Austin Federation of Musicians


  February 6, 2018  

Austin Music Foundation is hosting their 4th annual music community expo
where professionals in the music industry can come learn about the
resources and services that are available to them in the Austin area.
With nearly 12+ nonprofit organizations in attendance, local artists will not
only become familiar with free and low cost amenities that are available, but
will also get a free opportunity to network and become involved in the
uniquely supportive community that is Austin, Texas.

Austin Creative Alliance
Austin Federation of Musicians
Austin Music Foundation
Beyond The Grade
Kids In A New Groove
KUTX 98.9
Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM)
Music Moves Mountains Foundation
Rancho Alegre Radio
ReRoute Outreach
Swan Songs
Texas Accountant and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA)
More to be announced

#FTL2018 #FeelTheLove #PlugIn


2017 Congratulatory Year for Local 433 Fiddler Player

  November 15, 2017  

David Varnado began playing fiddle at the age of 4.  By the time he turned 12, he was playing in clubs.  Over the many years, David’s love for the fiddle in Cajun, Country and Texas Swing has served him well.  In David’s most influential year’s he was mentored by Rufus Thibodeaux, King of the Cajun Fiddlers, and later on he would be mentored by the legendary Johnny Gimble.  He’s had the privilege to play with Johnny Paycheck, Loretta Lynn, Chris LeDoux, Neal McCoy and Sammy Kershaw to name a few.

In October 2016 David received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cajun Music Association in Winnie, TX.  As excited as he was to win this award, he had no idea that this would be the start filled with recognition and awards.

David started 2017 with a nomination from the Academy of Country Music Awards for Fiddle Player of the Year (he was also nominated in 2001).  April 24th he received the American Fiddlers Association Legend Award in Amarillo, TX.  On May 1st Vince Gill with Time Jumper honored David in a separate ceremony for the AFA Legend Award in Nashville.  Nederland, TX Mayor, Dick Nugent, named June 12, 2017 as David Varnado Day.  The State of Texas honored David in June with the Most Honorable Musician Award. In September the Texas Country Music Awards presented David with the Fiddler of the Year Award.  He won this award by unanimous vote.  This past October David took home the Johnny Gimble Ward for Fiddle from the Country Music Awards of Texas.  To finish off David’s winning year, he will be inducted in the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur, TX on November 16.

Congratulations, David, on your well deserved accomplishments of the past year.  We look forward to seeing what 2018 has to offer you.




KOOP 91.7 FM features Austin Federation of Musicians!

  October 24, 2017  


The Austin Federation of Musicians was invited to do a PSA at KOOP 91.7 FM. Check it out here.

A special thank you to KOOP Radio for supporting AFM Local 433!

Austin Jazz Workshop’s “Songs of the American Spirit”

  October 11, 2017  

Austin Jazz Workshop Presents 24th Season

115 Campuses to Receive “Songs of the American Spirit”

The Austin Jazz Workshop, a nonprofit group of professional musicians dedicated to jazz performance in central Texas public schools, will visit 33,000 area youths in the Austin, Manor, and Round Rock ISDs during our 24th performance season, running now through May 2018.

Songs of the American Spirit features Floyd Domino, Shawn Ellison, Michael Stevens, Glenn Rexach, Norm Bergeron, Kevin Scott, Michael Melinger, Julie Slim, and Larisa Montanaro.

View our full schedule by visiting Click on ‘News’ to view public performances, including our twice-monthly EMJATA (Emerging Jazz Talent) Series. EMJATA provides a year-round opportunity for middle and high school jazz students to perform with the AJW.

We gratefully acknowledge support from City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, Austin Independent School District, Texas Commission on the Arts, Music Performance Trust Fund, Nancy & Nyle Maxwell Family Trust, Greater Round Rock Community Foundation, 3M Austin, Jamey Aebersold Jazz, Philip Bee Charitable Trust, and individual donors.

For further information, contact Michael Melinger at (512) 829-7255. Keep up with the Austin Jazz Workshop online through our website and Facebook.

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department, and by the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Bud Light Summer Live Series Benefiting Austin Federation of Musicians

  July 19, 2017  

Bud Light Austin Presents Summer Live Series Featuring Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears

Date: July 20th, 2017

Location: Austin American Statesman
305 S Congress Ave, Austin, Texas 78704

Happy Hour on the Patio: 5:00pm-7:00pm
Doors: 7:00pm
Concert: 8:00pm-11:00pm

Organized by Bud Light, Summer Live Series is a local tavern-inspired concert series, exclusively created for Austin, TX. Once a month during the summer, the Austin-American Statesman Warehouse will be transformed to provide Austinites with a unique concert experience. What’s better than food, beer & friends? This event will feature Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears.

As part of this program, Bud Light is proud to announce that a percentage of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the Austin Federation of Musicians.

Heading to Bud Light Summer Live Series? Make sure to take RideAustin – your local nonprofit rideshare. RideAustin is a community-driven rideshare that allows you to ‘Round Up’ your fares to the nearest dollar, and donate the funds to your local charity of choice. The Austin Federation of Musicians is among the featured charities you will find in the RideAustin app, so if you’re going to ‘Round Up’, please do so for the sake of keeping Austin the live music capital of the world! Stay safe, and if you’re going to drink, make a plan to make it home with RideAustin!

