Wednesday, March 31, 2010

SXSW - Dylan LeBlanc, 3/18/10

Photo: Amanda Chapman

It’s hard to actually find a diamond in the rough these days at SXSW. A festival that was created to help new bands get discovered is now more about big bands playing to established fans. There’s nothing wrong with either situation but each year I try to catch at least a few unknown acts. The name Dylan LeBlanc caught my eye only because he was playing after Califone at the Other Music party at the French Legation Museum. I listened to a couple of songs on his myspace, penciled him in on the schedule and hoped for something great.

Dylan LeBlanc is a 19 year old Louisiana native that has just been signed to Rough Trade Records. His appearance could lead you to believe that he lives in Brooklyn and dresses the way he does to impress, but I believe his time in Shreveport and Muscle Shoals has created something more authentic in both his exterior and songs. His writing is heavily influenced by Townes Van Zandt and the normal (although great) list of singer-songwriters from the 70s. He creates gentle songs that roll along in a soft way that immediately takes you back to the glory days of “the songwriter”. This probably has as much to do with his influences as the fact that his father is a country songwriter.

The setting at the French Legation was perfect for his 1:30 time slot. He played the small stage at the bottom of the hill and seemed genuinely grateful for the crowd’s interest. LeBlanc’s songs are not all attention grabbing but it’s easy to see why he was signed by the huge UK label. There’s definitely a lot of potential in the young man’s songs and his delivery. It’s always a delicate situation when a young songwriter writes songs that speak of troubled times that may be beyond his years. I never once questioned LeBlanc’s words during the 30 minute set and simply stated; his songs are good and there’s no denying it. I enjoyed every moment immensely and can’t wait to hear more studio tracks.

Rough Trade hasn’t announced a release date for an album or EP but hopefully LeBlanc will have something out this summer. For now, you can check out his myspace tracks (all recommended) or the few youtube clips that are floating around.

Friday, March 26, 2010

SXSW - A cold wild wind will come

Day Four - Saturday

Holy crap. Beginning around 3 AM, Saturday was a bust. That was about the time I was sleeping on my friend's couch and thought I was going to get sucked out the window because the cold front and rain hit with so much force. Hence, nice weather officially over. The cold temperature and strong winds made for the most unpleasant day I have ever witnessed in the three total SXSW's I have been able to attend.

To cut short the complaining, I'll summarize by saying I did a LOT of walking in this cold wind to a number of shows that were either canceled or postponed. We caught the end of the last song of a set by Sonny and the Sunsets and the last 2 songs by Sarah Jaffe, followed by another performance by Doug Burr, but due to some poor planning and the weather disaster, the afternoon was largely a bust.

SXSW Axiom #5: SXSW is not designed with much of a contingency plan for bad weather, and your "list" for the day is likely to be thrown into total flux if this type of weather hits.

Most of all, I was super disappointed that the Ground Control Showcase, featuring Dawes, Deer Tick, Justin Townes Earle, and Lucero was postponed to evening when I couldn't attend, but such is life, even though SXSW isn't that much like real life at all.

The only redeeming factor of the day was the showcase I attended that evening at the Ale House. This showcase first featured Denton band Telegraph Canyon, a band that has been on my radar for some time now, but whom I have not had the chance to see live yet. The many band members crammed on to the tiny stage at the Ale House and put on a fantastic showcase that was quite well received by the packed venue.

As a side note, I actually saw Vic Chesnutt at this exact venue at a SXSW five years ago, so despite the fact that the small room is really only a music venue during SXSW, it holds a special place in my musical memory.

Following Telegraph Canyon, the crowd mostly stayed put for the set by Thrift Store Cowboys. Yet another large band, at 6 pieces, TSC played a very strong set, closing with one of the most upbeat songs from their upcoming album, entitled "Bright Fires."

In short, I was extremely happy with how SXSW turned out this year. I saw roughly 20 artists that I really wanted to see, and you just can't complain about something like that. I went to only a few of the most hyped shows, and honestly, had the best time at the shows that were more low key, and had a lower proportion of people in attendance who spent the whole time talking about all the other cool parties they went to.

SXSW Axiom #6: Hipper is not necessarily better. Yes, you'll hear all sorts of things about the hippest bands that came to SXSW, and for some reason, most sites love telling you about how they got in to see Broken Bells at SXSW, but all in all, it probably wouldn't have been worth your time to do the same. I saw {band name censored} and {band name censored}, who played the storied Fader Fort, at a few other venues, and they were just a plain let-down. If you have the chance, go to the smaller parties with smaller crowds and you'll have a much better time.

If you've never been to SXSW and you really love music, then try to go. Don't bother with the badge because you can see more than you could ever want to see at the free shows that happen each day and are increasing in number every year. The musical energy of this week is unlike any that I have otherwise been a part of and is not easily replicated, so please do yourself the favor of taking part.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

SXSW – Peter Wolf Crier, 3/18/10

Thursday was by far the most productive day considering that we saw new bands, “must sees” and old favorites. The fourth band of the day came before noon at Habana Calle on Sixth Street. We decided to make the trek to the dreaded street because we figured that most people were still recovering from Wednesday night. I had only heard of Peter Wolf Crier a couple of weeks prior to SXSW when one of my favorite labels, Jagjaguwar, announced that they had signed the duo and planned to re-release their debut album.

