Lou Neff Point, where Barton Creek empties into Lady Bird Lake, proves to be an ideal venue for the 2018 Minor Mishap Marching Band floating concert. It’s one of the many innovative ways musician and composer Datri Bean has brought big brass band music to the citizens of Austin over the years. The boats launch just below Barton Springs and paddle to the mouth of Barton Creek at Lou Neff Point, where listeners congregate around the shoreline and gazebo to enjoy the show.

The Minor Mishap Marching Band performs at Lou Neff Point, 2018

Photo of Datri Bean

“I’m a musician and composer. I sing and play piano. I was tired of there not being a brass band in Austin, Texas, and I ended up starting Minor Mishap marching band. Most of the music has been written by me. I have this huge palette to work with and musicians who are willing to go along for the ride, which is just amazing.”

— Datri Bean, 2018 interview
Photo of Minor Mishap Marching Band on the creek

“I came back from a big trip and wanted to try to invent new ways of doing shows, of having a different audience experience. One of the things I thought about was what if you were on the water.”

— Datri Bean, 2018 interview
Photo of Minor Mishap Marching Band with boats tied together

“It’s a significant technical feat to put a brass band in canoes. We developed this whole system of tri-marans for stability. We have 30 musicians signed up. We construct trimarans, which basically become a “dodecamaran,” 12 boats tied together. It's way harder to play on boats than on land, but it’s cool and it means that the audience can be out on the water or near the water, and it just adds this peaceful, grounded tone to everything.”

— Datri Bean, 2018 interview

Past and Present

Mouth of Barton Creek

Photo of canooers in the water circa 1899
Courtesy Karen Thompson
Photo of the Minor Mishap Marching Band in Canoes
Courtesy David Kaiser

An on-the water concert is certainly a creative modern-day use of Barton Creek, but history shows us Austin citizens have often used Barton Creek for recreation. When the photo on the left was taken, back in 1899, Barton Creek could only be accessed by boat or ferry from the north shore of Lady Bird Lake (then the Colorado River).

Who was “Lou” Neff?

Newspaper clipping photo of Barbara Louise Neff

Barbara Louise “Lou” Neff

Active in Austin social and civic life before her death in 1974, Barbara Louise “Lou” Neff was known for her grace, style and tireless devotion to arts and nature in Austin. Lou was President of the Junior League, the Heritage Society, and the Austin High School PTA. She was also Chairwoman of the Settlement Club Horse Show and the annual KLRN (now KLRU) auction. One of her proudest achievements was to serve with Lady Bird Johnson on the Town Lake Beautification Committee in the late 1960s and early 1970s. For these and other contributions, Lou was awarded Outstanding Woman of Austin in 1971. The gazebo was named in her honor in 1975, and with the original gazebo now gone, the entire promontory is now called Lou Neff Point.

Photo of Lou Neff Point taken in 1975

Lou Neff Point, circa 1975

Photo of Lou Neff Point taken in 2000

Lou Neff Point, circa 1975

One of the more inviting and restful spots in Zilker Park is a promontory where lower Barton Creek meets Lady Bird Lake. This spot offers comfortable benches under a gazebo for a full view of the Austin skyline. The original wooden gazebo was converted into an Art in Public Places sculpture by David Santos and Joe Perez in 1993. Lou Neff Point has undergone many changes over the years since it was first developed in the 1930s as a vista over the Colorado River, today Lady Bird Lake.