More than almost any other local nonprofit, the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) is an integral part of Austinites' lives. Musicians don't turn to HAAM after a spurt of desperate research; they know about it (hopefully long before they ever need it) through word of mouth and blowout programming like Austin's famous HAAM Day.

The nonprofit turns the volume up for another year of live local music and philanthropy with a record-breaking twist on September 19. This year’s roster features 205 live performances, the biggest number of musical acts in the fundraiser’s history.

All HAAM Day shows are free and open to the public. Fans of Austin’s live music scene are invited and encouraged to attend a show or several. They will all raise funds directly for providing affordable access to health and wellness care for Austin-area low-income, working musicians.

“HAAM Day is not just about music,” CEO Paul Scott said in a press release. “It's about solidarity in recognizing the vital role musicians play in our community. Musicians are an essential part of what makes Austin special, and we want to make sure they are given every opportunity to continue making the music we love to enjoy.”

The all-day event begins with a kickoff celebration at 6 am at H-E-B Lake Austin. Kickoff highlights include performances by R&B singer Mélat and HAAM’s first member, longtime and super-versatile musician Troy Campbell. Guests will also hear proclamations from City of Austin and State of Texas representatives during the kickoff in between showcases.

Next, guests can catch a nonstop lineup of performances by Austin’s homegrown talent. Top highlights include a show by retro-soul performers Soul Supporters at Hotel Van Zandt’s Geraldine’s, live shows at H-E-B locations around the city, ongoing performances live from the Willie Nelson Statue, and swamp funk band Shinyribs at The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.

This year’s HAAM Day also includes three major Austin jazz clubs, partnering together for the first time in fundraiser history, to present live performances around the city.

Programming continues over the radio airwaves at KMFA Studios, which includes live music from "singer-soulwriter" Ray Prim, Mélat, jazzy folk-pop group Magnolia Kids, and HAAM Board member Marcia Ball. Featured performers for this year include blues guitarist Zach Person and rock band Madam Radar, who are both well-known in the Austin music scene, and several up-and-coming bands including alt-rock duo Me nd Adam and alt-pop duo Flora & Fawna.

Other artists are scheduled to perform at events like the Still Austin Whiskey Co. Showcase, the BMI Showcase, and the RECA ((Real Estate Council of Texas) Showcase at Antone’s Nightclub.

Since being established in 2005, HAAM has helped provide wellness and healthcare access to more than 6,700 musicians totaling over $144 million in services. New this year is the organization’s signing of the newest lead sponsor, SXSW, alongside PNC Bank. As part of the bank’s second year of sponsorship, live shows will be hosted at PNC branches in the Austin area.

“As an organization, we look at all of the ways in which we can support our local community, and are proud to be a part of HAAM’s efforts on behalf of Austin musicians,” said co-president and chief brand officer of SXSW Jann Baskett. “Their ability to make every $100 donated translate into $700 of healthcare services means that every contribution makes a substantial difference."

For those who prefer to raise donations online, HAAM Day is bringing back its fundraising platform website for participating members of the community to use in the spirit of friendly and philanthropic competition. Show venues are booked across Austin and throughout Central Texas. For a full lineup and schedule of events, go to myhaam.org.

Photo by David Phillips on Unsplash

Fast-growing Austin travel company lands No. 2 spot on coveted Inc. 5000 list

healthy revenue

Dozens of Austin-based companies have undergone explosive growth in revenue over the last few years, with one such business landing near the top of the prestigious 2023 Inc. 5000 list.

One Austin-based company, CharterUP, ranked No. 2 nationally, boasting an unimaginable 111,130 percent growth rate from 2019 to 2022. Founded in 2018, CharterUP is an online marketplace specializing in real-time instant transportation booking.

In a video celebrating their No. 2 spot, the company says it now has more than 600 operators and more than 4,000 vehicles.

"This journey is a shared one that wouldn't be possible without our customers, operators, and team," said CharterUp of its meteoric rise. "It's not just a number. It's a testament to our collective power and shared vision."

CharterUP is also the highest-ranked Texas business on the list. Nationally, it was bested only by Nashville-based health services company CareBridge.

Companies on the 2023 Inc. 5000, released August 15, are ranked by percentage growth in revenue from 2019 to 2022. To qualify for the list, a company must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2019. The company also must have been U.S.-based, privately held, for-profit, and independent as of December 31, 2022. The minimum revenue required for 2019 was $100,000; the minimum for 2022 was $2 million.

