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With the end of SXSW 2021, the music festival this year had me learning about the array of talented artists that live in Austin as I followed the festival all week long. Out of the 27 musicians hailing from the Live Music Capital of the World, narrowing the list down to just seven of my favorites was a challenge. You don't have to go far to find tunes to mix up your rotation.

Here are some of my favorite local musicians from SXSW 2021 that have all earned a permanent place on my playlist.

Chief Cleopatra

Toeing the line between rock and soul, I will be listening to Chief Cleopatra on repeat until next SXSW. Coming in at the top of the list with her soulful-yet-airy voice and guitar riffs by Leonard Martinez, Chief Cleopatra has created a timeless, mysterious sound that is very indicative of Austin. A track for the Black Lives Matter movement, "Belushi" is a song people can relate to, dance to and play during the revolution all in one. Her new single, "Friends," tells a story of losing a selfish friend with palpable sadness to a pop beat. Though her discography selection is still small, her music is dripping with emotion.


Since releasing their debut EP, "Tether," in 2017, the four-person band is composed of two best friends and their husbands. The band has played SXSW for four years in a row in between touring from coast to coast. With their infectious dream pop sound, soft guitar and light lyrics, their music is tailor-made for cloud watching in Zilker Park while you wait for ACL to return.

Lord Friday the 13th

A self-described "dollar store trash-glam-punk band," Lord Friday the 13th is a brand new sound hitting the town. Comprised of siblings Sloane on guitar and Felix on vocals, the band has just one song currently released: "Bigots Beware." Unsurprisingly, the song denounces hate in the world and aims to strike fear into the hearts of the intolerant. Since both bandmates have backgrounds in visual media, their music invokes a very artistic sound, aside from just being very eccentric founders.


Named for the affectionate nickname given to frontman Daniel Sahad by his Dominican parents, this six-piece band brings an array of personality to the table, just like each of Nané's songs all have a personality of their own. Selected by Brittney Howard for NPR's Tiny Desk concert, the group of University of Texas students were praised for a "no holds barred" performance. I think it might actually be impossible for someone to dislike every single one of their songs.


Acoustic Guitar Magazine says BettySoo "may well have the most gorgeous voice in Texas" and I can't help but agree. Listening to BettySoo sing "Whisper My Name" will give anyone goosebumps. A Texas native who grew up listening to Texas songwriters and a country radio station to match. BettySoo took nights spent at The Cactus Café and the Great American Songbook and created a unique sound—contemporary folk and pure Texas pride.

Buffalo Hunt

Under the pseudonym "Buffalo Hunt," Stephanie Hunt's sound is trippy and unexpected. Ahead of her forthcoming album, "Play the Fool," which will be released this summer, Hunt's song "Apple Tree" is a groovy track that will take you through multiple songs in one. This will be Hunt's first solo album, having already done music as one half of the duo Nancy and Beth. Hunt's music will be a favorite for longtime local music listeners—Hunt's fiance, the acclaimed Shakey Graves, is also featured on the new album.

Golden Dawn Arkestra

Possibly the most far removed in terms of sound from the rest of the list, Golden Dawn Arkestra has a sound that can only be described as funky. The band doesn't play music, oh no, they play "sonic vibrations for children of the sun." The group's tribal appearance and penchant for "sonic healing sessions" that go beyond music on their Youtube channel will transport you to another reality, where disco music reigns supreme. With tunes like "Sama Chaka" and "Wings of Ra," prepare yourself for an ethereal time.

Honorable mentions:

JaRon Marshall, "Act 1 - Last June"

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, "Get Yo Shit"

The Deer, "Confetti to the Hurricane"


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