Celebrate Six Square District Days and East Austin Stroll

This Labor Day weekend enjoy two days of food, fun and culture reflective of the African American legacy in Central East Austin with the Six Square District Days Festival and East Austin Stroll.

The Six Square District Days Festival begins at 4:00pm on Saturday, September 2nd at the historic Downs Field and will feature food, vendors, music and live performances by DJ Kay Kali, Chris Omenihu, Bandan Koro, Ogden Payne, Riders Against the Storm, Tree G. and C.J. Edwards and the Funk Fellowship!

Six Square District Days will be free and open to the public. All ages welcomed.

On Sunday September 3rd Six Square proudly present the East Austin Stroll.  Stroll the vibrant streets of East Austin and immerse yourself into uniquely curated experiences reflective of the rich traditions that gave birth to the uniqueness of the African American legacy in Central East Austin.

Explore six historical destinations within the District that will be reanimated through curated cuisine of the African Diaspora, artistic performances, art exhibits, multi-media displays and much more. Some of the curated sites include: Six Square District Office, the George Washington Carver Museum, Oakwood Cemetery, the African American Heritage Facility, the 12th St. Business Corridor, and Huston-Tillotson University. 

The East Austin Stroll all culminates at Huston Tillotson University with live performances by Boss Street Brass Band and more!

East Austin Stroll, September 3rd, 2017 from 1:006:00 p.m. Ticket prices for General Admission are $35 (includes samples of alcoholic beverages and food, and entertainment) and VIP Access is $49 (includes samples of alcoholic beverages and food, and entertainment, a guided historical tour of the district and reserved seating at the final event).

Proceeds benefit the ongoing preservation and celebration of East Austin’s Black Culture. Visit www.sixsquare.org or call 512.505.8738 for tickets and additional information.







Juice Consulting; A Legacy 10 Years in the Making

Creativity is the most powerful weapon in the world. When fostered in the right hands, creativity can be concentrated into pure brainpower. The incubation of which leads to iconic advertising, merchandising, brands, and most importantly: legacies. Juice Consulting is a total-service PR and marketing company based out of Austin, Texas, that formed in 2007 and has earned a reputation for creating all of the above. With specialties in “high-level PR, strategic marketing and branding concepts,” it would only make sense that they’ve self-produced a handsome legacy through the years. Juice Consulting celebrates ten years of hard work and earned success this year, offering a revitalized website, expanded services and an even bigger team, now offering creative direction, social media campaigns, web design and development, as well as branding, graphic design, and video production.

From Disneyland Paris to Queen B herself, Juice Consulting founder Heather Wagner Reed has established an impressive list of former employers. Pennsylvania by birth and Georgia by school, Reed’s passion first found her at University of Georgia’s radio station, WUOG.

Taking on five internships over the course of her college tenure, Reed proved her dedication to the game early on. Shortly after college, she found herself in a variety of ventures in public relations and marketing, including a position at a leading MBA program in The Netherlands, an internet start up called Soundartist, a role in international marketing at Universal Music Holland, then as a Senior Product Manager at Music World Entertainment.

“People who make it to that level work really hard in their career, and so it set a bar for me,” says Reed when discussing how her star-studded past has influenced her path. It was these very-real experiences that gave her the power to start a humble one-woman consultancy by the name of Juice Consulting. Strategy and personality has led the eccentric tastemaker to be able to live the balanced yet exciting life that she has wanted. After years of putting in the work, Juice grew into a statewide marketing force that has gathered an army of eager souls that consistently produce quality content.

The mantra “add vitality to your campaign” is the driving force behind every product from the company. Throwing a fresh and lively effect into a business is the company’s bread and butter. A finely-tuned strategy keeps the gears turning in every project, making sure that something is always happening.

One insider part of the strategy is the tastemaker stage, one that involves a message blast to influencers that help to create buzz. Creating hype is where the company truly excels, and this is just one of many ingredients that goes in their “secret sauce” that sets them apart from the rest. A highly-skilled and diversified team work from every corner of Texas to bring the best to the table. Highlighting the team’s personal expertise has allowed for Juice to internally complete campaigns and to offer a more wholesome service to clients.

