Music Archives - 365 Things to Do in Austin, TX

Music

    Join the ultimate family-friendly urban scavenger hunt on Sunday, May 5, 2019. Proceeds benefit Central Texas children and teens with an ill parent. Teams of all ages welcome!
    The hunt starts at noon, with four hours for teams to do good deeds, complete challenges and visit various clue stops. Then gather from 4-6 p.m. for the after party at Zilker Lodge at Austin Sunshine Camps. Celebrate the winners, laugh at the photos and share stories over food and games.
    Plan now for an afternoon of laughter that will do your heart–and your community–good.
    Tickets are on sale now – buy your tickets today!
    All proceeds to benefit Wonders & Worries

      The ‘Sad Clown with the Golden Voice’ is here with his heartfelt anthems and a suitcase full of Kleenex! This Pity Party is not all sadness and longing. The show is peppered with a brilliant sense of the absurd, mixing lots of humor with the awkward, tender moments.

      Don’t miss him LIVE at The Paramount Theatre of Austin on March 22nd!

        Popping up on March 10, 2019 from 6 PM to 2 AM at Cheer Up Charlies in Austin, Texas, CYBERBABES is a one-night music and art festival amplifying the work of femme and queer musicians, DJs, performance and visual artists. Presented by #bbatx, Y2K Technologies and p1nkstar, Inc., CYBERBABES showcases world-class acts with Austin favorites, creating an innovative and otherwise unattainable experience. Performers include Alok V. Menon, Dorian Electra and umru, joined by 15 additional acts.

        The event is free and open to the public with RSVP and has been made possible by Cheer Up Charlies, Tito’s Vodka and Red Bull. 21+. RSVP now at bossbabes.org/cyberbabes

          Sit, Relax, Listen, Enjoy!

          Strings in the Park is a first ever, family-friendly, Austin-unique, Fall weather concert promoting Austin’s original music and community green spaces. 

          This event is 100% no cost. Parking is free, too.  All are welcome.

          Our venue features tons of picnic tables, cafe tables and seating, fresh-made pastries and coffees, huge wine and beer selection, tailor made salads and sandwiches, the large lawn, a large shaded deck, clean bathrooms, a popular playground, a walking trail, a lively creek, shady trees, and more.

          This concert features Austin innovator Will Taylor,  string quartet and backing musicians, with Austin music legend Guy Forsyth (winner, Best Male Vocals, Austin Music Awards, 2018) in an afternoon of rejuvenating serendipities. 

          Bring picnic blanket and fixings or just drop-in! 

            The 7th annual Austin Originals Benefit Concert brings together community leaders and supporters of Austin Child Guidance Center (ACGC). Each year, the Phyllis Richards Austin Icon for Children Award is presented to two outstanding individuals. The evening features the Austin Originals Tasting Grove (a reception area with food bites from local Austin favorites), live and silent auctions, and live music from Bob Schneider, Casey McPherson, Nakia, and James Junius. This year’s emcee is Terry Lickona. All funds raised benefit under-served children and family services with Austin Child Guidance Center, Austin’s oldest nonprofit dedicated to children’s mental health.

            The 41st spring Pecan Street Festival (PSF) takes place this Saturday and Sunday on Sixth Street (formerly known as Old Pecan Street). The twice-yearly event boasts hundreds of artisanal vendors, food stalls and a ton of local, live music on three stages. The PSF is the largest, and longest-running Texas’ music festival of it’s kind.The festival is free for all ages.

            Organizers encourage attendees to leave their cars at home and take public transport, ride share, bike or carpool to the event. Capital Metro just announced extended hours from 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturday during the event. Attendees are strongly encouraged to explore the live music offerings. Some of our picks include; Blushing, Lola Tried, Los Coast, Ex Romantika, The Gary, Jane Ellen Bryant and El Tule. The entire lineup and set times can be found on the PSF website.

            We talked to Ryan Cano, the festival Music Director about how things have changed since he took the helm four years ago. As a music manager, booking agent and former musician for over 20 years, Cano possesses both the experience and intelligence necessary to carve out a career in the Austin music industry. He has operated music booking and management company, The Loyalty Firm for almost 15 years.  That is no small feat as you’ll learn below. 

