Resistance. Resilience. Perseverance. Unity.
That’s how I’ve described Austin’s Latino cultural arts community for the past two years in my end-of-the-year Cultura en Austin columns, where I take a step back and reflect on what we’ve been through together.
I find myself reflecting in this space a little earlier this year, because it seems like we’ve already been through so much during the COVID-19 pandemic. We saw the cancellation of South by Southwest and all the opportunities, energy and uplifting power it brings to Latino artists from around the world vanish. My heart broke for all the international artists who didn’t get their American debut performances and for all those who didn’t get their big breaks or meet someone who could have changed the trajectory of their music careers.
Then, of course, we saw our local music venues shut down, cultural programming pause and our museums and cultural centers close as the city and county implemented social distancing restrictions, followed by a shelter-in-place order to help mitigate the spread of the disease caused by the coronavirus.
It was then that it hit me. Resistance. Resilience. Perseverance. Unity.
I’ve seen the crucial role that music, art and all things creative have played in this city during times of uncertainty before. From art caravans to protest family separations at the border to elaborate community altars after last summer’s mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, I’ve witnessed our Latino cultural arts community rise time and again in ways that are healing.
It’s why I know our comunidad will push forward despite the obstacles. Things may seem blurry at the moment, but what we do know is that creatives in our community will improvise, summon their resourcefulness and bring us together in alternative ways.
As we take this situation one day at a time, here are some happenings at the moment that hopefully help nourish your soul.
3 local Latino artists to stream
Gina Chavez: Catch this award-winning musician at least three times a week on facebook.com/ginachavezmusic. Chavez’s charisma oozes through the screen, and she creates fun and interactive livestreams where viewers can even help her write songs on the spot. Love the insight her livestreams give into her creative process. And it’s also fun seeing cameos by her wife, Jodi Granado, the engine of the band and inspiration behind some of Chavez’s songs.
Tune in at 8 p.m. for Loopy Lunes (where she performs live loops on Monday), Watchale Wednesdays and Fiesta Fridays. Contribute to her online tip jar at paypal.me/ginachavezmusic.
Frederico7: Brazilian artist Frederico Geib goes live from his garage, which he calls the Lion’s Lair, with live looping and trilingual chats with his international fanbase who speak English, Spanish and Portuguese. Between musical breaks, he may even teach you how to make a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. For several years, Geib has organized Austin Brazil Day at the Sahara Lounge during SXSW. Music lovers can still show support of world music by checking out facebook.com/frederico7music every Tuesday and Friday at 7 p.m. Online tips can be sent to paypal.me/frederico7 or Venmo @Frederico7.
Carrie Rodriguez: It’s a family affair for the fiery fiddle player and her guitarist husband, Luke Jacobs. Together, with adorable appearances by their son, Cruz, they’ve created a new video series on carrierodriguez.com called “A Song For You,” where the couple regularly records one song at a time. The power of these two together is pure music magic. Viewers can request songs in advance. A donation form is on the website or Venmo @Lucas-Jacobs-6.
The Big Squeeze accordion contest still on
Despite the cancellation of its live events, the popular statewide youth accordion contest The Big Squeeze will continue online and fans of the contest can stay up-to-date via Facebook and Instagram @texasfolklife or texasfolklife.org.
Contestants can still participate by submitting a video audition by April 5. No drums or singing allowed. Contestants must record themselves playing from the knees up to show the full performance. No need to submit a video if you’ve already auditioned in person or live within 20 miles of an audition that’s already occurred.
The contest shines a light on conjunto, polka and cajun/zydeco music. Semi-finalists and finalists will be announced in mid-to-late April, leading up to the grand finale on May 1, when winners will be revealed. This year, the contest will debut a Rising Star Award, and squeezebox fans can keep up by watching the video clips and images that will be shared to showcase the participants.
“Our mission with the Big Squeeze is to ensure that traditions are passed on and that music heals in any way necessary, whether it be educational, professional or therapeutic and just plain fun,” said Sarah Rucker, contest program director. “Texas Folklife supports the folk arts and cultural traditions of our state and wants to see them continue to invoke pride and community both online and in person, soon.”
Virtual shop hopping
Frida Friday ATX, the local monthly marketplace for vendors who are women of color, will launch a weekly virtual marketplace featuring multiple micro-businesses that have been hurt financially by the cancellations of large and small vending opportunities.
“We believe in womxn of color-led economies and we want to see our vendor community make it past this current situation,” said TK Tunchez, Frida Friday ATX founder and director.
Shoppers can check out @fridafridayATX on Facebook and Instagram and virtually travel from vendor to vendor. Check those social media pages for the market’s upcoming dates.