Filling the State Theatre with Black Fret donors Saturday night, Gina Chavez debuted the music video for her Austin Music Awards Song of the Year, “Siete-D.” The evening raised almost $12,000 for Niñas Arriba, the nonprofit she and partner Jodi Granado founded to send girls from El Salvador to college.
On her way to another gig, Elizabeth McQueen kicked off the evening with a shortened set from her electro trio EMQ. The local firebrand introduced a sultry cut from Elizabeth McQueen Meet Brothers Lazaroff, “Mind of Men,” written during her tenure on the testosterone-filled Asleep at the Wheel tour bus.
“They don’t care if they buy it or if they break it,” she snarks. “They don’t care what you’re saying as long as you shake it.”
Mother Falcon came in to roost after intermission, previewing tracks from their upcoming LP, recorded in Rhode Island. Building from a feathery murmur into a flurry of activity, the 12-piece rock opera seemed relieved after each successful run-through.
“That’s the first time we’ve played that,” said cellist/vocalist Nick Gregg.
Halfway through, the ensemble abandoned its instruments and gave cellist Diana Burgess a chance to preview her upcoming senior recital at the UT Butler School of Music. Though clearly uneasy being the sudden focal point, she wove a heartbreaking soliloquy, earning a standing ovation. The evening’s emcees, Riders Against the Storm, were overcome.
“What you don’t know is every time they play an angel gets its wings,” said Chaka, looking toward the heavens.
As “Siete-D” projected a recent trip back to El Salvador, Chavez broke into “Fire Water” from sophomore LP up.rooted. Full cop mustache twisted with his grin, Jerry Ronquillo staked his claim as the happiest percussionist in town. A guest spot from Riders Against the Storm spiced up “Embrujo,” the track that caught the ear of producer extraordinaire Michael Ramos and kickstarted the events that led to her sweep of the AMAs last month.
“It’s weird to be back in this space,” admitted Chavez, referring to last year’s CD release. “That night was like my wedding night. I was backstage freaking out. I don’t even remember what happened that night.
“I said, ‘I’m not going to do that tonight.’”
Nueva cancion anthem “Todo Cambia” closed the first of two sets totaling an hour. It began with just Chavez’s lilting vocals and plucked charango, eventually building into a proper chorus as RAS, Elizabeth McQueen, and the entire band belted in unison. Mother Falcon then reappeared to add much-needed heft to “The Sweet Sound of Your Name.”
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