            Photo: Will Taylor

            365 Things: You’ve been booking Pecan Street Festival for few years now. How long has it been? How has your approach to booking the event changed from the first one until now?

            Ryan: It’s been close to four adventurous years with the Pecan Street Festival! I’m not sure my process has changed too drastically since I became the Music Director & Talent Buyer here. I’d say I just fine tuned my processes as I went along. I was pretty well-served by creating and producing hundreds of smaller concerts over the years before earning this role.

            I first started at the festival back in June 2014 so there was not a lot of time to book and deliver a Fall lineup. Mentally compartmentalizing my new challenge with the festival allowed me to relax and face booking the festival confidently. I told myself this is much like booking and producing 10 concerts at once except there will be a staff of people ready to assist me if I needed help. I quickly found my groove here and was able to organize and tackle my responsibilities fairly well. It shouldn’t be too surprising that my first festival at PSF was largely booked with artists I had prior experience working with in some capacity.

            I manage My Education and Built By Snow and they’ve played with a lot of very talented artists over the years so there were alot of prior relationships I was able to reach out to. There was some initial first time’s bookings outside the scope of my knowledge in that first fest and I leaned on artist suggestions from other concert promoters and journalists in town who were curating or covering scenes I wasn’t as experienced in. I would then listen to the suggested music and then see the artist live and just go from there. Before I started booking my second festival at PSF, I did some professional self-evaluation, focusing heavily on filling in the gaps in my knowledge and learning more about our community’s music scenes that I felt I didn’t know intimately enough. This process really opened up my eyes to the extent that music talent surrounds all of us in Austin. It’s pretty astounding. I have a wishlist of artists I would like to have at Pecan Street Festival that could fill the next several years of lineups fairly easily.

            Over the years I have definitely grown more comfortable in the Music Director & Talent Buyer role and I’ve made a few changes along the way that I felt improved the audience experience. For instance, I will only book an artist once in a calendar year so our Spring fest will look completely different than our Fall fest. I’ve learned to easily pivot from one vision to the next as well. Sometimes you start with an idea in mind of how a stage will be thematically and it turns out differently than planned due to a myriad of possible reasons. There tends to be magic moments in that phase of booking as it makes you alter your perspective and consider something you have not been focused on. I’m proud of what’s been placed on stage over the years. I feel the festival is showcasing the most diverse musical offerings of any festival of our kind. We give artists of all ages and genres a chance to showcase their talents to a curious audience that shows up in droves. We had record attendance both seasons last year and I hope we continue with that trend. This is the 41st Spring season of the Pecan Street Festival and although a lot has changed in Austin, this festival feels like a step back-in-time. This is classic Austin. I’d add that for new residents who feel overwhelmed about where to start in Austin’s music scene, the Pecan Street Festival offers a chance to explore many acts for free! Walk around and find the sounds that speak to you.

            What artists are you most excited about this Spring Pecan Street Festival?

            I definitely have some intrinsic happiness about how well-balanced the music is this Spring. There really is something for everyone. We have some incredible R&B, Soul & Hip Hop artists like Los Coast, Melat, Alesia Lani, Zeale and Fort Never on Saturday performing on our Neches Main Stage. We have really awesome Americana on Sunday on the Neches Main Stage from Striking Matches, The Watters, Miller Campbell, Jane Ellen Bryant and Scott Collins. We offer many styles of rock n roll from shoe-gazers like Blushing to the whip smart indie from Lola Tried or legendary punk rockers Terminal Mind. We have u18 artists RIIL Chemistry, the Austin Children’s Choir and Midnight Butterfly.  Electronic and bass heavy music from Bassline Drift, Emme, NGHT HCKLRS and Glass Cannon will also perform. We have latin artists on both days across many stages and genres of sound including Cilantro Boombox, El Tule, Chulita Vinyl Club, Ex Romantika, Slowly Grace and Ley Line.  Rock, Americana, Dance, Country, Folk, Punk, Funk, Singer-Songwriter, multi-lingual music are all represented. The bill is 98% local. Our stages at PSF are a reflection of the talent our community contains. These are our neighbors on stage.

            Photo: Kat Alyst

            You get to hear a lot of great new music. Beyond submissions to Pecan Street Festival where do you go to find new music? Why do you prefer those channels?