The most recent acquisition, Ty Richards as the new Creative Director, has brought a lot to the table with expertise in social media, graphic design, and web development. Madison Snelling, Heather’s right hand in Austin and fellow UGA grad, is a hound dog when it comes to pitches. Long-standing staffers Dallas-based Account Manager Amber LaFrance and Houston-based Digital Content Manager Christine Pfeffer, along with new Account Coordinator Tyler Otsby, and PR Intern Eric Radford round out the team, all just as quirky and talented as the rest. What the company lacks in manpower is more than made up for when it comes to brainpower. Don’t believe me? Let’s ask the clients.

“Heather’s diverse career history plus her stellar networking skills and consistent successes added up to a no-brainer when it came to the PR for the Southern Cousins reunion.” – Nakia, singer-songwriter and recording artist

“Their work on behalf of Texas artists both established or on the verge is second to none and helps make the Texas music industry landscape stronger every day,” – Brendon Anthony, Director of the Texas Music Office, Office of the Governor

“In working with Juice Consulting as my marketing and publicity company, I have found Heather and her staff to be conscientious, hard-working, and tenacious.” – Gloria Gaynor, GRAMMY-winning artist (Known for hit single “I Will Survive”)

“Her team has helped us refine and push our message out to the world, saturated local media and securing us positioning in Forbes and the New York Times.” – Colin Kendrick, Black Fret Founder

And these are just a few of them. Clients from every type of service enlist Juice’s “conscientious, hard-working, and tenacious” approach. Currently, there are 85 companies, organizations, artists, and musicians listed on Juice’s website. Artists like former member of the iconic band the Go-Go’s, Kathy Valentine, and The Voice’s very own Nakia and Suzanna Choffel, as well as organizations like Black Fret and the Austin Music Foundation are all just a few on the roster. Praise for the company is rampant. Clearly, they have been doing something right if they have so many satisfied customers.

With a legendary lineup and a master at the helm, ten years is just the start for the company. Art is not confined to a paintbrush, but instead can be found wherever creativity flows and Juice Consulting created their own river full of innovation. With recent branches into graphic design, web development, social media, and other creative content, Juice has taken matters into their own hands. An expansion beyond the arts has brought the group into real estate, technology, health, education and luxury goods. Along with the exciting new clientele, a revamped website and logo highlights the company’s step in a new direction.

Reed is a born illuminator, and her legacy lies within that word. She, and her company, provides the light in which people can shine. Each individual works together to make it so that the best always comes out. This dedication and passion in illumination is what has funded the company’s motivation from the very start, and it will be what carries them all the way to the finish line.

A company for the people, Juice has their eye on working for the benefit of their community. Grassroot involvement with people and businesses that create positive change are all in Juice’s future sights. “One of my deep passions are non-profits and organizations that are helping others and making an impact. I ultimately want Juice to be a company seen for being a force for positive change,” says Reed. With an army of six by Reed’s side that can do damn near everything, there isn’t much that can hold Juice back.

I had the pleasure to speak with Juice Founder, Heather Wagner Reed. See what the illuminator had to say about Juice Consulting’s past, future and legacy below.

Commercial Photography

Before we delve in, tell me a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What about college? How did you end up in Texas?

HWR: I’ve been in Texas now fifteen years by way of Houston, but I’ve been in Austin for going on ten years. I’m from Pennsylvania originally, so I’m a Northeasterner. I grew up in a small town called Hazelton, and it was a Polish family environment. I went to Catholic school. It was a really interesting and enriching neighborhood environment. All the kids I grew up with were Polish and, the next neighborhood over the kids were Italians, and the next over were Russians, etc. I moved to North Carolina when I was in high school, and then I went to the University of Georgia. I majored in Public Relations and minored in French. I started working at the college radio at the UGA’s radio station in Athens, WUOG-FM. That was what turned me on to the entertainment industry, and I’ve been working in that realm ever since.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Tell me about the early stages of Juice Consulting. What was the inspiration behind it all?

