Here in the Live Music Capital of the World, performances drive the local music economy. With the city on lockdown and the venues closed, Austin’s music community is reeling. As we settle in for a long stretch of social distancing, the primary revenue stream for most artists and service industry workers has dried up.
One of the best ways to support your favorite Austin musician or music business in these difficult times is to buy their stuff. Yes, that means actually spending money on albums instead of streaming them, but it also means clearing out their merchandise stocks of the T-shirts, buttons and other fun items they invest in to promote their music.
Now that every day is casual Friday, why not pick up a few new tees from your favorite artist? Or some fresh art to liven up the walls of your hastily constructed home office? We are confident you’ll be the coolest co-worker at your next Zoom meeting.
If you’re an artist or music business owner, drop us a line at email@example.com to tell us about your merch.
Asleep at the Wheel. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread in Texas, Austin music fans were shaken last week when the leader of the Grammy-winning western swing band, Ray Benson, announced on social media that he had contracted the virus. Benson said he had not been experiencing the typical COVID-19 symptoms like fever, cough and respiratory problems, but he has been dealing with dizziness and fatigue. On March 25, in a Facebook post thanking fans for an outpouring of support, he said "if nothing further comes up," his doctor thinks he "should be in the clear in the coming weeks."
The band’s 50th anniversary tour was supposed to kick off last month. It’s been bumped back to the summer, but you can drop by the band’s merch store now to gear up for the celebration. We’re fond of the colorful (and useful right now) bandana ($15) featuring armadillo-themed 50th anniversary art by Will Hatch Crosby. A variation of the design is available on a T-shirt ($20), and there’s also a cool golden anniversary baseball tee ($25), Dickies shirt ($48) and trucker cap ($25). The site features a variety of legacy Wheel gear including a few women’s cut tees and tanks, and if you click on the vintage tab, you can find a few cool old posters, including one from a 1979 show at the Austin Opera House, autographed by Benson. store.asleepatthewheel.com/apparel
Sydney Wright. The pop singer, who was poised to have a breakout year at South by Southwest, recently released "Home," a lovely slow jam about finding a place where you belong. It feels all the more poignant, now that most of us are watching the world from our windows. Wright just released a new T-shirt designed by Brad Bond that features the singer with a glorious heart bursting from her chest. It’s available in black and vintage white ($20). She also has a selection of upcycled merchandise featuring the design from her 2018 album "Seiche" created by Letitia Smith of White Light Exposure and screen-printed on thrift store garments. She has a variety of long and short sleeved T-shirt styles ($20-$25) as well as a comfy-looking summer dress ($30). sydneywrightmusic.com/shop
Angélica Rahe. The soulful Spanish-American singer-songwriter fell in love with Austin during a 2018 tour stop at the Erwin Center when she was working as guitarist and music director for Colombian American neo-soul sensation Kali Uchis. In February, she released her debut full-length album, "Reina," a dreamy collection laced with entrancing cascades of guitar, Spanish poetry whisper-sung over lush and lovely soundscapes and a vision of femininity at its most powerful. Rahe has created sensual 6-by-8-inch line drawings ($15) of female nudes as companion pieces for songs on the album. She also has an 18-by-24-inch acrylic on canvas pieces that she sometimes places on stage while she performs available for $200 each or $350 for two. angelicarahe.com/art
#DMWTX. Since 2009, Tosin Nisot, in-demand graphic designer and curator of the long-running Texas hip-hop site thescrewshop.com, has been producing "Don’t Mess Wit Texas," a DVD series featuring videos by hip-hop artists from across the state. The 30th and final installment of the series was released earlier this year, but "to continue on with the mission to promote Texas hip-hop talent," Nisot has reimagined the brand as a clothing line featuring fresh urban designs. His collection features a variety of long and short sleeve tees ($34.99 and $29.99), hoodies ($44.99) and phone cases ($19.99). (Use promo code "AUSTIN360" for a 10% discount until April 30th.) teespring.com/stores/dmwtx
Venue spotlight: Under the banner "Austin Will Survive," local clothing company Fine Southern Gentleman has launched a new program to help small businesses by offering production of branded gear with no upfront costs. (The company, which was forced to temporarily lay off much of its staff in the wake of the SXSW cancellation, handles all the back end production, sales and delivery, then splits profits with the businesses.) Red River Cultural District club Empire Control Room and Garage has taken advantage of the program to create a shirt ($24) that features a photo of the shuttered venue with the words "We gon’ make it" graffiti-ed on the fence. Sales of the T-shirt will benefit the club’s employees. finesoutherngentlemen.com/collections/heard-presents
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