            I have an old-school tactic that dates back to being in a band, learning my scene and who to play with when I first moved to Austin. I study the entire venue calendar in the Austin Chronicle every week. I study what bills are being curated across the city and what artists are playing where. You start to see themes emerge and you can even see an artist progressing this way. It’s pretty handy and I find myself doing this out of habit. Whether an artist was pitched to me or suggested, I spend a lot of the time discovering new artists that I am unfamiliar with using streaming services. These days, I’d rather take my initial spin of a new (to me) act through a Soundcloud or Bandcamp link. I like to make playlists of artists I need to research more in depth and Soundcloud is an especially great option for that. You can get a mini-sneak peak of a stage lineup you’re building this way. Sometimes I’ll check if an artist is on Spotify or Amazon Music and listen there too.  

            I’ll also watch live music performances on YouTube or preferably see the artist live. Seeing an artist play a show in Austin is a still a wonderful way to spend an evening. The number of small businesses you can support by going to a local show is impactful. I love it when I accidentally catch an act while I’m out. This is probably more of a step two for me if I’m not familiar with an artist….ultimately I am hiring a live performance for the festival so that’s my focus after listening to the music

            Related question… if streaming music is the primary way music is being discovered and listened to, how does that model benefit artists? Where do you see this sector headed given the low profits for both platforms and artists thus far?

            Streaming is the most efficient and often, the initial discovery option. As a consumer of music, streaming is incredibly convenient. A streamed track can follow you from your laptop to your phone to your car without much interruption. The streaming music industry is still trying to figure out what its business model is so it’s hard to put faith and trust that this new way of distributing music can support an artist any time soon. Most of these companies are simply trying to figure out how to sustain themselves and keep the lights on. I’m not sure the health of the artist community is a significant factor of these companies. I think that is largely because they don’t know where [the industry] will end up and that’s because the sector is still evolving. Using a device like Alexa to call out music you want to hear is a game changer in a lot of ways. We are shortening the timeframe between thinking of a track we’d like to hear and being able to command that thought into reality. We’re interacting with music in new ways that challenge the notion of what streaming music is. Streaming from cloud-based sources and the idea of access to music libraries versus owning your own private music library seems to be the new norm. 

            Ultimately to trickle down to the artists and songwriters, it will likely take government regulation to see something better than what is in place now. In my estimation, there needs to be a readjustment in how royalties are accounted for with music streams, much in the way the industry adjusted their royalties with the CD when it took over for vinyl and cassettes sales in the 80s.

            In terms of how I see the sector progressing, I think we are going to see the major players push into areas that aren’t quite their core competencies to deliver a richer customer experience. For instance, there’s no reason Spotify can’t begin playing select music videos from an Artist’s album and thus increasing the capacity to do visual ads on their platform. They are largely focused on audio but I can see Spotify expanding into that user experience. In truth, the audience likes consuming music both ways: audio-only and with visual accompaniment. This is proven by YouTube remaining one of the main music discovery websites for younger audiences. Apple Music probably offers one of the more seamless digital experiences. The iPhone and iTunes work well within the Apple ecosystem.

            There’s no doubt that indie artists benefit far more on the financial end from Bandcamp than almost any other platform.It might not be a fair comparison as I view Bandcamp as more of an artist’s digital/physical catalog with a streaming player and merchandise offered direct. I would like to see Bandcamp move into artist ticketing and pre-sale tickets for tours much like Music Glue.

            Amazon is moving into ticketing. There’s going to be a push into ticketing with Alexa.  Personally I think if Amazon made a big push into having artist pages and letting artists set up their custom digital and physical stores at their website, it might an be undeniable experience for all parties:  artist, fan and Amazon. Amazon Music is interesting  because they are hiding in plain sight and yet they aren’t first to most people’s minds [when they think about music] even though they have the infrastructure to support an artist’s online and physical music and merchandise easily if they desired. We’ve seen a version of this with artist direct deals Garth Brooks signed with Amazon. This program should be expanded. Much like Amazon does with authors, financially investing in musicians and offering direct and exclusive digital deals would be smart. How many great artists do you know that could use $3000 for their album? I know plenty. Instead of exclusively doing direct deals with superstars, there’s a huge market to be had working with lower-tier artists much like Bandcamp does.  I think there is a way for all artists involved in the streaming world to be happy but we have yet to find that balance. Currently, there’s almost no way for an indie artist to survive within the streaming business structure. 

