Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Mélat, Ramsay Midwood, Quinn XCII, Tomás Ramírez, Hotmom, and Dawa's 2 Year Anniversary
By Clara Wang, Kevin Curtin, Carys Anderson, Rachel Rascoe, Michael Toland, and Morgan-Taylor Thomas, Fri., Sept. 24, 2021
C-Boy’s Heart & Soul
Every Thursday in September
Mélat's musical output over the last 18 months expresses love, heartbreak, and yearning as part of a human experience that doesn't stop for anything – even a pandemic with no discernible end.
"Over the past year and a half I've watched so many of us go through ups and downs that have revealed truths that we had neglected before the world came to a halt," the young R&B vocalist tells the Chronicle. "I wanted to channel all of those feelings – both good and bad, but always honest – into songs, which led me to create 'Happy Hour,' 'So Help Me God,' 'The Lesson,' and more unreleased gems!"
July single "The Lesson" melds blues chords, classic choral refrains, and her trademark silky delivery to spark an old-school soul sensibility that's continued to evolve since the UT grad debuted in 2014 with her Move Me album.
Mélat's residency at South Congress vibe room C-Boy's, running every Thursday throughout September, is an example of what makes Austin special: the perspectives of its native artists – even as Bay Area "tech-fugees" continue to put an Equinox on every corner.
"I've always strived to show a side of Austin that I never saw growing up. As a Black first-gen Ethiopian American [and] native-Austinite woman making R&B music, my residency at C-Boy's is another instance for me to highlight an underrepresented demographic of the city that raised me." – Clara Wang
Ramsay Midwood, Cactus LeeSahara Lounge, Friday 24
You could say that Ramsay Midwood plays Americana, but that would imply a version of the United States much stranger than that which we inhabit. The Austin-based songster – with his arch top guitar and older-than-his-years voice – bakes kooky character descriptions ("He rode into town smellin' like a Sweet'N Low pecan roll") into swampy, bluesy, roadhouse boogies. Countercultural country-folk contingent Cactus Lee, armed with mellow melodies and stories as deep as Lake Buchanan, co-soundtrack the Eastside music shack. – Kevin Curtin
Hotmom, the Pinky Rings, Pussy GilletteHotel Vegas, Friday 24
With a speak-sing delivery, Masani Camacho fronts Pussy Gillette (aka the World's Best-Named Band) not with an unintelligible catharsis, but with a message you're meant to hear: "You see me as a walking crime, but you're just a pig to me." Six-woman group the Pinky Rings, meanwhile, take the Runaways approach with sing-along choruses and fun-loving lyrics ("Running out of money/ We can't make it to the bar/ But the Shell down the street/ Isn't too far"). Headliner Hotmom, a "stupid vegan band," stays true to the quick and dirty basics of the anarchic genre. Prepare for the pit now. – Carys Anderson
DAWA Two-Year AnniversaryEmpire, Saturday 25
Diversity Awareness & Wellness in Action – aka DAWA, meaning medicine in Swahili – provides financial support to people of color who work as musicians, artists, social workers, teachers, healing practitioners, or in the service industry in Austin. Launched two years ago by Jonathan "Chaka" Mahone of Riders Against the Storm, the fund swiftly directed assistance to those most impacted by the pandemic. With many on the lineup testifying to the effort's importance in their own artistry, CP Loony, Honey Made, Ivy Roots, Jonny Jukebox, M3cca, Money Chicha, RAS, Sunni Patterson, and the Teeta celebrate alongside DJs Chorizo Funk, Kay Cali, and Zetroc. – Rachel Rascoe
Jazzmanian DevilElephant Room, Tuesday 28
Tomás Ramirez had a rough 2020, thanks to a stroke brought on by a bout with COVID-19. Now the veteran local saxophonist is ready to lead the long-running Jazzmanian Devil through a livestreaming set at his home club. Besides pioneering Third Coast jazz fusion and adding his inimitable talents to records by Jerry Jeff Walker, Gary P. Nunn, and the Lost Gonzo Band, Ramirez was also the first artist to take the Elephant Room's storied stage in 1991. He'll celebrate the anniversary of both his birth and beginning a new wave of Austin jazz performance. – Micahel Toland
Quinn XCII, Chelsea CutlerMoody Amphitheater, Wednesday 29
Fusing modern electronic soul with Motown funk, Quinn XCII's dance-inducing production underscores melodic pop vocals reflecting on life. The "Love Me Less" singer hits the road with frequent collaborator Chelsea Cutler for the Stay Next to Me tour – named after their joint charting single. Fresh off shared self-motivator "Calling All Angels," the duo molds musings on security and love into bass-heavy contemporary ballads, full of heartbreak and self-healing. Tai Verdes opens the show with gusto and gloss, guaranteeing the show will be more than "A-O-K." – Morgan-Taylor Thomas