Don’t like Mondays? Well how about if it’s “Hi, How Are You” Day? That’s the case this coming Monday, January 22, as a handful of local organizations have come together for a special show at the Mohawk putting the spotlight on mental health awareness.
Spearheading the event is the recently formed “Hi, How Are You?” Foundation, created by Courtney Blanton and Tom Gimbel “to generate new conversation around mental well-being,” according to the foundation’s website. The name, of course, comes from renowned songwriter Daniel Johnston, whose mide-1980s cassette “Hi, How Are You?” helped launch a career and an identity for the underground musician who triumphed despite significant mental health issues.
The phrase is preserved in Johnston’s trademark frog mural on the side of a University of Texas campus-area building that once sold his tapes (and now, fittingly, is home to the restaurant Thai, How Are You?). Blanton and Gimbel’s foundation seeks to extend that legacy with their foundation.
Gimbel, the general manager of KLRU’s “Austin City Limits” music television program, explained via email earlier this week that the foundation grew from his own work with Johnston over the past quarter-century, as well as personal and family experience with mental health issues. “Our mission is to change the conversation and remove the stigma around mental illness,” he wrote.
Toward that end, the foundation is “asking everyone to check in on a neighbor, co-worker, friend, or loved one and ask ‘Hi, How Are You?'” on Monday. “If someone needs assistance, we want them to know that help and resources are available,” Gimbel says.
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Mayor Steve Adler will officially proclaim Monday as “Hi, How Are You?” Day in the City of Austin, and the city’s Music & Entertainment Division is a co-presenter of that evening’s event at the Mohawk, as is longtime Austin music mental health resource the SIMS Foundation.
Doors open at 7 p.m., or 6:30 p.m. for VIP access to an art sale featuring works by Daniel Johnston, David Thornberry, Jason Archer, Miguel Rangel, Michael Sieben and Matthew Rodriguez. The art will remain for sale throughout the night. The music, which begins at 8 p.m. will partly be a tribute to Johnston. Acts including Kathy McCarty (whose 1995 album “Dead Dog’s Eyeball” remains the gold standard for Johnston covers), Moving Panoramas with KUTX’s Laurie Gallardo, Jane Ellen Bryant, Will Courtney, Cowboy Diplomacy and Leslie Sisson with Josh T. Pearson and Jonathan Terrell will play Johnston’s songs, as well as some of their own.
Tickets, $10 in advance and $15 day of show, or $50 VIP, are available through the event’s website.