This week’s Mid-Week Intermission features a dear friend of the Long Center who is constantly helping our community flourish — the one and only, Pamela Benson Owens! If you know Pam, then you’ll know she’s a self-described “long-time entrepreneur” who helps organizations become stronger, more effective, and mission-driven. Learn more about Pam as she spearheads the role of CEO with our friends over at Six Square — we speak from experience when we say that Pam is the very best of the best!




My name is Pamela Benson Owens, and yes, I use all three names.

Most people in the community call me Pam and the elders in my community have an entirely different set of names they call me by. The point is, over the last few months there is a new group of friends and colleagues that call and ask for me by name. The amazing team at the Long Center!

I’m a long-time entrepreneur, and I think that is confusing to many in Austin. It isn’t uncommon for me to hear people say, “Didn’t I just see you working at (fill in the blank)?” My answer is always, “Yes.” For the last several years I’ve had the humbling opportunity to help organizations be stronger, more effective and assist in removing obstacles and barriers that distract from the mission.

Currently, I am the CEO of Six Square, and it has been both amazing and absolutely gut wrenching at the same time. Like many other nonprofit organizations, the pandemic left us with a call to action to think differently about how we would curate meaningful work with a backdrop of social unrest and racial trauma on a variety of levels.

I am proud to say that we are still standing, having learned the importance of work/life integration, how to become even more astute listeners, and how to continue working hard to build beloved community in a time when most on the team felt exhausted and in many cases, scared for our lives.

Six Square, Austin’s Black cultural district, presents Beyond the Square Festival 2021, featuring the Queen of Bounce Big Freedia, along with Austin-based hip-hop duo Magna Carda and DJ Kay Cali at the Long Center on June 5, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Credit: Suzanne Cordeiro

Guests at Beyond the Square festival and Magna Carda, Credit: Suzanne Cordeiro

One of the most pivotal partnerships for us this year was working alongside the Long Center team to produce our annual Beyond the Square festival. When I reflect on the process, it really could be used as a blueprint for other organizations.

We were all intentional about getting to know each other better, which was more difficult in a virtual setting, but still beneficial. As we got to know each other better, we cultivated a real team spirit and everyone was leveraging their unique skills and immense talents to make the event successful. I can proudly say that the Long Center has become co-conspirators of culture in such a powerful way.

To be able to work together as a cross-cultural team was inspiring and fun! Although I’ve seen too many performances to name at the Long Center, working with the team is by far the best performance and most memorable gift to date. And, when anyone from the fabulous team at the Long Center calls me by name, I just smile and feel a deep sense of gratitude.

Queen of Bounce Big Freedia at the Long Center on June 5, 2021 for Six Square’s Beyond the Square Festival.
Credit: Suzanne Cordeiro

Be sure and keep up with all that our friends at Six Square, Austin’s Black Cultural District, have going on and how you can get involved.


Applications open Friday, December 11 at

AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin Economic Development Department announces the launch of the Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund. The Austin City Council established the $15 million Save Austin’s Vital Economic Sectors (SAVES) Fund through Ordinance No. 20201001-052. Austin City Council adopted the final guidelines for the $5 million Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund on December 3, 2020 via Resolution No. 20200103-013. As part of a partnership with the City of Austin, the Long Center for the Performing Arts will provide application assistance, process applications, and administer funds.

“Live music venues strengthen our cultural and economic ecosystem and contribute to Austin’s international appeal,” notes Veronica Briseño, Austin’s Chief Economic Recovery Officer. “Our team worked with the Long Center to quickly open the application portal one week after Council approved the guidelines. Our goal is to have the money flow to live music venues before the end of the month. This critical support will help sustain our music venues until it is safe for them to reopen.”

Eligible live music venues must be located in a City of Austin City Council District; must meet the City’s definition of a live music venue; and must have significantly reduced operations since March 2020. Applicants must also meet or exceed the City’s COVID-19 safety guidelines, which can be found online at

“The Long Center is excited to be able to support the City and our music community by providing this critical community service. This opportunity aligns with our strategic goals to serve as a conduit and resource to the creative sector and a partner supporting the City’s efforts,” said Cory Baker, President & CEO of the Long Center. “As the creative community continues to struggle through the pandemic, preserving performance spaces across the city is vital. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and get assistance out quickly.”

The Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund will be distributed in two phases:

Phase 1: Emergency Funding


  • Eligible applicants experiencing immediate risk of closure will receive a $20,000 grant, which the Long Center will distribute in December 2020.
  • Services that will be available to venues receiving emergency funding include: legal and accounting services; real estate advice and guidance on lease negotiations; and other professional services and long-term planning from community experts.


Phase 2: Enhanced Funding


  • Eligible applicants can apply for additional grant funding up to $140,000 (this does not include funds received from the first phase).
  • Grant recipients must complete a technical assistance evaluation and an Equity Strategic Plan in order to apply for more funds during the second phase.
  • The funding will be distributed in monthly payments with a maximum of $40,000 per month.


Application Opens:

Friday, December 11, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

Application Closes:

Monday, January 11, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.

How to Apply

Application and eligibility guidelines available online at

For eligibility questions and application assistance, contact the Long Center by email or by phone 512-457-5181.

Austin SAVES Fund distribuirá dólares de alivio de COVID-19 a locales de música en vivo

El periodo de solicitud abre el viernes 11 de diciembre en

AUSTIN, TX – El Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin anuncia el lanzamiento del Fondo de Preservación de Locales de Música en Vivo de Austin. El Consejo de la Ciudad de Austin estableció el Fondo de $15 millones, llamado “Salvando los Sectores Económicos Vitales de Austin” (SAVES, por sus siglas en inglés), a través de la Ordenanza No. 20201001-052. El Consejo adoptó las pautas finales para el Fondo de Preservación de Locales de Música en Vivo de Austin de $5 millones el 3 de diciembre de 2020 mediante la Resolución No. 20200103-013. Como parte de una asociación con la ciudad de Austin, el Long Center brindará asistencia con las solicitudes, procesará las solicitudes y administrará los fondos.

“Los locales de música en vivo fortalecen nuestro ecosistema cultural y económico y contribuyen al atractivo internacional de Austin”, señala Veronica Briseño, directora de recuperación económica de Austin. “Nuestro equipo trabajó con el Long Center para abrir rápidamente el portal de aplicaciones una semana después de que el Consejo aprobó las pautas. Nuestro objetivo es que el dinero fluya hacia los locales de música en vivo antes de fin de mes. Este apoyo fundamental ayudará a mantener en pie a nuestros locales de música hasta que sea seguro reabrirlos”.

Los locales de música en vivo elegibles deberán estar ubicados en un distrito del Consejo de la Ciudad de Austin; deberán cumplir con la definición de la ciudad de “locales de música en vivo”; y deberán haber reducido significativamente las operaciones desde marzo de 2020. Los solicitantes también deberán cumplir o superar las pautas de seguridad contra el COVID-19 de la ciudad, las cuales están disponibles en línea en

“En el Long Center estamos entusiasmados de poder apoyar a la Ciudad y a nuestra comunidad musical al brindar este servicio comunitario crítico. Esta oportunidad va de la mano con nuestros objetivos estratégicos de servir como conducto y recurso para el sector creativo y de ser socios que apoyan los esfuerzos de la ciudad”, aseguró Cory Baker, presidente y directora ejecutiva del Long Center. “A medida que la comunidad creativa continúa luchando contra la pandemia, es vital preservar los espacios escénicos alrededor de la ciudad. Estamos listos para ponernos a trabajar y dar ayuda rápidamente”.

El Fondo de Preservación de Locales de Música en Vivo de Austin se distribuirá en dos fases:

Fase 1: Financiamiento de Emergencia


  • Los solicitantes elegibles que experimenten un riesgo inmediato de cierre recibirán una subvención de $20,000 que el Long Center distribuirá en diciembre de 2020.
  • Los servicios que estarán disponibles para los locales que reciben fondos de emergencia incluyen servicios legales y de contabilidad; asesoramiento y orientación inmobiliaria en negociaciones de arrendamiento; y otros servicios profesionales de planificación a largo plazo por expertos de la comunidad.

Fase 2: Financiamiento Aumentado


  • Los solicitantes elegibles pueden solicitar una subvención adicional de hasta $140,000 (no incluye los fondos recibidos de la primera fase).
  • Los beneficiarios de la subvención deben completar una evaluación de asistencia técnica y un Plan Estratégico de Equidad para poder solicitar más fondos durante la segunda fase.
  • Los fondos se distribuirán en pagos mensuales con un máximo de $40,000 por mes.


