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The Scoot Moped — an electric moped born out of Bird’s acquisition of Scoot — will launch in Austin five months after unveiling the shared micromobility vehicle.

The new moped is the latest effort by Bird to diversify its product offerings to capture more customers. The Scoot Mopeds, which are now available on the Bird app, feature large-volume tires, hydraulic disc brakes, two side mirrors, an LCD display for vehicle speed information, as well as two sizes of helmets, which are stored in a box on the vehicle. Users of the Scoot Moped must be 18 years or older and have a valid driver’s license. 

Bird first unveiled the Scoot Moped in October following its acquisition of Scoot. Initially the mopeds were piloted in Los Angeles, according to Bird. The Austin launch, which kicks off the week before the city’s SXSW music, tech, film and comedy festival begins, marks the official rollout of the Scoot Mopeds. The SXSW festival has not been cancelled yet, although numerous companies are pulling out over concerns of the coronavirus. SXSW organizers said March 2 that the “2020 event is proceeding with safety as a top priority.”

The Scoot Mopeds will join a bevy of shared mobility vehicles that are already on Austin’s city streets. The Austin City Council approved in February 2018 the creation of a “dockless” bike-share pilot program. Some companies were already operating these services; this action created a regulatory framework. But then scooters came en masse.

The scooters upended bike share, and prompted companies to take some of their bikes off the streets due to lack of demand, according to several city officials who spoke to TechCrunch during SXSW 2019.

Bird is “working closely with the city to help achieve the goal of 50-50 mode shift by 2039 and looks forward to collaborating on more solutions in support of the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan,” Blanca Laborde, a government partnerships team member for Bird, said in a statement. “We think Austinites are going to love this new way to get around.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/05/bird-launches-scoot-mopeds-in-austin-ahead-of-sxsw/

An incident at theMohawklate Tuesday led to a and several differing online accounts over whos to blameand what actually happened.

The downtown Austin, Texas, music venueexplained via Instagram that the show, during which rapper Horus the Astroneer opened up for rapper and singer Ghostemane, had been canceled due to a safety issue. According to fans who live-tweeted the incident and a fan who spoke to Brooklyn Vegan, Ghostemane threatened to shoot up the venue after Horus, who opened the show and is his brother, got into a fight with the venues security.

The Florida rappers say the staff of the Mohawk beat up Horus and broke his nose after he criticized the venues sound engineer onstage. Two other acts were on the bill.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Mohawk put out a statement to several social media pages: This was purely a safety issue driven by an altercation and the subsequent escalating aggression inside and outside of our venue, the statement reads. The venue said it has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to anything that could threaten the safety or well being of our customers or staff.

The statement explains that staff was forced to call the authorities, which is standard practice in instances like these. Weve reached out to the Austin Police Department.

Just as the Mohawks statement was spreading online, Horus the Astroneer took to Instagram. Horus, whose real name isAlecBenjamin, claimed that the Mohawk decided to keep my sound off during my set and ignored requests to resolve the issue. Finally I lost my cool, front of house guy said to met him after the show, the artists statement reads. After Horus began talking shit, they cut his set off, and, according to his statement, wouldnt let him leave the stage.

I tried to leave the stage and they boxed me in and jumped me and broke my nose, then every one of them dispersed from the venue with their tails between their legs like the dickless worms they are, he wrote. Im deeply sorry for everyone who didnt get to see the rest of the show, I did not call the police myself.

Ghostemane, also via Instagram Stories, said that the venue didnt allow him onstage in fear of my retaliation for what they did to my brother.

But a fan clapped back on Twitter: Opener acts a fool; puts down sound guy, sticks around the venue, headliner tells Mohawk hes gonna shoot up the venue, the fuck did he think was gonna happen, user @hyjjus tweeted.

The fallout from the Horus incident

Horus included another statement, touting his love for Austin, as well as a text exchange. I fucking love Austin, the artist wrote. I been here a bunch of times and Ive been dying to play a show here. Yall are sick as fuck and I promise we will all be back at an actual venue and we will make it up to you.

