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Austin musicians performing to raise money for health care support

The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians is raising money all day Sept. 11 to help provide affordable health care for Austin's low-income working musicians

AUSTIN — You're probably going to hear a lot more live music than usual around Austin Tuesday. It's all because of a foundation trying to give back to the musicians in the live music capital of the world.

The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians -- or HAAM -- is raising money all day Sept. 11 to help provide access to affordable health care for Austin's low-income working musicians, with a focus on prevention and wellness. They are celebrating their 13th annual HAAM DAY on Tuesday by showcasing 200 performances from Austin musicians.

The performances started at 6 a.m. at Whole Foods Market on Lamar Boulevard in downtown Austin. Mayor Steve Adler kicked things off by speaking in support of HAAM and reading off a city proclamation. He said live music is one of the main reasons he decided to stay in Austin when he moved here in 1978 for law school.

"It's just part of the culture, the spirit and the soul of this place," Adler said. "If we ever lose this, we would lose what is special about this city."

Adler said the reason and need for this support from HAMM is that many of these performers are self-employed and don't have a way to get basic health care.

"HAMM Day is here to celebrate this organization that recognizes that in this city while we all enjoy music, a lot of our musicians are not becoming millionaires doing this," Adler said. "It's a hard life. These are artists, and this is really dedicated work."

Sydney Wright is an Austin musician who got in a accident this past June that caused her to be hospitalized. While she remains on crutches, she said HAAM helped her get through this difficult period of her life.

"They were one of the first people to call me," Wright said. "It was a whirlwind of worries. They alleviated a lot of the question marks of the situation."

Some restaurants and retail outlets will participate in HAAM day by donating five percent or more of their sales Tuesday. Lyft is also getting in on the action as well. If passengers use the code "HAAMDay2018" on Tuesday, they will get $1 off their ride, and then Lyft will donate $1 to HAAM as well. This year, HAAM hopes to raise $565,000.