Spain, France, Germany and Australia: The month of September has found a handful of Austin artists looking well beyond national borders toward musical opportunities to represent the city’s music community in other countries.
First up was the Pueblos Blancos Music Festival, which featured a handful of Austin acts including Joe King Carrasco, Riders Against the Storm, Nakia and Leeann Atherton playing free shows in four southern Spain mountaintop villages from Sept. 7-10.
The Austin connection comes from Phil Plata, a drummer known for his work with 1980s-’90s Austin pop band the WayOuts. A few years ago, he recorded with a Madrid guitarist who invited Plata to come play with him in Spain. Plata fell in love with the Pueblos Blancos region and suggested starting a festival there.
“I wrote up a proposal, my friends took it to the mayors of the villages, and much to my surprise the local governments liked the idea and wanted to move forward with it,” Plata said. “When I first envisioned it, I thought we would be playing in little clubs, but my amigos here were able to get the local villages to give us these amazingly beautiful stages that I still can’t believe.”
This year’s event followed its debut in 2016, with plans for another festival next year. “The goals of the festival are to introduce Texas bands to Spain and the European market, develop a fan base there and meet European music industry connections for future tours ,” Plata says.
This week, the latest class of Project ATX6 musicians is in Europe to play a couple of special events. Austin artists Corey Baum, Sisi Berry, Little Mazarn, Mobley, Acey Monaro and Taylor Wilkins will perform Wednesday at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany, before heading to France for a couple of events as part of the Austin Week celebration in Angers, one of Austin’s sister cities.
The European events are just the beginning of a busy fall for the four-year-old Project ATX6, which features a different half-dozen Austin musicians every year. In October they’ll travel to the Yumeiro Music Festival in Oita, Japan, followed by a November trip to Toronto for Indie Week. A season-concluding hometown concert is set for Nov. 29 at Stateside at the Paramount.
House of Songs
Tuesday evening at the House of Songs in South Austin, Austin acts Graham Wilkinson, Akina Adderley and Dawn & Hawkes gathered for a screening of “Albert E. Brumley: Songwriter of the Ozarks,” which documents last year’s project that brought songwriters from Australia to the House of Songs. Together, the two camps wrote new songs working with recently unearthed lyrics by Brumley, the 20th-century legend responsible for such classics as “I’ll Fly Away” and “Turn Your Radio On.”
READ MORE: House of Songs reaches toward new horizons
The musicians also played a short acoustic set (see video above) for the small gathering of attendees that included Austin mayor Steve Adler and his wife, Diane Land. The event was held in part to raise funds for the four musicians to attend a documentary screening at a festival in Adelaide, Austin’s Australian sister city, next month.
The city of Adelaide is covering the cost of three musicians. House of Songs is seeking donations to allow all four to attend. Local music patron group Black Fret is accepting donations to the cause via the Black Fret website (with instructions to earmark PayPal contributions with the special instructions “for Adelaide”).