In all, 482 Texas-based companies made this year’s list, and 125 of those are Austin-based. The report says 25 businesses are newly-founded, 75 are repeat honorees, and more than 10,700 jobs were added thanks to these companies.

The 16 remaining Austin-area businesses ranking among the top 500 include:

  • No. 19 – Publishing.com, 16,497 percent growth rate
  • No. 90 – Norwood, 5,189 percent growth rate
  • No. 112 – CloudServus, 4,215 percent growth rate
  • No. 180 – LeasePoint Funding Group, 2,920 percent growth rate
  • No. 192 – Backd, 2,819 percent growth rate
  • No. 193 – CertifID, 2,807 percent growth rate
  • No. 210 – Trilogy Senior Living, San Marcos, 2,657 percent growth rate
  • No. 238 – Howdy.com, 2,322 percent growth rate
  • No. 306 – Atmosphere, 1,865 percent growth rate
  • No. 307 – Webforce, 1,862 percent growth rate
  • No. 319 – Newron Tech, 1,796 percent growth rate
  • No. 366 – Serenity Kids, 1,577 percent growth rate
  • No. 404 – ElectroNeek, 1,443 percent growth rate
  • No. 425 – Fat Earth Media, 1,358 percent growth rate
  • No. 431 – Datad Solutions, Leander, 1,344 percent growth rate
  • No. 481 – Gembah, 1,214 percent growth rate

Here are the other Texas companies appearing in the state’s top 20:

  • No. 4 – Green Light Distribution, Coppell, 41,090 percent growth rate
  • No. 13 – Blue Hammer Roofing, Dallas, 19,510 percent growth rate
  • No. 14 – eTrueNorth, Mansfield, 19,130 percent growth rate
  • No. 15 – Specialty1 Partners, Houston, 18,747 percent growth rate
  • No. 81 – Hawthorne Capital, Houston, 5,574 percent growth rate
  • No. 85 – Archer Review, Dallas, 5,378 percent growth rate
  • No. 89 – Valiant Capital, Houston, 5,223 percent growth rate
  • No. 104 – 24HourNurse Staffing, Pittsburg, 4,520 percent growth rate
  • No. 110 – Advantis Medical Staffing, Dallas, 4,302 percent growth rate
  • No. 144 – Maveneer, Dallas, 3,630 percent growth rate
  • No. 145 – Ashland Greene, Dallas, 3,617 percent growth rate
  • No. 152 – Physical Therapy Biz, Dallas, 3,542 percent growth rate
  • No. 155 – Curis Functional Health, Dallas, 3,444 percent growth rate
  • No. 162 – Intervene K-12, Houston, 3,207 percent growth rate
  • No. 175 – TimelyCare, Fort Worth, 3,015 percent growth rate
The full list of businesses can be found on inc.com.
Photo courtesy of Le Garage Sale

Le Garage Sale blazes through the last of this summer's hot styles

High temps, low price tags

In Austin, we know better than to think the hot days of summer are over when fall rolls in. So there's really nothing wrong with buying a few more spring and summer styles before the season ends.

Le Garage Sale, Austin's biggest seasonal shopping deal, is popping up again this August 26 and 27. This huge boutique sale gives Texas retailers a chance to unload clothing samples and end-of-season merchandise for cheap, often cutting prices by more than half — even as much as 90 percent by the end of the second day.

It does sound like being able to fit into sample size clothes at a sample sale is a must ("sample size" means a common runway size, about 0 to 6) — and for some sellers this is an unfortunate truth. But this warehouse sale offers lots of variety in sizing.

At the last August sale, CultureMap found so many plus sized garments that we had to narrow our list down to our favorite 11 stores, all of which carried at least a size 12 or extra large, all the way up to 3X.

This collection features more than 100 vendors, from the obvious blouses and sunglasses to lingerie, children’s apparel, menswear, home decor, and more. Almost all of the brands are based somewhere in Texas, and most of the sellers are willing to make a deal with a polite bargainer.

Popular returning vendors include Billabong, Dylan Wylde, Estilo, Herschel Supply Co., the South Austin Gallery, Volcom, and more. United Apparel Liquidators, a designer wholesaler doing much the same work year-round on 2nd Street, will also be there with high-quality pieces.

This is a ticketed event: $10 per day, or $25 for a VIP pre-shop (for a limited number of customers). There is enough merchandise to keep even a very efficient shopper for hours, so plan ahead to make the most out of those tickets.

Tickets are on sale now at legaragesale.net. A full list of vendors, updated when changes are made, can also be found on the site.

