When local music organization Black Fret makes an announcement, it’s not through simply press releases and Twitter posts. They do it with style and with a bang. During the 2022 Black Ball on Saturday, December 3rd not only did Black Fret give over $260,000 to 20 deserving local musicians, but they also expanded their mission through a bold new name change. Black Fret is now Sonic Guild. New name, same wonderful mission with bigger dreams than ever before.
The Heart of the Evening – Music
Before we talk about the name, let’s discuss the amazing evening of giving I had the pleasure of attending last weekend. Nine artists received $10,000 from the main fund, ten artists received $15,000 by receiving the highest amount of votes from Sonic Guild members, and two (Natalie Price, Urban Heat) were awarded two free days of recording at Orb Studios. The winners were:
- $10,000 winners: Aubrey Hays, Daniel Fears, Indoor Creatures, Jo James, KVN, Me Nd Adam, Money Chicha, Natalie Price, Pussy Gilette
- $15,000 winners: Abhi the Nomad, Anabelle Chairlegs, Blackillac, Buffalo Nicols, Graham Weber, Melat, Nik Parr and the Selfless Lovers, Scott Stickland, The Past Lives, Urban Heat
In addition to the above, Bonnie Whitmore and the Sad Girls received a $10,000 Sonic Guild grant and an additional $10,000 award by being the top vote-getter in the Hopdaddy/Sonic Guild Tuned in Grant program.
And let’s not forget about the music. The night was electric with incredible performances. From Blackillac’s opening two-song set, complete with a “you’re not getting a Black Fret award” joke to The Past Lives’ explosive close, the night was a buffet of sounds and experiences. Goth new wavers Urban Heat brought the late-night crowd to their feet with their dramatic, electronic groove while Aubrey Hays went from coy indie songbird to full-on belter within the space of nine minutes.
But my performance of the night goes to KVM, the three-headed pop powerhouse of Primo the Alien, DOSSEY, and Lady Heartwing. Kicking off the second half of the event, the trio vogued, danced, and played a wicked keytar to pulsing beats and backing tracks. On their own, these three are among Austin’s finest pop songwriters. Together, they’re incredible. Hopefully, their $10,000 grant will help make more music happen in the future.
New Name, Same Mission, Bigger Dreams
By far, the biggest bombshell of the night came moments after Blackillac finished their two-song set. Founder Matt Ott led them center stage and coyly announced they would not be getting a grant that night. The crowd was stunned. After a quick video, Matt announced the award would be coming from Sonic Guild, a complete re-branding of the Black Fret name that’s become a symbol of music philanthropy in Austin and emerging markets nationwide.
The main reason for the change is the last word of the previous sentence: nationwide. As Sonic Guild gains strong footholds in Seattle, Washington, and Colorado, the organization’s name had to match the organization’s vision in an easy-to-read way.
“As we enter our tenth season of supporting local musicians around the country, we have decided to adopt a new identity that more clearly expresses our mission and vision,” said Colin Kendrick, Founder, and CEO of Sonic Guild. “We will always be thankful for our origin as Black Fret but are excited that as we become Sonic Guild our message of supporting local music as the art it truly is will be heard nationwide.”
While some in attendance, including Matt Ott, slipped back to the old name now and again, the vibe of the crowd was cautious enthusiasm. While the name “Black Fret” became a core part of our musical identity for long-time fans, Sonic Guild casts a wider net and presents a clearer vision for the organization on a national level. It’s a smart, more inclusive change that sets the stage for a bright future.
The End of Another Banner Year
The clock was inching closer to midnight when Quentin and The Past Lives led the new award winners through the evening’s final number, a rollicking cover of “Proud Mary”. The night owls in attendance danced and pressed against the stage. The air was full of joy and momentum, hope and optimism. Whether called Black Fret, Sonic Guild, or Music Organization #27, the heart of Sonic Guild never changes, and never wavers.
And when the crowd cleared the main hall and spilled into Moody’s main lobby, they were greeted by a rad after-party. Few left, many stayed, and the celebration continued well into the morning hours. And that’s what Sonic Guild inspires. Getting music lovers together to support the artists they love through community and a heart for giving. Different name, but the same incredible mission.
Stay up to date on the events, activities, and entertainment in the Austin area through our weekly updates to Things to do in Austin this Week, Things to do in Austin this Weekend, and Things to do in Austin with Kids this Weekend!
And to get these updates delivered directly to your feed, give us a follow on Facebook by clicking the …next to the search lens icon.