HWR: Most of my career I’ve been working for companies large and small, and I guess you could say I had been working for quite some time before I got the idea of starting my own business, but I was working for a record label/management company in Houston, Texas called Music World Entertainment. I was doing a lot of day-to-day management for a number of artists, with the biggest being Beyoncé and I also worked with her sister, Solange and a number of other artists on the roster. During that time, I got really, really inspired by the types of people that we were working with across the country. We worked with experts in their field and brought them into our projects whenever we needed them. I got very familiar with working with people who were independent contractors, and I just realized after a long time of working in the industry that that would be a nice move for me. So, when I started my company, Juice Consulting, the whole idea was for me to be primarily a consultant. It was a one-woman shop in Houston initially, but soon grew, and now ten years later we’ve got a team of six. I still work very personally with our clients, but I also have these other experts on the team that also get to contribute to what we do. There’s a lot to be said when you have talented people helping you.

How has your star-studded past influenced your work ethics and strategies?

HWR: I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best people in the industry. When I worked with Universal Music, my job there was working with many established European artists. A lot of the musicians that I was working with had made it to the top of the ladder in Europe, or even Asia and other parts of the world, but even prior to that I’ve always had the luck of working with really stellar talent. People who make it to that level work really hard in their career, and so it set a bar for me. After my time abroad, Mathew Knowles, hired me to come work for his management company in Houston. I had always wanted to work with a major American artist, so it goes to show you that you put your dreams and desires out there and some things can really happen for you. It happened for me. I worked primarily with Beyoncé for five years, as well as many other artists on the label such as Solange, a Swedish girl group called Play, and even the legendary Chaka Khan. I also worked with a young artist named Mario, who had a number one single at the time. I got to travel to Japan with him, were fans chased him down the streets of Toyko in mobs. It was surreal. After working with these amazing artists, I learned that you can’t just expect to land at the top. Work ethic plays a huge and pivotal role in career success.

What was your vision starting out as a one-woman consulting agency?

HWR: Having my own company really gave me space in my life to create the lifestyle that I wanted. I can honestly say that when you’re an entrepreneur you write your own ticket. You work really hard, there’s no question about that, but I have two children now, and I value my time with my kids and doing what’s important to them. If my son has a soccer game in the afternoon, you can bet that I’m going to be there, but at the same time, that might mean that I wake up very early in the morning or stay up late at night to put in the work that I need to. I have flexibility with Juice. Another great thing is that I have people helping me, and without them, this wouldn’t be possible. I couldn’t be a one-woman business today and still achieve what Juice does on a daily basis. Ultimately, I envisioned what I wanted in my life, as far as flexibility, how I spend my time, and work/life balance, and that’s been the best outcome of having this company. It doesn’t mean that my life is easy. I’m always working on how to make sure that we’re doing the best job possible for our clients and delivering. We’re working hard, but I don’t have to sit at a desk all day long, I get to visit my clients and be with them a lot on site and at their events. I get to experience different projects all the time, and that’s super fun.

There are currently twelve services listed on your website, and I understand that five of those were just added. It’s crazy to see how much your team can do. How do you manage such a diverse group?

HWR: I will say that a good 80% of our business is media relations and PR. That’s still our main bread and butter. Also one of our core services has been working with creatives and helping them develop their careers, but as far as the new services that we’ve added, it’s basically bringing in expertise from the team. Ty Richards has made a huge impact on what we can offer because he’s rounding out our services with new offerings like graphic design, web development, and social media expertise. Those are things that I would usually subcontract out to other companies, but now I feel like we have that insight on our team and we can offer that because of his background. We have so much synergy and we really like each other’s style of work. The rest of the team is really focused on publicity, minus Christine in Houston who is also working on digital marketing for us. Madison is my right hand here in Austin, and she is doing incredible publicity work, and Amber is holding it down for us in Dallas. We’re also doing a lot in the media sponsorship world lately, as it’s been a big need from our clients.

Tell me about those new services that Juice has announced with the anniversary. Any one in particular that you’re excited about?

HWR: Yes! I would say social media. Even though that is the crux of how people communicate these days, my training is in traditional PR and that’s where I shine. I love getting people on the team who are coming in with brand new knowledge on the latest trends and how to reach your audience via the digital world. I’m really excited we can offer that service now. It’s more than just, “How do I maximize my social media platforms,” but also “How do I understand the science of social media.” There’s a lot to it.

