UPDATE: Over 165 musicians sign up to play for Harvey evacuees in Austin

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UPDATE 8.30.17: Erica Shamaly, director of the Austin Music Office, characterized Wednesday morning reports that musicians did not show up for their scheduled performance slots at the evacuation shelter at LBJ High School as a miscommunication.

Shamaly said her office was notified Tuesday afternoon that there were performance slots available as soon as 5 p.m. Tuesday or 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, but they were still working to get a process in place to assign musicians to shelters.

“We’re vetting through about 400 names and establishing a safe and regular process to get them placed. It’s just taking a little bit longer than we hoped,” she said. She said they also want to make sure to have the right kind of production volunteers available to be on site to assist the musicians, “just to be sure we’re not taking any resources away from evacuees.”

“We don’t want a situation that makes for any more stress for the volunteer coordinators at the shelters or for the evacuees themselves,” she said.

Shamaly said her office should have their process worked out so they can begin placing people on Wednesday.

UPDATE 8.29.17: On Monday afternoon, Stephanie Bergara of the Austin Music Office received a call from a colleague with a friend at the Red Cross. They were wondering if it would be possible to get some music at the Austin-area shelters for Hurricane Harvey evacuees.

She wanted to help, so Bergara passed the request along to the Austin music community via her office’s social media channels. She asked musicians who were willing to perform to contact her.

“It was such short notice, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the response,” she said Tuesday morning.

On Aug. 27, 2017, Zoey Lynn Rodriguez, 8, entertained herself with balloon while waiting out Tropical Storm Harvey with 140 other evacuees at the Wilhelmina Delco Center in Austin, TX. (RESHMA KIRPALANI / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

HOW TO HELP: Emergency groups, nonprofits aid storm-stricken Texas

Almost immediately musicians began to answer the call. Dozens of them. Less than 24 hours after she made the first post, over 165 musicians had signed up to play. Bergara said she was “incredibly overwhelmed” by the outpouring of support from the Austin community.

“It’s more than just musicians,” she said. “A lady in Bastrop emailed and said, ‘I’m not a musician, but we have a bakery in Bastrop and we want to send cupcakes to evacuees, can you tell me where to do that?’ There was a woman who wanted to drop off aromatherapy kits. Another person asked if people need visits from therapy dogs.”

“The people who are willing to support evacuees in this town,” she said, her voice catching slightly, “man, people are just coming out of the woodwork with resources.”

At this time, Bergara said, the office doesn’t have enough space or time to provide performance opportunities at the shelters for all of the musicians who responded to the call, but she said they are exploring other ideas, including the possibility of a benefit performance to plug in as many musicians as possible.

EARLIER: Monday afternoon, the City of Austin music office put out a call for musicians willing to perform at Austin-area evacuation shelters. The local shelters are at Delco Center, LBJ High School and the Burger Center. Representatives from the office said they received the request for musicians from the Red Cross.

The music office is requesting artists with serious interest in performing to email stephanie.bergara@austintexas.gov. They also request simple performance setups.

Author: Deborah Sengupta Stith

Deborah Sengupta Stith has been hanging out in dimly lit corners of the city soaking in the music scene for almost 20 years. Twitter: @deborific

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