            Photo: Kat Alyst

            The good news is there are ancillary ways streaming can help an artist, even if it is as simple as a guy like me researching the music of someone I end up hiring for an event. There’s indirect benefits to be had for some artists that aren’t quantified. 

            Last time we did an interview we talked about the state of the Austin music scene. Some things have changed for the better like one extra hour of outdoor live music in the Red River Cultural District (RRCD) during the weekend. What else has improved locally for the music industry since then? What challenges that remain are most critical in your mind?

            The extra hour for RRCD venues was pretty huge in my opinion. I’m hoping this is the kickstart to garnering some real momentum (changing the music business) in Austin. An extra hour is a big deal because live music is the stickiness that keeps patrons inside a venue. An extra hour every day over the year could be the difference in a venue surviving or not. This city still has more venues and stages to play on than I can ever remember so that is ultimately a great thing for the working musician. I like that the music community has more sectors to play in other than downtown. New or mostly new music venues like The Little Darlin’ or The Electric Church are curating great music in sections of town where that experience was previously absent.

            There’s still critical challenges ahead. We are the Live Music Capital of the World yet outside of live music, we don’t have a major music industry employer in town that extends beyond that realm. Recently there were rumors of Austin city leaders recruiting a BMI office here and that is absolutely the step in the right direction. I mentioned in our previous chat that I would like to see the city go after a larger music business in the way we have for Apple or Samsung in the past. The amount of income the music industry earns for the city justifies exploring further investment. It would be great to have a major music publisher or music streaming company open an office here. There’s plenty of qualified people here  to work for those businesses. There’s many small business owners in Austin and the surrounding area managing music artists and putting out records. We could leverage their entrepreneurial skill sets amid a larger music companies’ missions. The city will start to lose talent if we don’t offer a way for people to expand upon their careers outside of  live music. We truly need to diversify.

            Affordability still feels largely unaddressed, for artists and citizens alike. My concern when we last talked was, “The developments that dampen our ability to afford living in Austin move a lot faster than our discussion on helping artists and helping affordability.” This still feel true. How many new hotel and condo developments have been propped up since we last talked?

            This past weekend the only daily live music venue on Rainey Street, The Blackheart closed and has a gigantic development looming behind it. There feels like a cycle that isn’t ending here in Austin and there should be real concern and action in helping venue owners succeed. When you lease a place to start your business, the idea is you’ll be working for your customers, not your landlord. Catastrophic rent increases are all too common. Real estate speculation is leaving most of us behind, artist or not.

            The City of Austin been more open to helping the music community than any other administration that I can remember. I have faith that Mayor Adler will find good solutions to our community’s challenges. To be frank, there’s an element of “promise fatigue” as it relates to the city. I think we all know government moves slow but I’m hungry for more action. I was ready for action two years ago and we’re still having the same conversations! It’s much like trying to jog our way out of quicksand. Each time we delay conversations about what to do, the processes that are already developed and in place, like real estate projects, cruise on by. We need to ensure the Austin music industry does not get left behind. We need to move faster and in sync as a community.

            What are you listening to lately?

            It varies wildly from day-to-day. There’s moods I’m trying to illuminate sometimes and other times I’m just merely checking out stuff and exploring. I’m still a big fan of the album format so I still love to check out the vision or statement being made by the group. I have been listening to many artists more in-depth or even for the first time lately. I’ve been wanting to expand my music knowledge about certain genres that I don’t feel I have explored enough. Lately, I have been diving into Country and Americana sounds but I still mix it up. I’ve recently gone deep with Bill Callahan, Gucci Mane, Mono, Willie Nelson and Mala Rodriguez’s respective catalogs.

            What 2018 records would you recommend to our readers?

            Austin’s Soul/R&B and Hip-Hop scenes are having a real moment right now. The spotlight should be much brighter on what is happening in those Austin music scenes. The music that Alesia Lani, Mélat, Los Coast, Tameca Jones, Magna Carda, Mindz of a Different Kind, Cha’keeta Banita, Abhi the Nomad, Zeale or Pat G is making right now is nothing short of amazing. Many of those artist I mentioned you can catch this weekend at the Pecan Street Fest.  

