While we’re all tucked away for the next several weeks, seeking variety in our entertainment and getting around to that “To Learn More” list is vital. There are many options to watch your favorite artists, comedians, dance teachers, etc. livestream their talents and community offerings. Your Austin Public Library card has access to limitless ebooks, audiobooks, TV shows, movies, documentaries, albums, and more! So, in the spirit of keeping you and your household occupied, and being the music nerds we are, here’s a list of content available with your library card and some music-related options for each. Don’t have an Austin Public Library card? Check out this link to get set up with an ecard to start accessing their virtual library pronto!
– Taylor Wallace, KUTX
From Ebooks to audiobooks and movies/TV shows to full albums, the all-digital platform Hoopla has it all. Normally library cardholders can check out 3-4 items per month, but they have temporarily upped this to 5 per month! Everything you check out it yours for 21 days then it automatically “checks it back in” for you. Hoopla’s inventory is dense, so here are some recommendations to get you started!
A Tuba to Cuba: “The leader of New Orleans’ famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band seeks to fulfill his late father’s dream of the indigenous music that gave birth to New Orleans jazz.”
Freak Jazz, Movie Madness, and Another Mothers: Frank Zappa 1969-1973: The first film to take on the second wave of the Mothers, this film features rare footage, interviews, and more from the people who worked closely with Zappa during this particular leg of his career.
20,000 Days on Earth: A dramatized day-in-the-life of Nick Cave, told only in a way Cave himself can.
Disco: Spinning the Story: Hosted by Gloria Gaynor, this doc takes a comprehensive look at the evolution of the 1970s culture and music through the lens of disco music.
Jazz: A Film By Ken Burns: The classic!
Meet Me in the Bathroom (Lizzy Goodman): An incredible retrospective of the rebirth of the NYC rock scene from the Strokes to Vampire Weekend, as told through interviews by the people who were there…and it’s all the players you’re hoping for. **Author’s note: I just finished reading this book a couple of months ago, and it was one of the best books I’ve read in my entire life! Even a casual fan of The Strokes or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will find themselves gobbling this up eagerly.
Little Girl Blue: The Story of Karen Carpenter (Randy L. Schmidt): Based on exclusive interiews with nearly 100 of her friends and associates, this biography (and the first ever written about Carpenter) provides an intimate profile of is unique artist.
I’m With the Band (Pamela Des Barres): Known as the “original groupie,” a founding member of Frank Zappa’s GTO’s, and the inspiration behind the character Penny Lane in the Almost Famous, Pamela Des Barres’s first memoir is an incredible, wild, and at times jarring confession of the freewheeling 1960’s and 70’s as told from the heart of it all.
Far and Away (Neil Peart): The late Rush drummer recounts nearly four years of band tours, road trips, and grand moments of introspection in this 2011 travelogue.
Violence Girl: A Chicana Punk Story (Alice Bag): Lead singer of early punk visionaries The Bags, this is Alicia Armendariz’s story of growing up in the East L.A. barrio to answering the call of Hollywood’s punk scene, and ripping your own place in it.
The History of Gangster Rap (Soren Baker): This 2018 retrospective taken a deep, focused dive into one of hip-hop’s most popular subgenres, Baker (author of Dark Girls) details the chronology, evolution, and impact of gangster rap.
Just Kids (Patti Smith): Smith’s first memoir chiefly focuses on her relationship with photographer and artist Robert Mapplethorpe through the late 60s and 70s. BONUS: the book is narrated by Smith herself. **Author’s Note: This is another personal favorite. There’s a reason it won the National Book Award.
I Am Ozzy (Ozzy Osbourne): Ozzy reading about Ozzy on Ozzy. Good times for all.
Who I Am (Pete Townshend): Guitarist, songwriter, and co-founder of The Who, Townshend recounts his early life and extraordinary career…and all of the times his rock star lifestyle nearly led to a rock star style death.
