Monday, March 23, 2009

SXSW 2009 Wrap-up

Bob "Daddy-O" Wade's hand colored photo-canvas measuring 5' x 10'.

I'm writing this at the Austin airport Monday morning, awaiting my flight back to Philadelphia where I'm told the forecast for this week is temps in the 40's, arghhh. After a week of shorts and t-shirts, that's harsh. Some more Austin pics follow, in the wake of SXSW got the chance yesterday to visit Waterloo Records, Cheapo Records, Amy's Ice Cream, the flagship Whole Foods store and finally Hut's Hamburgers. How great is it that on top of all the music in Austin, they've got what could be the best hamburger joint, ice cream parlor, and record stores in the known universe.

From the SXSW band list of approximately 1,800 bands playing the festival, I earmarked a total of 240 bands as possibilities, with 35 designated as priority choices (saw about 15 of those 35). I'm headed home with 2,100 photos to sort, edit, process and post for 38 total shows seen over the four days including a number of shows that weren't even part of the original 240 band plan. When all is said and done, the following links will be live with photos and descriptions for all the shows (listed below alphabetically), plus you can also navigate this project starting on the welcome post and then using the forward and back links at the bottom of each page for chronological order.

  • Ariel Abshire (Austin, TX)
  • Alessi's Ark (London, England)
  • Jill Barber (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  • Wallis Bird (Dublin, Ireland)
  • Haley Bonar (St. Paul, MN)
  • Jackie Bristow (Austin, TX/New Zealand)
  • Camera Obscura (Glasgow, Scotland)
  • Gabriela Cilmi (Melbourne, Australia)
  • Juliette Commagere (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Laura Critchley (Liverpool, England)
  • Jessie Frye (Arlington, TX)
  • Monica Giraldo (Bogota, Columbia)
  • Emily Grace & Matthew Gardner (Nashville, TN) with Mike Badger (Liverpool, England)
  • Kara Grainger (Sydney, Australia/Los Angeles, CA)
  • The Grates (Brisbane, Australia)
  • John Wesley Harding and Eugene Mirman's Cabinet of Wonders (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Kylie Harris (Auckland, New Zealand/Nashville, TN)
  • Honey Ryder (London, England)
  • Erin Ivey (Austin, TX)
  • Amy LaVere (Nashville, TN)
  • Lights (Toronto, Canada)
  • Ferraby Lionhart (Nashville, TN)
  • Marli (London, UK)
  • Angie Mattson (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Meiko (Los Angeles, CA/Roberta, GA)
  • Mother Mother (Vancouver, Canada)
  • Other Lives (Stillwater, OK)
  • Poet in Process (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Popular Damage (Berlin, Germany)
  • Lucie Silvas (Nashville, TN/U.K.)
  • April Smith and the Great Picture Show (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Kim Taylor (Cincinatti, OH)
  • Ten Out of Tenn (Nashville, TN)
  • Neil Thomas (London, England)
  • Via Audio (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Amy Wadge (Pontypridd, Wales)
  • Brooke Waggoner (Nashville, TN)
  • Waz (Los Angeles, CA)
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

Home of the Texadelphia cheesesteak.

A good rockabilly sounding band playing inside Cheapo Records.

The wall at Amy's Ice Cream.

One of Austin's many noisy Grackles, in the Whole Foods parking lot.

"God Bless Hut's"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

SXSW - Day Four, Saturday, 3/21/09

A couple of thoughts came to mind as I was walking to the first gig today. One being that with all the great music heard in the first three days, if the festival were over now, it would still seem mighty worthwhile to have come here. The second thought, and I realized the very same thing about this point in the week last year, is that with up to 80 shows going on simultaneously at any given hour of the night, and with all the figuring out who to see where and running back and forth across Austin from one venue to another, that by day four one should logically be exhausted and somewhat freaked out, but quite the opposite is true, I find it relaxing, exciting, and exhilarating. It's sort of like a beach vacation where 6th Street is the boardwalk, but instead of beach and ocean, it's live music all day and night.

The day got off to a fine start at the Aussie Music Showcase WAM party, WAM being Western Australia Music. Then on to a sparsely attended but very mellow and excellent set at a club a couple of doors down 6th Street. The duo we had come to see had connected with a singer and songwriter from Liverpool that they had met the night before so he came to play the set with them and he turned out to be Mike Badger, known for co-founding the La's. Next were two terrific artists playing the Sesac Day Stage including an amazing Irish singer-songwriter who's yet to be released here.

The final run of nighttime showcases began with a beautiful set of music that incorporated jazz, swing, and 40's style pop into songs that didn't sound dated at all. Dave joined me for a band from Spain, found on the SXSW band list, who rocked in a way that has yet to be heard on these shores with a most compelling singer. Next was a fabulous set by a singer-songwriter from New Zealand who has recently relocated to the states. And as if the week hadn't already had enough peak moments, there was an awesome midnight show by a singer-songwriter from Columbia, South America, and a very mellow ending at the Creekside venue which has been turned into The Bedford at SXSW for the week. The Bedford is a great venue in London, England and Tony Moore just did a fabulous job of putting together four awesome days of artists from the U.K., and hosting all the shows, I think I hit this venue more than any other this week. Here's today's show list, links to go live with pictures and descriptions soon.