The text exchange appears to be with someone who attended the concert and sent from the account of their pet cat.

Learn to take a punch before you throw them, pussy, the initial text reads. Sit your talentless ass down and apologize to your brother for ruining his show. Youre not proving shit.

In response, Horus wrote, did you really just hit me up from a cat account to talk shit?

A customer who reportedly witnessed the incident also shared their version of events on Instagram. Alec continuously stated the music wasnt sounding right throughout his set, the post from concertgoer Samantha Lewis, who declined to comment to the Daily Dot, reads. Kept trying to hype people up through the shitty music quality. He said he wanted another mic, and instead was told he would no longer be able to finish his set. He was then forcefully escorted out to the back of the building where four employees beat him, breaking his nose.

Lewis supposedly has photo and video evidence of the incident.

Lewis and Horus accounts of the incident seem to align. Many people online, however, seem to feel the venues statement is far more accurate. A slew of Twitter comments following the event claim Horus was firmly in the wrong.

Fuck Ghostmane and especially fuck Horus the Astroneer, one person wrote. Dont ever disrespect ANY venue staff to the point of violence. Ever. Most other fans agree.

User @charmcharchar wrote: Theres tons of people who recorded it so I dont want to hear anything about him not doing anything wrong.

The Daily Dot has reached out to the Mohawk, as well as Horus the Astroneer and several witnesses.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/upstream/ghostemane-horus-the-astroneer-mohawk-austin/

A letter fromAustin’s mayor, the Kerbey Lane Cafe queso and recipe, and an archive of tons of books took off on rocket mission headed to the moon Friday.

The coveted items were on a rover aboard the SpaceX Falcon that launched from Cape Canaveral, Flordia. After circling the moon, the lunar lander will attempt to land in early April.

The letter from Austin Mayor Steve Adler starts with a warm Texas greeting to any extraterrestrials, asking them to consider their friendly city for a visit, with lots of really good incentives.

Including a beloved queso dip and recipe from Austin restaurant Kerbey Lane Cafe. The recipe has never been publicly shared.

We choose to send queso to the Moon and maybe someday chips as well, not because these things are easy, but because they are hard, Mayor Adler wrote.

The challenge to eat queso in zero gravity is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, among other key challenges, like next time remembering the chips.

And thats not all. The mayor says if a space being stops by their city, they can have their own private band for their stay.

They will play for you anytime you want. Have a birthday party? They will be there. Wedding between two intelligent, consenting life forms? There. Ever wish there was someone to play creepy background music while you are planning intergalactic domination? They can do that.

Also in the welcome basket? A lifetime pass for awhole alien family to Texas attraction Barton Springs.What is Barton Springs?” the Mayor asked. “Im glad you asked. Its only the most awesome spring fed pool in the universe. And for you no entrance fee. Ever.

Finally, the mayor offered a canine friend so extraterrestrials can truly feel at home in Austin.Pick any dog in town. Its yours.

The gift from Austin is set to stay on the moon indefinitely, along with 25,000 books and resources, including theLong Now Foundation Rosetta and PanLex dataset linguistic keys to 5,000 languages, with 1.5 billion cross-language translationsall laser etched in microscopic analog form on a radiation-proof nickel Nanofiche disk, according to a press release about the event.

Its all a part of the Arch Mission Foundations goal to archive human knowledge and earth biology in a project they call The Billion Year Archive. The nonprofit calls this a solar system-wide project and the Arch Libraries are considered the most durable way to keep human records safe.

It is my hope that on the future day that you read this, we will have solved the many things on this earth for which we are less proud, Mayor Adler continues in his note.

“Presently, the world has not sufficiently responded to the dire threat of climate change and environmental injustice. And our society has let people become downtrodden, failing to recognize that each human being, regardless of the immutable characteristics of their birth or their station in life, is alive with the same fire that lights the stars at night.”

Perhaps a future time capsule will send happy news of our solutions to the vexing problems that threaten what is great in our city and our world. We in Austin do not just hope for a better and more just tomorrow, but are taking the difficult steps in the present, so we will survive our time and we may live into yours. May this message represent our continuing hope and determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.