In addition to dozens and dozens of music-related books, audiobooks, and docs, Hoopla has hundreds of full albums you can listen to as many times as you like in the 3-week borrow period. So many we didn’t even know where to begin. Our only recommendation is to take yourself on a self-guided tour of their deep collection.
Kanopy is an all-video-based platform, chock-full of the latest indie film releases, the Criterion collection, and a seemingly endless bounty of documentaries on any subject you can imagine, including music (seriously, my scrolling seemed endless). Here are a few recommendations to give you an idea of their vast collection.
Echo in the Canyon: Exclusive interviews with everyone from Tom Petty and Roger McGuinn to Cat Power and Beck. This doc takes a brilliant look at the explosion of music that came out of L.A.’s Laurel Canyon in the mid-60s.
Fresh Dressed: A deeply fascinating chronicle of the influence of hip-hop and urban fashion on mainstream pop culture and fashion.
Shut Up and Play the Hits: Taking place all on April 2, 2011, the date of the (then) legendary final LCD Soundsystem concert at Madison Square Garden, this nearly-two-hour film is a blend of the once-in-a-lifetime performance and the man behind one of this generation’s most important and influential acts, James Murphy.
Nas: Time Is Illmatic: Released twenty years after the debut of the 1994 groundbreaking album Illmatic, this doc, “takes a look at the early life of one of the most talented rappers of all time. Featuring interviews with Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keyes, Q-Tip, and Busta Rhymes.”
Strange Fruit: The Biography of A Song: Unique in its own right as a documentary exploring the history of a single song, “it examines the history of lynching, and the interplay of race, labor and the left, and popular culture as forces that would give rise to the Civil Right Movement.”
Scott Walker: 30 Century Man: Examines the life and many waves of Walker’s illustrious career, from gigging bass player on the Sunset Strip to lead singer of the The Walker Brothers to his many evolutions in sound and influence throughout the following decades. Featuring interviews with David Bowie, Brian Eno, members of Radiohead, Damon Albarn, Johnny Marr, and more.
The Girls in the Band: “The award-winning documentary film tells the poignant, untold stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists from the late 30s to the present,” told mainly through first-hand accounts.
More ebooks and audiobooks, delivered directly through the APL catalogues. There are thousands of these titles to wade through, and even the subjects of music books alone range from biographies to rock history to individual classical pieces to hip-hop history to the influences of almost any culture you can think of. I even found one on French Organ Music! That being said, here are a few music-related ones we think will tickle your cerebral fancy.
How Music Works (David Byrne): Byrne “explores how profoundly music is shaped by its time and place, and he explains how the advent of recording technology in the 20th century forever changed out relationship to playing, performing, and listening to music,”…to scratch the surface.
So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead (David Browne): Rolling Stone’s David Browne takes an updated look at the chronology of one of the most legendary jam bands of all-time. Featuring interviews with the Dead’s surviving members and those in their inner circle, Browne’s writing talents lend an almost novel-like feel to this new classic.
Discographies: Dance Music, Culture, and the Politics of Sound (Jeremy Gilbert): The book, “plots a course through the transatlantic dance scene of the last twenty-five years….Discussing such issues as technology, club space, drugs…body, gender, sexuality, and pleasure.” The book juxtaposes these issues with politicians, public broadcasting, and the music press, and their hostility towards this cultural phenomenon.
Refried Elvis: The Rise of the Mexican Counterculture (Eric Zolov): “From the arrival of Elvis in Mexico during the 1950s to the emergence of a full-blown counterculture movement by the late 1960s, Eric Zolov uses rock and roll to illuminate Mexican history through these charged decades and into the 1970s.
Armadillo World Headquarters (Eddie Wilson): A deep history of the legendary venue that put Austin on the map to become the Live Music Capital of the World.