The band was setting up in the basement of the Cuban restaurant when we arrived. The next 30 minutes was filled with harsh guitar lines mixed with sweet melodies. The band had won me over by the middle of the second song when Peter Pisano, the guitarist and vocalist, started looping his vocals in a surprisingly pleasant way. Looping vocals started gaining popularity a few years ago with the rise of certain artists like Andrew Bird and St. Vincent. This movement led to everyone and their mother looping everything on stage and creating unpleasant experiences for everyone involved. Pisano loops the right way and has a great understanding of how to use his vocal range with the band’s unique style of music. The Minneapolis-based band seemed genuinely appreciative of the early morning crowd and stated how happy they were to be on Jagjaguwar. Pisano also talked about the fact that he was a teacher and that he should have been grading papers instead of playing an 11 am show. Luckily for us he decided to play a few selections from the band’s album, Inter-Be.

The band infuses reverb guitar with old time blues to create something that is unique and refreshing. I enjoyed their set so much that it stood out in my mind even after seeing seven other quality bands on Thursday. I can’t wait to hear their full album, but I don’t know if it will beat what could be described as the perfect SXSW day show. The attentive crowd mixed with a great environment helped the band play at the top of their game. Muzzle of Bees did a great job noticing the band and having them play the party at a time when real music fans can enjoy real music. Check out some live footage of Peter Wolf Crier from other shows at SXSW here.

Inter-Be will be released on May 25th by Jagjaguwar.

(Photo credit Stacy Schwartz.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SXSW - Ramble Creek and Mile Hi Fidelity parties

Day Three - Friday

Friday morning we proved to be a bit less energetic than Thursday, and without any specific early plans, we took our time before heading to the Ramble Creek day party. We arrived just before 1 PM, with the primary intention of catching the set by One Wolf, who interestingly had played a party less than an hour before across town and still somehow managed to make it on time to the Ramble Creek show, held in a perfect backyard setting.

At that precise point, the random craziness of SXSW hit full force, as H. called to inform me that she and her friends had just gotten in a minor car accident. Thus, for obvious reasons, One Wolf did not happen for us, but most importantly, everyone involved in the accident was okay. While the cars received a good bit of damage, the accident wasn't our friend's fault, and after taking care of the necessities involved with that situation, we all returned to the Ramble Creek party for some much needed stress relief.

The first act we got to see was Collin Herring, an awesome artist currently based in Austin (formerly of Fort Worth) who I've been a fan of for a number of years now. Herring played a number of tracks off of his new release, Ocho, recorded of course at Ramble Creek, and produced by Will Johnson, and also mixed in some of his earlier songs. If I hadn't mentioned this before, Collin has about the coolest steel player around, Ben Roi Herring, his dad, and their duo performance (and banter) were a real pleasure to watch/hear.

Did someone just say Will Johnson? Yes, that's right, THE Will Johnson of Centro-matic, South San Gabriel, and most recently, the drummer for the Monsters of Folk, graced the Ramble Creek party with a beautiful solo set. I hope I didn't embarrass myself as I sat roughly 10 feet from Will with my jaw resting on the ground, but hearing "Just to Know What You've Been Dreaming" in this particular setting was on par with the very best experiences of my entire SXSW, or maybe more accurately of the past few years. Whatever it took to get him to come play at this show, I can't thank the folks at Ramble Creek enough for making this happen.

I haven't described the exact locale of the Ramble Creek show yet, but it was by far the most enjoyable day party of SXSW by far. It was held in a backyard with the perfect set-up and perfect weather to accompany, and to boot, a big tub full of Lone Star was available for all in attendance.

The next act was one I have missed seeing live ever since we moved to Colorado. Doug Burr has written some of my favorite songs of the last decade, and in my book he has about as much integrity as any artist I listen to. He has recently recorded a new album, from which he played a number of songs. In short, I couldn't be more excited for these songs, as they are absolutely phenomenal. Doug has crafted a career in exactly the fashion that he wants, and this diligence has surely paid off as more and more people begin to take notice. He was backed at this show by his frequent collaborator Glen Farris, as well as members of Seryn and Monahans drummer Roberto Sanchez for some songs.

Next up was Austin band Monahans, who include Ramble Creek owner/engineer Britton Beisenherz on guitar. I had not seen this band before, although a number of years ago I saw a previous project of some of the musicians called Milton Mapes, and was a fan of all of that band's material. Monahans, however, is a new project, and as I think was the intention, the transition has infused a new energy into their music. The band is tighter than ever as a performing group, and their set at this day party was absolutely flawless and one of the best of the entire SXSW for me. The band has two albums to their name, although they are in the process of a project in which they will release one song a month for download for the rest of 2010. The first track is already available, and you can check out their Web site for details on how to get in on this opportunity. Monahans is a band on the rise and I fully hope they can ride the momentum to more widespread success and notoriety in the near future.

Alas, as much as I hated to leave, I had to take off after Monahans because I wanted my Austin friend to see Denver's Slim Cessna's Auto Club, and knew this would be our best chance. While I missed Telegraph Canyon's set at Ramble Creek, I was able to make up for my exit by catching them on Saturday night.