Fecha de Apertura de Solicitud:

Viernes 11 de diciembre de 2020 a las 10:00 a.m.

Fecha de Cierre de Solicitud:

Lunes 11 de enero de 2021 a las 5:00 p.m.

Cómo Aplicar

Las pautas de solicitud y elegibilidad están disponibles en línea en

Para preguntas sobre elegibilidad y asistencia con la solicitud, comuníquese con Long Center por correo electrónico a o por teléfono al 512-457-5181.


About the City of Austin Economic Development Department

The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit or like us on Facebook @AustinEconDev and follow @AustinEconDev on Twitter.

Información sobre el Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin

El Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin apoya el crecimiento de los negocios, las industrias creativas y las comunidades locales. Estos programas construyen una economía equitativa y sostenible para mejorar las vidas de todos los residentes de Austin. Para aprender más sobre recursos útiles, visite o síganos en @AustinEconDev en Facebook y @AustinEconDev en Twitter.

About the Long Center for the Performing Arts

For Austinites of every background, the Long Center is the community gathering place that offers the most diverse programming and stunning views of the city, so that together, everyone can experience remarkable live arts and entertainment. The Long Center is dedicated to elevating Austin’s creative sector, serving artists across Austin, including creative organizations, musicians and performing artists, with both performance spaces and professional assistance.

Acerca del Long Center para las Artes Escénicas

Para los residentes de Austin de todos los orígenes, el Long Center es el lugar de reunión de la comunidad que ofrece la programación más diversa y las mejores vistas de la ciudad, para que juntos, todos puedan experimentar extraordinarias artes y entretenimiento en vivo. El Long Center está dedicado a elevar el sector creativo de Austin, sirviendo a artistas en todo Austin, incluidas organizaciones creativas, músicos y artistas, con espacios escénicos y asistencia profesional.



From performing to advocating, today’s Mid-Week Intermission comes from our friend Nakia Reynoso. Not only is Nakia a creator — you might recognize his voice form our Good Vibes Only series or seen him on NBC’s “The Voice” — but he’s also a mover and shaker among Austin’s music community. Read on for more about his journey to the stage and the good work he and Austin Texas Musicians have done for this town.


Hey, y’all!
I’m Nakia.


I’m a working musician in Austin and the Board President of Austin Texas Musicians’ 501c4 nonprofit. We advocate for musicians on city, state, and federal policy, and work to serve musicians’ most basic needs. Our team is made up of musicians working for musicians, and we’re grateful to bring voices from all across our community to the table.

In the short time that Austin Texas Musicians has been in existence, we’ve been instrumental in getting the Live Music Fund, Austin’s first-ever sustainable public funding for music, on the table. As well, we rallied musicians to bring $5 Million in aid to Austin’s music venues until the lights came back on.

Our Musicians Advisory Panel members have registered over 700 voters in Travis County, brought issues of equity for all diverse musicians forward, and are now engaged in projects surrounding corporate relations, affordable housing, and life insurance/retirement plans for musicians. The work we are doing is truly groundbreaking stuff, and I’m humbled to serve alongside Board Members Sonya Jevette and Executive Director Pat Buchta.


I moved to Austin almost twenty years ago to begin my musical career and, besides marrying my wonderful husband Robert, this is the best decision I’ve ever made. In 2011 I was honored to be chosen to compete in the first season of NBC’s “The Voice,” when CeeLo Green turned his chair around in response to my bold cover of his hit song “Forget You.”

This proved to be a pivotal moment in my career, paving the way for many musical highlights to come.

And just as importantly, it opened me up to a world of music advocacy, as I served as the Chair of Austin’s Music Commission, a HAAM Advisory Board member, and a key figure in the creation of the 2015 Austin Music Census. Most recently, I was honored to be chosen as 2021 Texas Chapter Governor for the Recording Academy/Grammys.

It may seem like I”m all over the map with these projects and commitments, but in reality, I love being a homebody with my husband Robert and our big beautiful Bouvier De Flandres, Baker.


