Faster Than Sound: Don’t DM Me, Vote in the Austin Music Poll!

The Austin Music Poll is open all month. Go vote – online!

Art by Zeke Barbaro

Last year's Austin Music Awards, held at the Moody Theater on March 11, turned out to be the final show I attended in 2020. That also proved the last time I dressed up with a tiny purse, saw those friends you only run into at shows, and went out on the patio to talk shit about Austin music. While the 40th annual Austin Music Poll can't account for such nuances, it addresses the ongoing pandemic head-on.

Detailed last week in "The Austin Music Poll Got COVID-19," (Music, Jan. 8), the ballot winnowed down to 20 categories and the Hall of Fame as spearheaded by the coronavirus-specific new categories including Best Livestreaming Artist, Best 2020-Themed Song, and Musician Who Went Above & Beyond. As evidenced by passionate emails for broadening the Best Online Series category, the Poll and the Austin Music Awards they bestow still mean a lot locally after four long decades. A body of 600 homegrown music professionals helped determine the multiple-choice nominees, now online at or by mail-in ballot until Feb. 1.

Peep my picks here, and if you vehemently disagree, don't DM me – go vote!


Band of the Year

O ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Ø Black Pumas

O Sam Houston & Blk Odyssy

O Ley Line

O Sir Woman

Musician of the Year

O Gina Chavez

O Jake Lloyd

O Walker Lukens

Ø Mobley

O Jackie Venson

Songwriter of the Year

O Eric Burton

O Bill Callahan

O Eliza Gilkyson

Ø Jana Horn

O David Ramirez

Hip-Hop Artist of the Year

O Blackillac

Ø Deezie Brown

O Kydd Jones

O Magna Carda

O The Teeta


Album of the Year

O Botany, End the Summertime F(or)ever

O Deezie Brown & EC Mayne, Candy Blue Like Screw

O Charley Crockett, Welcome to Hard Times

O Eliza Gilkyson, 2020

O Greyhounds, Primates

Ø Ley Line, We Saw Blue

O David Ramirez, My Love Is a Hurricane

O Skeleton, Skeleton

O Star Parks, The New Sounds of Late Capitalism

O Sweet Spirit, Trinidad

O The Teeta, The Quarantine

O Jackie Venson, Vintage Machine

Song of the Year

O "Revolution," Heartless Bastards

O "IDK," Tameca Jones

O "James Crow," Mobley

O "Karen O," Sun June

Ø "Walk With Me Austin," Adrian Quesada and various artists

Video of the Year

Ø "Outside" Annabelle Chairlegs [Dir. Vanessa Pla]

O "Underworld," Being Dead [Dir. Riley Engemoen, Juli Keller, Cody Dosier]

O "Someone to Love," Dossey [Dir. Peter Longno]

O "Feel the Way I Want," Caroline Rose [Dir. Caroline Rose]

O "Old Friend," Jonathan Tyler feat. Nikki Lane [Dir. Jonathan Tyler, Scott Wade, Chris Boosahda]


Local Label

O Chicken Ranch

O Holodeck

Ø Insect

O Modern Outsider

O Spaceflight

Radio Station


O ACL Radio 97.1FM


O Sun Radio 100.1FM

O 101X 101.5FM

Radio Personality

O Suzanna Choffel

O Kevin Connor

O Laurie Gallardo

O Aaron "Fresh" Knight

Ø Taylor Wallace

Record Store

O Antone's Records

O BLK Vinyl

O Breakaway Records

Ø End of an Ear

O Waterloo Records

Recording Studio

O Arlyn

Ø The Bubble

O King Electric

O The Orb

O Public Hi-Fi


Best Virtual Event

O A Night for Austin

O Black Everythang Matters

Ø Blues on the Screen

O HOME Cookin' for the Holidays

O Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic

Best Online Series

O Bud's Presents Live & Direct

Ø Hotel Vegas' Hotel Free TV

O Lost Well's Rock for Rent

O Safehouse

O Shakey Graves Presents Hello Gorgeous

Best Livestreaming Artist

O ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

O Band of Heathens

O Corey Baum (Croy & the Boys)

Ø DJ Mel

O Jackie Venson

BEST 2020

Best Nonprofit

O Black Fret

O Diversity Awareness & Wellness in Action (DAWA)

O Girls Rock Austin

Ø Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM)

O SIMS Foundation

Best Fundraising Effort

O Fine Southern Gentlemen's Austin Will Survive

O Free lunch for the homeless from Carrie Fussell Bickley, Jade Skye Hammer, Jazz Mills


O No More Silence Vol. 1 & 2

Ø Red River Cultural District's Banding Together Fund

Best 2020-Themed Song

O "Broke," Akina Adderley

Ø "Death to the DNC," Big Bill

O "I Gave Greg Abbott the Coronavirus," Dumb

O "Keep Your Mask On," Miss Lavelle White

O "Stay Home," Shinyribs

Best Innovation/Business Pivot

O ACL Live week of weddings

O Emo's election polling station

Ø Love & Lightstream drive-ins

O Mobley's curbside tour

O Mosaic Sound Collective's livestream facility

Musician Who Went Above & Beyond

Ø Jonathan "Chaka" Mahone

O Adrian Quesada

O Nakia Reynoso

O Charlie Sexton

O Jackie Venson

Hall of Fame

O James Hand

O Erik Hokkanen

Ø Iron Age

O Tee Double

O Texana Dames


What did you miss the most this year?

Hanging out on the patio at Cheer Up Charlies.

Chencho Flores at Public Hi-Fi Studios in 2013 (Photo by John Anderson)


Chencho Flores, elder statesman of local conjunto, has died at age 91 from the coronavirus. The local accordionist, who played his first show on Sixth Street in 1947, spent decades with Austin Music Awards Hall of Famers Conjunto Los Pinkys. Of the Eastsiders' Sunday residency at the White Horse, which attracted a diverse, multigenerational crowd of regulars, he told the Chronicle in 2013: "There's a lot of old people there too. They still remember me in my prime." Sadly, 2020 claimed Vicente "Chente" Alonzo, a member of Chencho Flores y Su Conjunto, and early Flores collaborator Manuel "Cowboy" Donley.

Zeale, aka local Blackillac MC Valin Zamarron, lands in the much-hyped new video game Cyberpunk 2077. Collaboration with producer Geno Lenardo as Code 137, "Suicide" appears alongside music by Grimes, Run the Jewels, Refused, and Converge. Listen on Cyberpunk 2077: Radio, Vol. 3.

Kinseli Baricuatro, busy session bassist seen with Austin acts including Nayome, Jay Wile, Socha, and Springful, debuted her instrumental expertise on She Shreds last month. The 23-year-old's guide for the online mag, "Back to Bassics: A Guide to the Low End," covers strings, amps, and everything else to get started. Hear her play over on Instagram @kinseli.

Tomás Ramirez, protean saxophonist known for decades locally as the Jazzmanian Devil, suffered a stroke in November induced by COVID-19. His family launched GoFundMe's "Tomas Ramirez Fundraiser" to cover medical and living expenses. His daughter Carmen updated that the Elephant Room regular "continues to gain strength and mobility."

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