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Austin musician Parker McCollum talks No.1 Billboard song and navigating live music in a pandemic
(Universal Music Group)

Keeping the legacy of live music alive even in a pandemic, Parker McCollum has not only been making music but also topping the charts from right here in Austin.


The Texas-born, Austin-based country music singer-songwriter announced on Instagram that his song, "Pretty Heart," had claimed the number one spot on Billboard's Country Airplay chart, alongside hitting number one on the Emerging Artists chart dating Dec. 26.

In an interview with Austonia, McCollum said after performing a long weekend of socially-distanced live shows, hearing the news of his chart-topping song was the best start to the week.

"It was a super, super great weekend. We were kind of feeling a little rough coming off of that on Sunday and then woke up Monday morning at number one," McCollum said. "It was a great day. My dad was with me whenever I found out so I think he was the most pumped."

McCollum, a multi-talented instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, got his start performing at venues all over Texas, including at The Saxon Pub right here in Austin and Cheatham Street Warehouse just south, in San Marcos.

McCollum said he doesn't like the stereotype of beers, trucks and babes in country music, and instead focuses on music that reflects his identity. He said "Pretty Heart," came after a breakup, even though he thought he had already written all the songs about it.

"At the very, very tail end... out popped 'Pretty Heart,'" McCollum said. "It was fitting for the time but it's funny, I write the songs and then we cut them a year or two later and you don't really feel it then, when they finally come out later, what you did when you wrote them."

Since the pandemic started, McCollum has still found ways to perform music live in different ways like at outdoor venues, but he said he misses being on the road, performing music and touring for weeks at a time.

"It's not how I thought the 28th year of my life was going to go, being at home all the time," McCollum said. "To all of a sudden just be home is pretty different. I definitely wish it was back."

Madison Summey, who has been a fan of McCollum's since 2015, said she knew "Pretty Heart" was a hit the first time she saw him perform it live in June 2020 at the Nutty Brown Amphitheatre.

"He has a real country sound that is different than what is typically played on the radio, so I feel that sets him apart from everyone else," Summey said. "He's kept that sound all of these years and hasn't let becoming more known change his sound."

Candace Carreno, Austin resident, said coming from a small town in Texas herself, she relates to his music and hopes to see him retain his Texas flair, even in the national spotlight.

"I hope his success continues and that he stays true to his Texas country roots," Carreno said. "All too often we see country artists conform to that 'pop country' sound. I want to see his music continue reaching that national level but still having that true country music sound that gave him his foundation."

As for McCollum, he said he's just getting started and he already thinks he's got something better than "Pretty Heart." Staying true to himself, McCollum said he's just going to do the best he can.

"I just sing songs, you know, and try to write the best ones I can," McCollum said. "You put them on the radio and hopefully they go number one and if they don't, you go try to do it again."

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Comedy, live music, McConaughey Q&A: Events in Austin this weekend


💈 Finley’s Pop-up Barbershop

Experience luxury grooming the old-fashioned way at a revival of the Driskill Hotel’s early 1900s barbershop put on by Austin-based Finley’s. The pop-up will offer men’s haircuts, beard trims, hot towels, neck massages and straight razor shaves. Click here to book an appointment.

9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday | The Driskill Hotel, 604 Brazos St.

😂 Moontower Comedy Presents Hannah Gadsby

Catch veteran Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby touring with her newest show, “Body of Work,” written while she pondered the effects of the pandemic. Tickets are still available in the orchestra section, starting at $60.

Doors at 6 p.m. Friday | The Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave.

🎤 Rex Orange County Who Cares? Tour

Alexander James O'Connor, AKA Rex Orange County, is returning to Austin to perform his newest album, “Who Cares?” Tickets are still available starting at $49 each.

Doors at 7:30 p.m. Friday | Germania Insurance Amphitheater, 9201 Circuit of The Americas Blvd.

⚾️ Round Rock Express vs. El Paso Chihuahuas

Catch our local Minor League team play against the El Paso Chihuahuas at home this week. Tickets start at $22.

Starting 7:05 p.m. Friday | Dell Diamond, 3400 E Palm Valley Blvd.

🎶 Bleachers—The 2022 Tour

Enjoy a night of indie-pop from Grammy-winning producer Jack Antonoff, whose stage name is Bleachers, from the intimacy of Stubb’s. Tickets are still available starting at $33.

Starting 7:05 p.m. Saturday | Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater, 801 Red River St.

🎸 The Peterson Brothers with Latasha Lee

Catch the groovy, Bastrop-born brothers are taking their rightful place on stage with soulstress Latasha Lee at Antone’s. Arrive early, seating fills up quickly! The show is 21+ and tickets start at $15.

Doors at 7 p.m. Saturday | Antone's Nightclub, 305 E 5th St.

🤠 Emmanuel Acho and Matthew McConaughey Q&A

Famous former Longhorns Emmanuel Acho and Matthew McConaughey are joining forces for a Q&A about catching greenlights and living a limitless life. Each ticket will get the holder a copy of Acho’s new book, “Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits.” Tickets are $39 per person.

1:15 p.m. Sunday | LBJ Auditorium, 2313 Red River St.

⚽️ Austin FC vs. Orlando City

Austin FC is facing off against Orlando City at the biggest party in Austin, Q2 Stadium. Tickets are still available starting at $65 but ticketless Verde fans can still support at one of the many Pub Clubs.

7 p.m. Sunday | Q2 Stadium, 10414 Mc Kalla Pl.


Austin FC wins big! Team makes history, takes No. 1 spot in 2-1 LAFC win

Over a year after its first loss, Austin FC was all smiles as it beat LAFC to take home the top MLS West spot Wednesday. (Austin FC/Twitter)

Over a year after they took the stage for the first time in Los Angeles, Austin FC returned to Banc of America Stadium to snatch the No. 1 spot from LAFC in a 2-1 statement win late Wednesday night.

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