Million dollar bash - Black Fret hosts fifth annual Black Fret Ball —
September 27, 2020

Million dollar bash – Black Fret hosts fifth annual Black Fret Ball

Black Fret's Colin Kendrick and Matt Ott. (Photo by Nicola Gell)

Austin nonprofit Black Fret is holding its fifth annual Black Fret Ball on Friday, Dec. 7, at ACL Live at The Moody Theatre. This year’s fete marks a major achievement for the organization as it passes the one million dollar mark in grant gifts to musicians.

“It is a huge milestone for Black Fret to award over a million dollars in grants to Austin musicians in just five years of giving,” said Black Fret founder Colin Kendrick. “It’s a testament to the passion Austinites feel for their music.”

This crowning event of the year, where all 20 nominees will be awarded a Black Fret grant, will include performances by many of the 2018 Black Fret Nominees. This year’s nominees include A Giant Dog, Billy King and the Bad Bad Bad, Dave Scher, Donovan Keith, Greyhounds, Israel Nash, Jaimee Harris, Jane Ellen Bryant, Jeff Plankenhorn, Kalu and the Electric Joint, Los Coast, Megafauna, Otis the Destroyer, Palo Duro, Rebecca Loebe, Shy Beast, The Texas KGB, Tomar and the FCs, Trouble in The Streets and Wood & Wire.

“We are really pleased that Black Fret has featured such a wide range of artists and musical genres,” said Kendrick. “As we grow and more people have learned about us, we are seeing more bands brought to us with even more diverse sounds. This city keeps making great music of all kinds and we are going to do our best to feature and support the best of it all, across all genres.”

Tomar and the FCs
Tomar and the FCs

Black Fret is a public charity headquartered in Austin whose mission is to empower musicians to create and perform great new music. The organization is an innovative evolution of the age-old symphony patronage model that is focused on supporting popular local music. To date, Black Fret has awarded $830,000 in grant dollars to local Austin artists and will award another $250,000 the night of the 2018 Black Fret Ball.

“Reaching a million dollars in total grants awarded to Austin’s musicians is a significant achievement to us for so many reasons,” said Matt Ott, Black Fret co-founder. “Not only does it mean that we have helped to support the creation and performance of so much great new music, it also proves that Austinites love their city and its music and are willing to step up and support it with great passion and generosity. That means everything to us as the founders Black Fret.”

Black Fret grant recipients unlock their grant dollars by writing, recording and performing new music and by providing community services to other area nonprofits. To date, Black Fret grants have resulted in 646 U.S. tour dates, 328 songs written, 329 songs recorded, 151 charitable performances, 137 songs and videos released and 88 international tour dates.This year’s Black Fret Ball will be sponsored by Deloitte, Dell and NY Life, among additional sponsors.

Shy Beast
Shy Beast

“To stand on stage at ACL Live at the Moody Theater and award a quarter million dollars in grants to our amazing class of nominees is a true honor,” said Ott. “Sharing that stage as emcee not only with the artists but also with the Black Fret members, Advisory Board members, partners, sponsors and volunteers who will help award these grants is proof that our great city is building a true community to support our local music.”

In addition to their grants, all Black Fret Nominees have continued access to one-on-one mentoring from Black Fret’s Advisory Board, which consists of some of Austin’s top music industry leaders. Advisors include Mark Addison, Heather Alden, Codey Allen, Roggie Baer, Evan Blanc, Pat Cassidy, Reenie Collins, Mike Crowley, Jen Dalton, Wofford Denius, CJ Eiriksson, Jim Eno, Nigel Finley, Danny Gillespie, Tom Gimble, Will Hoffman, Jennifer Houlihan, Terrany Johnson, Layne Lauritzen, Ted Lowe, Davis McLarty, Marsha Milam, Matt Noveskey, Tim Palmer, Michael Ramos, Peter Schwarz, Chris “Frenchie” Smith, Carlos Sosa, Joe Stallone, Stuart Sullivan, Heather Wagner Reed, Dick Reeves, Graham Williams, Kevin Wommack and Rusty Zagst. Prior to his passing this year, George Reiff also served as a valued advisor.