After some frantic traffic navigation and hurried walking, we made it to the Mile Hi Fidelity party just in time to catch the latter half of Slim Cessna's set. Do I even have to mention that Slim did not disappoint? Munly was in top form, having just arrived from the year 1840, performing an extremely high energy set as co-frontman to Slim, just as we have all come to expect out of him and the Auto Club. Very few bands can claim to hold a foot firmly in the alt country legacy of the early 1990s while also remaining relevant for modern Americana/Southern Gothic music as well. In short, SCAC brought their tent revival to Sixth Street, and the end of the set no doubt saw a new group of converts leaving their first Slim show. Please see Slim if you get the chance. Sadly, even though they were the last band, Slim's energetic finale didn't lead into any encore, despite my desire to hear their epic "He, Roger Williams."

SXSW Axiom #4: No encores necessary at SXSW. There is simply too much music during the week for 99% of crowds to ask for another song. Few listeners even catch full sets, and no matter where you go you hear more music, so the encore is largely absent at SXSW, probably to everyone's benefit.

As you can see in the pictures below (click to enlarge), Slim and Munly's crowd involvement made for some of the best action pics of the festival, although "best" is a relative term with my crappy camera. You can't see it that well in the small version, but I love Slim's look in the background of the second picture below.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SXSW - The early bird gets to hear more bands

Day Two - Thursday

Our second day of music showcases began quite early in SXSW terms, starting at 9 AM with the KUT acoustic showcases in the lobby of the Hilton. Given the excitement and reveling we saw on Wednesday, we predicted, quite accurately, that few would be up this early and that we could see some good acts in these early sets without dealing with the crowds.

First up was Dawes, one of the bands I most wanted to see this SXSW. The acoustic set was everything I could have hoped for, showcasing the band's vocal harmonies perfectly and giving us the chance to see them up close and without being sandwiched in on all sides like was the case at a number of the Wednesday parties. The drum-less set was a great setting to see the band, although it didn't provide a forum for their most upbeat track, "When My Time Comes." Catching this set proved especially important since I was not able to see any of Dawes' full band shows the rest of the week. Sorry I missed them, as it sounds like the band was very well received.

Next up at the Hilton was Frightened Rabbit, a buzz band of sorts who has been getting lots of attention lately, and so we were glad to catch them in this more intimate setting. Playing as a two-piece, the band put on a solid performance and lived up to the hype that I often hear about them. Shifting gears considerably, the next band was the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a band I hadn't seen live, but one that I know is quite popular in Colorado. The sound is actually modeled after a 1930s group called the Tennessee Chocolate Drops, as described by one of the members during their interview, and has what I consider a genuine old-time feel. Bluegrass is not my favorite type of music, but the Carolina Chocolate Drops' performance and stage presence made our time watching them very worthwhile.

Following the Hilton, we moved about a bit for some shows I won't detail because Derek likely will do so later. However, I will say that we did attend our favorite large-scale day party of the week at the Babelgum Lawn party at the French Legation Museum east of I-35. The party was well-organized and had a great sound system, with the only deficiency being the number of porta-potties.

SXSW Axiom #3: Porta Johns are the ultimate status leveler at SXSW. That is, badges don't mean a thing when it comes to the line for the bathroom.

For such a large venue, easily accommodating a few thousand people, the French Legation Museum had only 5 porta johns. I only waited in the line once, for about 15 minutes, but I can only imagine how terrible it must have been for the largest acts of the day like The xx and Dum Dum Girls.

Thankfully our schedule led us next to South Congress for the Sin City Social Club party. Tim Easton provided a great set of his desert-infused rock and was followed by Thrift Store Cowboys, who played a set of mostly new material that is to appear on their recently-recorded new album. The $2 pints at this day party were also far preferable to the $5 of the previous day, so the locale change was appreciated once again.

We ended Thursday, a day in which we saw 11 great musical acts all across Austin, in a way that couldn't be much more fitting. At the large day party known as South By San Jose, we caught Texas icon Billy Joe Shaver's set to close the night. We had the great pleasure of hearing Shaver dedicate an a capella version of "Star in My Heart" to his late son Eddy, followed by his classic "Live Forever." Even Joe Ely was in attendance for this legend's performance, clearly recognizing as we all did that Shaver is one of Texas' best living songwriters, and his live show is one that you should not turn down the opportunity to see if given the chance. Given our success at seeing so many great bands, I could have been happy with Thursday being my last day of concerts at SXSW, if not for the fact that there were still quite a few bands I hoped to see.

Monday, March 22, 2010

SXSW - The badge and the badge-holder

As I've already briefly noted, my plans to blog during SXSW failed miserably. It just wasn't realistic to spend time on blogs late at night after music/friend time, and similarly, I wasn't exactly getting up with the roosters every morning. Similar to the blogging plans, my intentions of taking lots of pictures of the bands I saw were limited by 1) my crappy camera and 2) my unwillingness to push and shove to the front of crowds to get the best shots. Thus, I didn't take many pictures over the week and provide only a few of the better ones.

As you will see, I made it to a number of the shows I mentioned interest in seeing, although in true SXSW fashion, every time I chose to see one band, it was similarly a decision to miss 3 others I wanted to see. I doubt you are interested in the bands I was unimpressed with, so I'll talk about the high points and the humorous points and Derek will talk about others, and we'll try not to overlap too much, except for when we do.

Day One - Wednesday

The first day we jumped straight off of our flight from Denver and headed straight into the thick of things on Sixth Street. The first order of business was the Brooklyn Vegan party and the 1:30 set by the Morning Benders. In front of a packed crowd at Emo's, this relatively new buzz band put on a show that seemed to please the audience and their performance of "Excuses," the song that has made the rounds via its viral video, was plenty rockin' for those there to see it. The band is clearly young, as evidenced by the X's on the hands of some of the members, and while their catalog is small at this point, they have the potential to build on their buzz and become a mainstay of the indie scene.