Where did the slogan, “add vitality to your campaign” come from? How do you interpret that and translate it to your clients’ needs?

HWR: To me, it has always meant that we bring energy and vitality. We bring this outside of the box approach to the table. You might be humming along in your business, but bring us on board, and give us a chance to supplement your team, and we can make something really exciting happen together. We juice it up! Vitality is our secret sauce, and it’s what separates us. We offer passion, commitment, and personal attention to the point where we fully integrate with our client’s teams.

Can you give a little insight into a basic service that Juice offers? Let’s say a client comes in and they want to rebrand and make themselves more accessible. How would your team, in a general description, go about that?

HWR: That would be like a typical marketing venture for us. Things like a brand are fundamental to any marketing or PR campaign. If we have a client that wants to promote something and make it big and bombastic, the first thing that I do is look at their brand, website, logo, photos, and their messaging. If something doesn’t come across in the optimal way, then we prioritize working on these things first. That’s why offering all of these other services now makes sense, because as a PR person I can’t do my job if we don’t have something killer to present to the public, in an overall package. The first two weeks that we work together are all strategy, and now we can internally provide a majority of services rather than outsourcing. We look at long term goals and work backward with a plan. Every week we have some sort of action, whether it be preparing basic messaging, media training, content writing, or strategic planning. We work hard to ensure success when it comes to communication with the public. We work very closely with the client to plan it all, and then we hit go and leave no stone unturned when it comes time to put it all in action. Instead of solely traditional media relations, we also get news into someone’s inbox very quickly with our email blasts, where we can get to thousands of people all at once. Tastemakers, who are people that you want to hear your news, are all at the touch of a button for us, and we utilize that to our client’s advantage. People tell me all the time just how effective that is when it comes to getting the word out there. We continue the campaign until the impact date, which is the date where it actually happens, and that’s when you want everything to hit and culminate around that one date. We also work on high level strategic opportunities for our clients. That’s kind of our approach in a nutshell.

Ten years is a magnificent milestone for any company. Given Juice’s great success, I can assume that you’ve only scratched the surface. What’s next for Juice and Heather?

HWR: I want to play a bigger role in our community. I want to be a voice in this community and do good for others here, whether that means doing more work in the non-profit sector or we’re helping more leaders for positive change get their voice heard. We want to delve into other aspects of what makes Austin special. Music is a no-brainer and is something that we’ve done for a long time and will continue to do, but things that are happening here that are really exciting are the tech and innovation industries, real estate, and the visual arts are blowing up more than ever here in Austin. We want to be involved with projects like that. The bottom line is that we want to work with things and people that we believe in.

Where do you see Juice in another ten years? What about yourself?

HWR: On a boat in the Riviera! Who doesn’t right? In all seriousness,in the future, I may want to be able to get more into politics. I definitely have strong feelings about our country’s future, and that of our local community. I feel like one of the ways that we can help contribute to that is to stand up for individuals and leaders who are going to make a difference. One of my passions is working with individuals or organizations that are helping others. I want to create positive change.

Creating legacies is a piece of what Juice really does. With that in mind, what kind of legacy do you want yourself and Juice Consulting to be remembered for?

WHR: I think I see things in people that they may not see in themselves. I think that is my gift. It’s partly based on intuition – a type of gut feeling. In our client work, I want to use this skill to deeply understand others and then help shine a light on them and their message. The word that comes to mind is illumination. Whatever it is they want to say. And share what makes them unique or special. Help THEM ultimately shine. That makes me feel really good. I want to give back and spend time doing things that makes my heart feel full. I want to work on projects that we deeply care about. Things we would work on, even if we didn’t have to work. Because we love it. And believe in it. That is the legacy I hope Juice Consulting will leave.



Written by: Sawyer Click

Photo Credit: Dustin Meyer

Blondie and Garbage Rage and Rapture Tour at ACL Live

Friday night featured a co-headlined show for the ages as pop-punk pioneer Blondie and alternative-rock legends Garbage brought the ‘Rage and Rapture Tour’ to Austin City Limits Live. Los Angeles duo Deep Vally opened the evening for fans that arrived at the Moody Theater early. At 72, Blondie singer Debbie Harry, sporting a trippy golden bug-eyed mask, showed she still possesses that youthful, wild abandon that made her so influential in the 70’s and 80’s. But, the evening belonged to Garbage’s leading lady, Shirley Manson, who put on a fierce and energetic performances with belting classics of ‘Stupid Girl, ‘#1 Crush’ and most recent single ‘No Horses’. Track Rambler photographer Jon Roberts was one of the lucky fans in the sold out crowd to catch the show.


