POSTED ON MARCH 25, 2021 BY LONG
We’re super excited to cap off another round of Long Live Music, the socially-distant concert series inspired by the passion the Long Center and Luck Reunion share for Austin’s culture of live music, with a special Sunday Gospel Revival on April 4th. Read along to find out what makes this little-known family tradition so special.
The chapel at Willie Nelson’s “Luck, TX” — an old west town built as the set for Red Headed Stranger — is perhaps the most cherished building on the property. Long before it was a stage for the annual Luck Reunion music festival, the chapel hosted the weddings of family and friends (and Willie himself), local theater performances, trick-or-treaters, and Christmas Eve services.
But, to those in the know, the most special memories from the tiny church are of the annual Easter Service.
Left to Right: Willie Nelson and the Bells of Joy by Bridget karam Photography; Luck, TX Chapel by @emilyjaschke; Willie Nelson in the Luck, TX Chapel by Bridget Karam Photography
For years, residents of the Briarcliff corner of Spicewood clamored to Luck each Easter Sunday — their golf carts packed with picnic supplies, instruments, and Easter eggs — and crowded the small venue for the main event: Austin Gospel group, the Bells of Joy, often accompanied by a set from Willie and Bobbie, his sister and piano player.
While the Bells anchored the morning entertainment, it wouldn’t be Easter in Luck without at least a few spontaneous guest performances. People packed pews and hung through windows to catch the music. If you were lucky, you caught Dolly Parton’s appearance in 1991. Johnny Rodriguez was known to show up to play “Desperado.” Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Kimmie Rhodes were all known to show up to sing a song or two.
The heart of the holiday was always the music, which echoed throughout the town as kids hunted eggs and neighbors danced side by side. It’s with this joy that we, as the Luck Team, are beyond excited to revive this tradition with a special performance from the legendary gospel group Blind Boys of Alabama. We think there’s no better way to open up this close-held, little-known Easter Sunday celebration than out on the lawn at the Long Center with all of you. We hope to revive this beloved tradition, and to share a truly soulful Sunday with our music community in the spirit of togetherness.
See you out on the lawn!
— The Luck Team
Tickets for Luck Reunion & Long Center’s Long Live Music’s Gospel Sunday Revival featuring Blind Boys of Alabama with Ray Prim are still available — 1 ticket is good for a pod of four people. Masks and health & wellness protocols are in effect so that we can safely enjoy live music together.
POSTED ON MARCH 23, 2021 BY LONG
Datura’s rotating backing band is explained in this week’s Mid-Week Intermission from Jessica Pyrdsa. See what Jessica’s been up to during the past year while unable to perform, plus meet the three musicians making Datura complete on tonight’s Good Vibes Only. It’s always a new sound to look forward to!
What a blur of a year this has been. Datura is comprised of myself (Jessica Pyrdsa) and a rotating cast of stellar musicians. We felt so lucky to be invited to play at the Long Center, especially during a time when we were all craving live music and human interaction, and let me tell you — the human interaction received from the crew at the Long Center was like a drink of a tall, cold glass of water.
I was thankful for an excuse to get together for band practice, when otherwise my time has been spent riding my bike, doing yoga, discovering I can paint, and aimlessly buying things on Facebook Marketplace.
The band I put together for our recording for Good Vibes Only is some of my all-time favorites to play with.
On drums is Greggory Clifford. You have probably seen him before playing with Kalu & The Electric Joint or his project Slug, as well as touring nationally with a few others. He’s been teaching music lessons, producing music/beats, playing tennis, and being a dog dad (he’s a good one).
On horns is Paul Deemer, who also plays with Austin bands Calexico, The Polyphonic Spree and Gina Chavez. He’s been filling his time with teaching at UT, co-founding management company Loro with partner Cris Flores, as well as running his own business (PDE) which includes producing, consultation, music coaching, and remote recording.
And on bass is Sam Pankey. A crowd favorite. Sam plays with other bands such as Balmorhea, PR Newman, Marmalakes, and Mother Falcon. He’s been practicing, buying gear, running, and learning how to appreciate wine (getting pretty good at the drinking part already).
Looking forward to the world slowly coming back while keeping the mindfulness I’ve gained over the past year. Hope to see you out there soon.
Xoxo — Jessica
POSTED ON MARCH 8, 2021 BY LONG
Sweet Spirit is our special guest on tonight’s episode of Good Vibes Only — and we’re pretty sure this is a performance for the books! Check in with each band member’s comings and goings during the pandemic in this Mid-Week intermission feature, narrated by Sabrina Ellis, and enjoy the ride.
If Sweet Spirit is known at all, we are known for being a LIVE band. We’ve had as weird a time as anyone, keeping it low-key during the pandemic, respecting lockdown protocols, and doing our part to keep our community safe. All six of us are on wait-lists or volunteering to be vaccinated, and you’d better believe — once the air is safe — we will be coming back to the live stage in the wildest way.
It was our privilege to play Good Vibes Only on the Rollins Theatre stage. We hadn’t gone all-out since our final pre-pandemic show, a sold-out event at 3TEN, January of 2020. That show, like every show, we played as though it was our last.