In search of greener pastures, i.e. somewhere that wasn't charging $4 for Lone Star, we left Emo's and made our way to the Paste party down the street at the Galaxy Room, although this decision proved to be a bit of a misstep. Joe Pug was the first act at this party that we wanted to see, and I assume his set was good, although I just couldn't hear it. The set took place in a large tent and as a solo acoustic act, it couldn't have been a poorer fit, as basically everyone but those in the front row was talking to the person next to them. Which brings me to:

SXSW Axiom #1: If you have ever wondered how to spot the important people at SXSW, just look for those who go to the popular parties and talk during every band. I expect these were the people who went to this type of party throughout the festival and told everyone about how awesome {insert buzz band name} was at the Brooklyn Vegan/Paste/Burger King party, even though they didn't even listen to said band because they were talking about themselves through it all.

While not a priority, another bad sign was that we soon found that the only cold beer at the Paste party was Dos Equis and cost $5, so the grass was in fact not greener, but more expensive and more pretentious. The defining moment at the Paste party was watching the entry policies at the door. When we arrived, the line was minimal and all but one of our group got in without too much trouble. The one was held back about 5 minutes while someone from Paste (or otherwise involved with the party) went outside to throw a fit and stomp his feet at the door man because he was letting in too many non-badge holders. If you're not familiar with SXSW, official badge holders buy $500-$700 passes to gain entry into all official SXSW events, and supposedly, one is supposed to get priority at free day shows with these badges as well. Thus, as you can see, (SXSW Axiom #2) free day shows aren't exactly always free day shows. We did everyone there a favor by leaving and making room for more VIPs not too long after we arrived.

Our final try at free Sixth Street shows on Wednesday was admittedly one of novelty, as it involved getting in line at Emo's to see the GZA perform at the Brooklyn Vegan party. This line was not unreasonably long, but one of the longer ones that we saw for the week. As we reached the front of the line, a gentleman with one of the aforementioned badges bypassed the line and flippantly flashed his badge to the doorman as he proceeded to enter the venue...until the doorman stopped him and pointed to the back of the line. Following this initial exchange, said badge-holder re-emphasized the presence of the badge and said he just had to run in to tell some people inside that the GZA had canceled. This was the first we had heard of the cancellation, although as we looked up at the sign on the door, it was clearly posted in a handwritten note. Looking back to the gate crasher, the door man reiterated that the badge-holder needed to move to the back of the line just like everyone else if he wanted to get in. And at this point, the greatest line of this year's SXSW was uttered. After repeatedly being denied entry, the badge-holder pulled his final trump card and loudly exclaimed "does not mean anything to you?" That's right, not Rolling Stone magazine, but The response of course was textbook Emo's, as the doorman deflated this copy editor's ego completely and turned him away for the final time. And with that, we were largely done with the big parties for the week.

As a pleasant conclusion to Wednesday, we stopped by the ComboPlate Booking roster party at Guero's. Unfortunately we weren't able to see everyone involved, but we caught great sets by Michael Fracasso and Matt the Electrician. The atmosphere on South Congress was far preferable to that of Sixth Street, although I guess that goes without saying. While I know that the trendy big parties are a priority for many, the ComboPlate party proved to me that the low-key day shows on South Congress and elsewhere in town are far more enjoyable than the big name hip parties downtown in almost all instances. This is not really breaking news, but with the ever-expanding list of parties during SXSW week, it is increasingly not worth the hassle of Sixth Street.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


It is freezing outside today for the final day of SXSW. Not sure that the outdoor showcase I wanted to see is going to be worth the case of pneumonia that comes along with it. Okay, so maybe that's a bit dramatic, but what it won't be pleasant either way.

So much music the last few days and so little time to talk about it.

High points so far:

Peter Wolf Crier - had never heard of them, but loved their set
Ramble Creek Day Party - didn't make the entire show for various reasons, but this was by far the best setting and best lineup of the festival
Pretentious idiots with badges (not a band - more on this later)
Dawes acoustic set
Billy Joe Shaver

Also, I think we got the ultimate Wu-Tang Clan experience, because we waited in line on Wednesday to see the GZA, only to find out when we got to the front of the line that he was a no-show.

I'll do another re-cap at some point soon, although I'm sure I'll forget most of it between now and then.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Band of Horses - Boulder, CO, 03/15/10

In my book, there is really something to be said about artists who were in a band for a long time, and had maybe mediocre success, but at some point, and for any number of reasons, they create a new band with a more focused and polished sound than their original band. Case in point is Band of Horses, fronted by Ben Bridwell, who was formerly in a band called Carissa's Wierd in the 90s and 00s. Do you remember listening to them in the mid-to-late 90s? Probably not, because they never really got much mainstream attention. However, the years Bridwell spent in that band clearly taught him a lot about what he wanted to sound like and the things he needed to be doing to become successful. I think the folks in bands that seemingly aren't going anywhere reach a certain breaking point, and only a select few recognize they don't have that many chances left to make it AND also have the ability to create a "first" album under a new name that simply blows everyone away (see Vernon, Justin).

