Friday, January 27, 2017

Library Live!

Hey friends! Eric here, and I'm excited to tell you all about a concert we have organized with Austin Public Library (APL). It is a special edition of Library Live, an APL program that brings free musical performances to the Austin community, and this one will specifically highlight acts that feature musicians with disabilities. The concert will be held tomorrow, Saturday, January 28th, from 2:00-4:00 PM at the Carver Branch (1161 Angelina St., Austin, TX 78702).

This concert idea organically grew from a number of inspirations, mainly from my own experiences as an aspiring musician living with a physical disability and frequently struggling in an industry that is largely inaccessible. Just take a ride through the city of Austin, the live music capital of the world, and count the number of wheelchair-accessible stages. You would be hard-pressed to find more than a handful, and those you would find would be stages designed primarily for other mediums (think school theaters), or they may not be stages at all (bookstores) – certainly not where average Austinites typically gather for live music.

Even if the venue is accessible, shows are often so late that those of us who require attendant care or a full night of sleep to physically function simply cannot attend or perform with the regularity needed to truly progress. And beyond the mere inaccessibility, the music industry is so frequently centered around a singular ideal body image and flashy displays of vocal range and instrument prowess (can you tell I listen to punk rock much?) that someone who plays with extreme physical limitations must work twice or three times as hard to compete.

For these reasons and others, I have long wanted to bring opportunities to musicians with disabilities, not just to benefit myself but others like me, because I have recognized through my work with VSA Texas in addition to my own experience that I'm not the only one who has this dream to share music with my community. So when Andrew Murphy from the APL attended our Lion and Pirate open mic at Malvern Books and mentioned that maybe I could play a song or two at the library, I jumped at the chance to share my own music and also include peers and friends I have gotten to know through our open mic and other VSA Texas programs.

All right, enough about me! Let me tell you about the musicians you can look forward to seeing tomorrow:

Michael Noriega will open the show, and he is a versatile artist who dabbles not only in music but also in film. He participated in our 2015 Side by Side Film Internship, and his recent '60s- and '70s- inspired concept album was featured in our 2016 Holiday Art and Gift Show. You can stream his album and check out some of his film work on Michael Noriega's YouTube channel here.
Michael Noriega playing at our Holiday Art and Gift Show (courtesy of VSA Texas)
Our second act will be Michael Tidmore and the Rollers, a country group with assorted covers from the likes of Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, and Johnny Cash as well as originals written by Michael Tidmore you'd be surprised you haven't heard on the radio, songs with classic titles like "I Want to be a Famous Country Singer" and "Torn Between Tennessee and Texas." His Rollers include Josh Tidmore, Matt Bushak, Rudy Sanchez, and Meredith Gaines. I first met Michael during one of our Side by Side Music Internships and have seen him deliver a number of heartfelt, energetic performances at the Lion and the Pirate.
 Meredith Gaines, Michael Tidmore, and I on the air at KOOP radio (courtesy of Austin Artists) 
Lion and Pirate regulars The Old Hats will play third and bring frontman John Meinkowsky's witty songwriting to life with acoustic guitar and ever-present harmonica provided by Southernmost Smoke. They all wear hats, and as their name suggests, they are all over the hill. Expect audience participation!

Then, last but hopefully not least, Dude Choir, my own group of rotating musical characters, will play, and I am extremely happy to once again be playing with the original choir members Ryan Simmons and Felipe Archer! They not only make my music possible; they are the reason I make music. We haven't had the opportunity to play together since April of 2014, so I look forward to this reunion and I hope you will too.

For more information about the show and/or to RSVP (if you're into that sort of thing), you can visit our Library Live Facebook event page here. Otherwise, we'll see you there!
Flyer for Library Live show, January 28th, 2017, 2 PM, at the Carver Branch (courtesy of Austin Public Library)

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