A touching and cheesy gift to the universe.

Disclaimer: Nova Spivack, a co-founder of the Arch Mission Foundation, is on the Daily Dots board of directors and is an investor in the company.

H/T Austin Chronicle

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/queso-recipe-mars-austin/

Man named as Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, suspected of string of recent bombings across Austin that left two dead

In the end, it was sightings of a strange man in a blond wig in several stores that led authorities to a serial bomber who had terrified the city and suburbs of Austin, Texas, for almost three weeks and left two people dead.

The suspect, identified as Mark Anthony Conditt, an unemployed 23-year-old white man, killed himself with one of his own devices early on Wednesday in his SUV after being cornered by a swat team overnight at a suburban hotel parking lot.

The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle, Brian Manley, the Austin police chief, told reporters at the scene.

Mark
Mark Anthony Conditt. Photograph: Facebook

Officers had been waiting for ballistic vehicles to arrive when the suspects vehicle began to drive away, Manley said. Authorities followed the vehicle, which stopped in a ditch on the side of the road. When members of the swat team approached, the suspect detonated a device. The blast knocked back one officer, while a second officer fired his weapon, Manley said.

The suspect in the four attacks was from the city of Pflugerville, 14 miles north of downtown Austin.

On Wednesday, a relative of Conditt released a statement on behalf of the family. An aunt of Conditt, who gave her name only as Shanee, said: We are devastated and broken at the news that our family could be involved in such an awful way. We had no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in. Our family is a normal family in every way.

The authorities had previously announced that the family wanted to express their condolences to the families of those that have been affected.

The aunt later released the family statement to CNN. She said the family was trying to cope with this terrible, terrible knowledge. The statement continued: We love, we pray, and we try to inspire and serve others. Right now our prayers are for those families that have lost loved ones, for those impacted in any way, and for the soul of our Mark. We are grieving and we are in shock.

The bomber had previously evaded detection since the attacks began on 2 March when a package bomb exploded and killed a 39-year-old man, Anthony House. More attacks followed, including further package bombs that also killed a 17-year-old male, Draylen Mason, and a roadside device believed triggered by a tripwire. At least five people were injured in the series of attacks including 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera, who was seriously hurt.

A package sent from Austin and bound for Austin detonated on a conveyor belt at a FedEx warehouse near San Antonio at about 12.30am on Tuesday, slightly injuring a woman. Later on Tuesday, an unexploded package believed to have been shipped by the same person was discovered at a FedEx facility close to Austin-Bergstrom international airport, and turned over to law enforcement.

The two people killed were black, prompting community leaders to warn of hate attacks. Officials have yet to describe a motive.

Abbott said the suspects mobile phone pinged in several different locations; CCTV had captured footage of the suspect in blond wig and gloves posting packages at a FedEx on Sunday night.

Online postings indicate Condittwas homeschooled. He attended Austin Community College from 2010 to 2012, according to a college spokeswoman, but he did not graduate.

In posts dated from 2012, a blogger who identified himself as Mark Conditt of Pflugerville wrote that gay marriage should be illegal, called for the elimination of sex offender registrations, and argued in favor of the death penalty. He described his interests as cycling, tennis and listening to music. Of gay marriage, Conditt wrote: Homosexuality is not natural. Just look at the male and female bodies. They are obviously designed to couple.

While the relief in Austin was palpable on Wednesday, officials urged residents to remain vigilant.

Fred Milanowski, an agent with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), said it was hard to say if the bombing suspect had acted alone, though he made all the devices.

Timeline

How the Austin bombings unfolded

By Jamiles Lartey

First package explodes

A package bomb, which was not sent through a commercial delivery service, explodes at an East Austin home, killing 39-year-old Anthony House. It is treated as an isolated incident.

More bombs detonate

Two more package bombs, similar to the first, detonate at East Austin homes. The second blast kills 17-year-old Draylen Mason and injures his mother. The third blast injures 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera. Policebelieve they may be dealing with a serial bomber.