God Save the Queens: The Essential History of Women in Hip-Hop (Kathy Iandoli): Published just last year, Iandoli’s chronology focuses solely on the demographic notably missing from nearly every hip-hop book before it: Women.
Endless summer? Try endless spring break! A number of school districts – including AISD, Pflugerville, and others – have extended spring break by weeks, at a minimum. We know this will impact parents and caregivers in a variety of ways, ranging from inconvenience to severe financial stress, and we hope you’re weathering it as best as you’re able. While we can’t help with childcare or the financial stuff, we can provide a little sonic relief by keeping the music going on KUTX, and we’ve also tapped some of our staff for their advice on surviving Covid-19 school closures with kids.
Jam as a Fam
My husband and kids and myself all play instruments of some kind so I’m hoping this time together will lead to some family jamming. I’m excited to learn lots of Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande and Steven Universe songs and get lost in the music with the people I love the most in the world. But even if you don’t play an instrument, you can still carve out time to listen to music with your kids. Singing loudly could be encouraged. Living Room dance parties could ensue. I’ve found that music really does calm me down, whether I’m listening to it or playing it, or shaking my booty to it, so I’m going to try and work as much music as possible into these next couple of weeks.
Tip: KUTX’s Sunday evening kids show Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child is keeping a running list of livestream performances by kids’ music artists – like regular Austin visitors Red Yarn and 123 Andrés. Kids’ music not your family’s jam? Check out Austin360’s running list of livestream performances by Austin artists.
Make Way for Ducklings
My fam and I live in Mueller, and there just happen to be a bunch of ducklings living at Mueller Lake right now. We’ve decided to go down at least once a day and take pictures of the ducklings as they grow. That gets us out of the house while allowing Dave and I to make sure the kids are keeping a safe social distance from others. It also gives us something to look forward to: DUCKLINGS! There may be some safe, outdoor opportunity for you and your fam, too!
Tip: Say hello to neighbors from a distance, and avoid playscapes and other areas that may have been touched by others.
Make Peace With Screens
Normally, I’m anti my kids sitting in front of a screen … but, y’all, this is a strange time. The situation is changing from minute-to-minute, and we’re all stuck mostly inside. So, we’re gonna let screen time rules be much more generous than normal. For our kids, and for us. And we’re not going to feel bad about it one bit!
Explore The Neighborhood
Our family and parent-friends regularly log outdoor time on the weekends, but it’s usually hitting up a playground or a restaurant with a playground, both of which are advised as no-nos by health experts right now. Self-isolating since Saturday, we’ve been taking lots of neighborhood walks, and I’m realizing how infrequently we simply walk our neighborhood’s streets as a family. There are cool people with small children literally living on our same block, yet we see one another once per year (yup – Halloween.) The irony of this isolation is that I suspect a lot of us are going to actually see more of our neighbors than we do in non-pandemic times.
If it’s rainy out, grab an umbrella and rain boots, or turn to the TV for some indoor exercise. Go Noodle – used in a lot of local schools – features videos encouraging both mindfulness and movement-based play, including an entire channel dedicated to one of my favorite kids acts, Koo Koo Kanga Roo.
Illustrator Carson Ellis, whose work you might recognize from album covers of her spouse’s band, The Decemberists, is hosting a Quarantine Art Club, with daily drawing assignments posted to her blog and Instagram account. You and your kids can draw along with Carson and share you own work on social using the hashtags she’s provided.
For fans of Piggy, Gerald, and bus-driving pigeons, Mo Willems is hosting live, lunchtime doodle sessions on You Tube, daily at 12 CT for the next couple of weeks.
Keep ‘Em Sharp
The STARR test might be cancelled, but they’re still missing out on important instruction in school. The following shows are so entertaining, your kids won’t even know they’re LEARNING!
