At the beginning of summer when Holy Mountain owners announced plans to shutter, they promised a blowout bash to take the club out in style. All month long they’ve lived up to expectations with a series of excellent touring shows and the final week is shaping up to be outstanding. Last night the club hosted a secret show with local faves Shakey Graves and Wild Child. Tonight Merdurhaus Records says goodbye to the club and on Wednesday Scoremore presents a sold out show with jazz/funk/hip-hop innovator Thundercat.
For the club’s last three nights they’ll bring it back home with a cross-genre selection of top notch local talent the club has nurtured. Friday’s eclectic bill includes afrobeat act Hard Proof, hip-hop outfit Magna Carda and garage pop band Major Major Major. On Saturday, the club turns up the volume with a rock bill led by Eagle Claw and Not in the Face. On Sunday, the house bands take over with a roots-rock night featuring Mike and the Moonpies, East Cameron Folkcore and Harvest Thieves. It will be an emotional night for the Thieves, a band that features Holy Mountain manager James Taylor on drums. This will be Taylor’s final performance with the band before he moves to Minneapolis. The band will also be filming their second music video at the show.
We caught up with Taylor who shared his thoughts about some of the club’s finer moments and the future of the Red River Cultural District that he actively worked to cultivate.
Austin360: A lot of people feel a strong emotional attachment to Holy Mountain. What do you think it was that made the club special?
James Taylor: That probably has a lot to do with the size of the room – a lot of bands first, second shows were at Holy Mountain. So over the last 3 years we’ve seen a lot of bands really grow with the club. So it holds a special place in their hearts and their careers really. In addition to nurturing that local community, we’ve been able to host some incredible under plays from big acts like Ryan Bingham, Shakey Graves, Thundercat, Cults, Cro-Mags. So those are special nights too that a lot of people remember.
What are your top three shows/moments from the stage at Holy Mountain?
Mos Def and Manny Fresh did a surprise set together the Sunday of SXSW 2013, our first South by. They performed five or six songs they recorded together that I don’t think have ever been released. Ryan Bingham just because it was so intimate, sold out in like under a minute. Just a real special night to have been a part of. Cro-Mags during Fun Fun Fun Fest was pretty incredible as well. Thundercat on Wednesday night — I guarantee that will be an all time great show.
Holy Mountain served as one of Austin’s best incubator clubs. Why are incubator clubs so important and what are the unique challenges of running one?
There was a quote in the Guardian in a recent article about this very issue, from Mark Davyd, who owns a 250 cap club in the UK. “We have to accept that these [small music venues] are intentionally risky enterprises, whose job is to put something on that no one likes yet.” I love that. Yet. Without these small 250 incubator clubs where does the next Gary Clark Jr, Shakey Graves come from — where do those artists hone their craft? Small clubs feed an ecosystem.
Can you name a few bands the club helped nurture who now play bigger venues?
Roger Sellers, Hikes, East Cameron Folkcore, Whiskey Shivers
Looking forward, how are you feeling about the state of the Red River Cultural District? What makes you feel hopeful? What do you see as the biggest obstacles?
A hotel makes me feel hopeful. If the folks staying in the Hotel Indigo every night are spending their dollars in the Cultural District I think that bodes well for everyone. The Red 7 dudes moving over to open Sidewinder — that’s a good sign. They could have looked outside the Cultural District for a new home. The biggest obstacle is going to be the handful of families that own all the land downtown and what their interests are — do they care about a vibrant cultural and creative hub, or not. As long as none the people running the clubs own their buildings, we’re all gonna get screwed eventually.
People may or may not know that you’ll be watching developments in the city from afar. When do you leave for Minneapolis and what will you miss the most about Austin?
I leave October 6. Two weeks from today in fact. I’m going to miss breakfast tacos, dinner tacos, really anything wrapped in a warm tortilla.