Last year’s 2017 Black Fret Ball awarded in $230,000 in grants. Major grant recipients who each received $18,000 included The Bright Light Social Hour, Carolyn Wonderland, Eric Tessmer, Jackie Venson, Leopold and his Fiction, Mobley, Sarah Sharp, The Deer, Warren Hood and the Whiskey Shivers. Minor grant recipients who each received $5,555 included Akina Adderley, Cowboy Diplomacy, Croy and the Boys, Daniel Eyes, David Ramirez, Greyhounds, Jane Ellen Bryant, Kinky Machine and Los Coast. Black Pistol Fire, who was also nominated for a grant, chose to remove themselves from consideration and asked that Black Fret allocate funds they would have received to the minor grant recipients.

In 2016, ten major grant recipients each received a grant of $17,000. These artists included Bee Caves, Carson McHone, Dan Dyer, Nakia, Ray Prim, Suzanna Choffel, Swimming With Bears, The Peterson Brothers, Walker Lukens and Wendy Colonna. Additionally, ten minor grant recipients each received a grant of $5,000. These artists included Brownout, Calliope Musicals, Dana Falconberry, Daniel Eyes & The Vibes, Golden Dawn Arkestra, Harvest Thieves, Leopold and His Fiction, Magna Carda, Sweet Spirit and The Name Sayers. Grant presentations were made throughout the evening by a number of Black Fret sponsors and members, as well as Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a passionate supporter of Austin music.

Israel Nash
Black Fret nominee Israel Nash

At the 2015 event, Black Fret gave out $150,000 in grants to local Austin musicians. Ten $12,000 major grants and ten $3,000 minor grants were distributed to 20 nominees over the evening, which included live performances from many nominees. Major grant winners included: Casey McPherson, Danny Malone, East Cameron Folkcore, Gina Chavez, Migrant Kids, Mother Falcon, Ruby Jane, Shakey Graves, Tameca Jones and The Digital Wild. Minor grant winners included: Aaron Behrens, Dan Dyer, Holiday Mountain, Jazz Mills, Max Frost, Nakia, Not In The Face, Riders Against The Storm, Shinyribs and The Nightowls. Shakey Graves donated his $12,000 grant back to the minor grant winners, boosting the minor grants to $4,200 each. Aaron Behrens donated his $4,200 grant to the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM).

In its 2014 season, Black Fret awarded $130,000 in grants to local Austin musicians. Ten 2014 Black Fret Grant Winners each received $10,000 including Amy Cook, Elizabeth McQueen, Erin Ivey, Gina Chavez, Graham Wilkinson, Lincoln Durham, Mother Falcon, Quiet Company, The Rocketboys and Wild Child. Other nominees including Danny Malone, Dawn and Hawkes, East Cameron Folkcore, Elias Haslanger and Church on Monday, Emily Bell, Jitterbug Vipers, Jonny Gray, Little Radar, The Whiskey Sisters and Zeale received smaller grants after the event.

Black Fret receives ongoing support from generous sponsors such as the ALL ATX, Dell Inc., Deloitte Consulting, New York Life, Ben Milam Whiskey, SunPower Inc., GSD&M, Ben E. Keith Distributors, Whole Foods, Personify, Gibson Brands, The City of Austin Economic Development Department – Music & Entertainment Division, KUTX, The Austin Chronicle, DeMaris Entertainment, Juice Consulting, Nomad Sound, Miscellaneous Rentals, Enterprising People, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Social Flash Media and many more.

Together, Black Fret’s limited membership will build an endowed institution capable of sustaining more than $1 million dollars a year in grants to Austin’s artists. In return for annual dues, members enjoy a broad range of private events. Grant recipients are selected annually through a yearlong process where members, advisors and prior grant recipients nominate, lobby for, see performances by and finally vote on their favorite artists. Those who wish to become a member of Black Fret can sign up at For inquiries, please email and for more info see

About Merideth Cox 239 Articles
Merideth is a music writer who has covered bands from her hometown in Colorado to London to Bangkok to Shanghai and finally back to Austin. Led Zeppelin changed her life. So did Dolly Parton. You can read her music reviews at

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