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With now only nine days until Christmas, one of the best parts about the holidays is the music. And you can count on Austin musicians to bring you your favorite carols with a little twist.
Here are nine Christmas songs by some of your favorite Austin musicians:
Black Pumas are participating in the holiday spirit this year with a new Christmas single. The Grammy-nominated Austin duo released a cover of Lou Rawls' "Christmas Will Really Be Christmas" on Nov. 18. The single is part of the Spotify Holiday Singles collection, where artists get to showcase their favorite songs in different styles and melodies. After rising to quick fame, Black Pumas and their psychedelic soul music will continue to impress Austin.
Austin musician Jackie Venson hopped on the Christmas music train when releasing a cover of "O Holy Night" in 2018. Venson posted the cover on Facebook stating, "I don't usually do this, but 2018 was the year of new experiences." With a crazy year behind and Christmas almost here, we can't help but wonder if Venson will release another Christmas cover this year. If you're a fan of classic Christmas carols, you might have to add this one to your favorite holiday playlist.
Jerry Jeff Walker
Jerry Jeff Walker spent most of his career in Austin as a leading figure in the outlaw country music movement. After relocating to Austin in the 1970s, Walker became a symbol of the Austin music community, along with Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel. The musician released a Christmas album in 1994, with deep Texas country tones and popular Christmas carols such as "I'll Be Home For Christmas," "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "Jingle Bell Rock."
Raised in Louisiana but now a Texas local, award-winning Marcia Ball wrote the song "Christmas Fais Do-Do." After kicking off her career in Austin in 1974, Ball invented her music style by releasing Texas and Louisiana inspired melodies and combination blues. The pianist and singer went on to release a short book inspired after "Christmas Fais Do-Do," illustrating the story of a Louisiana tradition—the house party dance. If you're a fan of Louisiana blues, this song is filled with country, funk and soul.
Rusty Wier / Santa Claus Is Back In Town youtu.be
The Texas Christmas collection in 1991 featured artists such as Willie Nelson, Marcia Balla and Austin native Rusty Wier. Wier released a Texas rock and country cover of "Santa Claus is Back in Town," for funky lovers of holiday music. Wier died in 2009 in Driftwood.
Eric Johnson and Van Wilks
Van Wilks and Eric Johnson - What Child is This? youtu.be
Local guitarist Eric Johnson added to the Texas Christmas Collection in 1981 with an instrumental cover of "What Child Is" with Texas native Van Wilks. The pair manages to play the cover with intricate melodies on their guitars, for a beautiful echo of a well-known Christmas carol.
Kansas native and Austin local Pink Nasty, joined Texas musicians in "Stars & Snow: A Texas Country Christmas" in 2008 covering "Baby, it's cold outside" with WTF Special. The singer, with her powerful country voice, hasn't released any new music, but hit the holiday mark with this cover.
The beloved Austin and Texan musician released "The Classic Christmas Album" in 2016, featuring popular Christmas carols such as "White Christmas", "Jingle Bells", "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Along with releasing his own album, Nelson joined popular country-pop singer Kacey Musgraves in 2016 for her own Christmas album, "A Very Kacey Christmas." The duo performed "A Willie Nice Christmas," a fun and festive tune for lovers of both musicians.
This is part of a holiday series counting down to Christmas so make sure to visit Austonia tomorrow, as we reach eight days until Christmas.
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After reaching Stage 4 last week of Austin Public Health's risk-based guidelines, Austin-Travis County is now at the Stage 5 threshold with a seven-day average of 50 hospitalizations and dwindling ICU capacity.
While unenforceable under Gov. Greg's Abbott order against local mandates, vaccinated individuals are asked to choose drive-through and curbside options, outdoor activities, social interactions with limited group sizes, as well as social distance and wearing masks indoors. Partially or unvaccinated individuals are asked to avoid gatherings, travel, dining and shopping, choose curbside and delivery options, as well as wear a mask on essential trips.
Flashing back to early-pandemic times, hospitals are at critical capacity—the 11 county Trauma Service Region of 2.3 million people is fluctuating at 16 staffed beds, according to APH.
In a statement on behalf of Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David's Healthcare, a spokesperson said that hospitals are asking residents to "help us and each other" by getting vaccinated and continuing to utilize safety practices to slow the spread of the virus.
According to the statement, a "longstanding" nurse staffing challenge combined with the recent COVID-19 spike is putting "extraordinary pressure" on hospital systems.
Along with the unmitigated spread of the virus in unvaccinated, the more contagious Delta variant is also to blame for the spike in cases. The seven-day moving average of COVID hospitalizations in the Austin area reached the Stage 5 threshold of 50 on Friday, triggering local health officials to ask residents to take action.
Local hospitals have a "surge plan" that includes utilization of "all available patient care space and employees within our hospitals and in other settings" that will go into effect when capacity is hit, according to the statement.
The hospitals are working on sourcing supplemental staff and emphasized that emergency care will still be available but it may involve patient transfers "in order to provide the most appropriate care."
Healthcare systems have hit this threshold previously during the pandemic: the city held an alternate care site at the Austin Convention Center from January to March of this year.
"Our responsibility during this pandemic continues to be balancing our readiness to care for patients with COVID-19, while making sure patients who depend on our hospitals receive needed and timely care," the statement said. "We do not want to see necessary non-COVID care delayed as it was during the early stages of the pandemic."
This story has been updated to after publication to include that Austin has reached the Stage 5 threshold.
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Austin legend Willie Nelson will perform at the Texas Capitol today, his first large performance since the pandemic began, closing out a four-day long march across Central Texas to build support for federal voting protections.
Organized by The Poor People's Campaign, the march began in Georgetown on Wednesday and will end with a 10 a.m. rally at the Capitol featuring appearances from former U.S. Congressman Beto O'Rourke and Rev. Dr. William Barber.
Willie Nelson (with Charlie Sexton & friends) will play a free concert at the Poor People's Campaign march for democracy & justice in Austin this Saturday! https://t.co/zZSA0BpbWA
Sign up to join us and see Willie at 10am Saturday: https://t.co/KrDPIFIvST
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) July 29, 2021
The rally calls on Congress to "stop attacks on democracy" by ending the filibuster, pass all provisions of the For the People Act, restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act, raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and pass permanent protections for all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Nelson denounced election law proposals gaining traction in red states, such as Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3 in Texas, which 55 House Democrats foiled by fleeing to Washington, D.C., on July 12.
The bills would require additional ID verifications for mail-in ballots, allow partisan poll watchers "free movement" and prohibit elections officials from sending absentee ballot applications to voters who didn't request one.
"Laws making it more difficult for people to vote are unAmerican and are intended to punish people of color, the elderly and disabled," Nelson said. "If you can't win by playing the rules, then it's you and your platform–not everyone else's ability to vote."
The march is in the spirit of the Selma to Montgomery March of 1965, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which protested the blocking of Black Americans' right to vote by Jim Crow laws.