Youngbloods Fest: Music for San Perlita ISD

Benefit show to stack south Texas school district with new instruments

Come on, all you Youngbloods, to the Continental Club on June 29
Come on, all you Youngbloods, to the Continental Club on June 29

The Youngbloods Music Festival pops off next Saturday, June 29. Grace London, the youngest act booked for this year's Austin City Limits Music Festival, and I have been planning the event since last winter.

Right now, London’s cruising down the I-10 highway moving back to Austin after a year spent in Los Angeles.

“What’s cool about this event is that the Continental Club and established adult musicians are supporting teen artists and future musicians,” she quips from the road. “I remember when you had the idea to start the Proper Nang teen night last summer. It’s amazing how quickly it’s expanded and been embraced by the Austin music community.”

Continental Club owner Steve Wertheimer suspects we’ve tapped into something no one in the United States is doing and can see it eventually landing on Auditorium Shores.

 Right now, we have three local teen bands booked, all of whom ranked in the top three for Best U-18 Band at this year’s Austin Music Awards: the Peterson Brothers, Residual Kid, and my band, the Painted Redstarts.

The event also features three sets of second generation musicians: Finley Sexton (Will's daughter), myself, and James McMurtry’s son Curtis. We have Pretty Little Demons from Los Angeles as well as Skating Polly. Almost all of the bands playing were official showcasers at this year’s South by Southwest.

After consulting with Margaret Moser, the auntie of every young Austin band, we added and my father Jon Dee Graham’s old band the Skunks and local soul shouter Nakia.

Our goal is to put music into schools where there currently is none. Many impoverished districts in Texas keep music at the bottom of its list of needs and demands. San Perlita ISD, for example, is currently considered to be the one of the most in-need school districts in the United States.

San Perlita is in Willacy County, Texas, down south, near Harlingen. This year’s festival is for them.

London notes: “It’s important for kids to have access to music and instruments so more young people can have the opportunity to explore the arts and use their minds in a creative way. So many music programs are being dropped from schools because of budget cuts, and more people need to realize that the arts can be just as important in a kid’s life and mind as science and math.”

I believe putting instruments into anyone’s hands is one of the greatest gifts that you can give someone. It’s like the scene in Harold and Maude when Ruth Gordon’s character brings out a bunch of instruments to Harold and gleefully says, “Everyone should be able to make a little music.”

London adds that she wanted to put this event on because she’s been thrilled to see such a unique and successful teen music scene in Austin.

“I’m so excited and proud to be a part of it,” she says. “I want to do whatever I can to help it grow and continue to be rad.”

Come help us make a difference on June 29, starting at 7pm. The show’s all ages, and orchestra and jazz instruments will be collected, as well as monetary donations.

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