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Peace, Love and Understanding

Austin’s beloved Black Pumas share their stories from the last year… and how they’ve learned thankfulness for the future.

Article by Sarah Ivens

Photography by Jody Domingue for Guitar Center

Originally published in Austin Lifestyle


As 2022 draws to a close, what have you been most grateful for, professionally and personally?

Adrian Quesada: I’ve been very grateful for the opportunity to travel the world playing shows as Black Pumas. The perspective of having almost two years without performing really heightened my appreciation for the magnitude of it. On a personal level, I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to work on my physical and mental health.

Eric Burton: Our journey together as a band started late August 2017, our debut album released to critical acclaim two hours later and then we’ve gotten the opportunity to produce a second effort. Before all of this I lived in California, where I struggled to find a sense of rootedness or home - as a musician, a dreamer and a songwriter. This year, I’m most thankful for the sense of purpose I found professionally, in the eyes of those who found my songwriting and guitar playing worthy of fueling their positivity and lives as a whole. I’m proud to show my family that their love for me is touching the world at the moment.

What are you most excited for in 2023?


Adrian: The future is always so uncertain nowadays. I’m just excited that we seem to be - hopefully - learning from the perspective of the past couple of years.

Eric: I don’t get to see my family as much as I’d like at times so I’m most excited to embrace them with a new sense of flexibility, and freedom for the healing that has been so needed given the circumstances of the pandemic.

Describe how it feels returning to Austin after being on the road or on a press tour? What is it you miss most about Austin when you’re away and are happy to get back to?


Adrian: First, I miss my family in Austin and I’m always happy to get back to them. The city itself just feels like home and is always warm and welcoming. There are so many things we take for granted about living in this city - the music, the food, the people, and nature and the outdoors.

Eric: Before I was a part of Black Pumas, I was working odd jobs and playing solo gigs just to get some sense of stability - emotionally, physically, and spiritually. When Adrian and I linked up, it seemed like non-stop action from the get-go… to the degree that I look forward to continuing to get to know Austin from a place of relaxation and curiosity. The city is rich with talent and beautiful people, and I’m excited to see my friends.

What is it about Austin that still makes it such a special place for musicians and artists? How can we as a community protect that for the future?

Adrian: Austin’s culture of appreciation for music and art is one of its main, defining characteristics. It used to be folks came here because it was affordable but that’s no longer the case, so hopefully we can still hold on to the fabric of what attracted people to Austin in the first place. People could come here and let their freak flag fly and be embraced.

Eric: Austin feels like a big city in a small town to me. It’s the community! In the last year Austin experienced a freeze that put the state out of commission on multiple levels. It warmed my heart to see the neighborly community of Austin come together to ensure that people who were hungry were fed, families that were divided united and people who were in unsafe positions placed in safer conditions. You’d have to have been there to fully feel the gravity of the support on ground level. Maintaining a sense of honesty and connectedness is the best way to protect Austin.

Describe how you collaborate – do you each have particular traits or skills that brings out the best in the other?


Adrian: The collaboration is always evolving with time and experience. We are very yin and yang and provide balance as what we bring to the table is very different which is why it works.

Eric: For the most part we are fairly different individuals with many of the same likes and dislikes music wise. The connection kind of goes unspoken for. He does his thing and I do mine! Recording feels like going over to a neighborhood buddy’s place to play in the sandbox for a bit, uninhibited and/or undistracted in our own individual processes.

Earlier this year, you partnered with Guitar Center for Guitar-A-Thon to encourage and inspire people of all ages to pick up the guitar - why do you think it’s important to learn how to play instruments? How did it help you?

Adrian: When I was growing up, I was an introvert; still am in many ways - and often kept to myself. The guitar was a good way to find my voice when I was young. It was a way to express myself when I couldn't any other way.

Eric: The guitar is a big inspiration for me. I was attracted to the guitar at an early age, eight or nine. I used to play the violin, and I have some history with strings in general, but the guitar is just pretty much the most accessible instrument. Learning to play the instrument is immediate.

You’ve been nominated for Grammy Awards three years in a row now. Does that ever get old? What is the sweetest praise or recognition someone can give you for your work?


Adrian: It will never get old. We get more comfortable with it all, but none of it gets old. We’ve had people tell us that our music has gotten them through dark times, or been the soundtrack to moments full of love, and that is the best praise we can get.

Eric: It never gets old receiving some reciprocated appreciation at such level. We make music because we love to make music. When people decide to make it their duty to talk about it and honor it that’s something of a cherry on top. The sweetest praise someone can give is to give our music a chance to uplift them and challenge them. The streams, purchases, morale support never goes unappreciated.

How did you embrace the shutdown and slowdown of Covid? Did it bring fresh perspectives on things to be thankful for like playing live, touring, going to see other musicians perform?


Adrian: I was thankful at first to have a break from a potentially crazy year of non-stop touring and really embraced the opportunity to spend time with family and find time for projects I otherwise wouldn’t have had time for. It also really provided perspective and much deeper appreciation for the opportunity to perform live with Eric and the Pumas and tour the world to appreciative audiences.

Eric: Though the pandemic is and was heart wrenching for most of us to hear about, and experience the level of loss involved during quarantine, it was also the first time I’d ever really given myself a chance to completely rest and slow down. I learned more about the kind of friends I want around me and I got to get quite introspective about my responsibilities to myself, my family and associates altogether. Coming back for our five sold out nights at Stubbs Bar-B-Q was cathartic. I strive to recreate that sense of gratefulness at every show now.


  • Guitars and gratitude
  • Adrian, one half of the Grammy-nominated Austin band, Black Pumas
  • Eric has found a sense of belonging here in Austin