Residents and investigators speculate that the bombsmay be targeted at a specific network of black church and community leaders. House and Mason belonged to a shared social and church network, and the third bomb was placed two doors down from black woman also named Mason, but who was unrelated to Draylen Masons family.

After the police issue an alert, hundreds of reports of suspicious packages roll in.

Two injured by roadside bomb

Two white male cyclists are injured by a roadside bomb that police believe was detonated by a tripwire attached to a ‘for sale’ sign.Authorities fear the bomber may possess a level of skill and sophistication beyond what they previously believed.

Device explodes at FedEx center

In the early morning hours, a device detonates in a FedEx processing facility in Schertz, Texas, near San Antonio. One woman is injured. Several hours later, another suspicious package is deactivated by authorities who eventually trace both parcels to a customer at a FedEx store in Sunset Valley, part of the Austin metropolitan area.

Suspect kills himself

After authorities identify and pursue the suspect in a vehicle to Round Rock, north of Austin, he detonates an explosive, the seventh known device, killing himself.

On Wednesday morning, law enforcement officers were seen entering houses believed to be where Conditt and his parents lived, about half a mile apart near downtown Pflugerville.

Two of his housemates were detained on Wednesday morning, but were not named. One was questioned and released, one was still being questioned in the afternoon.

An American flag on the front porch of his parents neat two-storey house with cream-coloured clapboard fluttered in the breeze as a local police officer stood guard.

We dont have any information to believe that the family had any knowledge of these crimes, David Fugitt, a detective with Austin police departments homicide unit, told the Guardian.

This familys been very cooperative, theyve gone above and beyond to answer any questions that weve had, Fugitt said.

Tim Williams, a 55-year-old auto broker who lives a short walk away, said: Its scary. Something this big, this close, it puts everybody on edge. Pflugerville is a really quiet community, laid back, nothing ever goes on. Especially nothing of this magnitude.

Austin map

The case has spurred memories of the Montana-based domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber, who killed three people and injured 23 others with package bombs over 17 years, starting in 1978. He was not arrested until 1996.

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/21/austin-bomb-suspect-blows-himself-up-us-media-report

It is not known if the blast is related to three package bombs that have killed two and injured two in the Texas capital

Austins police chief said on Monday the latest bombing to hit the city was detonated by a tripwire, showing a different level of skill.

Chief Brian Manley told ABC both of the men injured in Sunday nights blast were white, unlike the victims in the citys three previous package bombs this month, who were black or Hispanic. The two men injured were riding or pushing bicycles when the explosives detonated, Manley said.

The Sunday night explosion happened in the south-western residential neighborhood of Travis Country. The three previous bombings happened in residential neighborhoods east of Interstate 35, which divides the city.

Authorities warned Travis Country residents to remain indoors until 10am as police scoured the area for anything suspicious.

The latest explosion came hours after authorities raised the reward by $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of whoever was responsible for the first three explosions. It now totals $115,000.

Sundays blast occurred around 8.30pm. Manley said then it was caused by a device and warned the public not to touch any unexpected packages left at their homes.

He urged people within half a mile to stay in their homes, given the darkness and size of the area that we want to go in and check.

We want to put out the message that weve been putting out and that is, not only do not touch any packages or anything that looks like a package, do not even go near it at this time, Manley said. We have not had an opportunity to look at this blast site to really determine what has happened.

Manley also said authorities were working to clear a suspicious backpack found in the area that was part of a separate report.

It is important right now for anyone in the neighborhood behind us to remain inside and give us time to work through this, he said, adding that any witnesses should call 911 and report what they saw.

The two men who were hurt were in their 20s. Police said they were hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening.

The first explosion in Austin recently was a package bomb that exploded at a north-east Austin home on 2 March, killing a 39-year-old man. Two more package bombs exploded farther south on 12 March, killing a 17-year-old boy, wounding his mother and injuring a 75-year-old woman.

Police said the blasts were likely related and involved packages that had not been mailed or delivered by private carrier but left overnight on doorsteps. Manley originally suggested they could have been hate crimes since all the victims were black or Hispanic, but now says investigators are not ruling out any motive.