Photos by: John Roberts @emptyflask_

Kathy Valentine and The Townsend Present The ‘She Factory’

Kathy Valentine and The Townsend present “She Factory,” a special series assembling the talent of women in the arts on Tuesday, Sept. 19 from 8 to 10 p.m. The first installment in the series, “The Song Pool,” will focus on local female musicians and will feature Nina Diaz, Carolyn Wonderland, Jane Ellen Bryant, Suzanna Choffel, Patricia Vonne and Ruthie Foster. The evening will take place at The Townsend, located at 718 Congress Ave. #100, Austin, Texas 78701. The event is free and open to the public, with a donation requested at the door to benefit The SAFE Alliance.

The evening is further supported by local Austin female-owned businesses including Janifer Wheeler of Wheelhouse Learning Solutions and the Texas Business Women – Capital City Chapter, Darla Sees of Sees HR Consulting, Caroline Jones of Great American Smiles Dentistry, Grace Lanni of All About that Brand and Austin Chapter, e-Women Network, Conni Reed of Consuela, Heather Wagner Reed of Juice Consulting, Maria Groten and Stephanie Kincheloe of Love Cycle Studio and Ruel Ellis of Conversation Piece Marketing and PR. Cupprimo Cupcakery, Facial5 Dermacare, Good Life and Soul Nectar Series will provide additional merchandise for artists. Attendee raffle prizes will be provided by Mosaic Weighted Blankets, Spa Social and Trusty Oak. All types of sponsorship opportunities are currently available. For information on sponsoring, please contact janifer.wheeler@gmail.com.

“At this ‘She Factory’ event, ‘The Song Pool’ brings together a variety of women songwriter/performers in an interactive, casual environment to play some of their songs and discuss with both the audience, and the other performers, the art of songwriting,” said Kathy Valentine. “She may discuss the specific song, what inspired it or how songwriting in general impacts, narrates or expresses aspects of her life.”

“Providing opportunities for local, female-owned businesses to support local, female musicians just makes sense, considering all of us operate in a space of entrepreneurial creativity,” said Janifer Wheeler, president of Texas Business Women – Capital City Chapter, owner of Wheelhouse Learning Solutions and founding member of Black Fret. “When women come together to encourage, empower and enlighten each other, our world is a better place.”

Valentine was inspired to start this series to highlight the talent and artistic endeavors of women and bring together the communities of women in the arts and businesses. As an investor in The Townsend, she sees the venue as an ideal place to implement innovative events, a place to bring to fruition her desire to contribute to the Austin community. She Factory gives the audience a look behind the curtain into the artistic process as part of the entertainment. It forges relationships between female led business leaders and artists, empowering and supporting each other. To enable a charity such as The SAFE Alliance to benefit from door donations brings the event into a pay-it-forward circle.
Valentine recently released a new album “Tonewrecker” with her band The Bluebonnets and is planning to play a solo show on Aug. 19, opening for Peter Holsapple at The Townsend. She is also releasing solo singles this year to benefit an Austin charity which will be announced at the end of the year. She is nearing completion on her first memoir to be published by UT Press with an accompanying soundtrack. Valentine also took on a supporting acting role in “The Transcendents,” the debut film from New York playwright Derek Ahonen.

Finally, Valentine is partnering with Conni Reed, owner of local Austin fashion brand Consuela, producing a product that highlights female musicians and provides a useful, innovative purpose: a hand bag with a detachable guitar strap. The line is currently in early stages of creation with plans soon to be announced. Valentine will be launching a brand new website in September, highlighting the various aspects of her diverse and busy life as a musician, writer, spokesperson and speaker.