At the beginning and end of the day, I’m an artist and I have to create. In addition to my acting and soundtrack work with three award-winning digital series, I was honored to partner with Savannah Welch’s 9-year-old son, Charlie, this year in creating “It’s Never Too Late,” an inspiring song about the importance of love, kindness, and mental health. Portions of the sales of the single via my Bandcamp page benefits our friends at the SIMS Foundation. I even taught myself how to animate the lovely Ben Wu illustrations for lyric video!

One of the things I really love about the Long Center is their commitment to serving the community at large, and the way in which they’ve leaned into booking more diverse talent that represents Austin’s rich musical heritage. It was an easy and emphatic “YES!” for me when the LC approached me to be the voice of their Good Vibes Only concert series, and I’m excited to see what exciting things lay ahead as we work together to create culture that serves all of Austin. A great way to check out how the Long Center is shining a light on local musicians is their outdoor concert series, The Drop-In, happening every Thursday this summer. Keep your eyes open to find out when I’ll be playing the series soon!

Catch Nakia at The Drop-In soon — you can find those updates Fridays on social media. And be sure to listen as his voice sets the scene for our next Good Vibes Only featuring Jake Lloyd, June 23rd at 8pm RSVP so you don’t forget!


That’s a wrap for the 2021 Heller Awards for Young Artists (HAYAs), and might we say it was probably the coolest awards yet! We always knew this program was something special. What we never imagined, is that it would be the leader in virtual theatrical production.


  • Performances featuring over 250 high school students
  • Over 20 schools presented
  • 40 students filmed at Austin’s Co-Production House using the same virtual production studio technology as The Mandalorian
  • Video compilations showcasing ALL nominees
  • 10 dynamic presenters

…and boundless amounts of heart and celebration, we could not be more proud.

A huge congratulations to all of our nominees who stayed creative, positive, and inspired through this year. And without further ado, here are your 2021 Award Recipients.

Senior Division

Cassandra Chapman ROUND ROCK

Grace Sheidow ROUND ROCK

Sareena Hampton ROUSE

Underclassmen Division


McKenlee Wilson WEISS

Scott Bratton ROUSE


The Plastics ROUND ROCK


Rouse Little Priest ROUSE



Isabelle Saquing LBJ/LASA

Mackenzie Thornton VISTA RIDGE


Gavin Rojas LEANDER

Augustus Cosby ST. STEPHEN’S

Jackson Urbach VISTA RIDGE


Lucy Sugawa LBJ/LASA

Rouse Never Know ROUSE

Rouse Girl Band ROUSE


Eli Patterson MARBLE FALLS


Taylor Gunter MARBLE FALLS


Abigail Bensman ROUND ROCK

Zayan Culberson LBJ Early College

Taylor Fambrough WESTLAKE

Grayson Gower ROUSE

Ashlen Herrin VISTA RIDGE

Ally McSorley LEANDER

Alisha Morejon LASA

Adam Romer LEANDER

Mackenzie Thornton VISTA RIDGE








That’s a wrap folks! Show your support for arts education by following @hellerawardsatx on your social media platform of choice, or take it one step further and make a donation to the Heller Awards for Young Artists today.


What happens when the show can’t go on? You create a virtual production, of course! This Mid-Week Intermission comes from friend Justin Kirchhoff who’s changing the virtual game as Co-Founder & CEO of Co-Production House. He and his team have been hard at work with the Heller Awards for Young Artists, making sure the show really can go on with their LED volume technology. Don’t know what that is? Read on and find out!

Hi there, I’m Justin Kirchhoff

Co-Founder & CEO of Co-Production House, a virtual production studio with Austin’s first LED volume technology.

The team at CPH includes my business partners, Kristina Smith (Co-Founder and President) and Keller Davis (Co-Owner), our Community Manager Alava Sim, and Kyle Kirchhoff, who rounds out the technical side of our team while also managing our studio. We are excited to be leading Austin’s film, commercial, and business markets into the world of virtual production and love the chance of explaining exactly what it is that we do.

We often get asked, “What is virtual production? What is a LED volume?” Our virtual production capabilities include producing media “virtually,” within the confines of a digital program, and projecting digital environments in a real physical world using our LED volume. An LED volume is quite literally a digital backdrop, not far off from how movies from the 1920s-1960s often used rear projection to showcase actors driving in a car, moving on a train, or even on the 100th floor of a skyscraper.