Rendering by Mogas + Gonzalez Associated Architects

New marketplace development will transform historic New Braunfels site

Cool Co-Op Coming

Changes are ahead for historic downtown New Braunfels, with a new 2.5-acre mixed-use development set to transform and repurpose the former New Braunfels Producers Co-Op. Announced via press release November 16, and slated to open in 2024, the new Co-Op Marketplace will feature a biergarten, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, retail, and park space with a stage for live music.

The site transformation is the brainchild of New Braunfels-area entrepreneurs and business owners, so local residents can take heart that the project was made by locals, for locals. The late, notable New Braunfels businessman Ron Snider was one of the entrepreneurs behind the Co-Op Marketplace idea, working in tandem with his business partners, attorney Mike Myers and real estate developer Fred Heimer.

Now, Snider's wife, Carol, and their son, Chris, owners of nearby Krauses Cafe + Biergarten, are leading the project in honor of Snider's original vision."This is a very exciting project to be involved with and it has evolved a lot along the way while still holding true to what my dad and his partners originally envisioned by bringing something unique to downtown New Braunfels that the community can enjoy," Chris Snider shared in the release.

New Braunfels Co-Op MarketplaceThe Co-Op Marketplace will transform and repurpose the former New Braunfels Producers Co-Op. Courtesy photo

With construction set to begin in 2023, the new co-op space will be roughly 2.5 acres and feature more than 25,000 square feet of indoor space for guests. The release shared plans to adapt the existing agricultural buildings for the development, transforming structures like the 65-foot-tall grain silo, which will become the market's west entrance.

Plans for the space include more than an acre of outdoor space for guests to enjoy good weather days, with a splash pad and 4,000 square feet of artificial turf, seating, and shade trees.

Co-Op Marketplace New BraunfelsThe new development will feature a biergarten, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, retail, and park spaces.Rendering by Mogas + Gonzalez Associated Architects

San Antonio-based architectural practice Mogas + Gonzalez have been heavily involved in the plans for the space.

"Mogas + Gonzalez Associated Architects has worked closely with the owners’ vision to repurpose and recycle the existing and historically designated agrarian Co-Op structures to craft a campus of indoor and outdoor spaces that invite the city and its visitors to relax, dine, and celebrate right in the heart of Downtown New Braunfels," said architect Richard Mogas in the release.

The exciting new space will be located at 210 S. Castell Ave. Guests can grab authentic German fare down the street at Krause's and walk down to the Co-Op, which will also have a 13,000 square foot marketplace for restaurants, vendors, and more.

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12+ festive and diverse ways to get in the holiday spirit in Austin this year

Holly Jolly Happenings

It’s the most entertainment-filled time of the year in the capital city. We’ve made our list of can’t-miss celebrations and events of the season and have checked it twice to ensure holly, jolly fun is had by all.

Organizers start planning Christmas the second Halloween is over, so that's what most of our list is about so far. We will come back here with more tips on Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and other interfaith or secular celebrations as we hear more.

For now, check out the top things to do in Austin this holiday season, and commence the merrymaking. For a complete list of holiday events and more, go to our calendar. For more in-depth editorial coverage on some of our top picks, check out our "Holiday Happenings" series.

Happy's Holiday Pop-Up Bar at Wax Myrtle's
Now through December 24
Enjoy a not-so-silent night of craft cocktails and cheerful vibes at one of Austin’s most luxe bars in the spirit of the season. Wax Mrytle’s brings back Happy’s, its annual holiday-themed pop-up bar complete with Santa-approved craft cocktails and merry music now through December 24. Admission is free. For more details, go to hyattexperiences.com.

Miracle on 5th Street Pop-Up Bar
Now through December 27
Drink and be merry at the return of Miracle on 5th Street. This year’s pop-up holiday bar and cocktail experience takes place at The Eleanor and features two levels of decked-out halls and boughs of boozy craft drinks. Guests can expect a nonstop playlist of festive tunes and a menu of food offerings to enjoy between sips. Dash passes are available for guests who prefer to skip the line and head straight to the bar. Miracle on 5th Street is open now through December 27. Get more information at miracleon5thst.com.

ZACH Theatre presents A Christmas Carol
Now through December 31
The timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey to better understand the meaning of Christmas comes to life again on the ZACH Theatre stage. The singular adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol features a family-friendly mix of spirited tunes, whimsically wintery set designs, and a heartfelt message for everyone to enjoy. Get your tickets at zachtheatre.org. Showtimes are scheduled through December 31.