Manley last week urged residents receiving unexpected packages to call authorities without touching or opening them, and police responded to hundreds of calls about suspicious packages but didnt find anything dangerous.

On Sunday, police blocked entrances to the neighborhood where the latest blast occurred and put up yellow tape about half a mile from the home where it happened. People milled around just outside the tape. Some reported hearing loud booms but couldnt provide details. FBI agents arrived to conduct interviews.

Sunday was the final day of the South By Southwest music festival, which draws hundreds of thousands to Austin every March. It is also the end of spring break for many area school districts, meaning families who were out of town in recent days are returning to a city increasingly on edge.

The explosions occurred far from the main South By Southwest activities, though a downtown concert by hip-hop band The Roots was canceled on Saturday night after a bomb threat. Authorities later arrested a 26-year-old man, and the incident did not appear to be related to any previous explosions.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/19/austin-texas-injured-fourth-explosion-hit-city-month

BTW

Austin, Texas-area musicians will get free rides to and from their downtown gigs beginning Jan. 1., Lyft announced on Thursday.

Called the Austin Musician Rideshare Program, the new benefit will allow musicians to avoid the dreaded search for a parking spot in downtown Austin and to presumably unload their gear at the venue, rather than down the block at a parking spot.

“It’s expensive and difficult to park downtown, even harder for a working musician lugging gear,” Empire Control Room owner, Stephen Sternschein, said in a press release. “Parking tickets, towing, and accidents can (and do) eat up every dollar a local musician just made on stage. We ought to do everything we can to fix this.”

As of press time, Lyft only listed three Austin-based venues as partners with the program: Stubb’s, Empire Control Room, and Antone’s. On Twitter, the ride-hailing app said it didn’t have a complete list of venues ready yet.

The program kicks off in time for Austin’s annual Free Week, in which all venues in the Red River Cultural District host all-ages, free shows from Jan. 1-7.

“Lyft’s Musician Rideshare Program is a tremendous asset for local musicians,” Ryan Garrett, general manager of Stubb’s, said in a press release. “Stubb’s is thrilled to partner with Lyft on this progressive program which will positively impact the lives of local musicians and the entire Austin music scene.”

Lyft also said regular riders can support the Austin Musician Rideshare Program by using the code “ATXMUSIC.” The app said it will discount your ride by $5 and add $5 to the Musician Rideshare Program fund.

Lyft has not yet announced if it hopes to expand the program to other cities.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/upstream/lyft-austin-music/

Given how quickly East Austin is gentrifying, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine a Chili’s popping up on a street cornera scenario that played out in one of the better real-life trolls in recent memory.

Austin locals took up arms when it seemed like a new Chilis would be built on East Sixth street, part of a popular hub for music and culture in downtown Austin. Photos on social media showed a building on acorner of Sixth street with Chili banners draped along the sides and posters that advertised the coming business. Someone even made a Twitter account under the name “Chili’s East Austin” to announcethe new opening.

Alas, the official Chilis Twitter account debunked this new location, calling it #fakenews. People should’ve seen it comingChilis are meant for suburban shopping centers, not downtown hotspotsbut the pace of East Austin’s development made the hoax at somewhat believable.

The news of this fake Chilis really upset some locals, especially since the news came the same day NPR released astory about the displacement of East Austins population as result of gentrificationa fact that prankster was no doubt playing off of. East Austin is a historically black and Hispanic part of the city purposefully segregated back in the 1920s. Over the past decade, gentrification has pushed out locals on the East side and made Austin the only city with an increasing population but a simultaneously decreasing black population.

Although we know Chilis in not going to be taking over the property, its unclear at the moment what will be built there in the coming months. According to Austin360, the property was purchased last year by a group named 1200 East 6th Partners LLC.

Property on the East side keeps going up in value, and a spot like the one the fake Chilis was going to inhabit is a coveted space for new businesses hoping to be the center of a now bustling hub of new restaurants, venues, and nightlifeat the expense of the continued displacement of residents of color and their businesses. The Chilis troll could be the ultimate comment on this troubling trend.