For a band with only two albums under their belt, Band of Horses is simply one of the best live bands around. As I noted in an earlier post, Band of Horses played the Fox Theatre 3 1/2 years ago, just around the time I moved to Boulder, in support of their only album then, Everything All the Time. For monetary reasons, I couldn't go, and I've regretted that decision since the show was announced. Quite ironically, Bridwell asked the sold out house at the Fox Theatre on Monday night how many of them had been at that show, and an extremely sparse response of a couple of yells and some raised hands were returned. That is to say, Band of Horses has gained some serious notoriety since 2006, clearly evidenced by the two sold out Denver area shows this week.

The Boulder show found BoH playing quite a few songs from their new record, Infinite Arms (May 18, on Brown/Fat Possum/Columbia) for which the album art has just recently been released. I have to say I'm quite excited to hear it, as the songs were very well received and fit very nicely with the band's current set list. (pic from the show here) For 90 minutes the band enthralled the packed house with energetic performances of a good portion of their catalog. It may be their most well-known song, and the main one that the half-assed fans were there to see, but if you haven't already, you need to add "hearing Band of Horses play 'The Funeral' live" to your bucket list. Yes, it's as good as you might imagine.

Returning to my original thought, I simply have a really strong appreciation for artists who construct such a clear and cohesive vision for their work that you never say "I wish they had done...." It doesn't really matter if someone finds that artistic place at 21 or 35, although I think the more time that goes into it, the better the product will be over the long term. Band of Horses are steadily producing a body of work that is going to keep them quite popular for a long time, and I feel fortunate to have gotten to see them in a small theater setting like the Fox, as their time in this type of intimate venue may be limited. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to get in to see them at SXSW this year, unless you are a major VIP, but you should take the opportunity to see them live when you have the chance.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Austin Bands in Austin for SXSW

Every March brings thousands of bands to Austin in search of record deals, women and free booze. There are unspoken contests on who has the coolest sunglasses at most venues in which normal people do not participate. Most locals attend some free show while others lock all of their doors and board up the windows. Local bands tend to play around the party scene and take part in at least one showcase during the week. Here’s a short list of Austin bands that I recommend. (Disclaimer: all of these bands are better than whatever “wave” party Pitchfork is hosting.)

Monahans – I’ve seen this band live around ten times in the last few years and they’ve all been enjoyable experiences. But, the band is truly firing on all cylinders since last fall and is riding the streak into SXSW. They’ve perfected their live set and mix a good number of old tunes with songs from their latest album, Dim the Aurora. Be sure to check out their “song a month” plan for the rest of 2010 at their website.

Thurs., 3/18 – Space12 (3121 E. 12th St.) - 2 PM
Thurs., 3/18 – TwangFest at Jovita’s – 4:30 PM
Fri., 3/19 – Ramble Creek Party at Show Lush’s Backyard - 3 PM
Sat., 3/20 - Alejandro Escovedo Maria's Taco Express - 11:45 AM
Sat., 3/20 – Spune Party at J. Black’s - 5:30 PM

Cory Branan – His live shows are a unique experience to say the least. If you’re in the need of an attitude adjustment then this is the man to see. He will hopefully be playing some new songs from his upcoming album as well as his crowd pleasing classics. A Cory Branan show will improve your SXSW experience beyond all reason no matter your preference of musical genre.

Thurs., 3/18 - Barbarella - 10 PM
Fri., 3/19 - Continental CLub - 2:45 PM
Sat., 3/20 - Music Gym - 9:30 PM

Centro-Matic – One of the most prolific bands to come from Texas will break their silence starting at this year’s SXSW. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the band perform on stage together. They band splits their time and members between Denton and Austin but I consider them to be more of a local act than most of the transplant bands in this town. I’m sure new songs will be revealed and loved by people who enjoy great music.

Thurs., 3/18 - Emo's Annex - 12 AM
Fri., 3/19 - Will Johnson solo Ramble Creek Party Show Lush’s Backyard - 3 PM
Fri., 3/19 – Brooklyn Vegan at Club DeVille - 4:30 PM

Sad Accordions – If you’re in the mood for music that prohibits you from sitting still then you should check out this band. Just listening to their recorded work doesn’t do the group justice. You have to see them in person to experience the force of their new songs and how each one builds into a storm of sound. That’s right, a storm of sound. They will be previewing songs from their soon to be released EP.

Thurs., 3/18 – Space12 (3121 E. 12th St.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

SXSW preview - Lucero

It's a typical tradition of ours to go see Lucero as many times as possible during SXSW, even in cases where we end up missing bands we haven't seen play at all. It's not really logical or rational, but it's just the way things tend to happen. Day Party,
Beauty Bar, 21+, RSVP required
Friday, March 19
12:00-12:25 The Deep Dark Woods
12:40-1:05 The Mother Hips
1:20-1:45 Lissie
2:00-2:25 Joe Pug
2:40-3:05 The Low Anthem
3:20-3:45 Ben Nichols solo
4:00-4:25 Murder By Death
4:40-5:05 Gringo Star
5:20-5:45 Love Language

Friday March 19 - 5pm
Brooklyn Vegan Party @ Club Deville

Friday (night) March 19 - 12am (midnight)
Lucero Family Picnic / Americana Music Foundation Showcase @ Red Eyed Fly

12am Lucero
11pm Deer Tick
10pm Justin Townes Earle
9pm Glossary
8pm Trampled by Turtles

Saturday March 20 - 6pm
Outdoor Show @ Auditorium Shores
8pm Trampled by Turtles
7pm Justin Townes Earle
6pm Lucero
5pm Deer Tick
4pm Dawes
3pm Kimya Dawson

Saturday, March 13, 2010

SXSW preview - All the Lubbock money can buy

Last year, SXSW featured an all Lubbock-connected musicians official showcase, but that didn't happen this year, so I decided to try and put together a list of all the shows I could find with Lubbock folks, you know, just trying to support music in my old hometown. Let me know if I've missed anyone or listed anything incorrectly.

