AUSTIN - It's been said that music is the universal language, and with Austin being the "Live Music Capitol of the World," it's no surprise Austinites are already jumping at the opportunity to speak to the hundreds seeking refuge in our city with a welcome distraction -- music.
The ATX Music & Entertainment Division announced Monday that it was contacted by the American Red Cross to reach out to area musicians who would be willing to perform for evacuees currently taking up shelter from Hurricane Harvey in the Austin area. The response, they said, has been overwhelming.
Less than 24 hours after making the announcement, Audience Development/Music Program Coordinator Stephanie Bergara said she had been contacted by more than 300 volunteers.
"They just keep coming," Bergara said. "We've gotten everything from ukulele players to DJs to audio engineers volunteering to help in any way they can."
She said the music office anticipates that musician volunteers will begin performing Tuesday evening at shelters set up at LBJ High School and the Toney Burger Activity Center.
Bergara, an Austin native, said she visited one of the Austin shelters to grasp an understanding of how the Austin music office could help, and said she was overwhelmed by what she saw.
"It's folks who are just looking for any kind of sources," she said. "I've lived in Austin my entire life and I'm a musician myself, but I've never seen anything quite like this. They're requesting comfort music, something to take their minds off of all the craziness."
While the office is coordinating to get volunteer musicians to begin performing Tuesday evening, Bergara said she is working with the Red Cross and could be coordinating with musicians for several weeks.
"You sit at home and you're watching TV and the news, and as a musician you're just wondering what you can do," Bergara said. "I'm overwhelmed with our response. One way or another, Austin musicians are going to find a way to help these people in need."
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