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Arts Eclectic turns the spotlight on happenings in the arts and culture scene in and around the Austin area. Through interviews with local musicians, dancers, singers, and artists, Arts Eclectic aims to bring locals to the forefront and highlight community cultural events.Support for Arts Eclectic comes from Broadway Bank.

'Get on stage and own it': Jazz Kween offers love and support to veteran and amateur performers

Jazz Kween

Jazz Kween is an all-inclusive music and comedy collaboration started by myself, Linzy Beltran and Jessica Pyrdsa,” says Sarah Marine. “We are a group of gals, [and] we started in 2018. And we initially wanted to throw shows for women and people that identify as non-binary and just provide a safe stage for people to perform in Austin.” Since starting in 2018, Marine, Beltran, and Pyrdsa have produced two dozen Jazz Kween shows, and are getting ready for show number 25, which will also be their sixth anniversary celebration.

“Our vibe is to get on stage and own it,” Marine says. “A lot of our shows have been curated and lately they're more of a curation but also a social and open-stage kind of vibe. We have full time musicians that will come through, but then we also have people that are in the audience that will want to sign up and play a song or perform a bit, things like that. we've had Eric Burton of the Black Pumas come through and do ‘Colors’ on his acoustic guitar or we've had someone in the audience grab a flute from their car and perform a four-minute flute song just out of nowhere. I think that's what we love about it – it's pretty on the fly. We never know what we're going to get.”

Marine says that a Jazz Kween show is about entertaining the audience but also about showing love and support for the performers, whether they’re professionals or audience members volunteering to share their flute skills. “There's always people that return and then there's always new people that come out and they say, oh, I've heard about this thing,” she says. And they tell me, you know, [that] they feel good and they feel safe and supported. You know, we had a comedian come out recently who, in his social media post after the show, in his words, said that he bombed his set. The jokes fell flat, but he was grateful for the audience, that they supported [him]. There were some laughs but it wasn't his best moment. And you know, he said he was grateful that the audience was so kind to him. And I think we should all be able to find a space where the joke may fall flat, but that's part of it, right? We just need to get better by failing a little bit.”

Marine is also working on extending that love and support to herself. “We just want to keep supporting and inspiring people to own it,” she says. “[And] I feel that when you are preaching, you have to practice. And for instance, I stopped performing on stage, because I'm afraid to perform on stage. I have a crippling stage fright. And… the last show we did, in December, Jessica said ‘You need to get on stage and play your song. You need to practice what you preach.’ And so I did it and it was scary and I kind of hated it, but it reminded me that I have to do the work as well, If we're going to tell other people to do the work. It felt good to play for people. Not just play for people, but it felt good to share such an intimate part of my life that I usually only play for people around a campfire or maybe at a family gathering. Sometimes playing music for strangers is where the fear comes from. [But] the strangers were kind to me.”

She’s planning to get up and play for the kind strangers again at the February show. “I'm gonna play a new song,” she says. “It's not a happy song. It's a sad song, but I should play it.”

The 25th performance/sixth anniversary show falls on February 14, so it’s also a bit of a Valentine’s show. “We've got some special surprises up our sleeve. We do have a roster of musicians and comedians that we are working with, so they'll come out and play a few of their songs,” Marine says, noting that audience members are (as always) welcome to become a part of the show. “Yeah, you'll just show up with your flute and sign up and we will get you on that stage ASAP.”

Jazz Kween's 25th performance/sixth anniversary/Valentine's show will be Wednesday, February 14 at Monk's Jazz Club.

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for KUT.org. When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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