First, the only Lubbock-centric showcase I know of:
Lubbock/Natrix Natrix Showcase at Bouldin Creek Coffeeshop in South Austin.
1501 South 1st Street & Elizabeth, FREE!!!

Friday--March 19th and Saturday--March 20th.
Start/End times both days 5pm-11pm

The lineups so far:
Veva. (Saturday)
Nadia. (Saturday)
Kitten Glitter. (Friday)
Warm Arm. (Saturday)
The Dry Heeves. (Friday)
Coquelicot (Friday)

(Austin/Natrix Natrix Records)
David Israel. (Friday)
John Rose (Friday)
Johnny Corndawg (Friday)
and special guests . . . Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! (Saturday)

And now, for all the bands from Lubbock or from Lubbock at one time. I pieced this list together from myspaces and Showlist, so I don't stand by any of the times as being exact. You should always check on showtimes, etc., last minute on the band's Web site. Bands, please email me with corrections/updates, or if I missed your shows altogether.

One Wolf
Fri., 3/19. shake some action! at karibu. 11:00 am
Fri., 3/19. ramble creek day party at showlush's backyard (1704 Kinney) 1:10-1:40pm.

Thrift Store Cowboys
Thurs., 3/18 - Sin City Social Club Party, St. Vincent de Paul, 7 p.m.
Sat., 3/20 - Official SXSW showcase, The Ale House, 9 p.m.

The Numerators
Tue., 3/16 - Todd P presents Texas bands and friends, Cheer Up Charlie's, 8 p.m.
Thur., 3/18 - Shake Some Action, Karibu, 12 p.m.
Fri., 3/19 - AyeAyeAye Showcase, House of Guys, 9:15 p.m.
Fri., 3/19 - Lamar Pedestrian Bridge, 10 p.m.
Sat., 3/20 - DFD Curated Day show, 5:30 p.m.
Sat., 3/20 - Pie Guys Pizza Party, 8 p.m.

Amanda Shires
Thur., 3/18 - Pigeon Posse Opal Devine's, 11:45 a.m.
Thur., 3/18 - TG&S Lounge 3CM Presents Not SXSW, 3:30 p.m.
Fri., 3/19 - Opal Devine’s Penn Field 3CM Presents Not SXSW, 4 p.m.

La Panza
Fri., 3/19 - Shake Some Action, 1:20 p.m.
Fri., 3/19 - Dikes of Holland House Party, 200 Alta Vista Ave., 7 p.m.
Fri., 3/19 - Lamar Pedestrian Bridge

Kitten Glitter

Fri., 3/19 - Lamar Pedestrian Bridge
Fri., 3/19 - Lubbock/Natrix Natrix Showcase at Bouldin Creek Coffeeshop

Colin Gilmore
Tue., 3/16 - ZonePerfect’s live.create.lounge, 8 p.m.
Thur., 3/18 - Valhalla (formerly Room 710), 9 p.m.
Fri., 3/19 - Official SXSW showcase, Beauty Bar, 9 p.m.

Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Fri., 3/19 - Official SXSW showcase, Beauty Bar/Palm Door, 9 p.m.

Jeremy Nail and the Incidents

Tue., 3/16 - Chuggin Monkey, 9 p.m.
Thur., 3/18 - Gypsy Sun, 4:30 p.m.

SXSW preview - Joe Pug

I've only recently come to listen to Joe Pug's music, but I've been impressed with what I've heard so far, and he's been getting great reviews on the internets. I hope to catch at least one of his shows during SXSW, and luckily he is among those who is playing quite a few times and should be fairly easy to catch.

Wed., 3/17 - Paste Magazine party, Galaxy Room
Wed., 3/17 - Get Your Green On party, Hole in the Wall
Wed., 3/17 - Nine Bullets party, Opa! Coffee and Wine, 10 p.m.
Thurs., 3/18 - Ruby Dog Music and Booking party, Uncorked Tasting Room and Wine Bar, 6 p.m.
Thurs., 3/18 - Official SXSW Showcase, St. David's Bethel Hall, 12 a.m.
Fri., 3/19 - party, Beauty Bar

Thursday, March 11, 2010

SXSW preview - 2010 Spune day party

While you may see some of these bands at the Ramble Creek party on Friday, if you happen to miss it for some reason, you can catch some essentials, like Doug Burr, Telegraph Canyon, Monahans, and Doug Burr on Saturday at the Spune day party.

You can find the Facebook event page here.

Poster design by Brandon Lesley.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

SXSW preview - 2010 Bloodshot Records day party

Disclaimer: Yes, this is the 3rd party I've previewed that will take place on Friday, and sadly, I don't think I'll be able to make this one either due to time conflicts, but YOU still might want to go.

