Free week in July? New music fest aims to draw locals into Red River clubs

Fans groove at Cheer Up Charlies on Red River Street. Martin do Nascimento/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

In a Facebook event listing, the Red River Cultural District’s merchant association has unveiled plans for a new music festival structured around a simple idea: all free, all local and all Red River. The new event, called Hot Summer Nights is scheduled to go down July 13-16.

Participating venues include Red River district clubs Empire Control Room & Garage, Barracuda, Cheer Up Charlie’s, Sidewinder, Beerland, Elysium, the Mohawk and Stubb’s.

The event could breathe life into the clubs during the brutal summer slump during July and August when tours tend to take time off.

“I think a lot of touring acts want to hit cities (with) colleges when school is in session in the spring and fall,” says Graham Williams, whose company Margin Walker Presents regularly books artists in Red River clubs.

The new fest appears set to follow the same model as Free Week, an event spearheaded by Williams over a decade ago when he was booking music at the downtown Emo’s location. Williams’ idea was to throw open the doors to the clubs for the first week of the year, enticing fans of local artists to come hang out with their friends and mitigating the deadly slow days after New Year’s Eve. Over the years, other clubs followed suit and the event organically grew into one of Austin music’s biggest happenings, a local music bonanza that stretches across the city and these days lasts much longer than a week.

The event listing for the new July fest promises lineups for local food, vintage sellers, artisan vendors and live music will be announced very soon.


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