(Rob Hein)

Four weeks ago, with live music venues throughout Austin well into the grip of financial hardship from closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Stephen Sternschein didn't see much cause for optimism.

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Nearly 50 Austin musicians got together through the nonprofit All ATX to create the release of "Someday We'll Be together," a take on The Supremes song by Robert Harrison and Suzanna Choffel.
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(John and Marilee Eitel)

Welcome to Austonia, a new, locally owned news company reporting on news, business, and politics in Austin. Like what you see? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our latest stories in your inbox.

Late at night on April 23, under the cover of darkness, John and Marilee Eitel drove around Rollingwood on their golf cart, planting signs in their neighbors' yards.

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(Dave Creaney)

Welcome to Austonia, a new, locally owned news company reporting on news, business, and politics in Austin. Like what you see? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our latest stories in your inbox.

Ben Ballinger can't remember the last time he went more than two months without playing music in front of an audience.

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A year ago this week, Austin resident Michelle Lambreton discovered that Cardi B was playing the Honda stage at Austin City Limits Festival 2019, and excitedly bought her tickets.

It's her favorite Austin event, and she's been going almost every year since it started in 2002.

"I would still be hearing music in my head for days after," Lambreton, 38, said.

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The Austin City Council on Thursday earmarked $1.5 million in relief funds for thousands of Austin's musicians, who are struggling in the wake of the cancellation of South by Southwest and the closure of hundreds of live music venues across the city.

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Karen Brooks Harper

Bonnie Whitmore plays her Facebook Live weekly Tragic Mondays All-Request Hour—one of the few almost-gigs she has had since venues closed down in March. (Karen Brooks Harper)

It was mid-March, and Austin singer-songwriter Bonnie Whitmore was about to start the first leg of a 20-city tour with iconic Americana performer James McMurtry—a boost for her hard-fought music career that had only recently become full time.

Whitmore, 37, was playing Thursday nights at the Continental Gallery and logging regular work as a studio bassist, back up singer, and tour opener. She was to tour Europe with acclaimed Austin band The Mastersons. She releases another album this summer.

And then coronavirus shut down Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World, and Whitmore's career came to a standstill.

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