Local 433 Fiddle Player Wins 3rd Award

  June 29, 2017  

Congratulations to AFM Local 433 Member David Varnado on your Most Honorable Musician award from the State of Texas! This is David’s 3rd award this year. David has performed with Ty England, Trick Pony, Neil McCoy, Johnny Paycheck, Garth Brooks, Loretta Lynn and George Jones (to name a few), and has received the 2017 American Fiddlers Association Legend Award. Little Red Hayes (fiddle player for Hank Thompson, Jim Reeves, Ray Price, George Jones and Mel Tillis) presented David with this distinguished award in Texas on April 24, 2017. On May 1, 2017, David traveled to Nashville where Vince Gill (now part of Time Jumpers) honored him in a separate ceremony. In addition to this prestigious award, David was nominated by the Country Music Association as Best Fiddler for 2017. Congratulations, David, on your well deserved accomplishments!

Austin Jazz Workshop Presents George Gershwin

  March 15, 2016  

The Austin Jazz Workshop is led by Mike Mellinger. Barton Hills Elementary School. Feb, 2016. ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ written by Ira and George Gershwin. Video produced by Gavin Tabone.

Big Bird Remains Union

  December 11, 2015  

I’m pleased to announce there is a new agreement with Sesame Workshop.

Earlier this year, Sesame Workshop announced a partnership with HBO bringing first-run episodes of Sesame Street exclusively to HBO for the next five years. After nine months of appearing only on HBO, shows will then air on PBS.


This new HBO deal caused some trepidation as negotiations began. For some years, musicians navigated relations with the non-profit Sesame Workshop rather than a huge multinational media conglomerate.

We remained steadfast throughout negotiations and reached a better contract than we ever have. The nine-member Sesame Street band will see increases in wages, healthcare contributions and pension contributions.

Musicians standing together have the power.

In Unity,
Ray Hair
AFM International President


  August 10, 2015  

Changes to help protect endangered elephants were recently proposed by the Obama Administration that would further restrict the import, export, or sale of ivory in the U.S. Our union has been working with the administration to ensure that revised ivory regulations make it easier for musicians that have instruments containing ivory.

The proposed regulations would allow musicians to travel with legally crafted instruments containing 200 grams or less of worked ivory if you possess a CITES permit and the ivory was legally acquired before 1976. The regulations would also remove restrictions on traveling with musical instruments purchased after February 25, 2014 as long as your instrument meets the other travel requirements. If you need a CITES permit, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more information.

Please note the proposed guidelines would impact instrument sales so review the proposed guidelines if you are planning on buying or selling an instrument.

We applaud the administration for listening to us, but we do have concerns that the proposed language concerning provenance of ivory in instruments is unclear for musicians. These rules do not go into effect until the public has commented on them.

Please take a moment right now and request the administration clarify the proposed regulations. You may write you own comments or just paste the comments below.

I’m a professional musician and am troubled that the proposed regulations are unclear regarding what documentation I need to prove provenance of instruments containing ivory. Aside from information included in the antiques section of the proposed rule, please provide clarification on exactly what documentation the USFWS will accept as positive proof of provenance of ivory in instruments. 

Musicians standing together have the power.

Music & Memory Project

  June 4, 2015  

Music and Memory Helps Improve the Lives of People with Alzheimer’s

Some Texas nursing homes will soon begin using individualized music playlists to try to reduce the use of antipsychotic medication for people with Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) has selected 32 nursing homes from the many facilities that were nominated to participate in a pilot project for the Music & Memory program. The goal is to help residents reconnect with the world through specific, music-triggered memories. Family members and nursing home staff will create personal playlists for use on digital music players, such as iPods.

Dan Cohen, who founded Music & Memory, believes that musical favorites tap “deep memories not lost to dementia and can bring residents and clients back to life, enabling them to feel like themselves again – to converse, socialize and stay present.”

What’s happening in Texas

DADS is using existing Civil Monetary Penalty funds to certify nursing homes to participate in the program. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has approved the pilot.

Participating facilities agree to:

  • Have a minimum of 15 residents participate.
  • Expand the initiative in its own facilities.
  • Participate in monthly educational webinars.
  • Share data with DADS, including:
    • the percentage of residents receiving anti-psychotic medication pre- and post-pilot, and
    • progress made toward the goals, including reductions in anti-psychotic medication usage, decreased falls, and improvements or declines in other CMS quality measures.

About Music & Memory

A documentary about Cohen’s work, Alive Inside, won the Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Clips from the film are available on YouTube and demonstrate the impact a personalized music playlist can have on someone with Alzheimer’s or another cognitive impairment.

Cohen’s ongoing research has shown:

  • Residents are happier and more social.
  • Relationships among staff, residents and family deepen.
  • Everyone benefits from a calmer, more supportive social environment.
  • Staff regain valuable time previously lost to behavior management issues.
  • There is growing evidence that a personalized music program gives professionals one more tool in their effort to reduce reliance on anti-psychotic medications.

Want to learn more?

For more information about the Music & Memory pilot, email the DADS Quality Monitoring Program at