This month hurts. Austin is an active, social city and we are not used to being at home, where most public health experts say we need to be. But Austin’s light comes from within, from the many talented, creative, and innovative people–and they are here to quell your quarantine blues.
Whether you want local music, tech or business panels, exercise, education, art, or food, someone is out there somewhere in Austin, cranking out quality content for you. So make some popcorn and hot cocoa–or a stiff cocktail. Sit back, relax with loved ones, and make the most of a decidedly crappy situation.
Because so many people and businesses are impacted financially by all this mess, I am focusing on free or super cheap online resources. Remember these businesses when you’re flush again. Or if you are able, subscribe, buy, or donate to them now. Let’s have their back like they have ours!
Music is at the heart of the Austin experience–always has been, and hopefully always will be. Even without SXSW or the numerous unofficial showcases, parties, and public performances across the city, you still have some great chances to experience live music at home.
Enjoy these bands DIY festival-style. Put on your coolest/sexiest/edgiest fest gear, and have your own Austin music/SXSW dance party. Bonus points for live streaming yourself or otherwise posting from your very own mini music fest. I would love you to tag @jojoaustin in your dance parties if you share them on IG. This would cheer me up immensely. And I’ll send you one back!
Electric Ladybird: Central Texas Music Via Austin Public Library
This may be the best little secret people should be shouting from the rooftops. Austin Public Library curates a list of Central Texas music (by artist submission) that is then free (and ad-free) to listen to. It seems like you can access it without a library card right now. But still, you need a library card.
This is only the second round of curated albums for the Electric Ladybird project. The library adds 50 every time for a total of nearly 100 albums by Central Texas musicians available at any given time. I’m really enjoying going in and randomly choosing an album by an artist I haven’t heard of.
Musicians, keep your eye out for the next round of submissions! Electric Ladybird is looking to keep expanding this fantastic public resource. The program does pay the artists for non-exclusive rights to stream the albums or EPs for three years. Libraries are THE best!
Austin, TX Kid’s Music: Mr. Will
Mr. Will is planning to play his kids’ music on a livestream show at 10 a.m. every day on his Facebook page until this is over. This should offer parents a well-needed break and kids an opportunity to enjoy fun music just for them.
Mr. Will’s show is interactive, with music and real time talk with the kids. Encourage the kids in your life to ask him a question online!
Binge Listen Local
Some days you only want to hear your favorites–maybe you saw a show recently or haven’t seen a musician in far too long. When we’re stuck at home to try to flatten the curve of the coronavirus spread, what could bring more comfort than stubbornly listening to our favorite local music on repeat?
Here are a few of my personal favorites, linked to where you can partially binge out. Hopefully it’s enough to whet your appetite for buying music, tickets to go see them live before too long, and merch!
It will prime you for when you can support them and venues in person with cover charges, tips, and good juju. These bands are listed in no particular order merely because I’m not that organized. They stand equally tall in my heart.
- Black Pumas
- Alejandro Escovedo
- Tomar and the FCs
- Jonathan Terrell
- Ms. Mack and the Daddies
- Shakey Graves
- Whiskey Shivers
- Black Joe Lewis
- Bonnie Montgomery
- Trouble in the Streets
- Magna Carda
Okay, I could be up all night making *that* list, but this is a solid glimpse into the soundtrack in my head, local music-wise. Dip your toe into the Austin music scene from home, then go out and support our local musicians when you can!
Top 15 Recommended Austin SXSW Bands
Every year, The Austinot’s Lead Blogger Bill Tucker listens to every local band performing at SXSW and compiles a list of his 15 recommended musicians to catch. He digs deep to find bands we haven’t written much about yet, in hopes they are discoveries for you, too.
SXSW Official Online Music Showcase
Yes, I know, I know. It’s not the same! Yet, those of us with unused SXSW badges, FOMO, and/or simply too much unexpected time at home still want to check out new music, mayn.
