Last weekend, as I rambled around downtown Austin by bicycle, I caught a live performance by Zach Person on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail.
The Trail Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to protect and enhance the 10-mile trail around Lady Bird Lake, is hosting a series of surprise, pop-up performances on the trail. To avoid attracting crowds during the pandemic, they’re not announcing exact dates or times, so you just have to get lucky.
Person, who reminded me of a mashup between Lenny Kravitz and the Beatles, with a dollop of Buddy Guy tossed in, serenaded runners and walkers as they rounded a bend on the path. Another artist, Kalu James, performed later that day at another location on the trail.
More performances are planned for this weekend, but again the foundation isn’t revealing the exact date or time. The Trail Foundation is taping each show, so if you miss the performance, you can watch it online later.
This month’s series is focused on Black musicians, and this weekend’s lineup will include performances by Saul Paul and James Robinson.
“We’d been planning this series for some time, as another way to make the trail a welcoming space for all of the communities we serve, to provide local culture on the trail, and to promote and support Austin music and musicians,” said Heidi Anderson, The Trail Foundation’s chief executive officer. “As an organization committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, we believe that representation and visibility matter. With the pandemic, we’ve envisioned a way to keep the ideals of the project and keep everyone safe at the same time.”
The Black Musicians Edition of the series will conclude with The Trail Foundation’s Twilight on the Trail annual gala event Nov. 1 at the Four Seasons, where four musicians will perform on portions of the trail adjacent to the hotel’s lawn. HEB is the title sponsor of the Music on the Trail Series.
The performers were selected with the help of a committee of local arts and entertainment influencers and experts. The musicians will be paid; 98 percent of the project budget is earmarked for the musicians, with 2 percent going to videography and photography so the music can be shared online, according to a press release from The Trail Foundation. To hear more local music, check this companion Spotify playlist featuring local Black musicians, including the 12 who are performing during October.
For more information, go to www.thetrailfoundation.org.