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All ATX Supports Local Musicians through Benefit Concert

On October 29, local musician-focused nonprofit, All ATX, held their annual benefit concert at Auditorium Shores to help Austin continue its vibrant legacy as one of the best cities for musicians.

All ATX began about five years ago with real estate giant, Gary Keller, of Keller Williams Realty. Keller realized that he was benefitting from Austin’s reputation as a music city, but he also realized that he was not doing anything to support local musicians. He wanted to create something that showcased, celebrated and supported local talent. The name, All ATX, came about because it ensured that the focus would remain exclusively on Austin musicians.

About two years ago, the focus of the non-profit shifted even more to further benefit and give back the the musicians. Around this time, Clark Nowlin was hired at All ATX. Nowlin began as an employee at Keller-Williams and was recommended for the All ATX position due to his personal experience as a full-time musician.

“What we see is that Austin’s support of music is well mismatched from our level of passion for music,” Nowlin said.

All ATX’s goal is bridging that gap. The company does this by raising money for Austin’s music charities. All ATX currently benefits the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), The SIMS Foundation, Austin Music Foundation (AMF) and Black Fret. To determine which charities to support, employees at All ATX first determined the biggest obstacles for Austin musicians.

“We asked the question: what areas of need are there? We identified those, and it basically came down to affordability.”

 

The Austin Music Census taken in 2015 identified “stagnating musician income” as the single highest rated issue facing musicians. As Austin continues to grow, musicians encounter more and more problems concerning the cost of living in the city, which includes housing, food, utilities and transportation. Nearly one-third of musicians are earning $15,000 per year, and 60 percent of census respondents work two or more jobs.

The pressing concern of affordability is in stark contrast with Austin’s origins as a music city. In a story for the Austin-American Statesmen, former director of the Downtown Austin Alliance, Charlie Betts, explains that Austin’s “low cost of living” was one of the major factors that drew artists to Austin in the 1970s.

After identifying affordability as being a major concern for musicians, staff at All ATX researched all the music nonprofits in Austin to find charities with overlapping ideas.

“Out of the 141 charities, we found four that were, in our opinion, doing the work that mattered the most.” Nowlin said. “The biggest difference between the other 137 and the four was that the other 137 focused on arts, and we draw the line with artists. We only give money to support the artists.”

All ATX raises money for these charities by hosting annual benefit concerts. Typically, the concerts take place at the Moody Theater, but this year the concert took a different shape. In fact, it was presented as more of a festival, which made 2017’s benefit show the biggest in All ATX history.

Back to the Armadillo took place on the evening of October 29 at Auditorium Shores. Equipped with food trucks from local Austin eateries, information booths from sponsors and the backdrop of the downtown skyline, Back to the Armadillo was a memorable event.

The festival kicked off with series of short sets by local favorites, including Shakey Graves, Jack Ingram and Fastball. Then, Michael Martin Murphey, Gary P. Nunn and Shawn Sahm, a trio of “Armadillo All Stars,” took to the stage. The night ended with a performance by John Fogerty, whose captivating performance had the whole audience signing.

“The feedback has been nothing but good from the guests,” Nowlin said. “In my personal opinion, it was awesome.”

The format of Back to the Armadillo shifted this year after C3 Presents received a permit for another outdoor show. The production company reached out to All ATX, and the two companies collaborated to produce Back to the Armadillo. The idea for the theme came from a multitude of sources, including the Armadillo’s significance in Austin music history, Auditorium Shores being located near where the Armadillo was and All ATX staffers getting to know Austin-legend Eddie Wilson.

“When that idea came up, we thought it was a special one,” Nowlin said. “It just kind of made sense on multiple levels.”

Although there are no official numbers, Nowlin confirmed that All ATX raised more money through Back to the Armadillo this year than previous years. Last year, All ATX raised around half-a-million dollars for the four nonprofits, so this year’s additional earnings are sure to greatly impact the music community. With successes like Back to the Armadillo, All ATX helps make it possible to ensure that Austin remains a dynamic spot for talented musicians.

“Deep down everyone’s got a song to sing. And, Austin is a place where we give them stages to sing that song.”

All ATX always produces a CD that features the artists that performed at the benefit concert. You can pick it up at Waterloo Records or purchase it online here.

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