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.
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.
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.
JaRon Marshall, "Act 1 - Last June"
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, "Get Yo Shit"
The Deer, "Confetti to the Hurricane"
An Austin-based program manager for Apple Maps and one of two leaders for the #AppleToo activist movement said she has been fired after a suspension.
According to the New York Times, Janneke Parrish said she was put on suspension for several days while the company investigated her activities before she was fired by a human resources employee via phone call on Thursday.
Parrish was under investigation for allegedly leaking a recording of an Apple staff meeting to the media, which she said she didn't do.
The report said the company told Parrish, who is 30, that she was being fired for having deleted files off her company-issued phone and computer before handing them in for examination. Parrish said the files she deleted contained her personal and financial information.
Among the files she deleted were the Robinhood app, which she said was to keep Apple from seeing "how much money I lost investing in GameStop," the Pokemon Go app and screenshots of programming bugs she was fixing.
Parrish said she believes Apple was retaliating against her efforts in organizing #AppleToo, a group of employees working to expose the company's "culture of secrecy" that has been "faced disproportionately by our Black, Indigenous, and other colleagues from minoritized racial, gender and historically marginalized groups of people."
Parrish had been publishing weekly accounts of workplace problems that had been shared anonymously with her from other employees, though she did not verify employment on all of them. The accounts she received were in the hundreds, so Parrish said she was hopeful her termination would lead to some justice within the company.
Employees at tech giants have been more outspoken than usual in recent months—with former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen speaking out against her former employer—and Parrish said the company's desire to keep under wraps has eroded trust by discouraging employees to come forward with issues like harassment or wage disparity.
Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock commented on the matter: "We are and have always been deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace. We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters."
Additionally, the email detailing her termination, which was obtained by the New York Times, said Apple had determined that Parrish "engaged in conduct in violation of Apple policies including, but not limited to, interfering with an investigation by deleting files on your company provided equipment after being specifically instructed not to do so."
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Republic Square Park has turned into a Ford-themed fiesta for its Built to Connect pop-up experience, complete with test drives, off-roading and an inside look at the Tesla-rivaling electric vehicles that the motor vehicle company is planning to integrate over the next decade.
The outdoor driving event is free, open to the public and will stay in the park from now until Oct. 24, offering rides on Bronco Mountain, a 0-40 mph zip in the 2022 all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning and a chance to win an original Ford Bronco.
The event kicked off with a panel of speakers, including Austin Director of Transportation Rob Spillar, Ford General Manager Darren Palmer and engineering specialists discussing Ford's goals to make it so that 50% of the vehicles on the road are electric by 2030.
As an eco-conscious city, Spillar said that around 4,000 vehicles, or 22% of the Texas electric vehicle market, as well as over 15,000 plugins lie in Austin, meaning driving electric just got accessible.
"Austin, as you know, is a fast-growing modern city that is committed to protecting the long term health and viability of our communities and strategies that reduce greenhouse gases, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve the drone quality of life here in Central Texas for all of our residents," Spillar said.
And Ford's electric vehicles are putting up some steep competition for newly-Austin-based company Tesla. The new electric Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lighting offer amenities that used to be exclusive to Musk's brand, such as the BlueCruise self-driving network. The cars also boast a 300-mile range on a single charge, assisted reverse technology and access to the biggest charging network outside of the home.
Plus, Ford's got affordability on its side. The F-150 Lightning starts at $39,974 and the Mustang Mach-E starts at $42,895, while the cheapest Tesla model, the Model 3, starts at $41,990 and averages 262 miles on a single charge.
Speaking of price, the numbers on the electric vehicles may look like a little more than you'd like to pay for your transport, but Palmer promises it will pay off. In addition to a $7,500 tax credit you can earn for your sustainability, you'll never have to buy a pricey tank of gas again.
"Personally, I have not found one customer ever, who would go back to gas so that says something," Palmer said. "I realized, at $51,000, that car outruns every childhood hero car I ever had."
Texas buyers: take note. The Ford Lightning can power your house for three to 10 days, just in case the statewide power grid fails. You can take it glamping with you, so you don't have to leave the comfort of modern life behind, and in a pinch, Palmer said he's even seen a wedding party powered by the truck.
Ford is investing $30 billion into the U.S. market to meet demand by 2025 and the new electric truck already has over 150,000 reservations.
"I think they're going to take off much faster than you expect—they're going to be extremely, extremely popular next year," Palmer said. "With the incentives that are available today, this is starting to become more mainstream and viable for more and more families. We couldn't have done that before, we didn't have the technology, or the technology at that price."
The event is ongoing through next weekend from 12-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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