Houston Music

Miller Outdoor's Summer Mix Tape Series Returns

Miller Outdoor Theatre will once again host the Miller Summer Mixtape Series from Wednesday, August 24 to Friday, August 26.
Miller Outdoor Theatre will once again host the Miller Summer Mixtape Series from Wednesday, August 24 to Friday, August 26. Photo by Jeff Grass
Last year the Miller Outdoor Theatre took a chance and hosted some of Houston’s hottest up and coming bands for their first ever Miller Summer Mix Tape Series. This week, the historic Houston landmark will repeat the event with live music on the hill starting Wednesday, August 24 with performances on Thursday and Friday night as well.

The event will kick off on Wednesday with Rock/Folk night with music by Shame On Me, Folk Family Revival and Via Linda. Thursday will be Indie/Pop night with performances by Micah Edwards, Martell Lacey & FOXGLOVE and Camera Cult and closing out the series is Hip-Hop/Soul night with O’Shea Woodhouse, Uncle Tino, Mother Nature, The Hue and Tony Badd.

“I’m really excited about all the diversity on all nights,” says Marissa Saenz, owner of Rukaz Kultura who is organizing the event for the second year in a row. The lineup again reflects the wide range of individuals that makeup the city with bands who do not adhere to assumptions and generalizations based on ethnicity and genres of music.

“We are Houston, you cannot define us by the color of our skin, you can't box us in and every evening really showcases that. It’s such a good mix so it's definitely a reflection of our city,” says Saenz.

“We are Houston, you cannot define us by the color of our skin, you can't box us in and every evening really showcases that. It’s such a good mix so it's definitely a reflection of our city.”

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Attendance is free as always but attendees can donate $30 to the Miller benefitting their upcoming centennial in exchange for not only knowing they help to keep the Miller alive, but also a deli tray from Phoenicia Specialty Foods, gourmet popcorn and two Saint Arnold’s beers for the evening.

Last year the team at Rukaz got together with organizers from the Miller and threw names into a hat to decide which artists would be considered for the event. Any band that was named more than once in the process was explored as a possibility leading to the three night lineup which included Dende, The Broken Spokes and Ancient Cat Society.

This year, organizers took a different approach making the process of selecting participating artists more interactive for Houstonians as artists could apply to be considered and if selected, were eligible to be voted on by the public to be added to the lineup.

“Hopefully this is something that we will be able to carry forward,” says Cissy Segal Davis, Managing Director of the Miller of this year's voting process. “Houston has so many great bands and artists who live here and they don't always get exposure.”

Typically, the Miller Outdoor Theatre has a grant-based approach to artist engagement providing grants to non-profit organizations to fund performances on their large stage which includes acts from all over the world. The Mix Tape Series provides a rare opportunity for the Miller to interact with and spotlight local artists and allow emerging artists to perform for their hometown.

“We can engage them in a way that gives them an opportunity to perform before a pretty good sized audience and if the public has been involved in the process we are hoping that over time, that audience continues to grow.”

Even though the event is geared toward pushing emerging artists forward, organizers need to see that participants have enough experience and talent to take the almost 100-year-old stage.

“I’ve been itching to play bigger stages,” says Uncle Tino who will perform on the closing night. Tino describes how their Houston gigs are not often as attended as they would hope and how this series will allow them to give it their all on a larger space in front of more people.

“I’m really honored and thankful to have been selected for this show,” says Tino. My bandmates and I are super excited and can’t wait to show everyone a good time.”

Taking place on weeknights also allows for other musicians and industry workers to spend the evening on the hill. The Miller Mix Tape Series doesn’t only get the artists and organizers buzzing, but both Saenz and Davis agree that the world class stage crew of the Miller also gets pumped to spotlight local talent.

“We are so blessed that she's seeing this through for a second year,” says Saenz of Davis’ involvement. “I’ve never worked with such a genuine production crew that's going to give their all to give these artists that shine and that's just beyond us. Miller is one of the largest outdoor theaters in the state and they're excited about our local acts,” says Saenz.

"We are so excited about it," echoes Davis. "We look forward to it every year and we hope that the public really gets excited about it too because they had a hand in the process this time."

Davis knows that this event will draw not only new artists but new crowds and despite having a democratic approach to artist selections, she understands that not everyone will be pleased with the genres represented.

"We are not going to make everybody happy with everything we do and that's really not the motivation," describes Davis. "It's to have the best possible programming that appeals to a wide variety of people from Houston and outside of Houston who want to come here to enjoy these great performances and enjoy this fabulous city. We are trying to do our part to make Houston very attractive as an arts and culture town."
The Miller Summer Mix Tape Series will run from Wednesday, August 24 to Friday, August 26.  Performances begin at 8:15 p.m. and attendance is free.  Free seated tickets are available online starting at 10 a.m. on the day of the event.
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.
Contact: Gladys Fuentes