Cramer, Golden Dawn Arkestra & More Perform Live at Grammy Amplifier Showcase in Austin
The rain avoided Austin on Thursday night (Nov. 5) for the kickoff of Fun Fun Fun Fest’s special late night programming. The showcase at Cheer Up Charlies — presented by Grammy Amplifier, a Hyundai Music Initiative — was a crowd pleaser.
Singer and songwriter Cramer, this year’s Grammy Amplifier winner, stole the show during her second Austin appearance in a year since the announcement showcase at SXSW, with her soulful voice and powerful presence. She even urged the audience to come closer to the stage so that she could see everyone better. Cramer passionately owned the space, with her hips swaying to punctuate each lyric. It helped that the Maryland singer spoke to her touring mentor Ziggy Marley as part of Grammy Amplifier for advice. Her mesmerizing set veered from pleading with “Don’t Leave Me Now,” to a call to unite during her cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together,” to convincing everyone that she’s okay with “It’s Alright (It’ll Only Hurt a Little).” Afterward, she thanked and hugged people in the crowd.
Then there was the musical collective of Golden Dawn Arkestra, who amped up the dramatic quotient of the evening. Every member was decked out in costume, complete with headdresses, masks, wigs, face paint and shiny gypsy outfits. To begin their set, the interstellar Austin-based ten-piece marched around the venue while chanting, then climbed onto the stage, going straight into their signature jazzy funk and psychedelic sound, complete with horns. The theatrics were kept up with dancers whirling around electric hoops, throwing gold confetti into the crowd, and donning long, fake fingers.
Other Austin musicians were on the lineup, as well. Like Keepers — the three-part vocal harmony group of Erin Jantzen, Lani Camille Thomison, and Yadira Brown — whose strong and loud voices were backed by a light-up dubstep board. Their sultry R&B-meets-electronic sound enchanted the audience into dancing and snapping along with the trio.
Bookending the showcase were the electronic sounds of Corduroi and Soundfounder. Corduroi set off the night with Cody Wilson’s easygoing ambience that progressed into uptempo island-inspired beats. Soundfounder ended the bill, urging the crowd to come close to “give me some energy.” With that, he lost himself in his sounds, like there was no one else in the room.
The GRAMMY Amplifier program, which presented the showcase, is an online music initiative that aims to help promising music artists realize their dreams. The 2016 program’s curators — Big Sean, Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale and country singer Sam Hunt— will listen to submissions and select three winners. Those winners will each receive one of three prize packages: a studio recording session with a GRAMMY-winning producer; an opening slot for a noted artist and/or a series of festival shows; or the filming of a music video with a celebrated director.
Submissions for the 2016 GRAMMY Amplifier are now open, and you can upload your songs for consideration at www.grammyamplifier.com until January 4, 2016.