H/T Austin360

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/chilis-east-austin-hoax/

Austin, Nashville and New Orleans have thrived on the success of vibrant music scenes. But as rents rise and noise complaints become more common, do they risk ruining what made them famous in the first place?

At a Sixth Street bar in the heart of Austin, Texas a pop up version of Sebs jazz club from the Hollywood hit film La La Land is being set up its blue letters yet to be switched on. Nearby, a replica of Breaking Bads Los Pollos Hermanos fast food restaurant has appeared, causing a minor Twitter frenzy.

These are just two of the attractions materialising in the city in time for the music and media festival South by Southwest (SXSW), and throughout the 10 days of the event it is hard to find someone who isnt wearing an official SXSW wristband worth $1,000.

What started 30 years ago as a celebration of Austins local music scene, though, is now in danger of harming the very thing that made it unique. SXSW brings in hundreds of artists from around the world, 200,000 visitors and $325.3m (250m) to the citys economy. Its success has helped Austin establish music as a fundamental part of its development, but at the same time, as many as 20% of musicians in this self-appointed live music capital of the world survive below the federal poverty line.

According to a recent study by the Urban Land Institute, the city is in the effective 11th hour of the endangerment of the live music scene, brought on by Austins rapid growth it is now the fastest growing city in the US in terms of population, jobs and economy.

A
A downtown wall mural in the shadow of new high-rise construction in Austin. Photograph: George Rose/Getty Images

Its a difficult reality for the city to confront. Austin is one of the three major US music cities, alongside New Orleans and Nashville, that have capitalised on this local culture at the risk of ruining the scenes that made them famous in the first place. In Austin, the local live music scene is now paying the price for its success. Brian Block, of the citys economic development office, says despite an apparent city-wide financial boom, local musicians income is at best stagnating, and possibly declining.

Hayes Carll, a 41-year-old Grammy-nominated artist who recently won Austins Musician of the Year, says that for most Texans, Austin is the mecca of music cities. It was where it all came together: the songs, the record stores, the community, the identity. It was the first place I went where I could say Im a singer-songwriter and they didnt ask me what my real job was.

Music lives throughout Austins 200 or so venues, the annual music awards and festivals, and the many brilliant artists including Townes Van Zandt and Janis Joplin who have called it home. It was where Willie Nelson allegedly reunited the hippies and rednecks when he first went on stage at the Armadillo World Headquarters in August 1972. Today, Austins love of local creativity is immortalised in folk singer Daniel Johnstons Hi, how are you? mural, depicting his iconic alien frog near the citys university.

South
SXSW brings $325m to the Austin economy each year. Photograph: Larry W Smith/EPA

But despite this rich history, long-standing venues in Austins downtown Red River District are being forced to adjust to an influx of new neighbours mostly expensive condos or hotels. Rising rents have forced venues like Holy Mountain and Red 7 to close, while noise complaints are an ongoing problem hotels offer earplugs for a better nights sleep.

Therere some less than wonderful aspects to the growth process, and I know a lot of friends who have had to leave Austin, says Carll, a Texan who has lived here for 12 years. Austin is going to have to fight to keep some of the things that made it special like the affordability and how you could be yourself and do whatever you wanted. When you become the hot cool city that everybodys moving to, some of that freedom can get pushed out.

The city government is keen to stress that theyre working to preserve the live music scene. In 2013 the Red River District was given its cultural title to highlight its local significance. Block says they are now implementing a Red River extended hours pilot programme in the hope that an extra hour of live music on the weekend will bring increased revenues to help cope with rising costs, and more paid work for the musicians.

Willie
Willie Nelson performs in his annual 4th of July Picnic at the Austin360 Amphitheater. Photograph: Gary Miller/Getty Images

The city is also revising its land development codes for the first time in 30 years in an effort to raise the profile of entertainment districts. There are other support systems that come from outside government too, such as Haam which provides access to affordable healthcare for low-income musicians. Music is very important to the culture, to the local economy and I think it will remain so. Hopefully we can get ahead of the issues we know are coming, Block says.

