Runners from around the world enjoyed live music on Austin’s streets because of Joe Priesnitz’s efforts
Joe Priesnitz used music to positively impact the lives of others. Lucky for us, he did this for runners at the Ascension Seton Austin Marathon and the 3M Half Marathon. Since 2014, Joe worked with and booked local Austin acts to play live music on course. Hundreds of thousands of runners and spectators from around the world experienced why Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World because of Joe. Unfortunately, he passed away on Saturday, April 25th, after a seven-year battle with multiple myeloma. Joe is considered a legend in the music industry. He managed and booked legendary artists like Eric Johnson, Kelly Willis, and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble to name a few. Below are a few tributes from those positively impacted by the efforts of Joe Priesnitz.
Jack Murray – co-owner of High Five Events (owner of Austin Marathon)
Runners from around the world love the variation of live music along the Austin Marathon and 3M Half Marathon courses. Joe booked everything from rock bands to bagpipe players for these events. Austin is known as The Live Music Capital of the World. Participants and spectators experience that firsthand on Austin’s streets thanks to Joe’s efforts. We’re appreciative of his and Barbara’s contributions to our events, the music world, and the City of Austin. We felt lucky to have him as part of the team. Joe will be missed.
Danny Spoonts – Austin Marathon Course Crew, long-time friend
Joe and I both grew up in New Mexico and became friends after high school. We both moved to Austin in the 70s and became close friends for 40+ years. Joe was all about music. I became a runner in the mid-80s and began working as Course Manager for the Austin Marathon in 2012. The event had an opening to book and organize bands. I knew Joe would be great and he came on board. After years of doing what we both loved, we now got to work together! Anyone who knew Joe knew he was far from being a runner, but he was always the one to help out. I believe he really enjoyed going back a bit to his roots of booking bands again.
Gemma Kitson – Australian runner, 2020 Austin Marathon finisher
Traveling to the other side of the world and lining up for a marathon, suddenly full of doubt, I wore my headphones like a toddler clutching tightly to a security blanket. I was ready to be powered along by a playlist carefully curated by the friends who would typically run beside me as if I were home in Melbourne. It took minutes for it to be discarded while simultaneously falling in love with Austin. Eventually, I hit pause mid-song as I discovered a local group rocking out on a street corner. “How quirky,” I thought. By the third music pit-stop, I knew I had stumbled onto something pretty special.
I shared videos with everyone back home as I ran past yet another music group – and again, a totally different genre and different setup. I happily sacrificed my finish time as I stopped to capture the diverse range of gatherings with my phone. My feet found a new beat every handful of kilometers as the next band came into earshot. Never before had I seen SO much music on a run course. I hadn’t paid much attention to Austin’s reputation as The Live Music Capital of the World in my travel research until I found myself hanging onto the memories of each band I passed. Like any great soundtrack, the Austin Marathon’s music accompanied me on a journey that changed me forever. Austin and its amazing musical pulse will always be a part of my heartbeat now.
John and Stacey Conley – former owners of the Austin Marathon
Joe joined our team in 2014. He not only knew all of the major Austin musicians, but he also knew every garage band, bongo drummer, and bagpipe player in town. Joe worked side-by-side with our course manager, Danny Spoonts, to place the musicians and Joe delivered meals to them while they were on the course. He made sure that the acts had as good a time supporting the Austin Marathon as our participants had running the race. Joe was an unassuming professional who knew music, the musicians, the city, and our team. He will be sorely missed.
Joe Priesnitz’s impact on the music industry is undeniable, but his impact didn’t stop there. Hundreds of thousands of runners and spectators from around the world saw and heard why Austin is The Live Music Capital of the World. The Austin Marathon is grateful for Joe’s contributions. Our thoughts are with Barbara and his family and friends.
Feature and social images courtesy of Barbara Nadalini Priesnitz.