Austin Music Map: Conjunto Meets Social Media
KUT’s Texas Music Matters is partnering with the national Localore project to create the Austin Music Map: a yearlong effort to go beyond the well-traveled streets of the Austin music scene in search of the hidden places where music is being made. We want your help discovering and documenting these places. To find out how to get involved, visit austinmusicmap.com or call our hotline with stories and tips: (512) 861-8266.
While we’re working on our first few stories for the Austin Music Map, we’re also brainstorming ways to inspire Austinites to get involved in the project. We certainly know a thing or two about Austin’s musical landscape, but nothing beats the collective intelligence of, well, the whole city. Everyone’s an expert on their own musical corner of Austin—whether it’s the bar with the best jukebox or the church with the rocking-est choir or the high school marching band with the most swagger—and we want to tap into that expertise.
Our goal is to build participation into the project from the ground up, so we’ll be trying out a few strategies over the next few months and reporting back about our successes (and failures). Today… Our first little Facebook experiment, which builds on the story we produced about The Moose Lodge, a private social club on the east side and one of Austin’s Conjunto hotspots.
Piper LeMoine and Baldomero Frank Alvarez Cuellar, of Rancho Alegre Entertainment, were featured in that story. They’re Conjunto collectors and preservers. They’ve compiled an extensive discography of Conjunto and Tejano classics, toured The Valley interviewing veteran musicians, and they organized the three-day Rancho Alegre Conjunto Festival that happened in Austin earlier this year.
At Piper’s suggestion, we’ve set up an open group on Facebook called (hold on, it’s a mouthful): Recordando Los Salones y Los Bailes Grandes – Austin Music Map. The idea is to tap into some of Conjunto and Tejano’s existing online networks, and to ask people to share photos and memories of Austin’s old dance halls, where the music thrived back in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.
Frank described some of these old places in our Moose Lodge story, recalling The Rockin’ M, The Capricorn, and The Top Hat, where his parents used to go dancing. A lot of these places went out of business beginning in the 1980s, with the rise of larger Tejano clubs and the decline of the Conjunto-friendly radio stations that supported the culture.
But Piper says that social media has helped to revitalize Conjunto in Central Texas in the absence of support from mainstream radio stations or a network of Conjunto clubs. Fans can now find each other on Facebook and through Conjunto is Life, a site for dedicated fans. Old records that went out of print years ago are finding a new audience online through sites like Rancho Alegre, Compadres Music, and YouTube.
We’ll be tapping into some of these networks to spread the word about the Recordando Los Salones y Los Bailes Grandes group and the hope is that it will become a collaborative space where fans can share pictures, stories, comments, and memories of past and present Conjunto venues. Some of those might be curated and used on the Austin Music Map website when it launches in August.
A few photos have been submitted already and we’ve added them to our Flickr pool. Check them out and then submit your own documentation of Austin’s musical places. We’re interested in signs, exteriors, interiors, audience portraits, concert shots—whatever you think captures the spirit of your favorite spots.