With the clubs closed and gatherings of over 10 prohibited, Austin’s music community is reeling. Money earned from touring and live performances is the primary source of income for most musicians. As we settle in for a long stretch of social distancing, most of those revenue streams have dried up.
Several online fundraisers, including the Banding Together effort led by the Red River Cultural District, have been set up to assist artists and businesses and many artists are exploring streaming concerts as a way to supplement their income. But one of the best ways to help your favorite local artists right now 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 cool T-shirts, buttons and other fun items they invest in to promote their music.
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To that end, we’re launching this new series. Think of it as a virtual merch table. Each week we will highlight cool merchandise from several artists along with a spotlight on a venue, record label or other music business.
If you’re an artist or music business owner, drop us a line at email@example.com to tell us about your merch. If you’re a music fan, consider spending $20 (or more) that you would drop at the bar on your favorite band’s T-shirt, or koozie, or skateboard. Let’s all emerge from this lock down looking like the rockstar music supporters we really are.
Heart Bones. "Hot Dish," the glittering synth bomb of a debut album from Austin’s Sabrina Ellis (A Giant Dog, Sweet Spirit) and Sean Tillman (Har Mar Superstar), is a sizzling platter loaded with swooning earworms and emotionally raw glam pop. The group’s tour was shut down before a South by Southwest appearance and an Austin release party set for April, but head over to the band’s online shop to scoop a tee featuring Ellis and Tillman’s smiling mugs ($25), a black heart patch ($5) or a "Hot Dish" oven mitt ($20). The duo began their musical partnership playing covers from the "Dirty Dancing" soundtrack — they included a steamy rendition of "Hungry Eyes" on the album — and in that spirit, there’s also an electric purple logo tee to help you harness your inner ‘80s "Baby" ($25). Vinyl albums are $20. The band is currently running a promotion that packages a tote bag and an 8-by-10-inch glossy with every order over $30. heartbones2.com/store
Vapor Caves. Austin’s boogie funk duo dropped their excellent debut album "Feel Yourself" last fall, and their merch shop is loaded with whimsical memorabilia and spirit-lifting bling. Cop a pair of limited edition earrings handcrafted in New Orleans as replicas of their vinyl album ($30). You can get two records, two album sleeves or one of each. They also have bamboo door-knocker earrings ($20), "Be the Light" prayer candles ($15) and take-no-nonsense "Bitch to the Boys" tees ($20). "Feel Yourself" on limited edition 180 gram yellow vinyl is $25. thevaporcaves.bandcamp.com/merch
Croy and the Boys. Austin’s socially conscious country crooner is here for the kids, and since you’re going to be looking at those little rugrats every day, why not deck them out in a "Love Canoe" kids tee ($12, sizes 2-4) or onesie ($12)? While you’re there you can grab a "Mob Tee" featuring a photo of the band or a "La Croy and the Boys" tee or tank ($25 each) for the grown up honky tonkers in your house. Vinyl of the band’s 2019 release "Howdy High Rise" is available for $20. croyandtheboys.com/store
Brownout/ Grupo Fantasma/ Money Chicha. World class cumbia outfit Grupo Fantasma, Latin funk powerhouse Brownout, and psychedelic cumbia project Money Chicha share common members and fan communities. You can stop by the Fantasma Family world headquarters to scoop gear from all three. We’re big fans of the Grupo Fantasma red lady T-shirt and the Brownout logo tee ($25 each). You can also pick up Grupo’s most recent album, "American Music, Vol. 7" and Brownout’s projects "Brown Sabbath Vol. 2" and the incredible Public Enemy tribute, "Fear of a Brown Planet," on vinyl for $20 each. fantasmafamily.hilinemerch.com
Blackillac. Austin’s party rap ragers have teamed up with skatewear brand DVS on a line of apparel and accessories featuring a bold black and white pattern design with a dynamite-toting rave monster logo. Two styles of custom Blackillac kicks are available at dvsshoes.com ($47.50, $75) You can also stop by the duo’s Threadless store to snap up the design on a men’s cut and sew shirt ($45), a "Blackpack" ($45), "Bleggings" ($35) or a Skatebloard ($55). You can also pick up the group’s Phantom Bear tee featuring a haunted Panda with an (ahem) hand-rolled cigarette, a flagship logo tee or a "Black and Morty" tee ($25 each). blackillac.threadless.com
Venue spotlight: Mohawk. In the wake of the devastating loss of SXSW plus two months of business, that "Defend Red River" T-shirt ($20) you’ve been eyeing for a year now has never had such bittersweet significance. If you keep the A/C cranked at home, perhaps you need the long-sleeved, head banger version of the shirt ($35), with its sinister lightning font and subtle sacrilege. You can also pick up a T-shirt ($20) or hat ($22) with the club’s declaration of inclusivity, "All Are Welcome," an enamel bear pin ($6) or a "paradise" mug ($12) so you can dream of rock ‘n’ roll outings still to come while you sip your a.m. coffee. buystuff.mohawkaustin.com/