For the pre-K to early elementary set, Netflix’s STEM-heavy Story Bots will teach your kids everything from how cell phones work to how planets are formed. You’ll enjoy the special guests – like Reggie Watts, John Legend, and Jason Sudeikis – as well as some jokes only parents will get, like this Die Hard reference from a rain drop. For slightly older kids, Netflix’s equally STEM-heavy Brainchild is hosted by a former UT Austin student and executive produced by Pharrell Williams.
Also for pre-K to early elementary kids, the BBC’s Alphablocks and Numberblocks series will help you worry less about all the screen time they’re logging. Thanks to the latter, my first-grader is already doing multiplication and division, and I’m way less afraid of this Common Core business.
Are your kids into music? Browse in-studio performances from KUTX and other public radio stations for some of their favorite artists, and have them watch these instead of bands’ official music videos. For the younger kids, especially, this will help them better understand which instruments are making which sounds. The Classical music arm of my former employer, Minnesota Public Radio, also has a great video learning series on music, like this video that explains the difference between major and minor key.
I have my spouse to credit with this one. I’m a PJs-all-day kind of mom, but my spouse (after two days of PJs) started dressing our kid at 7am and taking her for a walk. We took it a step further and borrowed a tip from a friend – we made a home-school schedule for weekdays (which experts also recommend.) The structure keeps our kid’s cries of I don’t know what to do at bay, and allows us to get some work done from home. It will also hopefully help her transition back to school life … or school from home, depending on AISD’s next steps.
Keep ‘Em Busy
I was a stay-at-home for the first 6 and a half years of my child’s life, so I know how hard it can be to keep things fun and exciting. The next few weeks will be trying times for many parents – bless them all now! A great learning tool I discovered a few years ago is The Kid Should See This. They maintain a pretty active Twitter account plus a robust website. As a bonus recommendation, KiwiCo has a ton of cool DIY hands-on learning crafts/experiments you can do at home. (Jacquie Fuller seconds the vote for KiwiCo’s free activities, as well as their paid subscription service.)
KUTX’s Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child was featured recently in a New York Times‘ list of podcasts for kids. Follow Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child on Twitter for more updates on live stream music events for the kids, and tune in for new episodes every Sunday night at 6 on KUTX.
Fingers crossed, we hope to see you at Rock the Park in May (our April event has been postponed for September.)
photo by Julia Reihs/KUTX
We’re all beginning to feel the nasty side effects of the growing coronavirus pandemic, but for Austin musicians and the businesses that support them, the financial pain is particularly acute. Widespread cancellations of festivals and concerts prompted by city, state, and federal disaster declarations pose a significant threat to their livelihood.
Luckily, there are still a few ways we can support these artists, workers, and businesses without having to face big crowds. To get you started, we’ve rounded up some links and info on how local musicians and their fans can help keep the Austin music scene happy and healthy.
Check In with Local Health Departments
Stay up to date on the latest advisories about COVID-19 from local and state health departments. Austin musicians can keep up with the latest information from Austin Public Health here and from the Texas Department of State Health Services here. Touring musicians should check in to regional health departments for notifications and advice.
Track Your Losses
While there is still much uncertainty on how artists may recoup money lost from canceled events and tours, artists should be diligent in tracking the impact of COVID-19 on their work and income. Some organizations are already trying to document lost wages. Austin Texas Musicians, a local non-profit organization, is currently gathering information from music industry professionals about their estimated losses from the cancellation of SXSW — fill out their survey here.
Apply For Relevant Grants and Assistance
The Texas Music Office has compiled a list of both local and international grants and loans applicable to Texas music industry professionals across genres. While some of the grants require membership of specific music organizations, there are also some more general grants for artists who have cancelled shows and lost income due to coronavirus, including Sweet Relief’s COVID-19 Fund and the Equal Sound Corona Relief Fund. The full list of grants and applications can be found here.
The Red River Cultural District set up a fund specifically for workers in the music, hospitality, and service industry businesses who have suffered economically as a result of event cancelations and business closures.
