Music commission’s Nakia Reynoso wants artist engagement at City Hall


With a gregarious stage presence and a massive, bluesy voice, 40-year-old singer Nakia Reynoso has been a fixture on the Austin music scene for more than a decade.

In the past few years he’s become one of our city’s foremost artist activists, powerfully advocating for Austin nonprofits like the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians and the Sims Foundation, a mental health organization for musicians. For the past two years he has served on the Austin Music Commission, a citizen body that advises the City Council. In August, when the commission appointed by the new 10-1 City Council convened for the first time, Reynoso was unanimously elected chair.

Reynoso’s interest in politics was sparked in early 2013 when he joined the Texas chapter of the Recording Academy, the regional arm of the industry group best known for producing the Grammy Awards. He was invited to perform at an event at the Texas Capitol, but before he sang he joined members of the academy in a series of meetings with state senators and representatives about proposed legislation that could dissolve copyright protections on music masters produced before 1972.

The experience was eye-opening for Reynoso. “I saw senators not even realizing that by putting this legislation forward they were going to rob Buddy Holly’s family of royalties,” he said. “And they were from (Holly’s hometown) Lubbock. They didn’t get it.”

Reynoso says the meeting was the first time a regional chapter of the academy had lobbied on the state level, and their actions were so successful that the academy subsequently established a “Grammys in My District” program to encourage other chapters to activate locally.

“When I saw that act could make a difference I really threw myself into figuring out other ways that I could be an advocate for myself and other artists,” he said.

Reynoso hopes to inspire other artists to do the same.

The Music Commission is appointed by the City Council, and with the new council the commission grew and its character changed. In the past, the commission has included representatives with ties to South by Southwest, C3 Presents and Transmission Entertainment, some of the city’s music industry power players. Those groups are all absent this time around. Instead the 10-person group includes musicians like Elizabeth McQueen and Graham Reynolds, promoters like Urban Music Festival director Homer Hill, and music educators like Marshall Escamilla, who was voted vice-chair at the group’s first meeting. Reynoso calls the group “the best representation of our community that we’ve seen on the commission.”

“It also represents our best hope to build community,” he said. “I think if we play our cards right and we really listen to the people and try to invite the people to be more a part of our process, we have an opportunity to build up our community in a way that we’ve not seen before.”

With the recent Austin Music Census detailing the struggles facing the industry and a white paper released by local advocacy group Austin Music People disparaging the city’s lack of support, Reynoso believes this is a crucial moment for the Live Music Capital of the World. He plans to spend his term as Music Commission chair trying to build a strong core of artist activists to organize around issues that impact the industry.

“City Hall politics — they don’t work on a proactive basis; they work on a reactive basis,” he said. The group has a lot of data for the City Council to react to, “but we need more bodies and more letters and more voices to speak up on behalf of the musicians.”

The Austin Music Commission held a specially called meeting to talk about the white paper last week. Reynoso said it was a very productive discussion. The group’s next meeting is Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. All meetings are open to the public, and validated parking is available at the City Hall garage.

Gary Clark Jr. remembers Clifford Antone

Backstage before his “Austin City Limits” taping last week, Austin blues hero Gary Clark Jr. showed off a brand new, custom made “Remember Clifford” guitar that was given to him by Susan Antone, sister of the late club owner, earlier in the day.

Clifford Antone took Clark under his wing when he was very young. “I wouldn’t have the musical education, the knowledge … if it wasn’t for that guy who allowed me to hang backstage with Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins and James Cotton,” he said.

Clark has signed on to be part of the blues club’s reboot. The ownership group for the new Antone’s also includes Will Bridges of Lamberts, Susan Antone and Spencer Wells, an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society. The club was originally scheduled to reopen downtown on Fifth Street this summer, but Clark said the location is currently “being broken down to be rebuilt.” He predicts Antone’s will be up and running early next year.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Music

This week’s music picks: Mood Mondays, Moonpies, St. Vincent and more
This week’s music picks: Mood Mondays, Moonpies, St. Vincent and more

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTKnheaUT_Y&w=492&h=307] Monday: Mood Mondays with Christy Hays at Hole in the Wall. Hays, one of Austin’s rising-star singer-songwriters, is in the midst of a weekly residency in February at the UT campus-area haunt, and each week she teams up with different...
Everything can be good to the last drop when you're resourceful
Everything can be good to the last drop when you're resourceful

"I saved this in case you want to use it for something," my husband, Braeden, says multiple times a week. Sometimes he's holding a jar of honey, empty save for the sticky bits clinging to the sides. Other days it's a bottle of barbecue sauce with an infuriating amount left at the bottom that refuses to squeeze out. Sure, we could rinse and...
Webb Report: The Onion’s version of Mayor Adler is pro-werewolf
Webb Report: The Onion’s version of Mayor Adler is pro-werewolf

In college, I swore I saw a ghost while driving around off Convict Hill Road with my friends one night. I also heard strange voices in the American-Statesman newsroom on Halloween a few years back when I was working the graveyard shift. Aside from watching “Teen Wolf” reruns all weekend after having my wisdom teeth extracted, though, I...
Enter the hypnotic, disturbing beauty of ‘Koyaanisqatsi’
Enter the hypnotic, disturbing beauty of ‘Koyaanisqatsi’

Anyone who was lucky enough to see “Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance” in the early 1980s will never forget it. The experimental movie about the tensions between the environment and the tentacles of modern urban life broke into the national consciousness without the use of words. First-time director Godfrey Reggio used slow-motion and...
A quarter sheet pan is plenty big enough to hold all my love
A quarter sheet pan is plenty big enough to hold all my love

Nobody would mistake me for being hip and trendy. I have been wearing clogs - not the same pair, mind you - since the Ford administration. Yet I am YASSing and inserting heart emoji on behalf of the quarter sheet pan, which is surfing a wave of popularity. Deservedly so. There it is on social media, roasting a one-pan meal for two. Toasting a handful...
More Stories