The 6 a.m. crowd at the flagship Whole Foods store downtown is a hardy one on HAAM Benefit Day. It’s still dark outside when the honorary first band kicks off a litany of performances by local musicians around town that won’t end until it’s well past dark again, on the other side of midnight.
It’s as rewarding as it is surreal to hear live music so early in the morning. The Health Alliance of Austin Musicians raised more than half a million dollars with last year’s HAAM Benefit Day, counting corporate sponsorships, contributions by participating businesses and the cash showgoers dropped in donation boxes at venues. On this day, more than perhaps any other, Austin lives up to its billing as the Live Music Capital of the World.
This year’s HAAM Benefit Day is Tuesday, Sept. 12. The leadoff hitter distinction goes to Mayeux & Broussard, an Americana duo that has been playing local haunts such as the White Horse and ABGB for years. Once the sun rises, the shows begin to bloom all over. Other Whole Foods locations in the area will have live music, as will pharmacies, banks, hospitals, hotels and other unlikely hot spots. That’s in addition to dozens of bars and restaurants that often feature music and are taking part in the HAAM activities.
READ MORE: Touring the town on HAAM Benefit Day 2016
Matching 2016’s total haul might be a challenge this year, given that many local citizens and businesses have been giving generously to charities helping with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. “I think that’s probably true for every nonprofit,” HAAM Executive Director Reenie Collins said as she and her staff hit the final stretch of preparations for the big day.
It helps that a good deal of HAAM Benefit Day commitments are made amid the lead-up to the event. “The big bulk of our fundraising has already come through, so we’re doing well,” Collins said. In addition, dozens of businesses (some presenting music, some not) donate a percentage of the day’s sales to HAAM.
Collins is understanding of those who may give more to hurricane victims this year, saying simply that “it’s the right thing to do.” She’s quick to note that the music community has been “on the front lines” of Harvey relief programs for the past two weeks. Benefit shows began popping up everywhere within days of the flooding in Houston, including the major George Strait concert and telethon in San Antonio that happens to fall on the same day as HAAM Benefit Day.
In Austin, Collins simply hopes the public will support this event that’s now in its 12th year by being there and hearing the musicians who have given their time from morning to night. “The more people who come out, the more chances we have of people wanting to donate,” she says.
Most HAAM Benefit Day shows are free, with collection boxes manned or passed around by volunteers. Some of the evening shows at nightclubs that regularly present live music have cover charges or suggested donations.
This year, a couple of private shows popped up at venues such as Antone’s and Gibson Guitar Showroom. Though those events are invite-only, they fill an important niche, Collins says, as they cater to “companies with deeper pockets who want to do something for their employees and special clients or guests. So we’re able to ask these companies to do bigger sponsorships.”
READ MORE: HAAM seeking avenues to cover more musicians
A handful of special public shows tend to stand out each year. One that’s drawn of a lot of advance attention this time is a Willie Nelson tribute night at Threadgill’s South organized by singer-songwriter Graham Weber. More than a dozen local acts will perform Nelson’s tunes, including Monte Warden, Suzanna Choffel and Akina Adderley.
Collins says she’s also quite pleased to add Mueller Amphitheater as a venue, presenting a show that will feature rock bands Vallejo and Love & Chaos. Another addition this year is Still Austin Whiskey, a new distillery on East St. Elmo Road in South Austin that will host roots musicians Marcia Ball and Drew Womack.
The massive list of more than 200 performances, available online at myhaam.org and sortable by area of town, can be overwhelming. Any stop at any location if it attracts a donation fulfills the HAAM Benefit Day mission. But if you’re looking for a guide, we’ve taken a look through the full roster of shows and compiled an hour-by-hour itinerary featuring some of the top options.
Mayeux & Broussard at Whole Foods Downtown
Scrappy Jud Newcomb at Whole Foods Downtown
Jane Ellen Bryant at Whole Foods Downtown
Stephanie Bergara at Whole Foods Domain
Gene Douglas at Snooze
Redd Volkaert at Whole Foods Downtown
David Messier at Whole Foods Domain
EmJae Ross at WeWork Downtown
Carolyn Wonderland & Shelley King at Whole Foods Downtown
Freddie Krc at Stella San Jac
Malford Milligan & Phil Redmond at IBC Bank Lobby
Ty Richards at Austin City Hall
Michael Fracasso at Whole Foods Bee Cave
Canned Beets at Whole Earth Provision Company Westgate
Paula Russell at Wholly Cow Burgers
Victoria Pennock at Seton Medical Center Cafeteria
Margaret Slovak at the Summit at Lantana
Steve Brooks at Central Health
Lloyd Miller at Peoples Pharmacy Westlake
Arielle Nicole at Wild About Music
Craig Marshall at Zax Restaurant & Bar
Julieann Banks at Whole Foods Domain
Byrd & Street at B.B. Rover’s Cafe & Pub
Shane Cooley at Austin Airport Saxon Pub
Rubilators at Whole Foods Domain
Jason Blum at Seton Administrative Offices
Liza Herrera at Counter Culture Restaurant
Brian Kremer at Stella San Jac
Beth//James at Austin Airport Ray Benson Stage
Suzanna Choffel at Whole Foods Downtown
Brittany Shane at Whole Foods Gateway
Robyn Wright at Jack Allen’s Kitchen 360
Greg Izor at Whole Foods Arbor Trails
Dave Scher at Stella San Jac
Wes Coleman at Counter Culture Restaurant
Billy Wilson at Santa Rita Cantina South
High Road HAAM Day with Jon Dee Graham, South Austin Moonlighters, Seela Misra, Michael Hall & Randy Franklin, Dustin Welch, William Harries Graham and more at High Road on Dawson
Vallejo, Love & Chaos at Mueller Amphitheater
Marcia Ball, Drew Womack at Still Austin Whiskey
David Grissom at Saxon Pub
Tje Austin at Whole Foods Domain
Jenny Reynolds at Whole Foods Arbor Trails
8 1/2 Souvenirs at C-Boy’s Heart & Soul
Octopus Project at Waterloo Records
Peterson Brothers at Whole Foods Downtown
Barbara Nesbitt at Whole Foods Domain
Roger Wallace at Counter Culture Restaurant
Fingerpistol at Little Longhorn Saloon
Salute to Willie Nelson with host Graham Weber plus Monte Warden, Suzanna Choffel, Jonathan Terrell, Carson McHone, Colin Gilmore, Akina Adderley and more at Threadgill’s South
Guy Forsyth at Lustre Pearl
Nakia & the Blues Grifters at Guero’s Oak Garden
Bidi Bidi Banda, Julian Acosta, She Sir at ABGB
Jon Blondell Quintet at Elephant Room
Chansons Et Soulard at White Horse
James McMurtry at Continental Club Gallery
Dickie Lee Erwin at Skylark Lounge
A. Sinclair, Zoltars, Teddys, Wildfires at Barracuda
Moving Panoramas, Semihelix, Abstract Class, Prom Threat, Outlook, Molybden at Hotel Vegas
Magic Rockers of Texas, Stacks, Batty Jr., Kathryn Legendre at Volstead
John Mills Times Ten at Elephant Room
Evan Charles at Hole in the Wall
HAAM Benefit Day
When: 6 a.m. to past midnight Sept. 12
Where: Various locations all across town
Full schedule: myhaam.org