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Austin's Red River Cultural District releases 'Hot Summer Nights Mixtape' ahead of free fest

Nané's single 'Blue Velvet' is among the tracks included on the new compilation album.

The Red River Cultural District's Hot Summer Nights music festival kicks off on Thursday with free performances from local artists at venues throughout the district.

The four-day event features over 100 artists, and on Friday, organizers released the "Hot Summer Nights Mixtape," a compilation album featuring 19 artists, most of whom are performing during the festival. Featured artists include bombastic soul outfit Nané, pop artist Kady Rain, rapper Kydd Jones, art-pop act Calliope Musicals and rockers Residual Kid. 

The album is available for download on Bandcamp with all proceeds benefitting the Red River Cultural District's Banding Together ATX COVID-19 relief fund

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The project grew from a collaboration between Chris “Frenchie” Smith and Sam Biggs of Casino AM, who have been working on the album for nearly a year. 

“When everything first shut down, I think it left a lot of musicians as well as production and venue staff with a sense of desolation," Biggs said. "The inspiration behind this release was born from a desire to keep us all together, in a time of uncertainty and remind one another that despite being in lockdown and our events canceled across the country due to COVID-10, that we were still in this together." 

Biggs said the project was meant to "make some noise during a time of unpredictable silence."

Clubs participating in Hot Summer Nights include Red River mainstays Stubb's BBQ, Mohawk, Cheer Up Charlies and Elysium. Shows will also take place at the newly revamped Waterloo Park, new regional Mexican music venue Mala Vida and the Creek and the Cave.

With the festival taking place during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — and with Austin in Stage 5 restrictions — masks and social distancing will be encouraged throughout the festival and required at indoor shows. Participating venues will have masks available for patrons who forget to bring their own. Through a partnership with the mayor's office, Hot Summer Nights also will host a vaccine clinic at Empire Control Room throughout the festival.