Music Festival Rebellion

United We Jam fundraiser goes hyperlocal to prop up Austin music scene

United We Jam goes hyperlocal to prop up Austin music scene

Red Bull Sound Select in Austin 8942
The Sour Notes play August 23 at Cheer Up Charlie's.  Photo by Shelley Neuman
No Name #1 Elliott Smith Tribute in Austin 0536
Nakia plays Elysium on August 24.  Photo by Shelley Neuman
Red Bull Sound Select in Austin 8942
No Name #1 Elliott Smith Tribute in Austin 0536

The Red River entertainment district and Austin’s East Side are going local this weekend with United We Jam, a two-day music fundraiser benefiting Austin Music People (AMP). Starting at 7 pm, Friday, August 23, and continuing through the wee hours of Sunday morning, a host of venues will feature all-local lineups at affordable prices to foster support for Austin’s growing music industry.

AMP created the United We Jam event as a means to showcase local artists, introduce local music lovers to new venues, and thank Austin for making it through yet another “festival season.” The result, says AMP's executive director Jennifer Houlihan, is a “hyperlocal, multi-venue event with value for both artists and fans.”

Houlihan collaborated with stalwarts James Moody (of the Mohawk) and Denis O'Donnell (of the White Horse) to refine the concept. “Denis came up with the name, and I thought it perfectly captured the spirit of AMP: collaborations uniting Austin's musicians and those who love Austin music to impact public policy,” Houlihan says.

 AMP created the United We Jam event as a means to showcase local artists, introduce local music lovers to new venues, and thank Austin for making it through yet another “festival season.”

In its first iteration, United We Jam will encompass a route that begins on Red River and continues to the East Side, offering an eclectic mix of venues as diverse as the sounds of Austin.

“We wanted to keep it small the first year, so we were looking for a walkable route that covered the 'L' of Red River to East Sixth, and then over to the East Side,” Houlihan says. “We put each venue in charge of their own bills, with the understanding that all artists had to be local, and all artists and techs had to be paid something. No one was to perform for free.”

The music will be just as varied as the venues, representing Austin's breadth of sounds, from punk to bluegrass. Highlights include DJ Jeff Strange at the Volstead and the Midgetmen at Empire Auto. “It's extraordinary [variety] for a city our size,” says Houlihan, “but then again, Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World.”

There's no steep ticket price or wristband required to unlock the music during United We Jam; each venue will charge a small cover fee (starting at $5). Music lovers can camp out at one venue all night or roam from venue to venue and still spend less than at a festival.

“Every dollar generated by the event goes directly to support AMP, the trade association and advocacy group for Austin's $1.6 billion music industry. Funds raised will support our work representing all facets of the local music industry with state and local government officials and with civic and cultural leaders,” Houlihan explains. 

In addition to raising funds, AMP hopes to raise civic awareness with the two-day event by using United We Jam as a platform to register voters. Volunteers will be on hand at venues and during pub crawls to get music lovers registered. The process only takes five minutes but has much larger implications for the future of the Live Music Capital.

“With issues important to the creative class, like affordable housing, on upcoming ballots, AMP is deeply invested in getting new voters registered and ensuring that Austin's young people, music fans, musicians and other creatives have every opportunity to be heard and to participate in shaping their city's future,” Houlihan says. 

The full schedule is available via Do512.