Editor's note: Each month, we spotlight the can't-miss shows, anticipated albums, and must-know artists that make Austin the Live Music Capital of the World. And do note, interviews have been edited for clarity and style.
August is another busy month, but before scrolling on down to show recommendations and more, dive into a Q&A with one of Austin’s most buzzed about bands: Black Pumas.
Featuring guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada and vocalist Eric Burton, the duo released their hotly anticipated debut album in late June, and now the rock/soul outfit is set to play three nights (August 23-25) at the Mohawk. A note here, if you’re wanting to go to one of Black Pumas’ shows at the Mohawk, then act quickly — only August 25 still has tickets available. Thanks to Quesada for the insight.
The addition of Eric (and his voice) really helped usher Black Pumas from a studio project into a full-fledged band. How did you meet? And what did you initially hear that made you go, “this is the guy"?
A mutual friend named Bryan Ray introduced us. I was looking for a collaborator/singer to help me work on some songs I had started. I had been looking around for someone, but had not reached out to any singers about it yet. I wanted someone I had never heard of before, and Eric was someone I had to google. I couldn’t believe I had never heard of him! I was intrigued when I saw videos of him playing solo and loved the way he played guitar as well, but the “oh shit” moment was when he sang for me over the phone before we met. It was hard to hear but I could “feel it” through crappy iPhone speakers, and that was a good thing.
You guys are in a much different position than you were last year, when you were playing your first shows together at a residency at C-Boys. Are you surprised with the band’s quick ascension?
Pleasantly surprised yes, but I knew we had something special right after the first show we played. I didn’t realize it would catch on worldwide at the rate that it has, but I knew the music was good, soulful, and sincere.
What can showgoers expect during the three Mohawk shows?
We are currently performing with a seven-piece band — drums, bass, guitar, keys, vocals, and two backup singers. We will vary the nights and most certainly have a surprise or two in store. Can’t give away anything just yet, but we will make each night unique!
Black Pumas has been touring a lot this summer and still have plenty of other dates lined up through the end of November. What’s the plan from there?
We are both itching to write and work on new music; it’s been tough to find time on the road. We have lots of demos and new song ideas in various forms we’re looking to revisit when we get some breathing room.
More Austin music highlights:
- The focus of the July column, Cross Record, just released her new self-titled album.
- RF Shannon’s third album, Rain On Dust, is now available. Listeners who love lush, headphone-worthy music should definitely seek this one out.
- Molly Burch just put out a two-song 7-inch. Anything new that features Burch’s stellar, Patsy Cline-tinged voice is worth the time. By the way, she’s about to hit the road with RF Shannon.
What to see this month:
Sweet Spirit — August 7 at Blues on the Green
ACL Radio’s Blues on the Green comes to a close on Wednesday, August 7, with the always-entertaining, pop powerhouse Sweet Spirit. Blues on the Greens veterans and newbies alike really shouldn’t miss this one. It’s not only a great chance to enjoy Zilker Park but an opportunity to see one of Austin’s best bands for free. Soul Man Sam will open the evening. Other details are here.
Xetas, Pleasure Venom, BLXPLTN, Honey & Salt — August 22 at Cheer Up Charlies
The Texas Observer has an interesting show lined up at Cheer Up Charlies on Thursday, August 22. In between sure-to-be fiery sets from some of Austin’s best punk acts — Xetas, Pleasure Venom, BLXPLTN, and Honey & Salt — the news magazine will be taking the stage “to help raise awareness for topics that are close to the hearts of the bands playing.” The cover is $5 for 21-plus, $10 for 18-plus.
White Denim — August 23 at Radio Milk/August 31 at Whitewater Amphitheater
This is a busy month for White Denim. They recently launched a label, Radio Milk Records, and remastered their 2010 album, Last Day of Summer. It’s going to be released on vinyl on August 23, and to celebrate, the band will be performing the album in its entirety at their studio space, Radio Milk, on August 23, 24, and 25. All three of these shows are sold out, but tickets are still available to see the band at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels on August 31. Prices start at $36.49.
Bill Callahan — August 28-29 at Scholz Garten
Folk hero Bill Callahan is set to perform at Scholz Garten on August 28 and 29. The latter is already sold out, but the former still has tickets available. Grab them while they're available, and experience Callahan perform songs off of his acclaimed new album, Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest. Jake Xerxes Fussell will open both evenings. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 the day of the show.
Pennyfest 2019 — August 31 at Barracuda
Local music promoters Penny Loafer PR are putting on their annual party at Barracuda on Saturday, August 31. The Pennyfest 2019 bill includes Magna Carda, Ringo Deathstarr, Darkbird, Think No Think, TC Superstar, Why Bonnie, She Sir, Black Books, Christine Renner, and Scott Collins. That’s a loaded lineup of Austin acts with sounds that range from hip-hop to shoegaze to rock to pop and more. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.