MLF Thanksgiving Feast

15 Dec

A few weeks ago, one of our partners, Mobile Loaves & Fishes, hosted a Thanksgiving Feast for Austin’s homeless community.  Jack Allen’s Kitchen provided the amazing food, and Music For The City provided the entertainment.  Over 400 people in need were given an evening of dignity, including a hot meal, friendly service, hygiene supplies, clothes, and GREAT MUSIC!

14 Austin artists representing 6 Austin bands came out to play…Brennen Leigh & Noel Mckay, Chris Hawkes & Miranda Dawn, The Canvas Waiting, The Reliques, The Jack Burton Trio, and Gina Chavez.  These artists gave their time and talent to our homeless community, and the JOY that resulted–on both sides of the microphone–was incredible!

We’re looking forward to serving with Mobile Loaves again on December 20 for their Christmas Feast.

until next time…




The Talented Mr. Poe

26 Aug

Ladies and Gentlemen…may we introduce to you, the one and only Jason Poe!

Jason is a singer/songwriter born in Springfield, MO in nineteen eighty-something, and he’s been in the ATX for 6 years.  He is obsessed with creating cleverly crafted hooks, relying on a piano and leaving his guitar behind.  His catchy choruses and thoughtful lyrics leave listeners wanting more (at least that’s what his bio says).

Jason is not only a great musician and writer, he’s a great person and a loyal MFTC volunteer.  In fact, he hasn’t missed a single Music For The City Saturday at the Austin Children’s Shelter, he contributed a song to our 1st album, and he’s on board for Volume 2 (coming out October 7)!  We are thankful for Jason Poe.

I talked with Jason earlier this month and would love to share what he had to say about volunteering, inspiration and his music.

What’s going on with you musically right now?

I’ve slowly been working on a few new tracks that I’ll be releasing in the fall.  I’ve also been working with local hip-hop artist Zeale on some of his new songs, and have been mixing for a few bands.  (read Jason’s blog post titled “Am I the next Dr. Dre?” for more info on this).

From where do you gain inspiration?

Lately, I’ve found a lot of inspiration through the music of my peers and friends.  There are so many amazing musicians in Austin that it’s hard not to be in awe of the talents that surround you.  It also keeps you from getting a big head, because you can get humbled pretty quickly in this town!

What do you love about MFTC, what keeps you coming back?

Music For The City is such a great way for artists in Austin to reach out to their community.  The staff at MFTC make volunteering really simple and fun.  Once a month, a lot of artists volunteer at the Austin Children’s Shelter, and it’s been such a rewarding experience for me.  The children and young adults there really just want to connect with people.  It’s as simple as bringing your guitar and just talking with them while they check out the instrument.  It’s extremely rewarding.

Why do you think serving through the arts matter?

Art opens up communication that wouldn’t otherwise be available.  It’s important to pass on and experience art both in community and as individuals.  Volunteering through MFTC has helped me connect with other great artists in Austin, and has given my own art more personal value because I can see how my abilities can impact others in my community.  That’s an exciting thing!

Isn’t he great?!

To conclude, here are a few links we highly recommend you check out…one may even include a FREE DOWNLOAD:

Jason Poe on iTunes

Free Download of Now Is The Winter EP

until next time…

Makenzie Magnus, MFTC summer intern

Recording Artists: the Voices and Claps of the Boys & Girls Club

10 Aug

Walking into Ramble Creek Studio last week, I felt like we were on ground that had seen some of the greats: I imagined Elvis himself playing pool in the lounge or Johnny Cash givin’ a kiss to his June before he took out his guitar  It just had that type of feel to it. Warm. Inviting. Vintage Saloon.

However, instead of Elvis and Johnny, Ramble Creek was filled with ‘recording artists’ from the Boys & Girls Club of Austin. And my, oh my… did we have a big time!

In the control room, with all those oh-so-tempting buttons to push. Miraculously, all disasters were avoided.

Getting instructions from the gracious and brilliant Britton Biesenherz, owner and engineer of Ramble Creek, who willingly opened his studio to a crew of rowdy kids.

We recorded with Austin musicians Chase Gassaway and Clint Simmons, who have worked with us on Music Day for these 4 weeks, and the kids LOVED it. “That’s my SONG right there!”…“That’s my BEAT!”  I must say, I was humming the song, which Chase wrote and recorded for an independent film, all weekend.

