rhythm on a metal washboard he played wearing leather gloves with Mercury dimes glued to the fingertips. But it was the pulse of Danny Young’s personality, his love of life and music and conversation, that helped give the ‘04 it’s beat.

Source / Austin360

The Rag Blog

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5 Responses to Danny Young : ‘Mayor of South Austin’ Dead at 67

  1. K. says:

    Three of my four brothers and I worked for Danny in Kingsville. I was there when he invented the Texicalli. He just…I’m tearing up thinking about him. He meant so much to countless numbers of people. Just a completely great human being.

    One story about the man: Three years ago, he helped the son of my girl friend complete a high school senior project. We live in Seattle and he had never met the family, but the request from me was enough.

  2. mark_torrey says:

    When we met Danny Young for the first time (at Texicalli on Oltorf), his friendly and unique style and heart felt greetings made us “feel as though we’d only been away a short time”, instead of having just moved to Austin. You will be missed by many many friends indeed. May God continue to bless you, where ever you are.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Awww My Aunt sent me the article in yesterday’s STATESMEN and both your blog and the STATESMEN articles are nicely said… and really show how loving Danny was to new comers all around!
    In the Summer of 05/06 I flew in from Seattle and my 3 sisters and Mom flew in from Illinois to visit her 3 sisters.
    When we flew in, one of my Aunts took us to Texicalli Grille and we had so much fun with Danny that we stayed for probably 2 hours just scoping out the kewl stuff on the walls and talking and laughing with Danny about music, everything under the sun!

    My Mom and sisters flew back to Illinois after thier visit and I continued on to Dallas to visit my Big Brother and his family, I came back to Austin to be with my Aunt and her family before going home to Seattle and My Aunt took me to such a fun “hot spot” where Cornell Hurd’s band was playing, I took lots of pictures and just had so much fun enjoying the music and laughing with the banter going on on stage…I even still have a “whoopie Cushion” from the show and a couple of CD’s as well, and Danny is playing all over them, they even wrote a number dedicated to him about his “rub board”!
    I am so sorry for your loss Austin and his band members and all who he touched!

    Danny Young, I only wish I could have hung out with you more…as you gave a lot of joy to who ever you came in contact with…you and your smile will really be missed…I guess God needed a really great “rub boardist” in His – Country-Rockin’ Band in Heaven!

  4. K. says:

    What a sweet remembrance. You probably saw the CHB at Jovita’s.

    My 24-year old son remembered thinking that Danny was the coolest adult in the world because he had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on display back in 1989!

  5. Thomas Greener says:

    My wife and I hooked up with Ray Wylie Hubbard at the Texicalli Grill back in ’98 before heading to one of Ray’s gigs. Ray introduced me to Danny, and Danny introduced us to “Texicalli Fries, Austin Style.” I can still taste the fries, and see Danny’s smiling face. While there, Danny cut an ID spot for my radio show, in California. He mentions The Cornell Hurd Band, and RWH, and ends the spot by sayin’ “Come on down when ya can, and We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges,” which is what I begin my show with. Meeting and the short visit with Danny, is my best memory of the visit.. and the fries… UMMMMMMM
    God Bless DRY
    Thomas Greener

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