“As a woman getting close to another milestone—60 years old in less than two years, I’m very focused on what I want to accomplish,” said Valentine. “I wish to leave as many statements and expressions of myself as possible, in as many mediums as possible. Raising my daughter, along with her father, is the most important aspect of my life, but there are new career chapters ahead of me as well. I’m exceedingly proud of the legacy of the Go-Go’s and our place in music history. Presently, my hope is to continue inspiring women to keep in mind that whether we are in our 40s, 50s, 60s or beyond, we can remain challenged, engaged, open and motivated. My goals are that all my endeavors be part of a platform that enables me to bring about positive change in the community, country and world.”

Kathy Valentine - photo credit Christopher Durst

Photo By: Christopher Durst

Sam Lao Talks Grenade, Missy Elliot and The Journey To Success

Top of our site’s playlist for a reason, Sam Lao is something special. After her release of ‘Grenade’ earlier last month, covered here, she’s been all kinds of busy with the tsunami of love that the song received – and rightly so.

Artistically constructed videos and two SXSW showcases in her portfolio, she’s got more than enough skill to hang with the best of them in the hip hop scene and I’m telling you, she’s got a world of success headed for her.

Recently at Babes Fest along with a whole host of other talented musicians from Femina-X to The Reputations, she certainly holds her own and it’s very quickly turning her into a hot commodity on the DFW stage.

Happily, she had a minute to speak to us about how she got to where she is.

I know with Grenade, I get very much Missy Elliot vibes – was there any reason you resonated with her style for that video?

When I first heard the beat for Grenade, before I even wrote any lyrics it felt very 90’s, early 2000’s. It made me think of Timbaland and Missy Elliot and Missy has always been one of my favorite artists. She’s not just a great female artist she is a great artist period. Her visuals are especially iconic and I wanted to pay homage to that.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned during your journey, whether that’s about yourself or about the industry or even something more generalized?

The most important thing that I’ve learned and I still have to remind myself of this often is – there are no rules. It’s so easy to fall into the mindset of “If I do this, this and this I’ll get this result.” But that’s not the case, not when it comes to the arts and especially not in this age of the internet and society that we live in now.

What would your advice be to little girls and boys who aspire to be like you one day?

THERE ARE NO RULES. Learn the foundation, respect the craft and those that came before you but past that carve your own lane. Don’t get caught up with how whoever did it first got where you want to be, their path is not yours and their blueprint will only take you so far. Don’t be afraid to do something in a way that’s never been done. Be you unapologetically.

Are there any aspects of this career that you don’t like?

That there are no rules, everything is a gamble. Something that worked for someone else may or may not work for you. This industry is so fickle you never really know if what you’re doing is going to work.

What was your biggest motivator in your journey?

The joy of creating something new and having other people love it and identify with it.

Author: Megan Matthews

Sydney Wright Is The Friend That Everyone Needs, With Her Debut Single ‘You Can Stay’

A shock to the system, a wave of pride and a shot to the heart later, she’s unique and she’s real – Sydney Wright is no carbon copy of anybody. Full of humility and just a touch of well-deserved self-recognition, she released her first solo single ‘You Can Stay’ on the 4th of this month. A storyteller by nature, her world knows no bounds and you’ll feel every ounce of her in each note because of it.

After a busy weekend of gigging, she spared a minute to talk and let me say; she’s so cool, I’m dead set about ready to be this girl’s best friend – no, there isn’t a choice in the matter. A straight talker, she isn’t what you’d except but is instead a breath of fresh air in a mass of cliché songs and empty personalities. I’d go as far as to say she’s, quite frankly, kind of badass – and a little bit eccentric.

You Can Stay’ begins painting the scene of tension and late-night arguments that have grown tired, and the blur of starburst streetlights through seeping tears. Emotion-filled, but far from necessarily being a break-up song, the semantics reach for each and every individual story of sadness to feel united in their sorrow.

That is until the crescendo of the chorus storms and the crash of the drum hits – ‘where ever you are, you can stay’ the Austin-based songwriter cuts through the heartache with empowerment and self-growth that she’s learnt to embrace. See, she’s cool.

“Through finishing the single and making the music video, I learned so much that I’m not even sure that I’m aware of every lesson yet. I learned that releasing my work is really scary for me. I learned that I make excuses and drag my feet when I’m scared.” She confided, “I learned that it’s extremely difficult to do everything by yourself, and it’s okay to ask for help.”