The good news: SXSW created this YouTube playlist even before the festival, so hit play on these 743 music videos. They aren’t all local, but our locals are in there.
Time of Dre
Dre is an Instagram wiz who is putting together a free, 30-day content creation bootcamp to keep you busy learning and creating while you’re cooped up at home. If you enjoy IG, but want to learn how to truly master it, then Dre is your go-to guru!
Her tips are super helpful. Access the content bootcamp in her Facebook group below. Tell her Jojo sent ya.
Feel More Good
Two words: Woo Woo.
Feel More Good is broadcasting live (and posting recordings to Facebook). This team is bringing in healers and other feel good experts with guided meditation, EFT (tapping), sound healing, yoga, and more to help calm our anxiety and stress over all that’s going on. Find more information and livestream times on Facebook.
More Online Panels and Courses
- Logictry – Online schedule of virtual panels in lieu of SXSW panels
- University of Texas Free Online Classes and MOOCs
- Writers’ League of Texas Online Writing Courses
- Rally Austin Uprising E-Conference
- Austin Public Virtual Library
Blanton Museum’s Online Art Gallery
Browse Blanton Museum’s staggering collection of art online. The Blanton boasts the largest public collection in Central Texas. The visiting exhibits and permanent pieces are impressive, with a bit of something for everyone.
The Blanton has painstakingly uploaded and categorized high-quality images of its art collection. And it’s free to peruse. For art lovers of nearly every genre or medium, Blanton Museum of Art’s online collection is an edifying way to fill your social isolation hours.
You can admire the art and make plans to visit in person when the dust settles. I’d recommend the lively Third Thursday parties, with art, late hours, and the gift shop to explore.
Sam Soper Art
This local artist is going to livestream herself working on her art pieces for about an hour a day at some point between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on March 16, 2020 (and possibly other days during the week). Catch her creating art on her Instagram page!
Enjoy Austin Foodie Content
If you are self-quarantining or social distancing, then there are still ways to virtually soak up Austin’s prolific and lively food scene.
Sideserf Cake Studio: Watch the super talented, super personable Natalie Sideserf give mini-tutorials to make adorable and hyper-realistic cakes. Offerings range from a cowboy boot to a poop emoji to a cake that looks exactly like a slice of Via 313 pizza!
Sideserf Cake Studio also offers in-person classes and makes large-scale customized cakes for when we all get back to partying with other people.
From Maggie’s Farm: Maggie Perkin’s in-person cooking classes with Kitchen Underground are cozy affairs that often sell out. Maggie told me she is going to start uploading mini-cooking classes to help ease Austin’s angst while we’re all sequestered. Details on her Facebook page, linked above.
Food Banjo YouTube: This food blogging couple, part of Austin Food Blogger Alliance. has recently launched a cooking channel on YouTube. They started with cocktails, but will be adding more recipes starting this week.
Austin Food Blogger Alliance Blog-Along: This Spring-themed blog-along by local food bloggers is a great way to inspire new recipes while you’re staying at home. Bonus: browse the member blog lists to discover even more recipes to try at home!
Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide 2020: Browse through local food bloggers’ best of the city lists and drool over all the delicious food pics. It may feel a bit cruel when you are not able to drop everything and go now, but hear me out.
Use this massive list to support local restaurants and bars NOW, when the need is the greatest, by choosing businesses to buy gift cards from. This can help keep them afloat. Then use the list to plan your own dream foodie tour of Austin using those gift cards when things return back to our normal.
Get Physical But Don’t Touch Me
DJ Mel Living Room Dance Party
Austin DJ Mel wants to encourage people to stay in and safe, but refuses to let you get bored. DJ Mel is broadcasting a few online dance parties in the evenings to keep Austin dancing–even if it’s only you and your dog.
He’s already broadcast a couple of evening dance parties, but has promised to schedule more! Follow him on Facebook to find out when the next DJ Mel Living Room Dance Party is.
