The Austin Chronicle

Operation: North by Northeast

By Chase Hoffberger, May 21, 2014, 1:15pm, Earache!

The fight to fly Dana Falconberry, Aisha Burns, Jesse Moore, Mrs. Glass, Carson McHone, and Leo Rondeau – the six-pack chosen by fellow musicians and bookers to represent Austin at next month’s North by Northeast Music Festival in Toronto – begins tonight with a fundraiser at the White Horse.

Local songwriter and Austin Independent Radio creator Chris Brecht got the idea to connect the local scene with the Canadian city that hosts SXSW’s sister conference in March, when he sat down with a woman from Music Canada to talk about our melodious ecosystem.

“She mentioned North by Northeast, and I started putting two and two together – the way Toronto’s into our music scene,” explains Brecht.

Remember Toronto mayor Rob Ford coming to town last October for ACL Fest?

Brecht’s lunch date revealed that only two local artists were coming to NXNE, scheduled for June 13-22: Spoon and Alejandro Escovedo – though four others, Zorch, Madisons, and LNS Crew members Kydd Jones and Cory Kendrix, have since been added. Brecht suggested he should organize an ATX contingent, but the two laughed it off under the guise of “no time.”

And yet, in “no time” at all, he was in the office of City Music Program Manager Don Pitts, conceiving ways to pull together the $1,800 necessary to fly and subsequently house six musicians traveling from Austin to Toronto. Ultimately, he opted for an online fundraiser and subsequent benefit concert series, giving participating venues a say in who should hit Toronto.

“These venues are the music scene,” reasons Brecht. “They should feel like they’re placing the artists that are treating them well – the artists that are coming back and playing week in and week out.”

The first fundraiser’s tonight at the White Horse and features house acts Rondeau and McHone for a suggested cover donation. Operation #ATX6 hits Banger’s on Rainey Street Thursday, June 5, trotting out Moore’s East Cameron Folkcore and Mrs. Glass, the bluesman who’s assumed a White Horse residency since the closing of longtime haunt T.C.’s Lounge. A week later, ABGB on West Oltorf, hosts McHone alongside Balmorhea violinist Aisha Burns.

Brecht says plane tickets run about $450, and three rooms at a hotel for three nights should creep up to around $1,500. That’s a lot of loot for an all-ATX showcase. He thinks it’s worthwhile and hopes fans’ interest in each artist’s development helps foot the cost.

“Not only do I want to make these people more popular in Toronto. I want to make them more popular here. We want to use this as publicity to let everyone know that these are selected artists we think are doing good work here.”

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