Behind the Music

AMP's first ever Austin Music Industry Awards celebrate local unsung heroes

Austin Music Industry Awards celebrate local unsung heroes

Crowd cheers at AMP Ungala
The AMP Ungala crowd unwinds. Photo by Jon Shapley
Alejandro Escavedo at the AMP Ungala
The legendary Alejandro Escavedo. Photo by Jon Shapley
Bright Light Social Hour performs at AMP Ungala
Bright Light Social Hour. Photo by Jon Shapley
Erica Wennerstrom at the AMP Ungala
Heartless Bastards' Erica Wennerstrom. Photo by Jon Shapley
Mother Falcon performs at the AMP Ungala
Mother Falcon. Photo by Jon Shapley
Margaret Moser at the AMP Ungala
Margaret Moser. Photo by Jon Shapley
Steve Wertheimer from the Continental Club accepts AMP Unsung Hero Award
Steve Wertheimer accepts the Unsung Hero Award for his work with the Continental Club. Photo by Jon Shapley
Danny Reisch accepts award at AMP Ungala
Danny Reisch, of Good Danny's accepts his award. Photo by Jon Shapley
Mike Martinez accepts Friend of Austin Music Award
Mike Martinez accepts the Friend of Austin Music Award. Photo by Jon Shapley
Esme's Posse presents an award at the AMP Ungala
Esme's Posse presents an award for music activism. Photo by Jon Shapley
Crowd cheers at AMP Ungala
Alejandro Escavedo at the AMP Ungala
Bright Light Social Hour performs at AMP Ungala
Erica Wennerstrom at the AMP Ungala
Mother Falcon performs at the AMP Ungala
Margaret Moser at the AMP Ungala
Steve Wertheimer from the Continental Club accepts AMP Unsung Hero Award
Danny Reisch accepts award at AMP Ungala
Mike Martinez accepts Friend of Austin Music Award
Esme's Posse presents an award at the AMP Ungala

We hear a lot about musicians and listen to a lot of live tunes in the Live Music Capital of the World. But it takes a host of behind-the-scenes folks to make our fair city a music haven. On Sunday, April 21, AMP (Austin Music People) celebrated the unsung heroes of the Austin music industry at its first annual UnGala at ACL Live.

A night of Lone Star music, AMP's UnGala melded celebration and honor; the inaugural Austin Music Industry Awards recognized the players behind the voices, studios and clubs that keep Austin music on the map.

The evening began with a processional to ACL Live led by Minor Mishap Marching Band. Once inside the venue, host Laurie Gallardo (of KUTX) and selected Austin music leaders honored the industry with the awards program.

Several additional moving tributes took place, honoring the influential, inspirational music lovers that we've lost. Austin Chronicle's Margaret Moser spoke eloquently about the late Brent Grulke of SXSW, an AMP Board member who passed away unexpectedly in August 2012.

Perhaps the most moving moment was the Esme Barerra Award for Music Activism and Education. Young people in Esme's Posse awarded Joel LaViolette and the Rattletree School of Marimba with the award. "His gift for winning the Esme Barerra Award for Music Activism and Education," says AMP Executive Director Jennifer Houlihan, was "a bag filled with Pop Rocks, Esme's favorite."

"Instead of the traditional moment of silence to remember Esme, they asked WWED (What Would Esme Do?) and had a moment of noise instead, with the whole audience and next act, Mother Falcon, joining in," Houlihan says. "It was really joyous and moving. Joel brought his four-year-old daughter up with him to accept the award."

Winners of the 2013 Austin Music Industry Awards were:

  • Best Recording Studio: Good Danny's
  • Best Sound Engineer: Mark Newman, the front of house sound engineer for the Beach Boys
  • Best Local Music Promoter: Maggie Lea, Cheer Up Charlie's/Cinema East
  • Best Poster Design: Graham Franciose for “Wild Child Wild Frontier Fest 2012”
  • Best Late-Night Food: Magnolia Cafe
  • Friend of Austin Music Award: Greystar Properties
  • Friend of Austin Music Award: Mike Martinez, Austin City Council
  • UnSung Hero Award: Steve Wertheimer of the Continental Club

The night also included intimate performances from some of Austin's newest and most established artists. Shakey Graves, Mother Falcon, Erica Wennerstrom of Heartless Bastards, Bright Light Social Hour and rock 'n roll legend Alejandro Escavedo took to the stage.

AMP's first Ungala didn't end with the scheduled performances inside of famed ACL Live. "The evening ended with people twerking up a storm on the patio to the music of local hip-hop artist Tee Double (Terrany Johnson), founder of the Urban Artist Alliance," Houlihan says. "I had never seen twerking before in real life and it... left me speechless," she jokes.

We can look for more speechless, and moving, music moments from AMP in the future. The organization is already planning new categories for next year's Austin Music Industry Awards, a welcome recognition of hardworking music professionals.