But some feel its too late. Im worried Austin will change negatively, says Carll. Its great that Austins identity revolves around music, and that the city government is trying to do things to correct it. But none of that will matter if musicians cant afford to live there, or the venues are shut down because of noise complaints, or you cant get to the venue because youre stuck in traffic on the highway.

New Orleans: music from cradle to grave

New
Louis Armstrong and his All Stars in a still from director Arthur Lubins musical New Orleans. Photograph: Frank Driggs Collection/Getty Images

Across the state border in Louisiana, New Orleans is facing similar problems as it develops and gentrifies. There are fears that without local government actively supporting musicians, the scenes survival could be at risk.

How do you keep a [music scene] real and authentic and yet encourage people to get involved? Its a paradox, says Jan Ramsey, editor of local magazine OffBeat. Theres an authenticity to the music and the people who make it, and the integration of black and white culture here we never want to lose that.

John Swenson, journalist and author of New Atlantis, Musicians Battle for the Survival of New Orleans says the music accompanies you from the cradle to the grave; its born out of the neighbourhoods and permeates all levels of society. Jazz was born here, tracing back to the mixture of African drums and European horns played by slaves in the late 19th century; and part of its musical heritage is a long list of prodigious artists, from Louis Armstrong to James Booker.

The
The Spotted Cat. Photograph: Alamy

This culture attracts some 10 million tourists to the city each year. But what is so unique about it and gives the scene greater strength is how it has become an invaluable lifeline for the citys regeneration after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In the Spotted Cat, one of the long-standing venues on Frenchman Street, manager Cheryl Abana talks quietly as a jazz singer performs to a crowded room. For a couple of years [after Katrina] it was pretty sad here and the music scene really helped out with trying to get everyones spirits up. It really helped build the city up again, she says.

One of the most successful programmes to support the creative community following Katrina was Musicians Village, devised by Harry Connick Jr and Branford Marsalis alongside Habitat for Humanity. Situated in the Upper Ninth ward one of the places hardest hit by the hurricane it is a community of homes built by volunteers to support displaced musicians. Its a symbol to musicians that my community will be there when I get back; were going to keep that tradition alive, says Jim Pate, executive director of the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

A decade on, and artists of all genres and ages live in the village, including some of the godfathers of New Orleans heritage like Little Freddie King. The musicians came back to New Orleans because music lived here, says Swenson.

People
People listen to music at a home in Musicians Village. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Nashville: the original music city

In Nashville, Tennessee, just a few blocks away from the famous honky tonk highway of Broadway, mayor Megan Barry sits in her office overlooking the state capitol. She is surrounded by motifs of Nashvilles music history: theres a framed photograph of DeFord Bailey sitting on the steps of the Ryman auditorium, the first African American to perform at the Grand Ole Opry; and in the foyer hangs a painting by Chris Coleman of Kings of Leon. He gave it to Barry as a gift.

Music is everywhere. Although it has a heritage as influential as New Orleans, here it spreads further: from inside the mayors office and the governments music council, to pretty much everyone you meet in the city who either plays it, writes it or listens to it (every taxi driver I meet is a musician; my Airbnb host is a songwriter).

As soon as I mention the phrase music cities, Barry interrupts jovially: Well, I think theres only one! Music has been part of Nashvilles foundations since the 1800s when it established itself as a centre for music publishing. Its heritage goes back to the Fisk Jubilee Singers who were based here the African American a cappella band who were the first musical group to tour the world, raising money for freed slaves. Upon hearing them, Queen Victoria allegedly coined Nashvilles title as a music city, which is now plastered across Tennessee billboards.

historic
Bars and honky-tonks line Broadway in Nashville. Photograph: Brian Jannsen/Alamy

In 1925, WSM radio station was founded, which went on to broadcast the Grand Ole Opry now the longest running radio show in the US that gave rise to some of the greatest names in country music. Music Row, the 200-acre area near downtown at its peak housed 270 music publishers, 120 record production agencies, 80 record manufacturing companies, 80 booking agencies and more. Elvis Heartbreak Hotel was recorded here at RCA in 1956; Bob Dylans Blonde on Blonde was recorded nearby at Columbia Recording studios 10 years later.

