It’s officially summer! The sun is out, the birds are singing, and the mental fog of winter has finally lifted. To kick off our favorite season, we’re teaming up with our sponsors at Baylor, Scott & White Health to serve up some tips to get your mental health into tip top shape so you can have the best summer yet 😎

Take in Some Art

Getting involved with the arts can have powerful and lasting effects on physical and mental health. 

Here are some totally objective suggestions for how to get more art in your life:

  • take in some live music at The Drop-In
  • come visit Gallery 701 on the Mezzanine Level of the Long Center
  • pick up an artistic hobby like knitting or sketching – you don’t have to be an expert to still have fun with it!
Photo by Brynn Osborn
Get Some Vitamin D

Low levels of vitamin D can lead to depression, seasonal affective disorder, heart disease, and even cancer. Although you can take a vitamin D supplement, the best way to get it is by getting outside. Ever wonder why taking a walk when you feel down or stressed seems to make you feel better? This is why! Good thing Austin isn’t lacking in outdoor activities this time of year.

Our recs on how to up your vitamin D exposure:

Read more about what Baylor, Scott & White Health has to say about vitamin D.
Photo courtesy of Visit Austin
Move Your Body in a Way You Enjoy

It’s easy for anyone to feel sluggish, unmotivated, or just generally meh when we’re sedentary for too long. Get your heartrate up to get your spirits up!

Our tips for keeping moving:

  • visit a Texas State Park for a day of hiking, fishing, or horseback riding – be sure to wish them a happy 100th birthday while you’re at it!
  • hit the dance floor while you’re pre-gaming at The Drop-In (and then tag us in your social posts)

Read more about what Baylor, Scott & White has to say about getting moving.

Photo by Brynn Osborn
Here’s a note from our friend and licensed professional counselor Heather Moeller from BS&W Health:

I’m incredibly grateful to live in the modern world.  Trust me when I say that there is NO bigger fan of toothpaste, technology, and tacos than Heather Moeller.  Heck, with the help of new artificial intelligence platforms, I can even order up and read poems about the glories of all three in a matter of seconds! 

Even with all this cleanliness and convenience, I can’t forget that I’m but a mammal. One with a smart phone, certainly. But a sensory and social creature all the same. 

We all are. 

When we connect with the basics of our humanity, we simply feel good. Science says this, but you have experienced it yourself, so you know it’s true! 

Put your bare feet on the cool grass on a warm day, let the sun shine down on your upturned face, or listen to the melodies of masterful musicians.  

Be with your people.  Go see plays and art that other humans have created. There’s a reason that humans have been admiring art since cave drawings! 

This summer, consider bringing it back old school for even just a few small minutes a day. Your sensory social mammal self will thank you later.

Well, there’s no denying it – the arts are essential for mental health. So is being outside. Whether you choose to get those at the Long Center or anywhere else, know we’re cheering you on! We’re all in this together 👏

KEEP IN TOUCH

At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.

For those not in-the-know, Austin is a hotspot for hip-hop music makers. We’ve got several on The Drop-In docket this year, but we thought it would be extra great to check in with David Shabani ahead of his show (hint, it’s in June!). Performing with his band The Nu Leopards, read on to find out about his international influences — he comes to Austin by way of Paris, Canada, and his Congolese parents — upcoming projects, and more. Highly recommend turning on some Shabani tunes while you read.

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE DROP-IN 👉 With free music every Thursday, you might want a reminder or two. We can help with that.

1️⃣ Make sure you’re following us @longcenter wherever you get your news to see who’s playing next.

2️⃣ Sign up for weekly notifications so you know when RSVPs open.

3️⃣ Grab your lawn chairs and your buddies and prepare to Drop-In.

MEET DAVID SHABANI & THE NU LEOPARDS
David Shabani, photo by Jay Ybarra

Long Center: A quick read through your bio is more like a world tour. With your international background, why create hip-hop in Austin? What brought you here and what keeps you creating here?

David: Although I’m from many geographic walks of life, Texas has been my home for the majority and most prominent moments of my life and will likely be my home for all of it. I feel most at home when I’m in Texas.

When it came to choosing a city in the state, I always had the confidence that Austin would be the most appropriate launching point for my music career. It’s why I came here and it’s why I stay here. And I feel like that feeling I had back then is starting to fall into place.

Long Center: It’s a big year for hip-hop, celebrating its 50th anniversary — where do you think the genre is headed in the next 50 years? What next steps do you see for hip-hop in Austin?

David: Hip-hop is already the biggest, most profitable genre in the world. I envision that in the next 50 years, it will not only dominate the music industry but media and culture at large. You’ll hear it in commercials, movie scores, clubs, etc., the way you would hear pop back in the ’80s.

For Austin, the same way Gary Clark, Jr., is the face of blues and rock that came out of Austin, I think Austin has the opportunity to give hip-hop artists a platform to put their art on display so that the genre can grow from within and so that a few of the faces that will influence hip-hop on a national and global scale can emerge and make their impact.

Long Center: Your sound is so versatile — one can easily hear it pounding in a club or lyrically spinning on a home turntable. Where does this fluidity come from? How do you describe it?

David: The way I’ve lived has given me a diverse outlook on music. I listened to dancehall, reggae, and gospel growing up, but I also tuned into artists like Michael Jackson and Tina Turner who were heavily influential for immigrants who were trying to learn about life in the West.

The hip-hop in Canada is different from the hip-hop in Texas, which is different from the hip-hop you gravitate toward in France. I try to stand out of the way to let those influences interact with whatever I’m feeling at the time. I think that’s what makes my music so naturally versatile.

