Benefit day supports health insurance for Austin musicians

Andrew Messamore

Without health insurance, many Austin musicians would be without work or the ability to support their busy schedules, said Nakia Reynoso of Nakia and the Blues Grifters.

He said that without the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians there would have been many days where he would be in bed, sick and unable to perform.

Downtown Austin was made into a music venue Tuesday as part of a day-long benefit for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. The benefit included more than 170 performances by local Austin musicians, including Nakia and the Blues Grifters, Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys, Greg Williams Quartet and others at participating retailers, music stores and restaurants, said executive director of HAAM Carolyn Schwarz.

“It’s a way for everyone to get involved. You just go out and do what you normally do,” Schwarz said. “When you shop at one of the venues, 5 percent of all the sales go toward the musicians.”

HAAM provides affordable health care for low-income, working Austin musicians who live on an income of less than $27,000 a year. The benefit, which is now in its sixth year, is hosted by HAAM in hopes that it will reach a goal of $250,000 from business grants, donations and sales during the benefit. Participating venues included Whole Foods, Waterloo Records, Thundercloud Subs, Romeo’s Italian Grill and Bar and others.

“The benefit is for the musicians and the city,” said Waterloo Records manager Matt McCarroll. “We want to keep our Austin musicians healthy. This has been going on as long as I’ve been here, and it’s certainly going to be happening a while longer.”

Schwarz urged people to come out in support of Austin musicians, saying that $30,000 would come from sales at participating vendors alone, highlighting the fundraising ability of Tuesday’s drive.

“Every dollar counts — whether it’s $1 or $10,” Schwarz said. “It just really means a lot to us to get this message out to help our musicians get the health care they need.” 

Printed on October 5, 2011 as: "Benefit held for musicians' health care"