While my interest in Bloodshot Records artists has waned at various times over the last decade, I've taken notice of them quite a bit in the last year, largely as a result of the music of Justin Townes Earle. While I would take some time here to talk more about him, every blog in existence has interviewed Earle in the past 6 months, so you should be able to find his info elsewhere if you've been in Antarctica all summer. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but in short, he is an artist on the rise, and his music and songwriting are of extremely high quality.

Bloodshot has been putting on a free SXSW day party since back in the day, by which I mean since the mid 90s, if you were born then. How I longed in my formative years to see Old 97s at one of these parties at the time, but while times have changed, the line-up is still strong.

According to Bloodshot's Web site, here is the line-up for the day:
Waco Brothers (5:35pm), Deadstring Brothers (4:55pm), Exene Cervenka (4:15pm), Justin Townes Earle (3:35pm), Rosie Flores (2:55pm), Ha Ha Tonka (2:15pm), Ben Weaver (1:35pm), Whitey Morgan & the 78s (12:55pm), The Silos (12:15pm)
Besides JT Earle, the most notable on this list for me is Ha Ha Tonka. I've been listening to their music since around last summer, and I like what I've heard. Since I've not yet seen them live, I'm looking forward to getting the chance, hopefully so that they can change me from a casual listener to a full-fledged fan.

The party takes place on Friday, March 19th, at the Yard Dog Gallery, 1510 South Congress Ave., and starts around noon. Bloodshot has been doing this a long time, so you can trust that this will be a worthwhile party with great music. Even if you can't make the party, the good folks over at Bloodshot have compiled a list of all the shows their artists will be playing during SXSW week.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Zach Galifianakis on Saturday Night Live

Okay, Zach Galifianakis on SNL. I've been hyping it up in my mind for about a month now. Probably about the most I've anticipated any show since I was in high school, so in short, yes, I overdid it.

A few thoughts:
  • the monologue was maybe one of the funniest on SNL in years. It was classic Zach. Everything that his fans could ask for. I'm sure NBC will have the video up soon, if not already.
  • "Here comes the choo choo!"
  • The bidet skit was mildly funny, but never really hit its stride, and it was about the most talking he did in any skit until the very end.
  • I felt like Zach was a bit under-utilized overall. A number of the skits were non-speaking parts. The flute player and the creepy guy in the background were funny, but didn't really get at his strengths. The "What's Up With That" talk show is only premise funny, which makes me wonder why they have to do it week after week when the joke is the same every time. Similarly, the Today's Show and the Situation Room skits each used him in ways that made you think the writers didn't really know what to do with him.
  • The final skit was exactly what I had been hoping for. Zach getting to play the type of character that he is perfectly suited for. For my money, you can't beat a scene where the content is so funny the actors start cracking up and don't know what to do with themselves.
  • I truly thought they had shaved Zach's beard for the last skit, but the closing scene seemed to prove otherwise. [Update: So apparently he did shave off his beard for the last skit, and then used a fake beard for the closing scenes.]
  • [Edit: I've really got a growing respect for this whole beard shaving deal. In fact, SNL made a video of the whole process. Pretty classic subtle humor that makes the show better I think]
  • If Zach hadn't been the host, I might have thought the other skits were a bit funnier, but unfortunately I was waiting for him to do something epic every second, and in retrospect, that probably wasn't the best plan. However, Kristen Wiig had some funny scenes tonight, and by no means was the episode bad like it has been in a few recent episodes.
  • The best I can hope for is that he'll get to come back again and build on what worked tonight.
  • "We have a great show. Hoobastank is here."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

SXSW preview - Califone

Photo: John Adams

I almost titled this post “The Importance of Califone”, but decided that since the band is playing SXSW I would lump them in with our preview series. Categorizing Califone is something that few people attempt, so I’ll jump right to the point. This band crafts blues-folk music that stands alone in a world of Sam Beam rip-offs and Bon Iver-esque cabin albums. Tim Rutili’s unique voice and the band’s use of every instrument under the sun makes each album an enjoyable adventure. Formed from the ashes of Red Red Meat, Califone has consistently produced stunning albums that gain them more recognition and praise from the media and their peers.

All My Friends Are Funeral Singers, the band's first album for Dead Oceans, is their most accessible album to date. The songs still include various blips, clicks and found noises but as a whole the album makes for a casual listen. Perhaps that’s because Rutili made the album to accompany a film of the same name that he wrote and directed. The film will be screened two times at SXSW as a part of the film portion of the festival. Califone will perform live with the showings to create an interactive soundtrack; which will be an interesting experience no matter your interest in the movie. The band has experimented with live improvised sound tracking for silent films in the past, but this is truly an ambitious project since Rutili is responsible for both pieces of art.

You’ve heard members of Califone collaborating with Iron & Wine, Ugly Cassanova and the upcoming Sage Francis album; but it’s time to give the band your attention and money. Buy all of their records, check out the film and attend one or all of their SXSW performances. I can almost guarantee that no two shows will be alike.

Mon., 3/15 - Alamo Lamar, 9:30 PM (with film)
Wed., 3/17 – Brooklyn Vegan Showcase Club DeVille , 12 AM
Thur., 3/18 - Other Music Lawn Party French Legation Museum, 1 PM
Thur., 3/18 - Team Clermont Party Flamingo Cantina, 4:10 PM
Fri., 3/19 - Alamo Ritz, 12 PM (with film)

I've included another spectacular video from Yours Truly below:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Zach Galifianakis, this Saturday, on your TV

Forget about SXSW for a second:
Zach Galifianakis is hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend. Hopefully I won't be disappointed if it's not the greatest episode of all time. Have you watched his children's acting classes from Adult Swim? You should.

