On November 8th, a new event will be introduced to Austin, TX. Under the historical roof of Congress Avenue’s Paramount Theatre, non-profit Black Fret will award $100,000 to 10 local music artists at the inaugural Black Ball.
Black Ball has been a long time coming. Following its Launch Party at the beginning of 2013, Black Fret marked its 100th member a year later. Throughout 2014, new members have continued to sign on to support Austin musicians and promote the maturing of our city’s music industry. The organization hit 170 members in October 2014.
Membership in Black Fret is exclusive and limited. Only 1,333 member spots are available and each member contributes $1,500/year so that Black Fret can award grants to musicians. The non-profit’s slogan succinctly describes its body of committed members as “Patrons of Local Music.”
What to Expect at Black Ball
Black Ball is a celebration, marking a major milestone in Black Fret’s history. Up until now, no grants have been awarded. That’s all about to change, when 10 talented artists will receive $10,000 each.
The doors of the Paramount Theatre will open to guests at 7 PM for a social hour with drinks and mingling. Black Fret events are my favorite in town because of the people. Everyone is genuine and friendly, and many of Austin’s favorite local musicians are regularly among the crowd. Black Fret Co-Founder Colin Kendrick expressed the reason for this positive atmosphere by saying, “Perhaps the thing I’m most proud of as an organization is that family-feel. All Black Fret members pay the same annual dues, so we all have a sense of communal ownership in the good we do for the community and in the art we help our bands create.”
At 8 PM, the show begins. The lineup has not been announced, but many of Black Fret’s 20 nominees will take the stage. Here is the list of the 2014 nominees who were selected based on Black Fret member and mentor votes:
- Amy Cook
- Danny Malone
- Dawn and Hawkes
- East Cameron Folkcore
- Elias Haslanger and Church on Monday
- Elizabeth McQueen
- Emily Bell
- Erin Ivey
- Gina Chavez
- Graham Wilkinson
- Jitterbug Vipers
- Jonny Gray
- Lincoln Durham
- Little Radar
- Mother Falcon
- Quiet Company
- The Rocketboys
- The Whiskey Sisters
- Wild Child
Though you’re probably already familiar with many of these artists, you can get a hint of their talent with our Black Fret Nominee Spotify playlist.
And of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without the awards ceremony, when 10 of the 20 artists and bands listed above will be equipped with $10,000 to further their careers.
I asked Colin Kendrick what it was like to have to choose 10 winners from the original nominees, and he described the experience and plans for the future:
“It’s very hard to select grant recipients from such a talented pool of Nominees. We are proud of our robust and diverse nomination process which this year identified 211 bands for consideration. That process draws on the voice of our members, our advisory board of music industry veterans, and the public via the Austin Music Awards to identify our short list of Nominees. In next year’s grant cycle we will also accept nominations from this year’s grant recipients. That gives us the voice of the biggest music fans in Austin, the most widely recognized industry professionals, the public and the artists themselves. Black Fret’s artist selection process isn’t designed to be a competition, but rather to award grants on the basis of artistic excellence. The reality is that every single one of our Nominees is worthy. To address that fact in the future, our aspiration is that 70-80% of Nominees will receive full grants and we will have smaller grants available for runner-up awards.”
Who Can Attend Black Ball
Black Ball is open to members of Black Fret and their guests. November 8th will be an amazing night, and each year with Black Fret is full of intimate concerts and artists socials.
Yes, members receive their money’s worth, but the vision is bigger than you and what you get as a member. You are providing a jolt of adrenaline for talented musicians who have proven their worth by competing with their peers.
$10,000 per artist provides funds for albums, touring, management, and the many pieces of the puzzle that are required for a successful music career. Rather than let our best artists be cherry-picked by labels in L.A. and New York, let’s keep them at home by giving them what they need to thrive.
Join Black Fret today by filling out a simple form. Annual membership dues may be paid in a variety of installment plans.
What Comes After Black Ball
With 1,333 members, Black Fret will be able to award more than one million dollars each year in grant money. That’s a tremendous sum of money to grow Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World, while boosting our local economy. Colin Kendrick shared what’s next for Black Fret following the first Black Ball:
“After the Black Ball, the whole annual process starts over as we begin the 2015 Artist Selection Process. From January to March, we explore new bands during our “Nomination Period” so that Members are well versed in Austin’s talent pool and ready to vote intelligently for the 2015 Nominees. In late March/early April, we announce our short list of Nominees and begin the next “Listening Period” in which 2015 Nominees play a series of private events for our members and their guests. The Listening Period runs from April to October, at which point voting begins to select our 2016 Black Fret Artists. Meanwhile, during the entire 2015 year, our current 2015 Black Fret Artists are unlocking their grant dollars by creating and performing new music and providing community services to other non-profits and schools. As our Artists unlock those dollars, our Members receive regular updates and private glimpses into the life and creative process of those Artists.”
The Austinot was one of Black Fret’s first 100 Founding Members, and our team hopes you’ll catch the vision and join us.
We’ll see you at Black Ball.
What do you think of Black Fret’s mission to support local artists?
Cover photo by Anna Mazurek.