SXSW becomes a whole different beast once the music kicks in - lots of beer, music & late nights.
The unofficial kickoff for me is the Swollen Circus deal at Hole in the Wall on Tuesday night. It was another good one with highlights including The Silos, Blue Aeoroplanes, Chip Robinson’s (of Backsliders fame) with Terry Anderson’s Olympic Ass Kicking Team backing.
DAY 1 (WEDNESDAY)
Wednesday began with a trip to the cafe of the Dart Bowl with outtasight (and way cheap) enchiladas and killer fries. Nothing like coating the stomach with a little bit of the fatty stuff to inhibit the imbibing. Headed to the Paste party from there and caught the following:
Samantha Crain - excellent and new record out in April
Amanda Palmer - a show lady for sure, but not my cup of tea
Heartless Bastards - holy shit! and god can that girl sing!
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - channeling JB and doing it right.
Lonely Dear - from Sweden, but didn’t hear enough to opinion-ate
Wild Light - from New Hampshire and definitely have an ear-friendly pop sound
M. Ward - only played 4 songs, but enough to whet the whistle. He’s like two guitar players.
Decided to finally check out the Austin Music Awards which is the official kickoff to SXSW. The reason was our good friend Danny Roy Young (R.I.P.) being inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame. Lots of music and lots of award giving, but way too much of the latter and not something I’d ever do again. Once it was over, decided to pack it in to be rested for Thursday.
DAY 2 (THURSDAY)
Early to rise (as far as SXSW standards are concerned) and on a mission. We saw:
Willie Heath Neal & free tacos at Cheapo’s Records -> high energy, Atlanta-based honkabilly dude. Real good.
Willem Maker at Opal Devine’s -> rough-voiced guitar player. New record out on Fat Possum/Big Legal Mess Recs. I dig him.
Hollywood Gossip, The Low Anthem at Home Slice Pizza -> Had to cheer on hometowners Low Anthem who have a real buzz about them here at SXSW. A little pissed they only got 3 songs, but they made the most of them.
Out to Twangfest party at Jovita’s and saw:
Howe Gelb -> I love Gelb. Wish he could play my porch.
Laura Gibson -> spare singer / songwriter
Chuck Mead (of BR549 fame) & Grassy Knoll Boys -> really good high-powered and tight honky tonk
Horse Feathers -> a parting glance was it
Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs -> stripped bare blues & trad tunes
Daddy (Will Kimbrough & Tommy Womack) -> doing Nashville proud
Decided to head way off the beaten track to Giddy-Ups in way deep South Austin and saw the following:
Holy Liars -> high octane, but nothing that moved me
Mike Stinson -> my favorite of the day. From L.A. and with a definite California country bent to his music, Stinson sings hurtin’ honky tonk songs with a ravaged voice and a tighter than heck backing band. Lit up this dusty roadhouse!
Corey Crowder -> Caught a snippet and that’s it and left.
Dinner & music at Evangeline Cafe which is a great Cajun joint, also in South Austin and where we caught:
Stone River Boys -> Kind of the fallout of the Hacienda Brothers after the passing of Chris Gaffney. Dave Gonzales leads the band with Mike Barfield on vocals and the great Dave Biller sitting in on steel. Playing Western soul, these guys sounded f*cking great. The Gonzales/Biller interplay on guitar and steel was like they’ve been playing together for years and years and I dig the heck out the big bottomed notes Gonzales yanks out of ax.
Belly fun and ears ringing, enough for the day.