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Morgan sits at a rainbow tie-dye style piano in the airport.
(Austin Bergstrom International Airport)

Zack Morgan playing the piano during his set at the airport.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping the tradition of live music at the airport alive.


The airport has reinstated its in-terminal music program with AUS Live and Instrumental bringing live music back to passengers waiting for their flights and continuing to provide paid gigs for local musicians in light of COVID-19.

The program has undergone some changes due to the pandemic: musicians are now required to play only instrumental music while wearing a mask for the duration of their performance and maintain safe distance, the equipment is sanitized in-between uses, performing areas are stanchioned off with plexiglass and musicians must use a virtual tip jar. The switch to only instrumental music is due to singing being a high-risk COVID-19 activity.

The airport said it hires exclusively Austin musicians, and has one of the most robust music programs in the country—matching the city's title of live music capital of the world.

Zack Morgan, a local keyboardist, said he enjoyed playing at the airport recently because he got to share his music again in a safe way.

"First and foremost, it felt safe and well-thought-out," Morgan said in a press release. "On top of that, I was able to make good money and bring some smiles to the travelers who are so accustomed to live music at our airport. I was also able to live stream my performance and share the music even further."

Before COVID-19, Michael Pennock, AUS music coordinator, booked around 30 musicians per week, but now only about three are booked a week. The airport plans to bring back live music to the Asleep at the Wheel main stage and various restaurant locations in November.

Pennock said people often tell him that they missed the music at the airport.

"With the music industry being decimated by COVID-19, this is our first step forward to bringing live music back at AUS and supporting local musicians," Pennock said. "Music brings people joy and will help bring some small sense of normalcy back. We all need that right now."


More on the airport:

​Austin airport shows disturbing trend with passenger traffic still way down from last year(Dion Hinchcliffe/Flickr)

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