            Below are a few albums released in 2018 that I have had on repeat since hearing them:

            A Place To Bury Strangers: Pinned (2018 Dead Oceans)

            Beach House: 7 (2018 Subpop Records)

            Honey and Salt: S/T (2018 Spartan Records)

            J. Cole: KOD (2018 Roc Nation Records)

            Melat: Move Me II: The Present (2018 S/R)

            Some albums that came out last year that I still listen to quite often include:

            Alesia Lani: Resilient (2017 Keyzstreet Music)

            Cloud Nothings: Life Without A Sound (2017 Carpark Records)

            Golden Retriever: Rotations (2017 Thrill Jockey Records)

            METZ: Strange Peace (2017 Subpop Records)

            My Education: Schiphol (2017 Headbump Records/Golden Antenna Records)

            The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding (2017 Columbia Records)

            Anyone that knows you, knows you’re a big fan of gourmet pizza. What are your favorite spots in Austin?

            My favorite spots include Via 313, Bufalina, and 40 North. These places make pizza perfection consistently and it’s hard to not enjoy yourself at these restaurants. I also love a cheese slice from Stoney’s after a show. There’s many more places in the area that are great in town like Backspace, Pieous, Homeslice, Pinthouse, 600 Degrees. The pizza in Austin and the surrounding area is legit. Pizza is truly the perfect food. I’m pretty much always in the mood for a slice!  

              You are invited to the 17th Annual Concert featuring members of choirs from Georgetown faith communities. This year’s event features for the first time, A Cappella Texas and 11 area churches. Admission is free, and a special offering will be taken up to help keep seniors connected to their community through FIAG transportation and other support services!
              Faith in Action Georgetown offers services to help older adults in maintaining and improving their quality of life. With assistance of volunteers, clients can maximize their ability to meet their own needs and to continue to live independently. We currently offer transportation, handyman services, errands, care calling and visits, information and referrals, and a medical equipment closet.

              If you haven’t been to the Austin Chronicle’s Austin Music Awards (AMAs) yet, 2018 might be the perfect year to break that streak. Organizers elected to move the date before South by Southwest (SXSW) instead of during the insanity of the festival when the local awards ceremony is usually held. Instead of battling traffic to get to ACL Live at the Moody Theater, fans can purchase tickets in advance to see guest performers Lucinda Williams, The Black Angels, John Hiatt, Alejandro Escovedo and a host of other national and local acts plus unannounced special guests. In previous years attendees have gotten to see surprise performances by Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant and Chrissie Hynde among others. The long-format awards show is a great opportunity for local music fans to get a taste of the best Austin musicians in arguably the best sounding room in town. 

              The awards are voted on by the public via an online form. This year, the voting process was changed to two rounds of voting instead of one, which determined the finalists.  Another call was put out to the public was  to vote again to determine the winners. This appears to be a better method of determining the best artists in each category. The Austin Music Awards previously announced the Townes Van Zandt Songwriting Award will be presented to singer-songwriter Joe Ely (who has been a special guest performer before) and the Margaret Moser Women in Music Award will be presented to Liz Lambert, founder of Bunkhouse Hotels and the Trans-Pecos Festival at her El Cosmico resort in Marfa by Grammy winner Williams.

              Musical Director, Charlie Sexton will head up a crack house band with Michael Ramos, John Michael Schoepf and Conrad Choucroun. Rick McNulty and Laurie Gallardo of KUTX will return to host ceremonies.  Proceeds from The Austin Music Awards will benefit the SIMS Foundation which provides health care to qualifying Austin music industry professionals. 

              Advance tickets ($35) are available at the ACL Live website. Mezzanine and other VIP ticketing options start at $250.   Those prices might seem like a bargain after the special guest is revealed. Perhaps it’ll be heir apparent to SRV, Gary Clark Jr? You’ll have to grab a ticket to find out. 

