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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Austin parents and grocery store shelves are feeling the effects of a nationwide baby formula shortage.
Caused mostly by a February recall due to contamination issues, followed by the Abbott Nutrition factory closure in Michigan, the shortage has left Austin shelves barren. However, earlier this week, U.S. officials announced a plan with the facility to restart production.
In the meantime, local parents in crisis have turned toward the Mother’s Milk Bank to keep their babies fed.
HEB on East 7th has been picked clean of formula and is limiting purchases. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
The milk bank—which takes donations from lactating mothers and dispenses milk to babies in the NICU—has been helping feed upwards of 30 families in need as the formula supply tightens.
According to the bank’s executive director Kim Updegrove, Mother’s Milk Bank has seen an uptick in calls from parents with healthy babies in need of help since the shortage began.
“We aren't used to hearing from families with healthy infants,” Updegrove said. “They're typically very upset, angry, frustrated, sobbing—it's scary to not be able to feed your infants. So in the past few weeks, those calls have been significantly increasing.”
Mothers are only able to donate if they are within a year postpartum, so Updegrove said they are constantly bringing on and retiring donors. While donors had been on a 30% decline leftover from 2021 when the shortage began, Updegrove said the shortage has led to mass community interest and more than 90 prospective donors in just the past few days.
“We and other milk banks are experiencing significant interest from the community—becoming milk donors and helping to turn around this crisis,” Updegrove said. “Every infant needs to be fed, every one of us can relate to that need, and we need to make sure as a community that it happens.”
Whole Foods downtown was also cleaned out of typical formula. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
While you may still be able to find formula at places like Whole Foods—which currently has goat milk, soy and plant-based formula in stock—Updegrove said it might not be what a baby needs.
Updegrove said it is best to buy types that say “infant formula,” as they are FDA approved and will provide the nutrients, vitamins and minerals a baby needs. Plant-based, homemade, non-cow's milk or diluting formula may not provide the same nutritional value.
As the community navigates the shortage, Updegrove said the most important way to help out is to not panic buy or stockpile.
“This is a crisis for families,” Updegrove said. “This is the time for the community to gather together and figure out what everyone can do to help families with young infants.”
Next time you’re sitting at a red light in Austin, you may look over and see a car without a person at the driver’s wheel.
Autonomous vehicle tech company Argo AI has brought driverless operations to Austin and Miami, starting out with only company employees using the service. Later on, tests with Lyft and Walmart will carry out ride-sharing and grocery delivery services, with the help of a human safety operator. The company has already made moves on this front in Miami Beach where some Lyft passengers have used its autonomous vehicles with a human operator.
While its platform is designed for integration with multiple vehicle types, the test fleet uses the Ford Escape Hybrid and VW's all-electric ID.Buzz.
The Pittsburgh-based company says this progress on its autonomy platform has been more than five years in the making and boasted about reaching this milestone before others.
"Argo is first to go driverless in two major American cities, safely operating amongst heavy traffic, pedestrians and bicyclists in the busiest of neighborhoods," said Bryan Salesky, Founder and CEO of Argo AI.
Expect to see the autonomous cars on the road during daytime business hours as the tech aims to learn from a diversity of road infrastructure and driving behaviors.
The company, which is testing in eight cities in the U.S. and Europe, has brought its tech to Austin as the company looks to expand in densely-populated cities. In particular, Argo is looking at ridesharing, delivery and logistics companies for integrating its autonomous vehicles into their digital services.
Argo anticipates its service availability to someday cover more than 15 million people in Austin, Miami and Washington D.C.
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