BIG NEWS: My friends!

These five Austin songwriters are doing big things! Read on to learn about passion projects that impact the Austin community, and where you might hear them next!

And… a one, two, three, four, five

Last year I had invitations for five Austin-based songwriters to join the 2018 season of The Acoustic Guitar Project. The project is a global music platform — and concert series — that inspires musicians to write an original song and record it live in one week.

The curator job can be tough, especially in Austin. There is no shortage of wildly talented songwriters to choose from around here. My 2018 wishlist included the likes of songwriters Taylor Stearns, Sarah Dossey, Chris Beall, Brandon Wayne DeMaris and Mike Hidalgo.

Now, on pitches that matter to me this much I have batted a thousand fewer times than I can count on one hand. So perhaps you can imagine how pleased I was when they all said yes.

The concert series debuted on November 8, 2018, and these songwriters delivered five brand new tunes to a capacity crowd at The Townsend listening room. I won’t soon forget the experience.

Artists from the 2018 season of The Acoustic Guitar Project: Austin, TX

It’s hard to imagine the concert series was six months ago. Fast-forward to April 2019, another SXSW season is behind us, summer is coming, and they are going strong.

On-stage performances drew some nice attention during SXSW. They are involved in meaningful passion projects and releasing new music. Most importantly, in very personal and unique ways they are each contributing to the Austin community in very practical, beautiful ways, and are investing in the future of music in Austin. Not least of which, they share a desire to cultivate a culture of creativity and caring.

For these reasons I encourage you to give, attend, buy and support these artists as often as possible. Here’s an update about music, passion projects and where one might go to find them next:

Brandon Wayne DeMaris

If you want to know the guy, Brandon DeMaris, all you have to do is listen to the lyrics from his new music project. He is right there. Love, courage, mission, seeing with eyes, seeing with heart: Brandon and I have had discussions surrounding these topics over breakfast, over homemade kombucha, and sitting around a fire with our guitars in his back yard. I love how Brandon sees the world. Hope is a strong theme running through his aptly-titled new album, Brave Bones. (Spotify, Apple Music)

Make no mistake, Brandon DeMaris is quite the songwriter. Most people might not be aware of this fact (well, surely not for much longer), but they may have perhaps been taken with any one of a number of other successful projects, ventures and initiatives associated with his namesake. He’s into quite a few of them.

Most notably, the name DeMaris has become synonymous with large-scale concert and event production, talent buying and entertainment in Austin. Perhaps it is because DeMaris Entertainment has been a champion of delivering live music experiences for Austin audiences and listeners since 2006. Have you heard of Black Fret? DeMaris is on point when it comes to joining forces with other passionate live music lovers.

Speaking of loving live music, Brandon’s got a release party coming up:

Brandon Wayne DeMaris Album Release Party

On Wednesday evening, April 10, 2019 at Antone’s Nightclub, Brandon Wayne DeMaris will perform the entire new album with special guests starting at 9pm. Doors Open at 6pm, Clark Twain opens the show at 7pm followed by Ray Prim (full-band) at 8pm. Donovan Keith will close out the night starting around 10:30pm. Can’t beat that line-up on a Wednesday night!

Mike Hidalgo

Mike Hidalgo is one of those fantastically creative and captivating performers who explodes onto a scene, seemingly out of nowhere. His most recent success and recognition as one of Austin’s people to watch is not surprising.

Mike performs with his band Obsolete Machines when he is not writing new original songs and WOW-ing people with his avant-garde renditions of classic favorites many would be challenged to imitate (“Folsom Prison” by Johnny Cash, “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane). Mike’s talent and creativity is indisputable.

Mike Hidalgo has a passion to give and empower others. Through his love of mentoring and teaching music, Mike has been sowing into the future of local artists, mentoring young musicians through Kids In A New Groove for years. If you want to know about someone’s character, then take a look at how they spend their time when no one is paying attention. I’m honored to call this guy my friend, and excited to see more people catching on.

Mike Hidalgo at Direct Support House Concerts

On Friday, April 26, Direct Support House Concerts will be hosting a fundraiser event to help raise money to support a new recording project. Mike will be performing a set of his original music, which just so happens to include the song, “Time” which he wrote for The Acoustic Guitar Project.

Chris Beall

I affectionately refer to him as “Abilene” because he possesses those inherent personal distinctions and attributes that life-long Texas-natives exude when they make their appearances. What you see is what you get.

Chris has soul. His songs are confidently clear and direct, without lacking a gentle humility. There is fierce independence and grit behind words that honor ideals built upon faith, family, love and respect. Chris is that motorcycle racer’s boy who learned to play the guitar, an honest-to-God West Texas rock-n-roller.

Chris Beall

In addition to his career as a solo artist, songwriter and producer, Chris Beall is a guitarist, vocalist, and a co-founder of the The South Austin Moonlighters. The South Austin Moonlighters are Chris Beall, Lonnie Trevino Jr, Phil Hurley, and Phil Bass.

Together The South Austin Moonlighters have released three full-length recordings: Live At The Saxon Pub (2012), Burn & Shine (2014), and Ghost Of A Small Town (2016).

Chris Beall and James Jean will be playing a show together on Thursday, April 11 at The Townsend listening room. Tickets are available here.

On May 17, The South Austin Moonlighter will be releasing a brand new full-length album titled Travel Light.

Pre-order the Travel Light album here and save 50%


Sarah Dossey has been working hard maintaining a busy schedule of live performances. She’s everywhere. Consequently, she drew some big attention at SXSW 2019 for her pop project Dossey.

Dossey appeared on NPR’s SXSW preemptive playlist dubbed The Austin 100. The Austin 100 is intended to distill the music portion of the conference, which spans several days, into a 6-hour playlist, featuring a broad spectrum of music genres that go under-represented in Austin under normal circumstances.

Dossey is at Stubb’s on Wednesday, April 17. Tickets are available now.

Taylor Stearns

Taylor Stearns lit the room on fire with her original songs during the TAGP concert series last November. Since that time she’s been working on her next record release with a certain producer in Lockhart, Texas.

I have personally heard the songs, and have it on good authority that something pretty special is about to go down. That’s all I can say.

About The Acoustic Guitar Project (TAGP)

The Acoustic Guitar Project, founded by Dave Adams, has grown to be one of the most rewarding “labors of love” in my musical career. Through events associated with and resulting from curating the project, I’ve had a unique vantage point and distinct privilege to learn a so much about the talented and beautiful human beings who have accepted the invitation to be part of the project.