I first heard about a new non-profit called Black Fret at the beginning of 2013, when I attended their first launch party at the 29th St. Ballroom.
The Black Fret team wasn’t afraid to aim big from the beginning. Their stated goal was to gain 1,300 members who each donated $1,500/year. This would allow the organization to give away 50 grants of $25,000 each to Austin artists, every year. Yes, that adds up to more than one million dollars to promote the local music scene we all love.
For all of us who had never heard of Black Fret before, one million dollars sounded like – dare I say it? – an impossible goal. But, like many other Austinites, Eric and I caught the vision. Supporting local artists is part of our hyperlocal mission at the Austinot, so it was a natural partnership. And the more we got to know co-founders Colin Kendrick and Matt Ott and learned about their past laurels, and the more amazing Black Fret house parties we attended, the more tangible the vision became.
Milestone: First 100 Members
Only one year after that first launch party, Black Fret earned their first 100 members. I’m proud to say that The Austinot is among them!
Now, as Colin Kendrick said himself, “the fun really starts.” With 100 members, Black Fret is poised to give away ten $10,000 grants. The ten recipients will be announced in November 2014 as the 2015 Black Fret Artists.
One of the things I love about Black Fret membership is the level of involvement and artist access we’re granted. Private parties and performances are held nearly every month, and they’ve been among the best I’ve ever been to. I’ve seen Lincoln Durham and Little Radar perform in Colin Kendrick’s backyard. 10:30 PM curfew be darned!
First Round of Nominees Announced
And the members themselves get to nominate and select grant recipients. We recently concluded the first round of nominations, with 200 artist names submitted! From those 200, 20 official nominees were selected. The list was just announced and I couldn’t be more excited! Black Fret’s vision is so close to becoming a reality now. Here is the list of nominees just announced last week:
- 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
If you want one of the most beautiful and impressive compilations of Austin music ever, check out my Black Fret Nominee Spotify playlist, with a track from each of the 20 nominees. Love!
So what’s next? This is the epic-ly-named “Listening Period.” Over the next few months, we as Black Fret members are given the chance to get to know the 20 nominees better. There will be musical performances galore, private and public.
Ultimately, the ten grant recipients will get to use their funds for touring, studio time and increased exposure that will propel their careers. Recipients will also receive one-on-one mentoring from Black Fret mentors, and that level of access to industry professionals is priceless. No one else in Austin is doing this kind of thing on this scale. To quote Colin Kendrick again, “It’s a great time to be a music lover in Austin.”
Learn More About Black Fret
If you’d like to learn more about Black Fret and whether membership might be a fit for you, your next chance is coming up on April 26, 2014. Visit Uncle Billy’s Brew and Que at 1530 Barton Springs from 7-10 PM. You’ll get to hear from nominee Dawn and Hawkes, with Reed Turner opening. Can you imagine what Black Fret will be able to do as their grow beyond 100 members? I hope you’ll check them out!
What do you think about Black Fret and its mission to support local musicians?