              Last week singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins made her first US tour stop in Austin at Antone’s Nightclub. The reinvented legendary blues club was the ideal spot for the chanteuse to umm… reinvent herself as a neo-soul singer in support of her Mowtown-esque new record, Goodnight Rhonda Lee. The first time you hear Atkins sing you know her voice is special. We thought so the first time we caught the singer sporting a moody indie-rock vibe and working out of Brooklyn (she’s from New Jersey). But seeing the woman sing in a format that features her voice was truly special. Folks walking by on Fifth Street heard her singing and impulsively purchased tickets. Yeah, her pipes are truly golden. 

              After an impressive two-man performance by The Midnight Stroll, a sober and genial Atkins and her Nashville-based band took the stage and presented songs from all four of her albums. She rolled out new single co-written with Chris Isaac, A Little Crazy early in the set showing off her Patsy Cline chops. The song features her velvety voice like it should. Another stand-out tune was a cover of Bowie’s Heroes. We’ve seen the song played by a number of artists since the legendary rocker’s death but none surpass the emotion lent to it by Atkins. 

              The old-school, early 60s vibe of title track to the new record felt like a crowd-pleaser too. A glance around the room revealed a fairly age-diverse crowd of music fans all with big smiles as she worked through the tune with a great band.

              We spoke to her guitarist Stephen who mentioned the band had just gotten back to the States after a whirlwind European tour. He said he was happy to be in Austin as he’s from Texas but now works out of Nashville as producer and touring musician. He was excited about the upcoming American leg of the tour despite jet lag and fatigue. It’s that much fun to tour with Atkins according to the affable musician. 

              The road ahead looks rosy for Nicole Atkins. The one-time drinker has tamed her demons, gotten married, moved to Nashville and put out a fantastic new record that allows the listener to better hear the amazing talent that lay in her voice. The indie rock recordings she’s made are better than good, she wouldn’t have such a devoted fan base without putting out quality material, but the new direction has given her a fresh stage presence and vitality while Atkins shed’s her bad girl Rhonda Lee persona for a more stabile, happier future. 

              Atkins continues her tour in San Francisco, followed by dates in Portland and Seattle.  The nearly non-stop schedule ends in South Carolina next April. 

              New Jersey songstress, Nicole Atkins returns to Austin Thursday at Antone’s Nightclub in support of her new record, Good Night Rhonda Lee that takes a sharp turn away from her indie-pop sound to a traditional soul recording complete with Fort Worth’s Niles City Sound Team who turned Leon Bridges into an overnight sensation. The Midnight Stroll (Aaron Behrens of Ghostland Observatory) and Thayer Serrano open the show. 

              Atkins’ new approach to her music spotlights the singer’s golden pipes which lay somewhat obscured by the indie-rock slant of her last album, 2014’s Slow Phaser. After being married, moving to Nashville (from NYC) and getting sober, Atkins found the material she was writing was deeply personal and introspective. She found the ideal vehicle for those compositions in Soul and R&B. The genres magnify her considerable vocal talent. It doesn’t hurt to have friends like Chris Isaak to lend a hand collaborating on the lead track, A Little Crazy after encouraging her to change her musical style, 

              “Atkins, you have a very special thing in your voice that a lot of people can’t or don’t do. You need to stop shying away from that thing and let people hear it.” -Chris Isaak

                                                                     

              Listeners will identify the song as an instant classic, highlighted by vulnerable lyrics and Atkins’ apologetic tone for revealing the raw emotions swirling around her transition to a sober lifestyle, marriage and a new home. Frankly we’re eagerly anticipating how well the song translates to the Antone’s stage. The legendary Blues emporium is a the ideal spot to introduce a Soul record that takes the listener back to the Motown pop of the 1960s. 

              Atkins is doing it right. She hired the hottest soul producers (and musicians) in the country to back her in Joshua Block, Austin Jenkins and Chris Vivion. We suspect her newfound personal clarity will take an already seasoned and entertaining performer with an established, devoted fanbase and transform the singer into the kind of performer that gains new fans who marvel at the intimacy and emotional impact of her shows. Listening to Goodnight Rhonda Lee reveals her potential for greatness. Those may seem like heady words but if you watched Atkins’ Roadies clip above you’ll find it difficult to refute that bold claim. The album title is both a farewell to the singer’s older, self-destructive incarnation and an introduction to her new approach to making music.  

              Tickets are still available from the Antone’s website. Grab them before they’re sold-out. This show is one you’re going to be glad you attended.