Now, the $10bn industry music industry provides 56,000 jobs, supporting more than $3.2bn of labour income annually. We cant undersell its importance to our overall economic viability and continued growth and prosperity, says Barry.

Nashville is projected to grow by 186,000 residents and 326,000 jobs in the next 25 years, and like Austin, has to confront uncomfortable growing pains in the form of gentrification. But music is firmly intertwined with the citys municipal plans for how it will develop in the future.

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DeFord Bailey was the first African American to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Photograph: GAB Archive/Redferns

The city provides affordable housing for musicians, and music programmes for school children, as we know our graduation rates go up when kids are involved in music, says Barry. They go on and they have a career in music and then it feeds the job creation. Its about feeding that pipeline.

I think that although music evolves and changes, the ability for Nashville to grow and change with it has been part of our success.

At Dinos bar in east Nashville, 26-year-old musician Cale Tyson is sipping on a beer. He is one of thousands of artists who moved here because of its history. I feel like Nashvilles a town where musicians are treated really well. I dont think anythings closed off here, says the Texan singer-songwriter. In Nashville the competition and being around so many good artists forces you to work a lot harder.

People continue to migrate to Nashville because of this (about 100 a day), and this influx has inevitably changed the music scene for better or worse. The country music capital of the world which ignited the careers of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells to name just a few is now home to a burgeoning hip hop scene in the citys so-called DIY clubs. Jack White moved in and set up a branch of Third Man records in 2009, while bands like Paramore, Kings of Leon and the Black Keys have all migrated here.

Nashville has even spawned a genre called bro country, where burly men sing about chewing tobacco and celebrate being a redneck (with lyrics that repeat red red red red redneck), their odd rap verses a world away from the original country music that formed the soul of this city.

But the commercialisation of Nashville has led to accusations that country music is dead. A few years ago US country singer Collin Raye made a heartfelt plea for the city to get back to its roots and remember the musicians who built and sustained the Nashville industry and truly made country music an American art form, he said. It needs to be that way once again. God Bless Hank Williams. God Bless George Jones.

And people are still trying to keep this alive. I dont think traditional country went away, says Brendan Malone who runs a traditional honky tonk an event celebrating country music in the east of the city. The fire was still kindling. It just needed to have some gasoline poured on it.

At Malones Honky Tonk Tuesdays, a man in a check shirt is barbecuing some ribs in the car park of the US army veterans club. Inside, ageing regulars sit at the bar nursing whiskeys to the sound of Hank Williams on the juke box.

In the main room, men and women of all ages wearing Stetsons and western shirts take turns two-stepping with each other as the band covers songs of Ernest Tubb and Red Foley. They perform against a backdrop of the US flag laid out in fairy lights.

Theres a sincere sense of pride in Nashvilles history here, despite how far the city and its culture has changed. With support from the mayors office to the local community, it seems Nashville took a bet on music and it paid off.

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/jul/06/gentrification-america-music-cities-austin-nashville-new-orleans

A Giant Dog is in a good place. The Texas punks are signed to perennially credible Merge Records. Their new album,Pile, is out today after 23 months of dust and logistics. The band is even set to embark on a 22-date national tour this weekend.

But without the benefit of a Tidal exclusive or a Zane Lowe interview on Beats 1 Radio to signal an online arrival, the indie band had to do something special to get the word out about their third LP. For this, the punks decided to post the entire record to Bandcamp a week prior to its release.

It’s a sneak peak, kind of like sending somebody a nude selfie with a dildo but suggesting that that dildo could be you,” singer Sabrina Ellis tells the Daily Dot.

I had no problem with free music, there’s no other real way to get our band name out there, Cashen says. My opinion might change as we venture into this being a career.

For now, the feeling of love is mutual between A Giant Dog and its adoring listeners. The band certainly won’t be changing their tune when it comes fan appreciation anytime soon.

Read more: http://www.dailydot.com/entertainment/a-giant-dog-pile-austin-texas-punk/