If you’ve ever been to Austin, you know that the Lone Star State’s capital city has a lively music scene. Residents like to think of it as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Whether that is just Texas talk or rooted in truth, a new website aims to put all of Austin’s musical goodness on the map.
Delaney Hall is a producer at NPR member station KUT in Austin, and her idea was to make an interactive map that gives music lovers around the world a chance to experience some of the city’s official and unofficial music venues.
Hall tells NPR’s Michel Martin, “We’re looking for stories about the ways music brings people together, the way it’s used to celebrate and commemorate, the way it carries important cultural traditions forward through time.”
Take, for example, Austin’s annual Juneteenth Parade. Historically, the day celebrates the announcement of the abolition of slavery. Click on the parade’s spot on the map, and the sound of a marching band takes you to an Austin city street, where residents line up to catch candy being thrown from parade floats.
Community members like Ruthless Lala feel that it’s an opportunity for the community to come together. “It’s kind of hard for people always to come together,” she says, “so for something like this … to bring everybody together, it means a whole lot.”
Delaney Hall says that’s the point of the Austin Music Map. “A lot of the stories are about music, yes. But they also get into questions about community, belonging, heritage, history, all of those very deep feelings and ideas that music often taps into.”
The Esquina Tango Cultural Society of Austin knows a thing or two about the deep feelings of connection music can inspire. Its dot on the map might make some listeners think they’ve traveled to a dance hall in Buenos Aires. As dancers twist and turn on the dance floor, musicians and tango dancers talk about the vibrant tango community in Austin. The society’s co-founder, Gustavo Simplis, says, “I cannot live without tango. … For me it’s a passion.”
Makers of the Austin Music Map hope others will share their passion for their own Austin music experiences. In this way, the website is also a platform where people can share photos, videos, sounds, all kinds of media from those experiences.
The Austin Music Map is produced in collaboration with member station KUT in Austin, Texas; Localore, a national initiative of the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR); and Zeega. Austin Music Map is one of several interactive public media stories that NPR’s Tell Me More will be highlighting in the coming months.