It wasn’t all fun and games at Michigan House-Austin during the South by Southwest music festival this week. A panel of Texas and Michigan musicians also got serious in exploring ways to improve the scene.
Even when the gargantuan South by Southwest music festival isn’t raging through Austin, the Texas city hosts upwards of 1,000 live music shows a week.
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West Michigan's music scene
It’s no wonder it’s dubbed the Live Music Capital of the World.
Bringing a slice of that sort of musical emphasis to cities such as Grand Rapids or Detroit likely will take municipal and state assistance, recognition that Michigan’s burgeoning musical talent deserves consideration as a tourist draw and continued growth in the collaborative approach that drives the music scene.
Those were some of the sentiments expressed during a well-attended and vibrant “Lessons Learned From Austin” roundtable discussion this week at Michigan House-Austin during SXSW.
The informal session that preceded Thursday’s “Shut It Down” party at the pop-up venue set up in an Austin neighborhood included contributions from Austin singer-songwriters BettySoo and Michael Fracasso, Michigan artists The Outer Vibe, The Accidentals, Jax Anderson of Flint Eastwood and Rick Chyme and music industry notables such as Nicole LaRae of Dizzybird Records and Nate Dorough of Fusion Shows.
The lively conversation produced a number of compelling revelations:
• That Austin — with more live music venues per capita than any other U.S. city — benefits from a government “music office” and tax-funded programs that nurture and draw attention to the city’s music community;
• That continued collaboration, vociferous musical advocacy and talent attraction are needed to boost a music scene to a level that merits that kind of attention;
• That greater support and interest from the general populace is needed to develop more venues with varied capacities to support the music scene.
Check out the video below from that session which was hosted by Local Spins with support from Grand Haven’s Walk the Beat event.
VIDEO: Michigan House-Austin Roundtable, “Lessons Learned from Austin: Making Connections and Building Michigan’s Music Scene” (March 17, 2016)
The “Shut It Down” party that followed was an upbeat celebration of the week in Austin, with performances by Michigan native and New Orleans-based singer-guitarist Luke Winslow King with his band and Grand Rapids hip hop artist Rick Chyme.
Set up in Austin for SXSW for the second year in a row, Michigan House – a project of the nonprofit Creative Many organization – hosted several informal roundtable discussions during the music festival and conference, part of its mission of drawing attention to the state’s creative community and its products, from musicians to craft beer.
Founders Brewing hosted a tap takeover at Austin’s Stay Gold nightclub earlier in the week as part of Michigan House’s activities, with several Michigan acts performing, including Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish and The Accidentals. Check out photos from that show and more SXSW in these Local Spins posts.
From all indications, Michigan House was a success for organizers, attendees and Michigan musicians who used the venue not only as a place to relax away from the SXSW hubbub, but also to entertain at small parties throughout the week. And five of them recorded songs there that will be entered into this year’s ArtPrize competition. Read more about that in posts online here.
Check out another photo gallery and some video highlights from a week in Austin that provided several bands a unique opportunity to showcase what Michigan’s music scene has to offer.
PHOTO GALLERY: Michigan House-Austin and SXSW (March 17, 2016)
Photos by Anna Sink
Copyright 2016, Spins on Music LLC