While we continue to shelter at home, we’re starting to see the cancellation of shows that were scheduled for this summer. Even as some businesses are allowed to partially reopen, there’s no word on when music venues will be able to resume operations. Realistically, it could be months or longer before artists are able to perform to crowds.
In the meantime, we can support Austin’s music community by tuning in to their livestreams and buying their stuff.
Each week, we’re highlighting favorite finds from a handful of local artists, along with one music business spotlight. If you’re an artist or music business owner, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about your merch. If you’re a music fan, consider spending $20 that you would drop at the bar on your favorite band’s T-shirt or poster and keep the spirit of Austin’s music scene alive in your living room.
Jackie Venson: For the past few years, Austin’s rising blues talent has been cultivating a vibrant online community among her fans, offering intimate performance clips to members of her JV Squad Facebook group. In the pandemic era, she’s become a constant comforting presence with nightly livestreams that unfold as authentic explorations of her staggering musical depth.
"What I’ve seen during this quarantine is that this entire time I’ve been doing this career, I’ve been operating as if someone else holds the keys to the kingdom," she wrote on Facebook last week. "Like I have to land some TV spot or deal or award to get legitimacy and be able to be a respected artist. The blessing of this quarantine is that I’ve been forced to see that I am already successful."
Released from the pressure of trying to break into the industry, she said she feels free to be "the best and realest version of myself at all times."
"I have already found my tribe, I have already found my sound," she wrote. "I have already found the opportunities that have kept me a full time musician for nearly five years now. I have had the keys to my own kingdom in my hands and chasing a pipe dream has made me blind to it up until now."
Drop by Venson’s website, where you can scoop one of the final remaining copies of her 2019 release "Joy" on colored vinyl ($40). While you’re there, you can grab a cool blue tee with a sharp graphic designed by Venson’s sister that features the standout axe-slinger shredding on her six-string, her face obscured by a tsunami of curls ($20). It’s fixin’ to be summer soon, and the design is also available on a starburst tank that comes packaged with a koozie ($17), perfect for back-porch chill sessions on balmy nights. (jackievenson.bandcamp.com)
Ley Line: World-folk fusion group Ley Line just dropped the new track "Slow Down," a pastoral reminder to revel in natural beauty and allow time for stillness that feels very appropriate during this strange season of isolation. Drop by the band’s website to pick up a logo shirt with a cicada design available as either a standard T-shirt or a boxy cut ($25). You can also embrace your inner cryptologist with their symbol tank top.
"We sing in several different languages, and I felt like creating symbols for our songs would be a special way to connect our audiences with the themes in our music. Almost like hieroglyphs, the symbols tell our story. Each one relates to the different songs we have out now," band member Kate Robberson said. "For example, the first track on our album ‘Field Notes’ is called ‘Window.’ In 2019, we released a song for fresh water, ‘Oxum,’ represented by the waterfall, and as you dig deeper into our music, the symbols begin to hold more meaning. When designing the new shirts, I really wanted to bring something special to our fans, something that reflected the same care and intention that we have when creating our songs."
For fans who want a behind-the-scenes look at the band’s process and the stories behind their songs, the group is launching a new podcast series, "Following Ley Line," for supporters of their Patreon campaign. (leylinesound.com/merch)
Thank You For Sweating: Two months ago, underground dance music enthusiast Charles Mxxn, host of the popular Thank You For Sweating party series, was working at South by Southwest, plotting a run of late-night parties at the Coconut Club featuring party rockers from all over the world. Now, with strict social distancing measures in place and no sense of when we might come together to sweat it out on the dance floor again, he’s focused on bringing artists from around the world together in 48-hour streaming music marathons. The next event is scheduled to take place from May 8-10. To gear up for the party, drop by Mxxn’s "sweat shop," where you can pick up a T-shirt ($30-$40) or a hoodie ($75) featuring the event flyer. (thankyouforsweating.com/tyfsweat-shop)
Hotel Vegas: Austin’s favorite East Austin rock dive boasts a wide variety of T-shirts ($24) to help you keep your inner rebel rocking while you shelter at home. From a Southwestern cactus style to a prayer candle motif calling for cocktail dreams to a gnarly urinal shot, there’s a design for everyone. You can also grab a "Let’s Boogie" tote bag ($12) or a simple white dad cap ($24). For the club’s serious supporters, they are offering a $100 keytag that gets you access to any show through the end of the year.
The club also is delivering good vibes and Frito pies every Friday (and some Saturday) night. Call 512-755-1036 to order a Frito pie kit for two ($12) or a "Vegas Sampler" ($35) that includes Frito pies for two, a 12-pack of Lone Star beer, a six-pack of Topo Chico and a giant roll of toilet paper. They also are taking orders for burgers, veggie burgers, frozen margaritas, six-packs and smokes. Club staff will deliver to addresses within five miles of the venue, or you can grab your grub at their new pick-up window. (finesoutherngentlemen.com/collections/hotel-vegas)