Sending a positive message for young girls everywhere that being scared isn’t a weakness and it sure as hell can’t stop you, she offers a bittersweet truth between the lines of a poetically heart-wrenching ballad, laying her mistakes on the line, a feat that I can’t help but applaud;

“I’ve been a liar, and it was hella lame.” She began. “Losing relationships got my attention, and cutting me out was the most caring thing that anyone did for me at that time, even though it was awkward and painful.

“I want to have a juicy drama about a personal betrayal to tell, but those details of the song are fictional. The realest part is the ending. I mean every single word of it. It’s about a belief that truth and honesty breeds connection in any relationship, and anything less should be dropped like a hot potato even if it’s hard to let go.”

Learning from her past, and all the stronger for it, she began her adventure into ‘You Can Stay’ three years ago when Tony Rancich found her recording in Denton. She was intrigued, and so was he. Meeting her soon-to-be producer Stefano Vieni and his ‘BFF’ co-producer and engineer Alex Ponce through Rancich, magic was made and sparks flew. The team recorded eight demos together but as the nights got darker and the year came to an end, the demos sat unfinished.

“I spent about two years waiting for something to happen for me. I didn’t really know what to do so I did nothing, which is not an effective career strategy.” She admits – hindsight ever the bitch it is.

“But In 2015 I moved to Austin, put together a backing band that I love, and I looked back at these demos like, ‘Hold up, these recordings are fire, why did I drop the ball?’ So, I hit up Fano like, ‘Bro, I want to release these, would you help me finish them?’ He’s an angel straight out of Heaven, so of course he said yes.”

Fast forward to now; two years later and with her single released, Sydney Wright has definitely not dropped the ball this time. A stunningly produced debut, it’s clear that the team she so carefully selected has worked tirelessly with her on this project, holding her up when she needed it and supporting her even when she didn’t. I can hardly wait for more, and with her confession that song writing and story-telling is what she’s best at, I can only hope we won’t have to wait long.

A genuinely interesting girl, the soon-to-be star is the first to admit the huge impact her friends’ support had during the process. An interesting take on a role model for aspiring singer-songwriters across the world, her distinctive idiosyncrasies line her strong belief in credit given where due, hard work and the pay-off that comes.

“Expect to work hard and act fearless.” She says. “Practice intentionally. Natural ‘talent’ is meaningless. It’s just something that people talk about and attribute to those who have been diligent in their practice. Everyone has been a beginner. You don’t have to start early to become proficient. Your first try might be garbage, but the next one is ALWAYS better. Don’t quit, people want what you’ve got.”

“Collaborate with people you admire. It’s cool to be the best musician in the room, but it’s even better when you’re the worst.” She concludes.

So, I’m motivated, anyone want to start a band?

Author: Megan Matthews
Photography: Jody Brown

Tobin Sprout Makes His Way to the Barracuda

Tobin Sprout took to the stage last Friday, at Austin’s own Barracuda. The veteran indie rocker embraced every aspect of his musical virtuosity at the show, after releasing a new album early this year, The Universe and Me; his sixth solo endeavor. The former Guided By Voices multi-instrumentalist found his way to the stage, amongst his other attributes, like the children’s book Elliott, released in 2009.


Elf Power




Photos by: Jon Roberts

Black Fret Announces Date For 4th Annual Black Fret Ball

Austin nonprofit Black Fret has announced the date for the fourth annual Black Fret Ball at The Paramount Theatre taking place on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, where its 2017 grant recipients will be announced. The evening will include performances by many of the 2017 Black Fret Nominees. This year’s Black Fret Ball will be sponsored by Dell, Deloitte and Sunpower, with additional sponsors forthcoming. Anyone wishing to attend the Black Fret Ball may become a member of Black Fret by signing up at http://www.blackfret.org/join. All Black Fret memberships provide entry for the member and a guest to all upcoming Black Fret events as well.

“This fourth Black Fret Ball will be the cap on an amazing 2017 season,” said Matt Ott, Co-Founder of Black Fret. “We’ve awarded $500,000 over the last three Black Fret Balls and are honored to deliver grants to all 20 of our 2017 Black Fret Nominees on Dec. 9 at the Paramount.”

