For more than eight years, Black Fret supported the Austin music community with an unstoppable sense of purpose and accomplishment. When COVID brought live music to a near standstill, many of us wondered who would step up and take a stand. Black Fret came to the table and their brand new music festival, “Keep Live Music Alive,” is the comeback party we’ve been asking for since March of 2020. And with news of the 2021 class of grant nominees around the corner, there has never been a better time to become a member and support the music.
Doing The Right Thing Since 2013
Founded by Colin Kendrick and Matt Ott in 2013, Black Fret aims to support the local music scene through member support. Members pay a flat fee that goes toward yearly grants. In return, members get access to unique, intimate listening room style performances. Every year, members nominate twenty artists to receive either a minor ($5,000) or major ($20,000) grant. The year culminates in the Black Ball, a sensational awards show and concert blowout at the Moody Theater. I’ve been to multiple Black Balls over the years, and trust me. They are experiences!
And while COVID kicked the Austin live music scene in the gut, Black Fret fought back with the Happy Hour Concert series. The program paid out over $250,000 to over 150 musicians for playing shows for companies and businesses over Zoom. It’s that sort of innovation that helped Black Fret stay helpful and relevant during the pandemic.
How’s this for numbers? To date, Black Fret has awarded $2,000,000 to local musicians and $1,500,000 to Austin-area venues and music businesses. Every artist playing a Black Fret showcase gets paid as does every venue. And for the first time, this year’s season dues is $750. While that may seem steep, it’s a hefty discount from years past. And consider the amount of live shows you get exclusive access to, along with knowing you’re supporting the art that keeps Austin the “Live Music Capital of the World. It’s a donation worth considering if you have the means to do so.
The Keep Live Music Alive Festival
Now that COVID restrictions are relaxing enough for Austin to dip its collective toe back into live music, Black Fret is launching its first membership drive of the season in the form of a festival. The “Keep Live Music Alive” festival will take place from May 14-16th at the Long Center Terrace. While the event is listed as members only, single-day tickets are available for non-members. But that’s not the point. With an incredible lineup to offer, becoming a member is the best way to experience this three-day extravaganza.
The jam packed schedule reads like a who’s who of new Austin music. While ATX staples like Ley Line and Darkbird make me smile, I’m dying to check out Zach Person. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this local up-and-comer. The full schedule is as follows:
|Sam Houston & Blk Odyssy||8:30|
|Special Tribute to Bob Dylan||11:00 AM|
|Matt the Electrician||6:00|
|The Reverent Few||6:45|
Looking Forward to the Season Ahead
And the festival is a jumping-off point. On June 11th via a private event at the Moody Theatre, Black Fret will announce this year’s class of artists. After months of live shows, the season will culminate in this year’s Black Ball on December 4th. As a fan of this wonderful organization, it’s great to see it up and running as intended: promoting and stewarding Austin live music. And if Black Fret’s re-emergence is the goal, the Keep Live Music Alive festival is its proof of concept.
“Black Fret is all about supporting our local music as the art that it is and we thank the Long Center for hosting our first ‘Keep Live Music Alive’ festival,” said Matt Ott, Co-founder of Black Fret. “COVID knocked our music community on our collective ass and it is time for us all to come together to support our artists, venues, and vendors that create our amazing music ecosystem in Austin. Joining Black Fret is a great way to accomplish that.”
When the music community was sucker-punched by COVID over a year ago, it hit everyone hard. From artists to venues and everyone in between, it was a time of uncertainty and anxiety. Despite it all, Black Fret continued to do what it does best—provide a lifeline to Austin’s cherished and storied music scene when it needed it most. And with this weekend’s celebration, the Austin music community hopes to turn the page on the year that was, and look forward to a great season of sounds ahead.
To become a member and attend the festival, visit https://www.blackfret.org/klma/ for everything you need to do so.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
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