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South by Southwest 2021 may be online but anything is better than another cancellation. This year, SXSW focuses on themes that have been on the brain since the start of the pandemic: a new urgency, connecting in a disconnected world, the future of technology, the rebirth of businesses and transforming entertainment to meet our needs.
With many familiar Austin faces in store and plenty more from afar, SXSW day one will highlight New York Times best-selling author and UT alumna Stacey Abrams in conversation and feature a film by South Congress revivalist Liz Lambert.
However, Austin loves nothing if not music, and the city has more than a few performers to show for it this week. Here are all the local Austin bands (in order of performance) to support this time around.
JaRon Marshall, Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Coming in with hip-hop and rap, Marshall describes his sound as "the marriage between funk, jazz, R&B, neo-soul and hip-hop," but started his career learning piano at age 11. Marshall is no stranger to working festivals and has shared the stage with other Austin icons like Black Pumas and Nané.
J Soulja, Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Austin native J Soulja has adorned SXSW stages for four years with his knack for lyricism, charisma and beats.
The Teeta, Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Hailing from Austin, The Teeta's witty lyrics are homegrown from the Live Music Capital of the World. Catch him donning Huston-Tillotson merch on his album, "The Quarantine."
Mama Duke, Tuesday at 5 p.m.
This Austin Music Awards "Artist of the Year" and "Female Artist of the Year" and Austin transplant is bringing Black and queer artists to the forefront, excelling in a male-dominated industry and delighting with her beats.
Buffalo Hunt, Wednesday at 5 p.m.
After having been part of many bands, Stephanie Hunt uses the moniker "Buffalo Hunt" in her solo career. Expect a Kate Bush, Patsy Cline and Brian Wilson hybrid upon listening.
Sydney Wright, Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Wright's sound is a thing of its own, blending cultures, rhythms, guitars and pianos, and it's evident that her degree in ethnomusicology served her well. Her debut album "Seiche," is vulnerable and raw, with touches of her famous sound physics.
Ley Line, Wednesday at 5 p.m.
These four Austinite songstresses take listeners on a journey all across the world with different influencers, blends and languages, focusing on what truly connects us all.
PR Newman, Wednesday at 5 p.m.
PR Newman, also known as Spencer Garland, is a culmination of Austin music and musicians, of which he has worked with several. Debuting the new album "Private Lives," this album is tongue-in-cheek with inward inflecting lyricism.
Motenko, Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Micah Motenko loved Motown so much, he turned his love into a four-piece band that specialized in funk, grooves and infectious booty shaking but still invokes meaning and narrative.
American Dreamer, Wednesday at 8 p.m.
This four-person indie-folk band met while studying at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas. Look forward to hearing uniquely string-heavy folk and three-part harmonies.
BettySoo, Thursday at 5 p.m.
It is rumored that BettySoo, born to Korean parents in Houston, may have the "most gorgeous voice in Texas." With an acoustic guitar in hand, BettySoo delivers Texas-centric music.
Como Las Movies, Thursday at 5 p.m.
This indie-cumbia-pop quartet bridges the gap between Latin music and Austin atmosphere in a "colorful, cultural soundscape." Como Las Movies was nominated for "Best Latin Band" at the 2020 Austin Music Awards.
Jake Lloyd, Thursday at 5 p.m.
Jake Lloyd can't be confined to just one genre and has love for his experimental nature. Lloyd will treat your ears to a mixture of R&B, rap and rock undertones.
Ray Prim, Thursday at 5 p.m.
This Austin singer-songwriter will take you back to the roots of meaningful, inspired songwriting, based on short stories for people to identify with.
Blushing, Friday at 5 p.m.
Two husband and wife pairs from Austin come together with ethereal dream pop music, fully fleshed out with each of their individual talents.
Chief Cleopatra, Friday at 5 p.m.
Born Jalesa Jessie, Chief Cleopatra discovered her love of music while performing in her church choir in Corsicana, Texas. Moving to Austin kickstarted her rock and soul career in 2019.
