Faster Than Sound: Eimaral Sol’s Journey to RAS Day
Local neo-soul singer Eimaral Sol puts her spiritual spin on the all-women-led RAS Day lineup, City Council approves Red River improvements, Blakchyl leads her East Austin tour, and cult song funny man Dick Price passes
Saturday's sixth annual RAS Day, featuring rising rapper Leikeli47 and fest-organizing Austinites Riders Against the Storm, unites eight acts led by women of color this weekend at Empire Control Room. Local singer Eimaral Sol aligns with a debut LP chronicling her own journey through motherhood while in the music industry. The kaleidoscopic neo-soul crooner, born Laramie Pouncy, says many peers assumed having a kid would take her out of the running.
"I had to tune out how other people saw things," says the free-flowing vocalist. "I chose to keep my mind and my plans strong and to move with intention. If people are giving me their opinion, they're giving me energy."
Instead, Eimaral Sol – a reversed version of Pouncy's first name, pronounced like "a mural soul" – takes the RAS Day stage at 6:15pm. She'll also perform at KUTX show The Breaks' Summer Jam on August 30, backed by bassist Eric Wendt and drummer Dakota Carley of local act Lantic. Raised in Killeen, Pouncy moved to Houston for college, where she connected with manager Russell Guess of production trio Analogue Escape.
He produced March's Sol Soliloquies, primarily recorded at H-town's historic SugarHill Recording Studios. Inspired by Beyoncé's Lemonade, the LP pivots on the infidelity that eventually relocated Pouncy to Austin, delivered on a foundation of scaled back hip-hop beats.
"I wanted to touch on women not feeling sectioned into various parts," says the 25-year-old. "Like the super-sweet, crushing version of me versus the really spiritual, energy-exchanging version of me. I can be all of those people."
Sampling an Esther Hicks lecture, an ex's voicemail, and her own son's sunny babbles, the album lets all of Pouncy's sides shine – sometimes futuristically feisty, then somber and reserved. Our interview caught her in "a week of transitions," including her son's third birthday and the start of her first year teaching elementary math. While Sol Soliloquies found the frontwoman in the midst of a spiritual awakening, now she's trying to stick with the lessons.
"I was writing it as I was going through it," says Pouncy. "Now, I'm learning how to develop consistency and rise to the occasion."
Eimaral Sol joins electro-funk duo The APX, a cappella wonder Madison McFerrin, and more – organized by RAS couple Chaka and Qi Dada (aka Ghislaine and Jonathan Mahone). The former says this year's all-women-fronted assemblage developed organically, adding, "For us, Black Girl Magic ain't no new shit. That's just how we've always lived." She's especially excited to connect the dots between 90-year-old local legend Miss Lavelle White (see "Soul Stunner Miss Lavelle White Turns 39 (or So)," July 5) and modern acts like SXSW star Leikeli47.
"Lavelle decided to do her own thing, let music be her religion, and smoke weed [for decades]," explains Ghislaine. "Folks like her laid their lives down so that a Leikeli47 could have a song like 'Girl Blunt' and be doing what she's doing. To see that full circle onstage is exciting as hell."
The Alley Again
Following three separate gun violence incidents in the Red River Cultural District, business owners pushed for city improvements in a recent emergency meeting (see "10 Days of Gun Violence on Red River," Aug. 9). In response, City Council Member Kathie Tovo created a resolution requesting "the prompt improvement of lighting, sanitation, and pedestrian mobility safety" in the district. The resolution was approved unanimously at the Aug. 8 City Council meeting.
Tovo also requested to speed up construction of a fence around the alley between now-shuttered Sidewinder and Beerland. At the meeting, Mayor Steve Adler addressed frustrating timeline shifts: "Last November we had told people that it was imminently about to happen, and there have been several times we told the community it was going to happen within 40 days or two months."
Public Works Director Richard Mendoza attributed delays to "added design considerations" including fire exits for adjacent businesses. A building permit has now been approved for the project, which will include repaving, as well as the installation of an iron gate. Providing a new timeline, Mendoza said, "Within the next three weeks, you will see the biohazard cleanup of that alley and construction fencing go up that will secure the work zone. We also anticipate that the construction timeline will be approximately 12 weeks."
Tovo emphasized that gate installation is an "extremely high priority in terms of public health and safety." She also pushed for expedition of the other district improvements like trash cans, stating, "We really just need to get these done now. This will be our more or less third action at Council to see these projects move forward."
In a Facebook post, Red River Cultural District Executive Director Cody Cowan noted the Council approval: "Encouraged to see those final actions go into play on these safety & health projects that our people have been working on for three years now." Cowan also serves as campaign treasurer for the PHAM political action committee, which gathered outside City Hall the morning of the Council meeting. Named for groups representing the Palm School, homeless services, arts, and music, the advocates pushed for an increase in the Hotel Occupancy Tax to expand the Convention Center, which Council unanimously approved in the early hours of Friday morning (see "Music Advocates Say Convention Center Expansion Key to Unlocking City Funds," July 5).
At the PHAM demonstration, local musician Nakia – representing Music Makes Austin and the freshly organized Austin Texas Musicians nonprofit – spoke against Proposition B, which would block the expansion. According to reporting by senior Chronicle news scribe Michael King, the singer was asked about the intentions of opposing PAC Unconventional Austin, who claim to represent musical interests as well.
"It's bullshit," he answered. "They have some other agenda – and it's not supporting music, or the community interests represented here."
Blakchyl, aka local rapper Te'aunna Moore, tours her childhood hangouts in new documentary short "East Side Like I Knew It to Be." Directed by collaborator Fum Fum Ko, the essential viewing for any young Austin transplants paints a poignant picture of how housing costs impacted the Eastside's millennial generation. "We wanted to bring the area to the forefront without just making everything about gentrification – more highlighting what we love and miss," adds 27-year-old Moore. The short, presented by Art Is Cool, features Moore's own pensive, beautifully balanced hip-hop. "As an artist, I want people to feel the essence," she emphasizes. "Despite the changes, I hope the city to be a part of me."
Dick Price, 67, local cult songwriter known for comedic, provocative tunes, passed away last Saturday night, Aug. 10, while in hospice care due to complications from hydrocephalus. For some two decades, his Dial-a-Tune project offered new compositions daily for callers to the phone line, detailed in 2001 Chronicle feature "Guys Like Me." His catalog of over 1,000 songs was repeatedly celebrated in theatrical revues like 2013's Ordinary Peephole: The Songs of Dick Price, as well as placement on the influential Dr. Demento radio show.