Yoga With Adriene
Adriene Mishler is a yogi, and kind of lifestyle and fitness icon whose mantra is “Find What Feels Good.” Her YouTube channel offers free yoga workouts. Yoga With Adriene offers yoga workouts for targeted audiences, lengths of time, or goals:
- Back Pain
- Weight loss
- Risk Takers
- Awaken the artist within
- Neck, shoulders, and back
- Energizing morning routine
- Under 10 minutes, up to 45 minutes
This is definitely a case of a local “done good.” The Yoga With Adriene YouTube channel has more than 6M followers. Grab a workout online and get inspired to plan your next YouTube breakout hit show.
Melody DanceFit is a fitness and fun fixture in Austin, with her weekly Move It Mondays at The North Door and even larger group dances. “Move for fun, not perfection” is her motto. And by all accounts, her classes are a blast.
Melody has placed some of her exuberant dance classes/groups online, either on her website or YouTube. She has uploaded some free content for a taste of the fun. She is also planning on uploading a livestream dance party on her Instagram page soon.
However, like all small businesses in Austin, she can definitely use the support now. Please consider signing up for her subscription service to keep you moving even beyond the social isolation days. Or get out to one of her famously fun classes/dance parties when we return to our regular lives.
We’ve reposted a great list of local podcasts on our blog, but I have a few to add:
- This Is Austin
- Austin All Day
- The Lone Star Plate
- Locally Sourced Joey
- Talking During Movies
- Eatin’and Sippin’ Locally
- Good People, Cool Things
- Good News Cast (Texas Monthly’s Texas Optimism Project)
Austin Digital Jobs Recruiting Week Online
If you work in a digital field or want to break into one, then you need to be in the Austin Digital Jobs Facebook group. Austin Digital Jobs helps connect job seekers with recruiters and companies that are hiring.
Austin Digital Jobs offers loads of resources and encouragement on Facebook. The group also hosts a monthly Big Ass Social Happy Hour (under normal circumstances), usually known as BASHH. It’s run by Lani Rosales, COO of The American Genius. The Facebook group also has a weekly meme thread and a quarterly recruiting event where employers and job hunters come together.
This quarter’s recruiting event is 100 percent online. So job seekers, hang in there! You can still interview and, hopefully, get hired. Sign up to interview at the event page below.
Disclosure: I currently write for The American Genius.
Owl Post Books: Kids’ Storytime
This local kids’ book subscription service will be reading storybooks online to entertain the kiddies. They’re starting this free service on Facebook on Monday, March 16, 2020.
Austin 2020 Emergency Swap
This group was originally set up as an outlet for vendors, bars, restaurants, and businesses to swap overstock goods they’d bought for SXSW. With more and more places temporarily closing every day out of caution, the group has pivoted.
Now it’s a Facebook group for small to medium businesses, services, restaurants, food trucks, and bars to add links to purchase gift cards. Add your links or buy gift cards today! For far too many of our mom and pop spots, this month puts them in peril of closing for good.
I’m working with some other writers and storytellers in Austin to put together some kind of reading/storytelling event online. Stay tuned.
Stay Home, Experience Virtual Austin, and Don’t Panic
Basically, the rest of March is cancelled. I implore you to stay home, not only for your sake, but to help the community at large. COVID-19 is not like anything we’ve seen, and our best bet is to flatten the curve, to slow this menace down so our medical community can keep up.
Austin is rightfully known for its supportive nature. We lift each other up and support local businesses year-round. Austin in the time of COVID-19 is no different. These excellent Austin folks are creating enough online to keep us entertained while we are practicing social distancing.
I’m grateful to live in a city that looks out for each other in such kind and creative ways. We’re all in this together in many ways. Remember to take care of yourself in all the chaos. Now get off the streets and start binge-experiencing Austin from the comfort of your home!
@theAustinot wants to know:
Have you heard of any other online resources to help with boredom during self-quarantine and social distancing?