Van Mary, Friday at 5 p.m.
This alt-rock quartet, headed by singer and guitarist Emily Whetstone, is just getting started with only a couple singles under their belt. The band has been called a "more sincere version of Yeah Yeah Yeahs" and has left fans "itching for more."
Sasha & The Valentine’s, Friday at 5 p.m.
This five piece band is all about love; they have an album, "So You Think You Found Love?" to show for it. This band will make you feel like you're speaking to your first crush, waiting for that phone call and getting butterflies with its pop music.
Lord Friday the 13th, Friday at 5 p.m.
These trash-glam-punk siblings, Felix and Sloane, have been playing all over Austin since 2019. Their music is artistic, like their backgrounds, and gives hints of the Velvet Underground and the New York Dolls.
Carson McHone, Saturday at 11 a.m.
This Austin native has been playing music all over the city, in nightclubs and bars, since before she could even enter them. McHone has received praise from other local icons like Ray Wylie Hubbard for her raw music.
The Deer, Saturday at 11 a.m.
The Deer's music has been capturing the hearts of fans all across the U.S. for around 10 years, sharing stages with huge bands like The Lumineers and The Head and the Heart; the band often tops the charts of Austin radio stations.
Greyhounds, Saturday at 11 a.m.
Duo Andrew Trube and Anthony Farrell are bringing their new album, "Primates," to the table. The album commemorates 20 years of togetherness, transcending class struggles, personal strife and is "real music, the right way."
Kevin Galloway, Saturday at 11 a.m.
After touring and writing songs on the road, Uncle Lucius frontman Galloway is debuting his first solo album, "The Change," as he embraces family life and his young children.
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Saturday at 5 p.m.
Presenting the band's fifth studio album, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears' rock music explores the feelings of isolation, consumption and war, inspired by Hill Country sounds.
Golden Dawn Arkestra, Saturday at 5 p.m.
Golden Dawn Arkestra's music spreads love, light and tolerance through extra-musical sounds of movement through space and time. With theatrical visuals to pair, this band will take you on a cosmic journey.
Nané, Saturday at 5 p.m.
This Austin native band is coming off the heels of NPR's Tiny Desk Concert. The six members are diverse and proud, all having met at UT Austin in 2016.
Sir Woman, Saturday at 5 p.m.
The Austin Music Awards "Best New Act of 2020" had to cancel its tour when the world shut down last year. Now, she's back with R&B songs of troubled times, love and a never-ending party.
Check back daily for more SXSW updates!
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With more research done on the COVID-19 Delta variant, Austin Public Health is upping its goal of 70% vaccinated to at least 80% due to the extreme virality of the strain.
As more Delta cases are identified—up to 29 cases are confirmed in Travis County—health officials are urging the unvaccinated to get their shots to contain the spread and relieve hospitals from reaching full capacity.
Austin-Travis County surpassed the Stage 5 threshold on Friday and has reached a seven-day average of 61 hospital admissions. However, Austin health leaders have yet to make an official shift as the Delta variant calls for new guidance, APH Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said at a joint Travis County Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday morning.
The new guidance has yet to be released, but Walkes said it will take into account the viral load of Delta on both unvaccinated and vaccinated people.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the Delta variant was as contagious as chickenpox, which has a herd immunity threshold of at least 90% vaccinated.
Although 63.42% of those eligible in Travis County are fully vaccinated, breakthrough cases—where vaccinated people are contracting COVID-19—are being identified. APH has identified 1,496 breakthrough cases of the roughly 800,000 vaccinated. Most breakthrough cases are showing less severe symptoms or are asymptomatic, according to APH.
Health officials are still asking residents to wear masks, although the city cannot mandate any masking orders due to an executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
"Our challenge is going to be whether we're going to stand as a community and everyone who can get vaccinated, get vaccinated, and everyone where a mask—that's what it's going to take," Walkes said.