Austin members of the music scene may also be eligible for disaster unemployment assistance from the Texas Workforce Commission — more information on eligibility and details on applying for benefits can be found here.
Adjust Your Business Strategy
With touring and live shows out of the question for the foreseeable future, musicians may need to rethink their business plan. To help tackle these hurdles the Austin Music Foundation is providing one-on-one virtual meetings with their artist consultants.
Know Health Resources Available to You
Many musicians and music industry staff work as independent contractors, so access to reliable and affordable healthcare can often be difficult to find. Thankfully, there are national organizations like MusicCares and local non-profits like HAAM that can provide a safety net for some.
The past few weeks have been overwhelming and anxious for many, and it’s important to look after mental health just as much as physical. The SIMS Foundation is a local group dedicated to providing mental health and substance use recovery services for the Austin music community. For immediate support, 512-472-HELP (4357) is a 24/7 helpline run by Integral Care for those in mental health crisis in Travis County. Find more information about the helpline and its services here.
Share Your Information with Crowdsourced Campaigns
The I Lost My Gig campaign allows people to directly donate to Austin creatives and small business owners who have lost revenue following the cancellation of SXSW. Artists can share their story, their estimated losses, and their IDs for payment services like Venmo, Cash App, and Paypal. Austin artists can learn more about the campaign and submit their information here.
Let the People Know About Your Virtual Gig!
Austin 360 is staying on top of virtual shows! Share yours here.
Donate to Local Organizations and Crowdsourced Campaigns
Many individuals and organizations are stepping up to help ease some of the financials burdens due to COVID-19 related closures and cancellations.
- I Lost My Gig allows you to directly donate to Austin artists and industry professionals via payment services like Venmo, Cash App and Paypal.
- The Red River Cultural District is raising funds for venues, artists, and other industry workers with their Banding Together ATX crowdsourced campaign.
- The Austin Community Foundation’s Stand with Austin Fund will grant donated funds to Austin-area nonprofits that are helping individuals and small businesses suffering from the cancellation of SXSW.
- South by South Best, a crowdsourced campaign by T3 Thinktank, is distributing surprise tips to Austin service industry workers and donating to Black Fret, a non-profits that supports Austin musicians.
Buy Music and Merch
Support your favorite artists, labels, venues, etc. by moseying over to their websites to purchase songs, albums, and physical merch directly. Goodies for you, commerce for them!
In a giving mood? Consider purchasing one of your favorite albums for a friend or family member to brighten their day. Bandcamp and some artist websites have the option to gift a digital download link, so you can safely send a present from the comfort of your home!
Share the Music You Love
Keep your social media feeds full of fresh distractions and positivity by sharing your favorite music videos, Spotify playlists, and Bandcamp links!
Discover and Share
Now is a great time to dive into that backlog of artists you’ve been meaning to listen to and go deeper into the discographies of those you already dig.
Enjoy Austin Artists Livestreaming from Home
Despite widespread concert cancellations, there’s still live music in Austin — it’s just taking place virtually, of course. Artists are getting innovative by performing shows via livestream to keep bringing you the music you love. The SX-ATX Livestream Network Facebook group provides a hub for artists to share their videos, and Austin360 has a running list of other livestreams to tune into. Be sure to also check in with your favorite artists on their social media to see who’s throwing an impromptu virtual show!
Remote Listening Parties, Anyone?
If the social distancing is leaving your extrovert batteries drained, hold a remote listening party with your buds! Get on that text thread, conference call, or other technological loophole and hit play at the same time!
Follow Venues and Music Organizations
Things are changing every day, multiple times a day. Keep up with venues and their cancellations via their social media and websites.
If You’re Sick, Stay Home
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
For more comprehensive advice on how you can do your part to stop the spread of illness, consult this guide from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Make sure you have the information you need to protect yourself and your community by checking in with trusted sources, like the City of Austin website. For more Austin-specific coronavirus news, you can find live updates from our sister-station KUT 90.5 here.