The Nu Leopards, photo by Jay Ybarra

Long Center: You’ll be performing with your band at The Drop-In this summer — could you tell us about The Nu Leopards? Who makes up the band and what was the inspiration for coming together?

David: What’s interesting about The Nu Leopards is that there are different forms of The Nu Leopards. Jamal Knox (drums), Christian Callegeri (bass), and myself make up the core of the band, but I play with many different other musicians because The Nu Leopards sound is pretty dynamic. 

We often play with a 7-piece band, a 5-piece, a 4-piece — the essence of The Nu Leopards is there regardless of the format. That versatility is why we’ve been able to be booked locally, regionally, and globally. We can play in jazz clubs, put on hip-hop sets, join soul and R&B lineups, play at concert venues…

My inspiration for putting the band together was honestly watching Jay Z’s MTV unplugged with The Roots back in 2001. It took almost a decade to get the opportunity to find talented musicians and pair them with my music. So the inspiration was always there but the opportunity came in 2020 when everyone was at home. Once we were able to come back outside, we were prepared. I’m excited to be able to showcase The Nu Leopards at The Drop-In.

Long Center: For new listeners excited to see you at The Drop-In, what do you suggest they listen to to prepare?

David: I strongly suggest listeners start off with my short EP Shabani’s Smooth Sounds of the Summer. That album came out while The Nu Leopards and I first started touring. So those were some of the first songs we played live and they’re a core part of the set. After that, I’d say go bounce around the discography and find some of my earlier tracks like Globetrotter, which is a little more R&B and Three Years, which is more hip-hop so that you can get a sense of the genres we blend when we’re on stage.

Long Center: We’ve actually had Shabani’s Smooth Sounds of the Summer on in the office lately — what’s next for you? Any projects or collaborations you’re working on?

David: I’m releasing a new single on June 16, 2023. It’s called “Spirits.” It’s heavily influenced by me recently being able to tour with The Nu Leopards so the instrumentation is as prominent as the narrative and the lyrics. It’s a perfect merge between jazz and hip-hop, which is a bit outside of my most comfortable genres. I’m excited to roll it out very soon.

Long Center: We’re super pumped to have you out on the lawn soon! What can folks expect from your set? Any teasers you can leave with us?

David: Besides new music, if anyone made it out to the residency at Geraldine’s at Hotel Van Zandt, they’ll know that I like to incorporate surprise mashups to covers in between our songs. We go in and out and transtion with songs that might be familiar to a lot of people in the crowd. Some of those moments are my favorite because of people’s reactions. I hope everyone who comes out for The Drop-In will enjoy it very much.

MORE HIP-HOP TO CELEBRATE

Hip-hop’s 50th-anniversary year is only half way through! Keep your eyes peeled here and throughout Austin for other chances to celebrate, including Thee Phantom & The Illharmonic Orchestra coming to the Long Center on August 12th. When was the last time you witnessed strings, horns, woodwinds, and a pianist at a hip-hop concert??

KEEP IN TOUCH

At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.

You know her, you’ve seen her, and you’ve definitely danced your heart out to her beats — yes, Gina Chavez is in the house on May 23rd! Kicking off Concert Club, the series where we turn our Rollins Studio Theatre into an old-school club for the night, this Latin Grammy nominee and ‘the band’ has some surprises in store. Read on to hear from Gina herself on what to expect, plus get a teasesr on the rest of our Concert Club artists. Get scootin’!

THE CONCERT CLUB SKINNY 🍸 Low lights, loungey vibes, and music so close you can feel it! Check out how to snag one of the cabaret tables (that come with some free drinks!) and peep the rest of our lineup.

Hey hey! Gina Chavez here.

I’m an Austin-born songwriter and musician and it’s good to be home! I’ve been on tour all year, criss-crossing the country and Central America where we toured as cultural ambassadors with the U.S. State Department in February.

Needless to say, it’s great to be back in Austin! And I can’t wait to serenade you at the Long Center on May 23rd — the day after my birthday 😉

The band and I have a whole new show for you, with songs from our NPR Tiny Desk and our most recent Latin Grammy-nominated album, La Que Manda! It’s been amazing to tour that record and see people connect with songs that are truly about living into your power. I love when audiences take over the theater dancing — so y’all better be ready!

I’m serious! We had some of the most amazing theater crowds in Walla Walla WA, and Amerherst, MA, so I know Austin can bring the heat.

I also hear it’s the Long Center’s 15th birthday, so there’s lots to celebrate. We can’t wait to move hearts and hips with you next week. Lez go!

Abrazos,
— Gina
There’s more Concert Club where that came from

This is where we turn down the lights, pump up the mood, and transform the Rollins into our very own music lounge. Consider Concert Club your White Horse with parking, your Continental away from Congress, or your Broken Spoke in the city — whatever shines your boots. 

THE LINEUP

The Peterson Brothers // JUN 23

Kelly Willis // SEPT 8

Sue Foley // OCT 19

MEMBER PERKS

Fan Level Long Center Members and higher get the ultimate Concert Club experience. That means access to cabaret seating and 20% off tickets to 2+ shows plus 👇

Friend Members get early access to tickets and an invite to the pre-show party.

KEEP IN TOUCH

At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.

Year-End Gift 2023 | Long Center
Your Support Today, Transforms Tomorrow

We’ve made it our mission to support creativity in all its forms, and we hope this season you’ll join us and do the same. Your donation doesn’t just support our work, it’s a declaration that creativity belongs to everyone