The University of Texas at Austin presents Longhorn Lights
Now through January 1, 2024
The University of Texas at Austin campus welcomes guests to a new tradition on the 40 acres. Longhorn Lights is a holiday light show that showcases the beauty of the festive season with burnt orange flair. Each night from 5-10 pm, guests can explore displays along Guadalupe Street between 21st and 24th Streets, also known as The Drag, all synchronized to music by the Longhorn Band. Longhorn Lights is free and open to the public. Check out utexas.edu for more details.

The Driskill Hotel presents the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony
December 1
Welcome the most festive month of the year at one of Austin’s iconic hotels. The Driskill opens its doors for the return of its annual tree lighting ceremony. From 5-7 pm, guests can take photos by the 16-foot Douglas fir Christmas tree in the hotel lobby and enjoy a variety of other family-friendly activities at this unofficial holiday season kickoff. Highlights include live musical performances, cocktail specials at the bar, and a special appearance by Santa himself. Ceremony admission is free and open to the public. For more information, go to driskillhotel.com.

Downtown Austin Alliance presents Holiday Sing-Along & Stroll
December 2
Channel your inner caroler when you join in the holiday harmonies at the Texas Capitol. KUT, KUTX, and the Downtown Austin Alliance host an evening of photos with Santa, a tree lighting, a guided sing-along of popular holiday music, artisan vendors, and more. Admission to this event is free and open to the public. Check out downtownaustin.com for more details.

Ballet Austin presents The Nutcracker
December 2-23
Get lost in a world of holiday wonder when you enjoy The Nutcracker performed by the talented Ballet Austin company. This production at Long Center for the Performing Arts features a cast of hundreds of dancers (plus some well-known locals) and will be accompanied by music from the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Opening weekend performances will include activities such as free holiday-themed family photos, selfie stations, character meet and greets, and more. Following this opening weekend, showtimes are scheduled through December 23. Get tickets at balletaustin.org.

Commodore Perry's Hanukkah Happening
December 7-15
Light the menorah in style at sundown in the living room of the resort mansion, plus "a nightcap and cookies" baked by Chef Susana Querejazu. On December 12, other chefs at the estate will teach visitors how to make sweet potato pancakes — a twist on a classic latke. Learn more about the class ($75) and other holiday events at the Commodore Perry Estate at aubergeresorts.com.

59th Annual Austin Trail of Lights
December 8-23
Austin’s premier holiday lights activation plugs back in for another illuminating season of in-person, winter-inspired wonder. Visitors can take their time strolling through and enjoying the numerous light displays and lighted tunnels while eating cookies and listening to holiday music. Secure your tickets at austintrailoflights.org. The Austin Trail of Lights is open at Zilker Park through December 23.

Kwanzaa Celebration with Elizabeth Kahura and Austin Public Library
December 9
Habari gani? Learn the answer to the daily Kwanzaa question at the Austin Public Library in Spicewood Springs. Kenyan-born storyteller, drummer, and educator Elizabeth Kahura is inviting Austinites to learn about the seven principles of the African-American holiday. Admission is free. For more details, go to library.austintexas.gov. Click the "Winter Cheer Celebrations" tab to see other holiday events including crafting classes, dance parties, and concerts.

Tapestry presents The Precious Present — Listen
December 16 and 17
This all-faiths dance presentation is shaping up to be one of the most adventurous performances all year. Dancers from many backgrounds including traditional Indian dance, tap, and flamenco, will come together to marvel at jazz and the spirit of the holidays — whatever they may be. Tickets ($10 minimum, $35 suggested donation) are available via tapestry.org.

Murray & Peter present A Drag Queen Christmas
December 23
Get swept up in the glamour of the holiday season with a little help from a few queens at ACL Live. A Drag Queen Christmas is hosted by RuPaul alum Miz Cracker and will include live performances by several famous faces, like special guest Todrick Hall. Get tickets at acllive.com.

Downtown Austin Alliance presents Holiday Sing-Along and Downtown Stroll
Photo by Michael Knox

Kick off the season with the entire family at the Downtown Austin Alliance Holiday Stroll on December 2.

H-E-B Center presents Cirque Musica: Holiday Wonderland
December 24
Be transported to a far-away land of holiday magic and masterful movement at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. Cirque Musica is a family-friendly production that features aerialists, acrobats, and tons of holiday cheer all accompanied by a musical mix of seasonal favorite songs. Get more information and select your seats on Ticketmaster.


Brianna Caleri contributed to this story.