When the Long Center had announced they wouldn’t be hosting shows in Dell Hall just yet, Ginger Morris of the Heller Awards for Young Artists immediately came to us and asked what we were capable of in order to showcase these young performers doing what they do best. We quickly started putting the pieces together over the course of two and a half weeks, finding digital environments to help sell the idea these young performers were in location that could otherwise be difficult or expensive to produce.

We integrated our VOLUME stage, which includes a 20’x10′ LED wall, consisting of multiple panels, immersing the talent in the virtual environment. With the VOLUME you can produce content all over the world and more, in a single day. The HAYAs asked for over 25 environments in 4 production days, which is unheard of for a film production shoot. Normally, you would have to move your entire cast and crew to each location, which costs a lot of time and money, where the advantage of using our LED Volume allowed us to change locations in a few clicks of a button. It allowed us to focus on performances rather than the disturbances that come with shooting in uncontrolled locations.

The HAYA project was a fantastic experience for our team and also for the young performers. They were excited to be there, immersed in the world their characters lived in. There is always a tremendous payoff when a production is over. We saw the kids get so excited when they looked at our studio monitor. They instantly realized that the digital world behind them truly helped motivate their characters’ actions.

We were incredibly lucky to take part in this year’s Heller Awards for Young Artists. The opportunity to pull off this production in such a short amount of time really set in stone the capabilities of virtual production here at CPH.

We created CPH as a place where professionals can work and grow their businesses through collaboration with the added benefits of creative support, business development, and networking events designed to improve the growth of the creative film and media professionals in Austin, Texas.

We host monthly creative events, which include music from a local band or musician, an artist that showcases the work they’ve been producing, and a learning moment where we show a demonstration of virtual production practices in an everyday production environment.

We take each production that uses our services and provide them the best experience available. Teaming up with the HAYAs has been a grand experience, and we are looking forward to tuning into the livestream of the Awards on May 23rd. See you all then!

Justin Kirchhoff
Co-Founder/CEO of Co-Production House

Countdown to the 8th Annual Heller Awards for Young Artists with us, streaming on YouTube Sunday night, May 23rd, at 7:30pm. This is one for the books, folks!


We think it’s safe to say that this past year has been unlike any other… but Austin’s students, teachers, and arts education programs have persevered! When we started the Heller Awards for Young Artists in 2013 (you know, way back in the GAHSMTA days) our goal was always arts education and community building over competition. What we never imagined, is that it would be the leader in virtual theatrical production.

Now that we’re coming up on the 8th Annual HAYA Awards Ceremony — don’t forget to tune in Sunday night at 7:30pm and cheer on our 2021 Nominees — we thought it was time to make sure everyone knew what this program was all about plus what has made this year so special, above it all.

The 2021 Awards Ceremony is unbelievable, to say the least — with performances featuring over 250 high school students, 40 students filmed at Austin’s Co-Production House using the same virtual production studio technology as The Mandalorian, and boundless amounts of heart and celebration — here’s a little rundown on what you might have missed this year.

So, what are the Heller Awards for Young Artists?

Each year, this program works with 30+ high schools and 4,500+ students from across Central Texas to provide resources and key support systems for musical theatre programs including professional training, mentorship, master classes, performance opportunities, and industry networking.

Culminating in a sold-out annual Awards Ceremony with uproarious cheers and lots of happy tears, these students have the opportunity to come together to perform at the Long Center, learn from one another’s experience, grow their artistic abilities, and build lasting connections.

Although this school year has been more than challenging, our commitment to arts education has not changed. Because the show must go on, and so the HAYAs made it so!

Theatre for the Digital World

Creativity was our priority this year, and to make sure students could continue to create, develop their own creativity, and feel inspired, we completely transformed the HAYAs for 2021. This mean forgoing the usual school-to-school competition that highlighted full-scale musical productions, and shifting our focus to digital theatre that could be created in any learning environment. And we heard it made quite the impact

Providing 12 online workshops in digital theatre production
Creating 7 new digital award categories
Expanding the competition for original content creation and digital entries

Plus, our Education team has made some pretty cool digital productions along the way, like this opening number from the 2021 Nominations Event featuring our Select Ensemble.

