‘Day Without Local Music’ to bring attention to plight of Austin musicians

FILE: A band is on the move on the corner of Sixth Street and I-35 at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)
FILE: A band is on the move on the corner of Sixth Street and I-35 at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s known as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” That very name is why some are not happy to see DJ’s replacing live musicians at some bars on Sixth Street.

“It started when a friend of mine who plays blues was at Maggie Mae’s. They asked him to leave,” said Felicia Molandes, an Austin photographer and filmmaker. “That’s where Janis Joplin played. Jimi Hendrix played there. I don’t understand why they don’t want the blues.”

Several bars on Sixth Street have new owners and have replaced long-time, live musicians with DJ’s. Some of them are protesting – and trying to organize a “Day without Local Music” protest to bring more attention back to local music in Austin.

“Some of the people that involve themselves with some of the bars not being excited about live music — it hurts what Austin has always been about,” said Tish Eubanks, Mizzpehavin Band member. “Keeping Austin weird isn’t just keeping Austin weird, it’s about keeping Austin separate from everything in the world. We are the capital of music of the world – that’s a huge title. I don’t think the world and other places know how hard it is for us to actually work and be compensated.”

The potential protesters met for the first time today at Maria’s Taco Express to discuss the logistics and plans of ‘A Day Without Local Music.’ They want to draw attention to how little income musicians make, despite the value that they add to the city. They want to march to the State Capitol with their instruments in hopes of gaining the attention of city council members.

“To tell a musician who has to rent thousands of dollars of equipment to play in your venue is only worth $10 an hour is an insult,” said Eubanks. I’m hoping that this protest brings awareness to what we’re going through, and I’m hoping that we find that energy that we used to have.”

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