Black Fret Founders Close 2015 with a Ball
but Keep Eyes on ‘16
Written by: Alex Tronche
Photography: Chisum Pierce
The supporters and sponsors of Austin’s music charity Black Fret celebrated the organization’s sophomore class of grant winners by hosting the second annual Black Ball at The Paramount in December. The night was packed with drinks, awards and, of course, plenty of music as more than 15 bands and artists shared the stage for quick but powerful live performances that covered everything from soul to country to rock.
Black Fret also took the opportunity to announce that all 20 of the 2015 nominees would earn a grant including Austin favorites Mother Falcon and rising stars like Tameca Jones. With $145,000 available for contributions, this meant that each nominee can use 2016 to unlock significant grant dollars to use as they see fit - for writing, producing, touring or even just to keep the lights on.
As the year came to a close, RAD had the chance to ask founders Colin Kendrick and Matt Ott about their perspective on 2015 and what we should expect from the artists and organization in the new year.
RAD (Alex): It's been nearly a year since we last spoke and Black Fret looks to have made the most of it. Can you recap some of the successes or challenges the organization has seen?
2015 was a really great year for us in so many ways. We held over 20 events in some of the best venues and homes in town and had artist after artist deliver amazing musical experiences. And not only from our 2015 Nominees but also from the other local bands we booked to play Black Fret events. We love introducing our members to the best music in town and love when our members point out great acts to us. As far as challenges I’d have to say it can be summed up in one word: rain! We wound up tenting or moving quite a few of our events. Extremely grateful for our full lakes but the weather proved to make our signature house parties harder to pull off. But the show always went on! And of course we are always looking for more Austinites to step up and join us as a Patron of Local Music.
RAD (Alex): What are some of the most memorable or creative ways Black Fret artists have unlocked their grant dollars this year?
To see the artists unlock their grant dollars to record over 70 new songs, have another 41 in lyric or demo stage, create nine music videos, perform over 150 times outside Austin and perform almost 30 concerts for other nonprofits in town has been hugely gratifying. Our artists have continually impressed us with their hard work and diligence to advancing their art and careers. To see real, tangible results in the form of new albums and more successful tours has been a lot of fun.
RAD (Alex): How would you describe the class of 2015 grant nominees?
Our first two classes of nominees have both been outstanding. And yes, there have been wonderful surprises in both years. Our nominees are selected via member vote, advisor vote, two artists from the Austin Music awards and for 2015 and beyond, the vote of our prior year’s artists. To see their voice added was really special. We love that these different perspectives fuel our annual group of nominees and expect the selections to only get better as the years go by and our members, advisors and artists get more involved and enthusiastic about the process.
RAD (Alex): What have been some of your favorite clubs, events or parts of town to go to explore new music? And are there any artists who are on the radar for 2016?
We have had amazing events at North Door, the Listening Room at Winflo, the Parish, Empire Control Room and so many others. And have some really special surprise locations on tap for 2016. We are also very excited to once again deliver the music to the Art City festival in late April. Expect to see a huge amount of music on that stage over two days. Austinites should keep an eye on Black Fret - and join! - to have what I am know will be an amazing musical year!
RAD (Alex): What are you, the Black Fret members and the grant-winning artists looking to achieve in next year? Any surprises we should be watching out for?
We look forward to growing! And look forward to delivering an even more incredible experience to our Patrons of Local Music. And yes, we have some cool surprises on tap! To see how the over $275,000 we have granted to local musicians has impacted their careers and the city has been inspiring. And know that with each Austinite who joins and supports our city and our music we can do even more. Bottom line, 2016 is going to rock.
Check out more photos & event coverage of the Black Fret Ball here!
Photography: Chisum Pierce