SXSW - Day Four, Saturday, 3/21/09
Kara Grainger (Sydney, Australia/Los Angeles, CA) 2-3pm
Emily Grace & Matthew Gardner (Nashville, TN) with Mike Badger (Liverpool, England) 3-4pm
Ferraby Lionhart (Nashville, TN) 4:30-5pm
Wallis Bird (Dublin, Ireland) 5-5:30pm
Jill Barber (Halifax, Nova Scotia) 8-8:40pm
Juliette Commagere (Los Angeles, CA) 8:40-9pm
Poet in Process (Barcelona, Spain) 9-10pm
Kylie Harris (Auckland, New Zealand/Nashville, TN) 10-11pm
Alessi's Ark (London, England) 11pm-12am
Monica Giraldo (Bogota, Columbia) 12-1am
Neil Thomas (London, England) 1-2am

Listen to Monica Giraldo - "Por verte llegar" from the album Todo Da Vueltas.

No lyric of the day today, but with the many hundreds of bands come many great band names. Favorite band name of SXSW 2009 belongs to a band from Glasgow, Scotland called We Were Promised Jetpacks. Here are the random shots from day four.

A videographer shoots a bit of Kara Grainger's set at B.D. Riley's Pub.

The Austin Convention Center

A big week for these guys, one would think.

Convention Center.

The trade show ended Friday so the space could be repurposed for a guitar and record convention Saturday and Sunday.

The primary street food is pizza, but there are other options.

The best pizza on 6th Street this year came from this truck, an oasis at 2am when the music stopped.

Can't resist a couple more shots of the Capital Building.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

SXSW - Day Three, Friday, 3/20/09

Day three began early with a panel discussion which was not only highly interesting, but altered the course of the night's events, more below. Leaving the convention center, there were two day parties with excellent food going on at Brush Square Park. First up was the "Listen to Berlin" party featuring several German bands with bratwurst sandwiches and German potato salad, a group called Popular Damage was a fun listen during lunch. On the other side of the square, it was the Aussie BBQ with a slate of bands and singers from Australia and more BBQ. I caught a couple of up and coming new artists there including one who is apparently about to hit the states in a big pop/rock way, Gabriela Cilmi. The afternoon was rounded out nicely with some great music courtesy of D'Addario Strings at the Rusty Spur.

It was a full night of showcases, actually squeezing two half hour sets into the 8pm hour and still having time to hoof it across town to La Zona Rosa to see Camera Obscura. This is a Scottish band who has been around for about ten years but somehow I'd never connected with them until hearing a song off their forthcoming album at the panel discussion this morning. The song, "French Navy" is a delightful tune that sounds both fresh and new and yet at the same time has elements of a great sixties pop record. After the panel I checked the schedule and they were on this evening during a time that could fit into the plan, and the show was a highlight of the festival (among many). The photo above is Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura at the end of their show. Lucie Silvas, a great British singer-songwriter who is yet to be released in the states, did her "first proper gig in the U.S." here tonight and it was another highlight of the week. I'd been wanting to catch John Wesley Harding for a good number of years but it never worked out until tonight. Here's today's list, live links to show pics and descriptions is coming soon.

SXSW - Day Three, Friday, 3/20/09
Popular Damage (Berlin, Germany) 1-2pm
Gabriela Cilmi (Melbourne, Australia) 2-3pm
The Grates (Brisbane, Australia) 3-4pm
Angie Mattson (Los Angeles, CA) 5-6pm
Lights (Toronto, Canada) 8-8:30pm
Waz (Los Angeles, CA) 8:30-9pm
Camera Obscura (Glasgow, Scotland) 9:30-10:30pm
Erin Ivey (Austin, TX) 10:30-11pm
Lucie Silvas (Nashville, TN/U.K.) 11pm-12am
John Wesley Harding and Eugene Mirman's Cabinet of Wonders (Brooklyn, NY) 12-2am

When I got to the end of the band list yesterday, a song caught my ear and I'll have to give them lyric of the day honors. This is the very last entry on the band list, a fun sounding band from Philadelphia called Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer, the song is "Death or Radio". It looks like the schedule won't allow seeing them here, but I'll hope to catch them sometime back in Philly. Warning this can easily get stuck in your head.

Let's hold hands and listen to shitty bands,
Tossing records out the window,
Now it's either death or radio,
Who are you and where did you come from.

Listen to Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer - "Death or Radio"

Here's the SXSW description of the panel, "Adult Rock Music Meeting":

Find out how music decisions are made by some of the most important gatekeepers at radio, television, film, and advertising. They (and you) will listen to 10 unreleased songs and grade their potential for their stations, shows, films, or commercials. Host Sean Coakley (Owner, Songlines) will moderate, and a roving mic will prowl the floor searching for your input.

The panel consisted of Heather Browne (Editor/Music Writer, Fuel/Friends), Rita Houston (Music Dir, WFUV), Jim Pitt (Talent Exec, NBC), Kelly Ransford (Music Dir, KFOG-FM), Amy Rosen (Grey Worldwide), Bruce Warren (Program Dir, WXPN), and Norm Winer (VP Programming, WXRT/CBS Radio). The songs and the discussion were very interesting, great to hear Bruce Warren and the other radio folk discuss the issues surrounding what to play and not play on their stations. Both the panel and the audience had cards showing 1 though 10 to hold up after each song was played and the comments from the audience elicited more interesting conversation with the panel. It was a well spent morning, with the giant plus of being able to catch up with Bruce Warren and Jim Pitt afterward and to tell Jim about Chrissi Poland and how he will one day book her to sing on Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show. It was also a good day for walking around pictures, here are some random shots.

Lego Corner in the Austin Convention Center during SXSW.

Rocket boosters ready for takeoff.


Anyone can have at a canvas at the Live.Create.Lounge and have a Zone Perfect Protein Bar.

It's crazy out there at night on 6th Street.

All that mess in the above photos... gone by the morning.