Cue the voices:

Cue the claps:

Band shot:

This picture says it ALL:

As you can see, we had a GREAT time. Be looking for us as we climb the charts!
Makenzie Magnus, MUSIC FOR THE CITY summer intern

Afternoon at the Museum

1 Aug

Afternoon at the Blanton Museum of Art-starring MUSIC FOR THE CITY and the Boys & Girls Club. Ben Stiller couldn’t make it at the last minute, but let’s face it, he’s got nothing on the dynamic duo of MFTC and BGC Austin.

A little practice round of criticism before going into the museum. Austin artist Lindy Michelle Willis–she is the best–made these great little art criticism sheets for us to take around and talk about the different pieces.

Walking into the museum, we didn’t have a giant dinosaur fossil or the Indian woman in the Native American display come to life…but we DID have this puppet.

This was one of my highlights–these girls got so into this triptych of portraits by Bill Viola. They looked at the book at the table, compared the book to the display, and wrote down the artists’ name in a booklet. It was awesome seeing them dig into it.

We didn’t exactly find hidden treasure…but we did get to play in this awesome installation. The kids LOVED this one-it was the only thing they could touch. Every other painting they would keep inching up…inching up….we definitely tested the nerves of the museum staff a few times.

A Justin Bieber work of art. Just kidding…but if these kids were in charge, there would be a whole exhibit on this little heartthrob. I cracked up when I found this on my camera.

I’ll leave you with few shots some of the girls in my group took with my camera; I was pretty impressed by them.  These 4 texture shots were all taken in a row:


pretty good composition for a 12 year old!

my personal favorite

In my short summer in Austin, I have already seen interest in the arts grow in these kids and I think they are pretty darn talented. THANK YOU to all who support MFTC to make this possible!


Makenzie Magnus. MFTC Summer Intern

P.S. Coming to the MFTC blog soon…MFTC + BGC take a trip to Ramble Creek Recording Studio…you won’t want to miss this post.

chaos & FUN

19 Jul

Two words: chaos & FUN. Those are the two best words to describe my first week at the Boys and Girls Club summer camp at Chalmers Courts in East Austin. This is the 2nd Summer MFTC has been bringing the arts to the BGC day camp, and we are so excited to be a part of the really cool stuff they’ve got going on. These kids are awesome, and we love hanging out with them. So here’s how the week goes: Music-Tuesdays, Art-Wednesdays, and Photography-Thursdays.

Last week, on Music-Tuesday, we had Austin musicians Chase Gassaway and Clint Simmons come and teach all about sound waves and other complicated music stuff. The kids understood WAY more than I did. Of course, we started things off with a game of Freeze Dance and ended with letting the kids try out the instruments–they could not wait to get their hands on them!

Soundwaves on display

big smiles!

in the groove

ukuleles & mohawks

On Art-Wednesday, Austin artist and photographer Lindy Michelle Willis and her two daughters came and set up a few art stations: bandana bracelet making, drawing and spin art. Needless to say, it was all a big hit. Friendship bracelets and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle drawings were flying through the air.

bandana bracelets

spin it!

And on Photography-Thursday, Austin photographers Daniel Davis and Amy Melsa inspired fierce competition as the kids split into groups for a scavenger hunt to find the alphabet using the shapes we found in the room and outside. I’ll just say…my group didn’t use their “creativity” (cheating, cough-cough) by making the letters with their bodies…we FOUND them the old-fashioned way with telephone lines and roofs, tree branches and a garden hose. Take that, Davis and Melsa 🙂

what letters can YOU find?

"G"arden hose

All said and done, it was a great week, and I’m so excited we have 2 more weeks to go!

Until next time,

Makenzie Magnus

MUSIC FOR THE CITY summer intern

Gina cha-cha-Chavez and Mobile Loaves & Fishes

27 Jun

Friday, June 17

Ohhhhhh man.  Tonight was one of those nights that I just drove home smiling.  I went to a Mobile Loaves & Fishes benefit dinner…and immediately came home and had to write about it.  What an amazing evening!  Mobile Loaves & Fishes (who MFTC’s next album will support) is this absolutely incredible organization that provides food, clothing and dignity to our homeless brothers and sisters.  They recently started the Karpophoreo Project  which builds community and provides employment to formerly homeless persons.  How do they do this, you may ask?  By growing organic, sustainable food for themselves as well as the MLF trucks, which go out nightly for “truck runs” with volunteers from all walks of life.  How cool is that?!  The centerpieces on the tables were delicious vegetables grown from their gardens…I was tempted to swipe a huge green bell pepper to take home.  Another MLF project is Community First!  This program confronts homelessness by providing permanent, sustainable and affordable housing AND the support system needed to heal from the scars of living on the streets.  We actually got to go inside one of the RV’s that will be given to someone in the next week.  It was nice and homey, with little laminated phrases like “Home is a cool glass of milk from the fridge” and “Home is a place to have a friend over for coffee” stuck on the freezer or in a frame on the kitchen counter.  Later, we heard from a young family who was homeless just a few years ago and have experienced radical transformation by being connected to MLF (before they came on stage to tell their story, I had seen the wife walking around and was drawn to the pure joy I saw in her)…they just had their first baby 10 months ago and she is a DOLL.

