7 can't-miss July concerts, catching up with Emily Cross, plus more things to know about Austin music right now
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.
July is going to be a fun one for Austin music-goers. Plenty of longtime members of the scene — Black Joe Lewis, Ben Kweller, Spoon, and more — have shows lined up. There’s also Hot Summer Nights, which is always a nice way to grab a free look at all sorts of local acts.
Before you jump down to the show recommendations for the month, take a moment to check out Cross Record. Led by the versatile Emily Cross, the act is set to release a self-titled album on August 2 that will serve as the follow-up to 2016’s well-received effort, Wabi Sabi. During a recent interview, Cross gave us a deeper look into the band, the new album, and more.
Quite a lot has changed for you both personally and professionally since the release of the last album. You got divorced, quit drinking, became a death doula, started a whole other band (Loma), and more. Did all of this make the creative process for the new LP a completely different experience?
Yes, did all of that. I think I became a little bolder in my expression ... maybe more loose and relaxed as a result of touring with Loma. Quitting drinking was definitely transformative for me. I can hear and see myself clearly now, and I'm sure that had an effect on my creative process for Cross Record. As for my work with the dying, I'd say it has further cemented the feeling in me that my life is mine, and I should do what I want with it, say what I want with it, sound how I want in it.
Is there anything in particular that you wanted to accomplish on the new album?
I wanted to have fun making it and create something I am proud of.
Explain your role as a death doula and how it influenced the new album.
My role is to uphold the wishes of my clients and to be an advocate for them. There are many decisions to be made, and roadblocks along the way. Figuring out how to navigate through the end of life can be a huge undertaking. My job is to help my clients resolve all of that, and to be a physical presence in their lives, too. I'm also a big supporter of natural burial and home funerals, so I work to educate the public about those topics. My creative process has always been closely informed by death, so I'm not sure anything changed in that regard with this record, but the longer I do this work, the more I feel like I can trust myself and the different directions I move in without thinking.
You have some “Living Funeral” dates scheduled for September. Would you explain what these are? Also, any chance of one happening in Austin?
Yes, I'm very excited to take them on tour! A living funeral is basically an exercise in directly confronting mortality. It's a meditation on death, but more than anything it's about life and living a life that fulfills you. The ceremony has a way of pointing the participants towards what they want their lives to be like, highlighting where their priorities are presently, and how they could be changed for a more harmonious life. I try to have one every month or every few months in Austin.
On a non-Cross Record note, the work you’ve done with Loma, which also features Shearwater-frontman Jonathan Meiburg and multi-instrumentalist/engineer Dan Duszynski, has been great. What’s the plan moving forward there?
Thank you. We are working on another record.
And more July highlights
Erika Wennerstrom — July 12 at Cactus Cafe
Erika Wennerstrom will be playing Cactus Café on July 12. Usually, Wennerstrom can be found fronting Heartless Bastards, but currently she’s supporting her 2018 solo debut, Sweet Unknown, and a couple of recently released Townes Van Zandt covers. This will be a great opportunity to experience her distinct voice in an intimate setting. Tickets are $15 and available here.
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears — July 13 at the Mohawk
One of the best all-out rock shows happening this month will go down at the Mohawk on July 13. Blues/soul vets Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears are headlining the evening, with support coming from guitar aficionado Emily Wolfe and the psych-tinged Nolan Potter's Nightmare Band. Definitely expect a loud, fun time here. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 the day of.
Alex Maas (of The Black Angels) — July 13 at J. Lorraine Ghost Town
For those of you looking for an adventure, Alex Maas of The Black Angels is going to perform at the J. Lorraine Ghost Town in Manor, Texas, on July 13. Name Sayers will be playing as well, plus there will be special lighting from Mesmerize and a telescope stargazing area from Starry Sky Austin. This should make for a pretty unique experience. Tickets range from $20 to $45.
Ben Kweller — July 17 at Blues on the Green
ACL Radio’s Blues on the Green, which is in its 29th season, has Ben Kweller performing on July 17. The Austin-based singer/songwriter is always worth seeing, but getting to do so for free at Zilker Park makes for something that’s can’t-miss. Como Las Movies will open the evening. By the way, Kweller is gearing up to put out his first album in seven years, and his current single, “Heart Attack Kid,” is highly recommended. Free.
A Giant Dog — July 20 at Barracuda
Punk rock heroes A Giant Dog are getting ready to hit the road, and to celebrate the impending journey, they’re having a tour kickoff show at Barracuda on July 20. Two great up-and-comers, Fanclub and The Magic Rockers of Texas, will open the evening. Tickets are $15.
Spoon — July 26 at Austin360 Amphitheater
This isn’t an all-local affair, as Spoon is part of a larger tour that features Beck and Cage The Elephant, but their play at the Austin360 Amphitheater on Friday, July 26, is noteworthy because it’s also the day that Everything Hits At Once: The Very Best Of Spoon is going to be released. The compilation features 12 classic Spoon tracks and one new tune called “No Bullets Spent.” Ticket prices start at $32.50.
Hot Summer Nights – July 25-28
Hot Summer Nights returns! Presented by the Red River Cultural District, the wave of shows from July 25-28 is meant to provide a mid-summer boost to the clubs in the area while offering Austinites the chance to catch a whole slew of great local acts for free. This year you’ll have the opportunity to see Walker Lukens, Otis The Destroyer, Holy Wave, Magna Carda, Mobley, Moving Panoramas, Ume, and lots more. Show details are still rolling out, but you can keep tabs easily enough here.