The 2017 Black Fret Grant Nominees include Akina Adderley, Black Pistol Fire, Bright Light Social Hour, Carolyn Wonderland, Cowboy Diplomacy, Croy and the Boys, Daniel Eyes, David Ramirez, Eric Tessmer, Greyhounds, Jackie Venson, Jane Ellen Bryant, Kinky Machine, Leopold and his Fiction, Los Coast, Mobley, Sarah Sharp, The Deer, Warren Hood and Whiskey Shivers.

“Our mission is to fund the creation and performance of local music in our great city,” said Colin Kendrick, Black Fret Founder. “Austinites continue to step up and join Black Fret to support our musicians and their music. It’s amazing to be part of such a dynamic community.”

For more info on Black Fret, go to http://www.blackfret.org.

Indie Pop Duo D and Chi Burst With ‘Supernova’

As the Mercury in Texas continues to climb, one particular Dallas band is heating up on a Kelvin level. Indie pop duo D and Chi celebrated Memorial Day with the debut of their “If U Are” video from their latest Corners album and now follow that up with the love song of the summer in “Supernova” out this Friday.

The group consisting of vocalist/guitarist Darren Eubank, vocalist Chima Ijeh and a quartet of north Texas musicians formed in 2013 and have since been considered one of the state’s best kept secrets. Their organic, often stripped-down, indie pop melodies are based in the singer-songwriter genre and focus on lyrical substance, tight, heartfelt vocals and anthemic ballads. The harmonies are shaded with smooth R&B, reggae and alternative rock. Think Usher meets One Republic and the Goo Goo Dolls.

D and Chi’s latest single, “Supernova,” bursts hearts and soothes eardrums with resonating lyrics of infatuation. “‘Supernova’ is about exploring new love,” said songwriter Eubank. “In the song, they’re stargazing and setting off on an adventure.” Eubank created the outline for “Supernova” while Ijeh helped with musical composition. With their band, the duo was able to round out the single during production creating a powerful, yet, playfully adventurous love ballad.

Just like a supernova, the bright luminosity of new love can quickly fade. However, If this summer’s success is any indication of what’s to come, D and Chi should be glowing for light-years.

Check out the stripped-down version of “Supernova” from D and Chi’s recent Sofar Sounds show below.

The group will celebrate the release of their summer single with a release party on Friday, Aug. 4 from 8 p.m to midnight at Cinderblock. The event will feature performances by 16-year-old singer-songwriter Parker Twomey, Blue Apollo, Remy Reilly and City Under Seige.

Out on Friday, Aug. 4, “Supernova” by D and Chi will be available for purchase on iTunes and for streaming on Spotify. Visit http://www.dandchimusic.com for more information.

Kublai Khan Slams With “The Hammer”

Heavy metal has always had a home in the Lone Star State, and the recent generation has begun to prove their worth. Conquering the scene as of late, Kublai Khan has unleashed “The Hammer,” a single taken from their upcoming album Nomad, to be released September 29 through Rise Records. The track highlights the band’s distorted groove-centric sound, but also shows a step in a new direction for the group.

Syncopation has always been Kublai Khan’s specialty, and “The Hammer” slams and grooves in every possible nook and cranny. The oddly-placed accents incite a masterfully-planned riot between the ears, which may be why the group’s live shows have a reputation for being aggressive, loud, and above all, fun. Instrumentals weave in and out of the time-space continuum in “The Hammer” as Matt Honeycutt’s raw vocals push a chaotic truth.

“You will never cease to seek validation” screams Honeycutt as a wall of sound erupts from the back. A riff playfully wraps around the lyrics, giving a sense of urgency to every beat. A pattern of staccato and legato follows the versus, making the song rather easy to head-bang to. Aggression is what the group has come to be adored for, and this track is more than enough to tide us over until we get the whole album.

The quartet is currently supporting Vanna on their farewell tour, and is set to headline a tour in support of Nomad with No Zodiac, Left Behind, I AM, and Great American Ghost later this fall.


Written by: Sawyer Click

Feature photo courtesy of Atom Splitter PR