So now that you know all about Mobile Loaves & Fishes…let me gush about Gina Chavez for a minute, folks.  She is a musician that MFTC really loves and was the music entertainment for the dinner.  Her songs were the perfect soundtrack to the evening, here are a few reasons why: She has a heart for the homeless and has written some beautiful songs for and about them.  She is a natural on stage and has this intriguing Latin flair to a lot of her songs because of the time she’s spent in South America.  Many of her songs required a little audience participation…let’s just say, everyone tried, but they just couldn’t get the rhythm! Gotta love it. Meeting Gina and her family was definitely a highlight of the evening, and the crowd loved her.

Did I mention the food?  Prime rib, chicken kabobs, fresh green beans and a wonderful summer salad.  This college gal was in HEAVEN. You don’t even want me to start describing the lemon bars for dessert.

All in all, it was a beyond-wonderful, story-telling evening with the warmest and most welcoming people you’ll ever meet.  Good food, great cause and great music–just what Music For The City loves.

Makenzie Magnus, MFTC Intern

an introduction…

3 Jun

We at Music For The City would like to introduce you to our summer intern, Makenzie Magnus.  Makenzie is a student at Wheaton College just outside Chicago, IL.  We’re excited to show her how we do things here in Austin, TX.  During her first two days on the job, she volunteered with us at The Austin Children’s Shelter and helped us pull off a great show at The Nutty Brown Cafe benefitting Water NOW.

The following is her first impression of working with MFTC…


I’m so excited to be in this beautiful city and working with MFTC…this past weekend was my first as the intern and I hit the ground running with Austin Children’s Shelter on Saturday and the WaterNow benefit at  the Nutty Brown Cafe on Sunday. WHAT an incredible weekend. Here’s a quick run-down:

MFTC has been working with ACS since January and is the only consistent group (which is HUGE) that comes to work with the kids. So what happens on a Saturday is a bunch of great musicians, artists, photographers and dancers set up shop in different rooms and the kids go around and hang out in whatever room interests them–some stick to one room, others go around to all of them. Walking around you hear music jam sessions, off-key singing in the Rock Band room (but seriously, who can sing on key with Rock Band?), and see kids running around with cameras on a photography scavenger hunt. It. Is. Awesome. Also, don’t even get me started on a peek of the dance room: 7 or 8 of the cutest little ones you have ever seen rolling around and jumping…geez. Could it get any better?

We also had a short meeting before everything started, and here are a few things that really resonated with me. Lamar talked about his 72-hour Street Retreat experience with Mobile Loaves & Fishes (read post below for more info) and how many of the people he met grew up in the foster care system. To paraphrase…“Most of us here have had opportunity after opportunity as well as encouragement and love from our families, churches, friends…our whole lives. And life is still pretty damn hard. Imagine life without all of that, and then try to imagine making it.” Janis, the staff leader we work with, followed by sharing how much this means to the kids and how there have already been sparks of interest and changes towards passion of the arts in some of their lives. “Each of us carry around a bucket of negative experiences and a bucket of positive experiences…the kids here carry buckets of negative experiences that far outweigh the positive. Every day, our goal is to put a little more in their positive bucket.” Needless to say, it is really cool to be a part of all this.

Sunday was the benefit concert for WaterNow (a great community-based organization bringing sustainable water wells to villages in Africa) at the Nutty Brown Cafe–we had a great turn out and it was such a blast. 10 bands, a crazy photo booth, kids running around, beautiful hand-made jewelry, a golden sunset, and plenty of dust makes for a great night. What’s special about events like this is that it’s a fun night for all ages to come hang out, enjoy great local music, eat good food…all the while knowing it’s all going towards something beyond that one night. $20 can provide one person clean water for 20 years. Cheers to that.

Looking forward to the MFTC adventures to come…

In love and light,