We hope you’ll tune in with us and support this incredible program. We’re pretty sure Sunday night’s Awards Ceremony will be the most unique piece of digital filmmaking you’ve ever seen. Show your support for arts education by following @hellerawardsatx on your social media platform of choice, or take it one step further and make a donation to the Heller Awards for Young Artists today. The future of arts education is here, and you can make sure it continues.


We always love featuring our friends at Austin Asian American Film Festival, but this month we had a special excuse… Dive into Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with Ray Loyd, AAAFF Aritstic Director, as he shares in this Mid-Week Intermission what the 13th annual fest is up to, other local fests you’ll want to check out, and his list of AAPI film recommendations you’re gonna want to marathon.


Hey! My name’s Ray.

I’m the Artistic Director of the Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF), so I head up Creative and Marketing Operations for the fest. We’re a nonprofit organization with a small, passionate staff, an amazing group of volunteers, and a supportive board of directors. Our mission is to champion Asian and AAPI cinema by bringing it to the Austin community.

Before I was on staff, I attended an AAAFF screening of WHO KILLED VINCENT CHIN? as an audience member 4 years ago and was instantly inspired by the team and what they were doing. Soon after, I joined the programming team and eventually moved into my current role where I get to dive into design, video, content, and marketing strategy. Outside of the fest, I’m also a Video Producer at Alamo Drafthouse where I’ve gained a lot of my recent experience. It’s really a privilege to be able to say that celebrating movies is the core of my professional life these days.

This year, the 13th annual Austin Asian American Film Festival is a hybrid fest happening from June 4th to the 20th. Of course, we’re disappointed that it isn’t our typical in-person experience, but excited about the opportunities that a virtual festival can offer (example: all of Texas can access our films straight from their home!). But don’t worry, once we’re able to plan in-theater events again, we will (shout out to our usual home, AFS Cinema). As for the other part of the fest this June? We’ll be hosting a few safe, special outdoor events that will be announced very soon, so stay tuned…

Also, if you’re looking to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this May, AAAFF has partnered with Visual Communications to help curate free films and conversations for the Asian Pacific Virtual Showcase. It’s a great program presented by AAPI film fests across the country.

The Long Center has played a part of my Austin moviegoing experience, too. I’ve sweated it out and had a blast at the popular Sound & Cinema series in past summers. But one of my fondest AAAFF memories there was the CRAZY RICH ASIANS Night Market event in 2018. It was great to see everyone’s excitement for the movie, but just as wonderful that AAAFF and so many local organizations and vendors came together to serve the AAPI community.

I know I’ve talked a lot about myself and AAAFF here, but I also want to plug some other great film festivals in town who always inspire and support us: aGLIFFCine Las AmericasCapital City Black Film FestivalOUTsider FestIndieMeme, and many more. They truly make the Austin film scene special.

Final cheeseball thought: Movies have the power to make us feel seen or to learn about the world through another lens. But that only happens when diverse stories are told!

AAPI Movies that I Love (and Hope that You’ll Love, too)


For more info about AAAFF and the upcoming June festival head to To check out some of my work, head to

Lots going on in the Austin film scene — hope you get to tune in to one of the above film fests as you stay tuned for more live events from us and our partners around town.


It’s no secret that our H-E-B Terrace has the best view for pictures — you just can’t beat the Austin skyline! From holidays and proposals to shows on the lawn, we love how loved this picture-perfect spot is. That’s why you’re in luck, because our H-E-B selfie frame is back for Mother’s Day!

Beginning Thursday, May 6th (yes, May is just around the corner!), for four days you and yours can come by Long Center’s H-E-B Terrace and snap your own socially-distanced photos in our life-size, not-your-grandma’s-picture frame. You’ll want to look sharp 🌵 and don’t forget to mask-up!

And a special treat for First Responders & Frontline Healthcare Workers

H-E-B is also extending extra love to Austin’s healthcare & frontline workers with two days of professional Mother’s Day photos just for them. On April 30th and May 2nd, the frame will be closed to the public from 10am – 2pm to allow for a private photo opportunity for first responders and healthcare workers.

If you’re one of Austin’s healthcare and first responder community, SIGN UP here for a photo slot! Have one of these essential workers in your life? Spread the love and let them know! These complimentary professional photos will be sent via email and parking will also be available at the PEC Garage on these days.

