BEE CAVE, Texas (KXAN) — This week, Austin’s largest music festival, Austin City Limits, returned after being canceled due to the pandemic in 2020. For Central Texas, which prides itself on its music scene, the return of live music has been a welcome one.
While ACL packs some of the biggest names — from Miley Cyrus to George Straight to Tyler, the Creator — for local musicians, like Sarah Sharp, the pandemic still weighs heavy on their ability to make a living through music.
Sharp usually books gigs at places like Elephant Room, but as KXAN has previously reported, the popular music spot has repeatedly closed due to the pandemic.
“A lot of our local venues haven’t been able to resume sort of normal, regular live music particularly for small bands and for smaller gigs,” Valorie Loomer, Sharp’s friend, said. She added that bands are also coming from other states to Austin and filling up some of the spots that are available.
So how do we help local musicians? The answer, Loomer and Sharp found, was right out the back window.
“My husband said, ‘our deck is too big it feels like we’re at a distillery or something,’ and I said, ‘if we’re all going to have to be distanced from each other physically and be outside then we need to go bigger,'” Loomer recalled.
That pandemic project, Loomer’s now completed deck, became a stage for Sharp to perform Wednesday night.
Using Venmo and PayPal, the pair charged a small cover to get into the back yard and people showed up to listen to live music from the yard or porch.
In all, roughly 75 people showed up.
“The chairs we had set up we had set up spaced out from each other,” Loomer said. She even rented a Port-A-Potty so that people weren’t gathering inside her home.
“I think most research is showing that in an outdoor space transmission of COVID, even with delta, isn’t as high as it is indoors,” she said.
Loomer says they’re not trying to take away from local establishments, and they’ve been spending money to keep those open too.
“We’ve bought as many tickets as we can for upcoming shows,” she said.
Still, she says it’s important to make sure local musicians and live music aren’t left behind while we wait for smaller venues to get back on their feet.
“If we’re not careful and if we take this live music for granted then we’re going to blink and it won’t be there,” Loomer said.
The next backyard concert is on Thursday, November 4 at 12006 Colleyville Drive. You’re asked to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Gates to the yard open at 6 p.m.