Get immersed in Hallmark Channel Christmas at this Texas hotel holiday suite

like a hallmark movie

It's that time of year again, when the airwaves are flooded with that holiday staple known as the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie.

Legions of fans know the plots by heart. Big-city gal returns to her small town, finds love and saves Christmas. Or the family business. Or a lost kitten. Two colleagues who can't stand each other discover they have more in common than ever imagined and find love. And save Christmas. Or the family business. Or a lost kitten. Three generations of family at loggerheads re-connect after finding themselves stranded in a cozy cabin in the woods. And save Christmas. Or the family business. Or a lost kitten.

Hilton-Americas Houston

Photo by Christy Radecic

Stay inside a Hallmark holiday movie.

Now, fans who love the genre for its uplifting messages and smiles-through-tears can experience the movies in a whole new way. The Hilton Americas-Houston is offering a limited-time Hallmark Channel “Countdown to Christmas” Holiday Suite by Hilton, available starting November 1 and running through January 1, 2024. The hotel is one of only three Hilton properties across the country to offer this one-of-a-kind festive dreamscape.

In H-Town, guests can book the Hilton Americas-Houston's "Haul Out the Holly" suite, which offers a cascade of seasonal cheer, and is based on the all-new, original Hallmark holiday movie of the same name. Look for jaw-dropping holiday designs and light treatments throughout the suite, including enchanting light pillows, a light-up holiday village that will dazzle the world’s biggest Christmas enthusiasts, a custom holiday light decorating station, a gingerbread bar, and more.

Expect special surprise-and-delight moments like a festive oversized game, a custom Hallmark Channel light-up marquee, and even a twinkling Christmas light ceiling. This exceptional stay will allow guests to embrace the essence of the sequel film, starring beloved Hallmark star Lacey Chabert and centering on the iconic residents and ongoing HOA decorating competitions — and infamous citations — of the ever-festive Evergreen Lane.

"We're thrilled to partner with Hallmark for a collaboration that embodies the joy of the holiday season and brings to life the light and warmth of hospitality we show our guests every day,” said Matt Schuyler, chief brand officer, Hilton in a press release announcing the initiative. “This is a great representation of Hilton’s commitment to delivering immersive and unforgettable experiences during every stay. Our collaboration with Hallmark allows us to leverage timeless storytelling to bring an added level of excitement during the holidays.”

The "Haul Out the Holly" suite, like its counterparts the “Hallmark’s Holiday Sweetest Suite” at the Hilton New York Times Square and the “Santa Summit” at the Hilton Chicago, includes a custom-decorated Christmas tree and complimentary hot cocoa station.

To keep the holiday cheer going all season long, each of these special guest suites also include Hallmark Channel-branded takeaways that guests can enjoy with their loved ones during or after their holiday stay. Think Hallmark Channel Wine, Bissinger’s cocoa mix and hot cocoa bombs, Republic of Tea products, wine glasses, mugs, and more.

Rates start at $1,050 per night. Reservations can be made online.

Austin's Wildflower Center goes elemental for immersive holiday light walk

how the wildflowers glow

Most cities will not spend the holidays frolicking through wildflowers — actually, even for Austin that's a bit of a stretch. But the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has applied its conservationist and gardening sensibilities to another seasonal walk through nature this winter.

Luminations, a nearly two-mile stroll through the arboretum, has returned in an entirely new form, with all new light installations to bring some immersive magic to the darker nights.

Unlike most of the other light-led destinations this holiday season, this one doesn't rest on specific holiday themes, opting instead for more abstract explorations. This year's theme is the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. One installation illuminates falling water in interesting patterns, while others create larger-than life fluttering wings and faux bioluminescent plants.

Although the seasonal installations are new, visitors will likely recognize the oversized tire swing-like chairs that have been featured in many a nighttime selfie at other installations. (In fact, it looks like you can buy these popular LED seats online, but may just want to visit the Wildflower Center to save $500 and avoid a drop shipping nightmare.)

Other photos show a lantern-lit path that calls to mind the Mexican and Southwestern luminaria tradition, which highlights the unique masonry around the "Great Hall."

Although it is open to all ages, this glowing stroll will be one of the more adult activations thanks to the abstraction. A release touts "a rotating cast of local food trucks" including Craig-O’s, Asian Express and Ike-N-Aves. There will also be hot chocolate (that can be spiked) and a full bar with specialty cocktails.

Luminations opened November 24, 2023, and will run through January 6, 2024, with some blackout dates around Christmas and New Year's Eve. Tickets ($28 for adults, $18 for youth, plus member discounts) are available at wildflower.org.