Austin has seen legendary musicians rise to fame in his embrace – none other than Janis Joplin, Roky Erikson, Willie Nelson, Gary Clark Jr., Bob Schneider and Shakey Graves have made their home in the city.
Austin’s music scene rivaled that of much larger cities like New York and Los Angeles, winning the title of “Live Music Capital of the World” in 1991 when it was discovered that the city had the most. concert halls per inhabitant of the country. .
The reputation is so strong that it continues to attract promising musicians from all over the world to this day. So what makes Austin worthy of the title of Live Music Capital of the World?
According to these artists, who all hail from outside the city limits, there are layers to Austin’s “magic”.
Mike Melinoe: “Embrace the fight” and lean on your friends
Mike Melinoe started making music at the age of 7 in Detroit, Michigan. He had a musical family and grew up listening to jazz and gospel, influenced by the “Mecca of so many different sounds” that was his hometown.
Although he went to promote his hip-hop music, distributed CDs to SXSW, and visited his girlfriend at the time, Melinoe never intended to move to Austin until one day he did. never left. He was struggling to get gigs in Detroit and moved on with less than $ 150 under his belt.
“I was really living check for check,” Melinoe said. “If I had never been here, I feel like musically I would never have taken myself so seriously.”
That’s not to say it wasn’t a rocky road to success in the music industry – Melinoe became blatantly homeless for a few weeks in 2019 after some concerts were canceled and he couldn’t do it. of rent. As he slept in parking lots and gave concerts where he could, Melinoe said it was the friends he made over the past three years that brought him out of this place.
Specifically, it was local artist Adrian Armstrong who gave Melinoe a temporary roof over his head. It was Christopher Omenihu, co-founder of Human Influence, who introduced Melinoe to several of his good friends, including Armstrong. It was Black Pumas keyboardist JaRon Marshall who helped push Melinoe’s talents off the beaten track. It was the nonprofit Black Fret that helped Melinoe hold onto her place and land gigs during the pandemic.
“Sometimes you have to embrace wrestling because at the end of the day there is more beauty, pain and survival in wrestling than you actually get everything you think you deserve,” Melinoe said. “Austin is a beautiful place. Sometimes it looks like a fairy tale. I have never seen so many people be so supportive or so accept art.
Melinoe is able to work on his music full time while watching his one year old son acquire some of his family’s musical talents every day. Look out for an upcoming art show alongside Armstrong in the spring, a short film release with Marshall in February, and a new album in the works for 2022. Meanwhile, the latest album by Melinoe, “Puu” was released in November and “Mike Melinoe Day” is November 14th.
David Ramirez: Home is where the “buddies” are
Singer-songwriter David Ramirez was drawn to music by the friendship and connections he established in Austin that kept him in the business.
When Ramirez was attending a new school as a high school student, the choir and theater kids gave him a place at their lunch table and greeted him. Sharing their love of music with Ramirez led him to ask his father for an acoustic guitar, which he was learning Radiohead’s latest songs with his friend Eddie.
Austin wasn’t his first choice when he decided to go pro – Ramirez traveled from Houston to Nashville in 2007 “to be very famous and to be successful.” Ramirez left just 10 months after arriving, baffled by the corporate, competitive and business side of the music industry he had come face to face with.
“It wasn’t the city’s fault, it was just my motivation,” said Ramirez. “After leaving Nashville in 2008, I made the decision not to live in a city just for what it might do for my career. “
From there, Ramirez hit the road for six months and learned the art of touring, living in his car and performing shows all around the continental United States. stay on a whim.
About a week after moving in, Ramirez was invited to a cheerful backyard party full of music that reminded him of his high school jam sessions.
“The people I initially met were musicians – their motivations were just to bring people together and I thought that was the nicest thing,” Ramirez said. “It was just the love of singing songs, of being together.”
While the business side of music remained, Ramirez said the community around him is inclusive, uplifting and inspiring. Ramirez said he attributes the influence of his friends to the variety of sounds on his album “My Love is a Hurricane”.
“My love for Austin is the people I hang out with on a regular basis… that’s why I call this place my home,” Ramirez said. “That in itself is inspiration enough to come home and put a pen on a notepad because it’s not about what this song is going to bring you, it’s about” oh wow , I just finished hanging out with some friends and they loved it. It made me love him even more ”.
Ramirez announces a new EP in February, along with some exciting local collaborations, and has an upcoming show at the Far Out Lounge on March 5.
Chief Cleopatra: Austin is “a one of a kind place.”
Jalesa Jessie, who goes by the stage name Chief Cleopatra, grew up singing in her Corsican church choir, playing piano and drums when she was very young. She came close to fame when her former band was noticed by Pharrell Williams in 2009, but the band fell apart before anything happened.
Jessie first got “a really good impression” of Austin when she visited for her 21st birthday and moved to the city soon after. Austin left her feeling like a tiny fish in a big pond as she struggled to make a name for herself, so she returned home a year later to regroup.
“All the music and the vibrancy of the city itself, I just fell in love,” Jessie said. “I was 21 and was immersed in the real reality of trying to be successful in the city.”
Her hiatus in Austin gave Jessie time to focus on herself: she worked on her own music, was accepted into Texas State University at San Marcos, and then took a break from music. while working in the HE-B bakery.
Moving to Austin and pursuing music was put on the back burner as Jessie found her rhythm as a bakery manager. The music came back to her when she got a call asking her to record some of the demos she had there in 2017. Soon after, Jessie and guitarist Leonard Martinez would release their first EP, “Lesa x Lenny Vol.1 “, under it. new nickname of Chief Cleopatra.
“I realized, ‘you know what, I always want to do this. “So let me go,” Jessie said. “I’ve always wanted to come back here, it’s just a magical city, so I’m glad I did.”
Jessie credits producer Walker Lukens for helping kick her out and craning her neck. Since returning to music, Jessie has performed throughout town, including as the opening act for The Bright Light Social Hour, and continues to release music regularly.
Although it was difficult to get her foot in the door at first, Jessie said she was starting to feel the love of the Austinites.
“Once you’re there it’s a big family, like people take care of you,” Jessie said. “I naturally come to see the authenticity and the good heart of the people in this industry here in Austin, it just might be a one of a kind place.”
In the New Year, Jessie said she is preparing to release a new EP in March, with an LP later this year. Regarding her goals, Jessie said she would like to land a show with Houston-based band Khruangbin or ACL ensemble in the next few years.