In this episode, you’ll hear from the owners of two Austin venues. Brodie Elkins tells the story of Scratchouse which closed due to the pandemic. Then Maggie Lea and Tamara Hoover talk about how they’ve kept their venue, Cheer Up Charlies, afloat, and explain what it’s been like to get ready to reopen.
Featured image by Todd V. Wolfson
Tomar YassienWilliams was born on June 14, 1968, in Las Vegas, Nevada and was the fifth child of seven. He grew up singing playing the bass guitar in the family band called 6:AM in a one-car garage in Victoria, Texas. The family band played everything from Michael Jackson to Tony! Toni! Tonè!. They toured on the chitlin circuit and by the time Williams was 16, the band landed a gig at Antone’s opening for local blues legend W.C. Clark.
After 6:AM and blown away by the opportunities for musicians in the Live Music Capital of the World, Tomar played in a few bands including a stint as a keyboardist for Hot Buttered Rhythm. All while his younger brother Salih had started producing hip-hop records for some the greats out of Houston. Tomar joined his brother and they began focusing on creating music of their own. They formed Carnival Beats and produced some of the biggest hip-hop classics that came out of Houston in the 2000s including Big Moe (“Bare Baby” and “Purple Stuff”), Paul Wall (“Sittin’ Sidewayz”) and Mike Jones (“Back Then,” “Still Tippin”). They quickly became an in-demand production group signing with Universal as a production team and working with artists such as Trick Daddy and the Ying Yang Twins.
In 2012, the brothers went back to their soulful roots working with Latasha Lee and the Black Ties where they produced and performed until the band’s separation. Tomar set out on his own path with his wife’s encouragement and shortly after a friend (Nikolas Bouklas) introduced Williams to his band and just after one practice together they decided to form Tomar and the FCs. The band self-recorded and released their first EP, Day by Day in 2015 and the Austin natives released their first full album Heart Attack in 2016 that included the hits “Heart Attack” and “Do you Feel it?.” NPR Music picked Tomar and the FCs to represent Austin for their Tiny Desk Concert Series in 2016 and 2018, they signed with Splice Record and released their anticipated sophomore album in February of 2020 called Rise Above.
In January of 2017, Tomar and the FCs were the KUTX Artist of the Month and they have been voted in the top five of the Austin Chronicle’s Music Poll for best Blues, Funk, and Soul artist in 2017 and 2018. The band has performed at Austin City Limits (ACL), South by Southwest, River Revival and many other festivals. Tomar Williams continues to captivate, serenade and entertain audiences everywhere –with his authenticity, heartfelt lyrics, and soulful vocals.
– Miles Bloxson, KUTX Host
Pamela Hart was born and raised in Los Angeles, California in a household filled with jazz music. With her mother’s encouragement to sing in front of family and friends her interest in music quickly evolved into a life long passion.
After graduating from UCLA with an economics degree in 1982 Pamela moved to Austin. She began using the Austin Public Library to learn more about jazz legends such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and many others. In order to perfect and study her craft, Pamela began to make appearances with Boyd Vance and others, but her first regular accompanist was Sandy Allen until his death. She joined the Black Arts Alliance in 1991 and introduced to them the Black Women in Jazz Project. In 1993 Pamela and her husband Kevin Hart formed HartBeat Productions and one year later they founded the Women in Jazz Association, Inc. with a mission to keep jazz alive. They went on to produce the semi-annual Women in Jazz Concert Series in 1994 which has been a staple for over 25 years. The concert series also includes a Vocal Performance Workshop where Pamela and other professional vocalists and musicians share their knowledge and techniques.
Pamela has studied and learned from many along the way but she credits Dr. James Polk as being one of her greatest teachers and has worked with him since 1992. Throughout her career, Polk has provided her with many performance opportunities such as the European jazz festival tours including the Montreux, Vienne, and Juan des Pins Jazz festivals, with the Texas State University Jazz Band he directed. They have also worked together on several occasions including her Women in Jazz concert series and in she even enlisted his help for her first album May I Come In, released in 1998 by her own production HartBeat Productions company.
