'A Diversity Of Genres And People': The Long Center Creates 'Good Vibes Only' To Showcase Austin Music Online
When the Long Center shut its doors to audiences last year, the staff didn’t want the building to go completely unused. Bobby Garza, the center’s vice president of programs and community outreach, says they started coming up with new ways to use the facility that didn’t involve gathering a couple thousand people together during a global pandemic. One of those ideas is the new streaming live music show Good Vibes Only.
“Part of the idea was to try to keep the building as active as possible,” Garza says. “But the most important part of that was to try to figure out how we can continue to keep artists working and employed.”
In the early days of the pandemic, a lot of musicians were recording themselves in bedrooms and backyards, which was a great way to quickly connect with an at-home audience, but Garza says the Long Center wanted to create shows with a higher production value. “So the Long Center invested in some cameras, thinking this was going to be something that we needed to do in order to be able to present [live music],” Garza says.
Part of the goal, obviously, was to give some local musicians a little bit of paid work, but Garza says the project also provided jobs for other local artists. “It’s an amazing building, so we used a bunch of things that we already had and had a couple of things built by some local fabricators, keeping other artists employed,” Garza says. “And [we] tried to really improve upon what we did for our first couple of sessions. So we hired another group of creators that would help us film. You know, live directors… camera operators. Then as the public health environment got better, we were able to have a couple of different sessions filming… nine local artists, which I think is really amazing. So we paid them a good wage for about an hour’s worth of a set and then we edited all of that stuff down.”
Garza says that one of the main goals in creating Good Vibes Only was to showcase the whole scope of Austin music. “We’re pretty pleased with our ability to present both a diversity of genres and people,” he says. “And [we] think that it’s a good representation of what’s happening in Austin and really represents the diversity of our music scene.”
So far, four shows have been shared online – Superfónicos, Ephraim Owens, The Deer, and Ley Line. The next installment will feature Sun June, and in the coming months, there will be shows with Montopolis, Sweet Spirit, Datura, and Scott Strickland. “I think the discovery element, for us, is incredibly important,” Garza says. “So you’re going to see some artists that you probably have heard about, you know, like Ephraim Owens, who’s been around the scene for a long, long time and is kind of legendary in jazz spaces. But you might also see somebody like Ley Line that you haven’t seen before and is incredible. I think that our ability to really think about Austin’s music scene and what makes it special and present that is the thing I’m most proud of.”