AUSTIN, Texas - The Live Music Capital of the World went quiet when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As the music scene has slowly started to come back to life over the past year, a few Austin venues have continued to keep their doors shut.
"We were the first to close, and we're the last to reopen," said Jeannette Gregor, the first employee to be re-hired at Mohawk Austin and now the venue manager.
"There was a lot of uncertainty and information coming out," she said. "We just wanted to do this right...everyone feeling safe, everyone feeling taken care of and everyone feeling comfortable."
Thursday night was the first live public show there in over a year. "It’s like Christmas morning," said Gregor. "We are very, very lucky that we survived, there's some even in our district that didn't."
U.S. Rep Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) attended a press event before the show, providing an update on federal funds from the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant program and opening up the doors of Mohawk Austin.
"It is a joy to be able to celebrate the return of live music to Austin," said Rep. Doggett, who has been a strong advocate for local musicians during the pandemic. "Our live music is the lifeblood of this city and this economy."
"I can't even describe how it's been," said Joe Ables, owner of The Saxon Pub. "We kept thinking we were going to open the next month, the next month, then it turned into 14 months."
They also decided to remain closed to ensure the safety of their employees and musicians. Fast forward to May 2021, and they’re kicking off Memorial Day weekend with their first show in over a year.
"We're already booked into the fall and every day of the week again," said Ables.
Thursday night also kicked off "The Drop-In" - the Long Center’s free concert series that will be held every Thursday through the summer.