In May of 2020, we released our third studio album, Trinidad, under Merge Records. The album received no reviews or reaction. I’m not sure any of us even listened to it. It was a busy time of painting signs, marching, and dodging tear gas at protests to defend Black lives and Black trans lives. It was a time of protecting our loved ones, protecting our elderly, protecting our mental health, and standing up for social justice, informing ourselves to vote in local elections, and standing up for our public health ethics.
Our Good Vibes Only taping is the only complete live performance of the new album Trinidad. Lacking our tour stamina, we gave it our all, and then some, and some of that “all” ends up on the floor. (I vomited ’cause I was a little out-of-shape.)
Bass player Jon has been hard at work on a solo record, which often takes a backseat to divergent interests such as frisbee golf, carpetnry, and perhaps most concerning, a terrible fantasy sports gambling problem!
Josh, our blonde guitar player, has found a new outlet in sculpture/upholstery. He says: “In the beginning of lockdown, everyone was ordering everything through Amazon or grocery boxes and I had two roommates so after a couple months there was a giant pile of cardboard in my garage and I decided to make a giant 7 foot tall yeti out of it. After that, I had some fur leftover and made a buffalo and it sold on my Instagram in 20 minutes. So I’ve been making buffalo and other animals to keep busy and selling them on my Instagram ever since.” @neonhuckleberry
Keyboard player Jake is a cat dad. Here is a photo of Little Nuni keeping warm during February’s Arctic Blast.
Drummer Danny has been instructing young musicians at School of Rock. We hear he’s stern!
As for me and fearless collaborator Andrew, we’ve been working on A Giant Dog‘s 5th album. It’s a concept album, so we aren’t just writing songs, people! We’re creating an alternate reality. We rehearse with the band each Wednesday (yes, we will be tuning in to Luck.Stream right after practice), and we spend Sunday through Tuesday writing the “Story.” It’s a lot like Tenacious D around here, lately.
Check Out What Sweet Spirit’s in to Right Now
Bassist Jon Fichter’s band Hong Kong Wigs released an album in 2020, and we all adore this single, “Little Oceans.” It’s our collective jam.
We released our third album, Trinidad, in May 2020 under Merge Records. You can buy the LP, CD, or digital download through our Bandcamp.
We also listened to a sh*t ton of music to get us through. Here’s a playlist of our favorite songs released in 2020.
POSTED ON MARCH 2, 2021 BY LONG
These last few weeks have reminded us that Austinites always come together in a crisis, and that’s why we’re so excited to kick off I Live Here I Give Here’s 24 hours of community giving through Amplify Austin to lift up our non-profit community. The need in Austin has never been greater, and at the Long Center, we haven’t let up on our work to support local artists and keep our musicians and industry workers employed and performing while venues are closed.
This year, we hope you’ll help us reach our Amplify Austin goal of $35,000 in support of Austin’s artists and creative community. So here are 5 reasons to donate and #AmplifyAustinArtists today.
Reason #1 //
Because we miss moments like this one.
Charlie Sexton with Nikki Lane and a host of other local musicians honor the work of late music legend Billy Joe Shaver at Long Live Music, November 2020.
There just isn’t anything quite like live music, and right now we need the thrill, the energy, and the community it brings more than ever. It’s no secret that the COVID crisis has taken a huge toll on Austin’s artists, stagehands, creatives, and music scene — estimates list that over 30% of Austin’s creative sector jobs were lost between April and July of 2020 and nearly 62% of venues are at risk of closing permanently.
We knew our arts community couldn’t struggle through this time alone, so that’s why we’ve made it our priority to help hundreds of artists, organizations, and venues continue creating throughout this pandemic. Because new ways to experience art and supporting the artists who create it is what makes this city tick, and our work through Good Vibes Only, Long Live Music, and with the City of Austin’s Live Music Venue Preservation Fund has done exactly that.
Reason #2 //
To keep our stages full — anywhere, any way.
Big Freedia and dancers headline the stage with Tank and the Bangas at Long Live Music, December 2020.
We’ve seen everything and anything turned into a stage while Austin’s venues have been shuttered. And last fall, we saw the return of live music out on our lawn with our friends at Luck Reunion for Long Live Music, an outdoor, socially-distanced concert series that proved Austin could celebrate live music again, safely and responsibly. Not just that — hearing it felt even better than we had imagined.
Reason #3 //
To get our creative sector back on its feet.
The string section of Montopolis brought the Good Vibes to their taping, which aired February 24, 2020.
Venue closures meant lots of jobs lost for Austin’s artists, creatives, and creative sector workers that have devoted their lives to the performances and shared experiences we love. So the Long Center created Good Vibes Only, our free, fully-produced virtual concert series spotlighting the diversity of Austin’s local music scene and the creativity of our production teams while safely providing performance space for groups that hadn’t played a real set together in over 8 months. That’s a really long time.
Reason #4 //
Because local music is an Austin tradition.
Austin isn’t called the Live Music Capital of the World for nothing — it’s the city’s bread & butter. But that also means we have to take special care of the venues across town that we rely on for a good show and a good time when they’re unable to host us. And with our partnership with the City of Austin’s Live Music Venue Preservation Fund, we’ve been able to distribute $1.48 million to 74 venues that faced imminent closure, with more critical funding, resources, and training on the way.
Reason #5 //
Because there’s an Austin artist in each of us.
Your gift to the Long Center during Amplify supports these programs and puts Austin artists first as we work towards the recovery of our creative sector. Thank you for your support as we work together to #AmplifyAustinArtists!