A W opened last year, there are two Apple stores, and it's become a CSA and food-truck heaven (Whole Foods sprouted here, in 1980, before we all became Whole Foodies).The music fest SXSW, which began 25 years ago with 700 attendees, had 30,000 fans swarm in this spring for headliners such as Kanye West and Jay-Z.But many locals vacate the city that week, and the favored slogan around town is "Keep Austin Weird." Just the right balance between glamour and grounded for Spalding. Incredible," she stage-whispers while scaling the LBJ Library & Museum's massive great hall staircase.She moved here from Jersey City two years ago (but keeps a West Village pied-à-terre for work visits and to see her NYC-based musician boyfriend) into a garden-level duplex in the bobo-inhabited 78704 zip code with her best friend, jazz singer Lian Amber. Above her, the thirty-sixth president's papers (such as his 1964 "Great Society" speech) are bound in four floors of red books.
"I go in my little lair, I open the doors to my yard," she says, "and I just practice." Which doesn't leave much exploring time, so when Spalding finds a hangout she likes, she greets it like a hiker who's just seen a double rainbow. Outside, picnickers dot the grounds of this prime example of the New Formalism that informs Texas' dalliance with modernist architecture.
When it's time for dinner, Spalding takes a bar stool at the North Loop's Foreign & Domestic, a charming 42-seat open-kitchen restaurant, and explains her gravitation toward quirk—you'll regularly find her at South Congress vintage boutique Feathers—and how it sets her apart from her classical-leaning counterparts.