Pamela Hart has received many awards for her involvement in the community and as an accomplished performer including Austin Jazz Players and Critic’s Poll for Best Female Jazz Singer, the Connie Yerwood Conner National Woman of Achievement Award, Texas State University Outstanding Alumni Award and the list goes on. She has been named, “Austin’s First Lady of Jazz,” by the Austin Women’s Magazine and was inducted into the Austin Jazz Society Hall of Fame in 2018. Pamela spends a lot of time teaching and coaching young singers and has provided jazz vocal workshops at the Carver Museum, Children’s Museum, Doss Elementary, Davis Elementary, Sims Elementary, Crockett High School, and in private residences. Hart continues to build her legacy by performing, teaching, mentoring and inspiring and making a difference in the Austin Jazz music scene and in her community.
– Miles Bloxson, KUTX Host
Neo-soul singer Eimral Sol was born and raised in Killeen, Texas. She began singing at just the age of 9 and continued to sing in the choir throughout her childhood. In 2012, the singer attended Texas Southern University and having limited resources while studying entertainment management she recorded a song called “I’m So High,” in a closet! Through social media and the help and persistence of her friends the song received the stamp of approval from superstar Erykah Badu.
Eimaral graduated from Texas Southern University in 2015 and began to record cover videos on YouTube which lead to her working with a Texas three-man production crew by the name of Analogue Escape, which included producer Russell Guess. They all worked out of Sugarhill Recording Studios in Houston, Texas which granted Sol the space to develop as an artist. Russell went on to produce Eimaral’s singles “Gravity,” “Royal,” and “Finds” which all gained traction on major online platforms, including Sway’s Universe in December of 2015.
In 2017, she made the move to Austin and released a single, “OTW” in 2018. Eimaral released her first album Sol Soliloquies, in March of 2019, which she wrote with Russell Guess producing the project. The 26-year-old has performed at SXSW and been featured in Forbes Magazine. In May of 2019, she was the Austin 360 Artist of the Month and she is the KUTX Artist of the Month for February 2020. Eimaral Sol continues to mesmerize, uplift and take audiences on a spiritual journey filled with enlightenment and positivity with each one of her performances.
– Miles Bloxson, KUTX Host
Tameca Jones was born and raised in Austin, Texas. She joined Austin band 8 Million Stories as the group’s lead singer and songwriter. The band played throughout the Capitol City, quickly gained popularity and took a publishing deal with Riptide Publishing. Tameca stayed with the band for two and a half years before going solo. She started playing covers sets at the Continental Club Gallery and gained traction covering artists such as Tina Turner, Amy Winehouse, Nirvana, Elton John and a host of other stars. She continued to prosper in the Austin music scene making a name for herself as the Queen of Austin Soul. Jones caught the attention of Austin native and luminary Gary Clark Jr. who became a big fan of Tameca’s and even featured her vocals on his second studio album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, for his song called “Wings.”
Jones made her festival debut in 2015 at The Austin City Limits Festival and that same year, she released her first single a Motown inspired track, “Hot and Bothered.” In 2016, she dropped her EP Naked, releasing two more singles after that, “Good Boy” and “Are You Awake.” Tameca has opened for stars such as Gary Clark Jr. and Bob Schneider. She has shared the stage with stars such as Steven Van Zandt, Alejandro Escovedo, and Patty Griffin and more. Jones has been acknowledged for her soulful vocals by major publications such as Billboard magazine, The Austin Chronicle, Esquire Magazine. In 2018, she received the Austin Music Award for Best Female Vocals. Tameca Jones continues to prove that she is the Queen of Austin Soul by captivating audiences with her unforgettable soul-infused vocals.
– Miles Bloxson, KUTX Host