And in case you missed it, here’s a peek at last December’s holiday fun 👇

And remember, please help us keep our neighbors safe by practicing social distancing and wearing a mask at all times on the Long Center grounds.

May 6th – 9th | 10am to 4pm

April 30th & May 2nd | 10am to 2pm
Sign up for a photo slot – we’ll send the digital photo straight to your inbox

Help us spread the word to the first responder or healthcare worker in your life! 💜


2020 was a busy year for Scott Strickland, as we learned in this Mid-Week Intermission feature ahead of his Good Vibes Only performanceairing tonight at 8pm. Read all about how he reconfigured a record, got into community activism, and went through some big life changes. You can check out some of his newest tunes in tonight’s show, too!

I’m an entertainer/singer/songwriter based here in Austin, Texas. Since 2015, I’ve been in and out of local clubs getting my feet wet as a performer. In 2016, I released an EP Try This Love, and we basically started performing non-stop — anywhere anyone would have us. I landed a residency at the Four Seasons Hotels Austin, and this was the beginning of writing what was to become my first LP. At 37 years old.

It’s kind of wild to think about, but I’ve finally put all of those insecurities behind me, and started fully embracing my calling to share my gift of music with others. I’ve toured regionally, and before the pandemic, I was playing consistently in San Antonio and Dallas. Having a career in music in Austin — though definitely challenging at times — has been very, very good to me.

Since the quarantine, my team scrambled to figure out how to actually make the record happen. We were full-tilt in the studio February 28, 2020 with future dates scheduled to record. That all went to hell when the pandemic hit that very next week. The team recorded remotely and, needing a different direction, I reached out to Mike Ingber and Eric Harrisson of Studio 601 in South Austin.

Mike, Eric, and I recorded demos the year prior, in 2019. I went back to them to just see if we could make something work. It was the first song, the first take — Mike on drums, Eric on bass (and they were also engineering) — and I asked them if we could start over, and if together we could produce a record. That’s how these new songs came to be — how a lot of the ones showcased in my Good Vibes set came to be.

In between all of that — and after the death of George Floyd — I decided to get involved in community activism. I became a precinct chair in my district, which leads Get Out The Vote efforts in Travis County. I also joined the non-profit Austin Texas Musicians, where I sit on a few committees designed to engage City Council and the community in different efforts and agendas. That work has been extremely rewarding for my soul.

In between studio sessions, there was a change of biblical proportions happening in my life. My wife and I of 14 years decided to split. I moved into my own place, not even a month later, and had to pick up the pieces of my life. I unpacked from the day I moved in until about mid-January. I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s completely alone, isolated because I was weary of getting my own family sick with my travels. My phone also barely rang, which — given the timing — was absolutely heartbreaking for me. In fact, my Good Vibes Only showcase for the Long Center happened the day before movers were scheduled to move me out of my home. It was an extremely nerve-racking time, to say the least.

Since then, I took up cooking, healthy eating, and spiritual healing. I’ve lost almost 40 pounds since my show in December, I got to see the beach, and I’m working on giving this album the best launch it could possibly have. I’ve also been reading Room to Dream by David Lynch, which is an absolutely fascinating book. So glad I stumbled upon it.

Support Scott and other local artists while live music is getting back on its feet by tuning into tonight’s Good Vibes Only episode, just one of a series of fully-produced performances recorded safely in our Rollins Studio Theatre that give musicians and music industry workers a place to work their magic. It airs free, tonight on Luck.Stream at 8pm.


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.


Datura’s rotating backing band is explained in this week’s Mid-Week Intermission from Jessica PyrdsaSee 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.

I also put out a couple of singles, “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” (a Tom Waits cover), and my original “Hotel Lobby” with an accompanying music video directed by Hollie Hart.

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 CalexicoThe 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 BalmorheaPR NewmanMarmalakes, 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
a.k.a. Datura

Sit back and enjoy a bluesy night — Datura’s performance on Good Vibes Only airs tonight at 8pm, streaming free on Luck.Stream.


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.

Tune in tonight to catch Sabrina and the gang back at it again with a full live set of their newest album, Trinidad, on Good Vibes Only. Catch you next time on Mid-Week Intermission!