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Austin music scene staple Sarah Elizabeth Campbell dies

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Benjamin Wermund

Editor’s note: This article was originally published December 26, 2013

Over the last two decades, Sarah Elizabeth Campbell created her own music scene on Monday nights.

The Austin singer-songwriter known for her Bummer Nights at Artz Rib House — a Monday staple on the Austin music scene — died early Thursday morning after a battle with liver cancer.

Campbell’s quick wit and magnetic personality attracted some of Austin’s best-known musicians, as well as some bigger stars, though she never broke big herself.

“She created her own scene,” said Austin musician Marcia Ball, one of Campbell’s closest friends who played with Campbell on Sunday at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. “The people which you saw in Sarah’s gigs week after week were drawn together because they loved Sarah, and then they became friends. The common thread was Sarah.”

Those friends ranged from local singer-songwriters like Ball and Slaid Cleaves to national acts like Bonnie Raitt and John Prine.

For the last year, Campbell played her Monday night set at El Mercado, after Artz Rib House closed down. She changed the name to Mystery Mondays and would welcome a guest each night.

She played her last show Monday and was joined onstage by Butch Hancock and Cleaves, as well as her regular bandmates Christine Albert and David Carroll.

“It was very special timing, really,” Albert said. “It couldn’t have been more beautiful timing to do two really strong performances and be gone a couple days later and not have to go through more pain or suffering.”