Here in the Live Music Capital of the World, performances drive the local music economy. With venues closed, Austin’s music community is reeling, and 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about your merch.
Black Pumas. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Austin’s red-hot rock ‘n’ soul act was on a whirlwind tour of sold-out music halls across the country and around the world. It ended in mid-March, as concert halls everywhere abruptly went dark.
In mid-May, a couple of months into the shutdown and a few days after the band’s unprecedented run of four sold-out shows at Stubb’s BBQ was supposed to take place (the shows have been moved to September), Adrian Quesada, guitarist and producer for the Grammy-nominated band, struggled to find a word to describe the "overnight shift of lifestyle."
"Surreal" comes close, he said over a Zoom chat from his South Austin studio.
"The Pumas year that we had was just incredible," he said. "I just miss making music with them, connecting with people. It's completely surreal, just like, one day to the next."
But "life goes on," singer Eric Burton said from the Airbnb in Venice Beach, Calif., where he’s sheltering in place.
"We're not traveling right now or playing shows. And so that's a big bummer, but, you know, I'm still utilizing the time to write music," Burton said.
He believes the "times are imploring people to get back to self," and when the show is able to go on, musicians will return "revitalized," he said.
Quesada said that while the band is "itching to play" again, they’re also sobered by the economics devastating the beloved Austin music businesses that supported them in their early days.
To lend a hand, they’ve launched the "Know You Better" venue and record store relief funds. Until the end of May, they are donating $5 from each wearable item sold in their online merch store to the venue fund that benefits employees of C-Boy's, Antone's and the Mohawk.
They are donating $5 from each vinyl purchase to the record store fund benefiting Antone's Records/Big Henry's, Breakaway Records, End of an Ear and Waterloo Records staff.
To sweeten the deal, the band’s store is stocked with a wide variety of cool new T-shirt designs ($25-$30). The classic double puma design from their original T-shirts ($25) is now available on a camouflage tee ($30) as well as black ($40) and camo ($45) sweatshirts. Since everyone’s in the market for loungewear these days, we anticipate their new sweatpants ($40) will be a hot seller, and as everyone is also in the market for a haircut these days, we’re betting their four styles of snapback hats ($30 each) will also move well.
The decision to donate money to support local businesses was a no-brainer. The band "could have only started here in Austin," Quesada said. "The community and friends that we have was how we connected and how the band came together."
Austin was "the perfect launching pad for us," he said. "So it's the least we could do to give back to this city, you know, which has just been a good home base for us." theblackpumas.com
TC Superstar. For the past couple of years, the buoyant band of recent University of Texas grads has been wowing Austin audiences with an engaging live show that includes four dancers as part of the group’s core lineup. Their 2019 release, "R&D," an ambitious platter loaded with hooky earworms and lyrically insightful dance floor sizzlers, was one of the year’s best local releases, setting the band up for a banner 2020 before the world went wacky. Drop by their merch shop to keep the spirit of their exuberant shows alive at home with their "All the Moves" tee ($20) designed by guitarist Julio Correa. You can also scoop a candy pink TC-S logo tee ($20) or "Dana Don’t You Wanna Be Mine" ($15) tee. While you’re there you can pick up the "R&D" zine, which includes interviews, lyrics and more. ($10). tcsuperstar.bandcamp.com
Calliope Musicals. Missing the flamboyant power-pop of Carrie Fussell’s crew of intergalactic glam enthusiasts? Stop by their merch shop to grab a copy of their excellent 2019 album "Color/Sweat" on vinyl ($25) or a three-record bundle ($60) that also includes their 2016 release "Time Owes You Nothing" and a 7" single with the songs "Wasted Space and Looking for the One I Love." You can also snag one-of-a-kind pieces that feature the band’s logo screen-printed on denim jackets, vests and vintage shirts ($30), a tote bag ($10) and a "Time Owes You Nothing" coloring book ($15) to help while away your days at home. calliope-musicals.square.site
Breakaway Records. "Our main mission right now is to keep our jobs and return to our position in providing the community with a safe space to share music and life. The best way you can help us to achieve those is to buy stuff from us online," a message on the website for the turntablist haven on North Loop reads.
‘Nuff said. Indulge in top-notch virtual crate-digging on the site’s LP section where you can find titles from standout soul dynamos like Charles Bradley and Etta James, jazz classics from Coltrane and early punk albums from Fugazi, Black Flag and the Sex Pistols. They also have more obscure titles like a collection of hip-hop from Northern Mali. ($10-$35) They stock a few box sets and custom bundles from various record labels including a five-album Daptones collection ($80). Just diving into the vinyl craze to pass your time in isolation? The store sells turntables starting at $120.
They stock three styles of logo tees ($18) in a variety of colors, LP- and 45-size tote bags ($7), posters and more. They are currently offering $5 shipping for every order regardless of size, and they’re open for free curbside pick up and phone orders on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. breakawayrecordshop.com/exile
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