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Save Austin Now police petition will reach November ballot after county clerk certifies 25,000 signatures
Save Austin Now is now 2-0 over Austin City Council after its petition to add more staffed police officers to the Austin Police Department was certified, garnering over the 20,000 votes needed to make it on an election ballot.
The petition calls for more police staffing per city resident, quicker response times and more training for city police officers in the wake of increasing violent crime rates nationwide and a year of limited APD staffing. The City Council will now decide whether to implement the ordinance outright or add it to the November election ballot; it will likely do the latter.
Over 25,000 of the 27,778 signatures racked up by the public safety petition were certified as valid, well over the 20,000-vote threshold required to be certified with the City Clerk. City Clerk Jannette Goodall placed the city's seal of approval on the petition on Tuesday morning.
The petition, by the same political group that got the camping ban reinstated through a petition in May, seeks to:
- Require minimum staffing of two officers per 1,000 residents
- Require a minimum standard of 35% community response time
- Add 40 hours of training
- Require city council members, Mayor Steve Adler and other city staff to enroll in the Citizens Police Academy
- Facilitate minority officer hiring through foreign language proficiency metrics
Austin's 160 patrol vacancies have dropped its staffing rate to 1.2 officers per 1,000 residents, according to the department. APD's response time has increased by about one minute and 50 seconds in a year.
The petition comes nearly a year after APD's budgets were slashed by city council following the summer's Black Lives Matter protests, which saw several demonstrators severely injured as millions called for justice in the police-related deaths of George Floyd and locally Mike Ramos, an unarmed Black man killed by APD officer Christopher Taylor, in April 2020.
Austin and the U.S. have experienced a widespread uptick in violent crime rates in 2021. The city has reached 49 homicides in 2021, higher than the total number of murders in all of 2020 and the 38 homicides in the city in 2019. Austin police officers have seen response times rise as the department suffers increased vacancies and fewer newcomers while cadet classes are being readjusted.
Opponents argue the ordinance would ramp up a policing budget while taking away from other departments including Fire, EMS, violence prevention, and mental health care. City Council Member Greg Casar, the Travis County Democratic Party and the Austin Justice Coalition have spoken out against the organization's latest public safety move, calling out the campaign as a "right-wing petition" that misleads those who sign.
🔥 PANTS ON FIRE: Republican-front group Save Austin Now is lying about their petition!
They say their measure is about police reform, when it's really about devastating our city budget - all for the benefit of the police union. Watch the video here ⬇️ #ATX pic.twitter.com/Z6QQSfhHfH
— Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) August 2, 2021
The latest battle between city council and Save Austin Now will be decided by Austin residents in the Nov. 2 election.
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Austin City Limits fest and iHeartRadio Fest are the latest festivals to announce the removal of rapper DaBaby, who has come under fire for homophobic comments made during a recent festival.
The 29-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, was dropped by Lollapalooza just hours before his set on Sunday, followed by the Governor's Ball in New York and Nevada's Day N Vegas after making unsolicited comments about men with HIV/AIDS at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami. Rolling Stone Magazine confirmed with iHeartRadio organizers that DaBaby will no longer perform.
DaBaby will no longer be performing at Austin City Limits Music Festival — lineup update coming soon. pic.twitter.com/jAYfdJFxJf
— ACL Festival (@aclfestival) August 3, 2021
There is no word on who he will be replaced with yet, though rumors on ACL's subreddit, r/aclfestival, are saying they expect Tyler, The Creator, who performed at Lollapalooza. Kirk will be replaced at Day N Vegas by rapper Roddy Ricch.
Kirk later backtracked his offensive statements on his Instagram story, but again faced criticism for not exactly apologizing.
After facing a second round of backlash for his Instagram statements, the rapper posted on Instagram, saying:
In addition to being dropped from the festivals, DaBaby has been denounced by fellow celebrities like Dua Lipa, Madonna and Elton John.
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