Update: We checked in on Thursday with longtime Mother Falcon cellist Diana Burgess, who wanted to clarify some details about the band’s future.
First, there will still be more performances beyond the band’s Dec. 29 “Thank Y’all” show at the Mohawk, and the remaining members will continue to use the name Mother Falcon. Also, in addition to core members Nick Gregg, Tamir Kalifa, Isaac Winburne, Clara Brill, and Burgess, five others are still with the group: horn players Andrew Fontenot, Sterling Steffen, Matt Krolick and Roy Thomas, and violinist Lisa Lam.
Those 10 members will be joined at the Mohawk by multi-instrumentalist siblings Matt Puckett and Claire Puckett, as well as bassist Dusty Rhodes. The departure of those three longtime Mother Falcon fixtures has led to what Burgess calls “a new era” for the group, one that will revolve less around the typical recording-and-touring cycle most bands pursue.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t continue to play shows. In fact, a national tour in 2017 is already set for “Petra & the Wolf,” the band’s collaboration with local puppet theater group Glass Half Full on a Texas-based adaptation of Prokofiev’s classic “Peter & the Wolf.”
Burgess says occasional Mother Falcon shows in Austin are likely as well. Recordings may still happen too, though perhaps less frequently than in the past. “It’s more of a slowing down,” she said.
As previously noted, the group’s popular Mother Falcon Music Lab education camp for children will continue. “A lot of our focus will be on that,” Burgess said, noting that the group hopes to expand those efforts beyond Austin. “Our goal is to have camps in different cities.”
When a Dec. 29 date for indie-classical crossover band Mother Falcon went up on the Mohawk’s schedule recently as “The Thank Y’all Show,” it wasn’t initially clear what that meant. But word soon got out that the beloved local group was soon to be “no longer a ‘working band,'” as an official release from the group confirmed this week.
“We were 14, 15, 16, 17 years old when this started,” band leader Nick Gregg noted. “Now we are in our mid-twenties. Lives have changed and being a touring band of 12 people is no longer viable.”
READ MORE: Thoughts from a Mother Falcon member in 2013
Making Mother Falcon work for the long term always seemed a tall task, given the band’s oversized lineup with strings, horns and multiple vocalists. When they played locally, the stage often overflowed with even more members than its large touring contingent. And indeed, their youth was a factor: Participants were in high school when the band began, so college and other opportunities seemed bound to scatter them eventually.
Some are moving to New York and the West Coast for school and other opportunities. Others already had departed before this week’s official announcement, which revealed that the band was parting ways with its management and booking agency after having parted with Universal Music Classics, which released last year’s “Good Luck Have Fun.”
READ MORE: Mother Falcon’s first major-label album
Gregg, along with members Tamir Kalifa, Isaac Winburne, Clara Brill and Diana Burgess, will keep some of Mother Falcon’s work alive in Austin, in particular its popular Mother Falcon Music Lab, an educational program for aspiring youths.
Opening the Dec. 29 show on the Mohawk’s outdoor stage are Marmalakes and Hikes, two bands with long ties to Mother Falcon’s members. Tickets to the all-ages show are $20; more details are at the Mohawk’s website.
More local news: Two other influential journeys on the Austin music scene are reaching an end. Guitarist Casper Rawls, a fixture on the local scene since the 1970s who moved to suburban San Antonio many years ago, recently closed out his popular Sunday afternoon “Planet Casper” residency at the Continental Club after nearly 10 years (following more than a decade playing with Toni Price for her still-running Tuesday residency at the club).
Farther south at Strange Brew, Scott Ward announced last week that he’s leaving the venue he helped build into one of Austin’s best listening rooms over the past few years. And even farther south, a fitting new chapter is about to begin at the Manchaca-area roadhouse Sam’s Town Point: Musician Ramsay Midwood, who has played the venue regularly for many years, revealed last week that he’s the new owner. More details soon on that, but in the meantime, Midwood will be playing the joint on New Year’s Eve.
And even farther south, in San Marcos, the family of the late Kent Finlay announced late Wednesday that they have sold Finlay’s flagship music venue Cheatham Street Warehouse to renowned local musician Randy Rogers. Click here for more details.