A few days after the South by Southwest Music Festival was canceled but before Austin shut down completely, a line snaked from the door of Empire Control Room, down half a block to the corner of Seventh and Red River streets. Fans packed into the midsize Austin club for a sold-out Kamasi Washington show on March 8. It was a jubilant evening that reimagined jazz as ecstatic worship.
A week later, when downtown clubs should have been celebrating one of their busiest nights of the year, Austin’s entertainment districts had gone eerily quiet. The coronavirus pandemic closed the clubs. Today, the once-bustling stretches of venues and bars are boarded up, with no shows on their calendars for months
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