If you read Pitchfork:
and don't mind a little statistics. Here's a pretty cool breakdown of their ratings system from Part-Time Music.

It's a long read:
but David Byrne's blog discussing how context, more specifically physical location, affects the type of music that is created was well worth my time.

Another somewhat technical article about music, but quite interesting:
This Slate article discusses how the standardization of pianos has literally made it such that one cannot play some classical pieces as they were written. That is, the construction of pianos was once much more variable, and many famous pieces of music were written on pianos with specific structural characteristics that no longer exist on modern pianos.

is mostly an afterthought at SXSW, but if you're in the mood, former Denver-ite Ben Kronberg will be performing a number of times, and will be well worth your time if you have the chance to hear him.

I didn't realize:
that Willis Alan Ramsey only made one album. Pretty unbelievable, but I guess he was the one in a billion who made one album and was financially set for life.

Horrible news really:
about Roy from Lucero having his jaw broken when he and Brian were mugged. I hope he is able to take adequate time off to heal.

SXSW day parties:
are really starting to stack up. I've not gathered the energy yet to go through the current list.

If you didn't see it:
SNL's "We are the World 3" pretty much hit the nail right on the head.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

SXSW preview – The Love Language

Photo: Michael Triplett

Sometimes there are bands that hook you with one song and The Love Language is just that band. I’m not sure how I stumbled upon the song, but “Lalita” was instantly in my head and stayed there for the next week. I eventually listened to their entire debut album and became even more of a fan. The Chapel Hill band is fronted by Stuart McLamb and combines every genre of music to create a raucous party of pop music. Their party is reportedly even more intense in a live setting than on their 2009 debut album.

The Love Language has just finished recording their debut album for Merge Records entitled Libraries. Their new label happens to be the perfect home for their brand of music which includes soul, country, folk, and good ol’ fashioned rock & roll. I’ve put them on my “must see” list and it shouldn't be hard with the number of times that they’re playing.

Thur., 3/18 – Aquarium Drunkard’s Party at Lambert’s, 12 PM
Thur., 3/18 – Home Slice Party, 1:30 PM
Thur., 3/18 – Trekky Records Party at The Parlor in Hyde Park, 6 PM
Thur., 3/18 – Merge Showcase at Cedar St. Courtyard, 1 AM
Fri., 3/19 – Backyard BBQ, 2 PM
Fri., 3/19 – Party at Beauty Bar, 5:30 PM
Sat., 3/20 – Off the Beaten Track Session, 11:30 AM
Sat., 3/20 – IFC Studio, 1:30 PM
Sat., 3/20 – Pure Volume Party, 2:30 PM

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

SXSW preview - 2010 Mile Hi Fidelity day party

The Denver music scene will be well-represented at SXSW this year, and while you can resolve to make each individual band's official showcase if you're going the $700 badge route, you can also catch the entire line-up on Friday. Sadly, this showcase conflicts with my "can't miss" showcase by Ramble Creek, so I'm left to catch these bands at other venues at other times during the week. This showcase would actually be my second-in-line can't miss if it didn't conflict with my first, if that helps make my case.

I've already put my plug in for Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel, and if you read this blog, you know I mention Slim Cessna's Auto Club about once a month. Slim has been around a long time, but don't take that for granted. You need to see an Auto Club show while you have the chance. No, they aren't going anywhere as far as I know, but they don't tour as much as they used to, and they don't make it through Texas very often at all. SCAC is one of Denver's most original acts, and they continue to perform at a very high level.

I also recommend that you try to catch Paper Bird if you get the chance, and Houses and Snake Rattle Rattle Snake have been getting increasing attention as well. I don't mean for this to sound like 1950s era product placement, but I'm a pretty big fan of Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey too. However, maybe it's for the best I have a time conflict, because I probably don't need to start on the whiskey at noon anyway.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Horse Feathers – Thistled Spring

On their third LP, Thistled Spring, Horse Feathers build on the Northwestern folk of their previous two efforts, although they add a slightly fuller sound into the mix. Don’t get me wrong, the simplicity of Justin Ringle’s songs still captures your attention, but the band is bigger both literally and in sound. The once duo is now a strong four piece. This progression has probably come from the passing of time and experience on the road. For example, I saw Horse Feathers two times last year at SXSW and during both of their sets the band had to battle loud guitars from an adjacent stage. They hardly let the screeching guitars affect them and seemed to play with more fire as each song progressed.

Thistled Spring is an appropriate title for the album considering the way the songs grow with each banjo pluck and mandolin flourish. I’m not sure what part of the year the band recorded but it seems like the sun was probably shining, which as we all know is a rare occurrence in Portland. Many of the songs rely on tempo changes and crescendos to convey a sense of urgency or passion. My attention was immediately caught by the standout track, "Cascades." The song starts slowly and builds with each passing verse and vocal harmony, ending with violin and cello interplay. "Vernonia Blues" is sure to be a crowd pleaser in a live setting, allowing each of the musicians to let loose and show some folk aggression. As with their previous albums, the banjo plays a leading role in most of the songs, adding dramatics and providing the backbone when the string section takes the spotlight.

Ringle’s vocals work perfectly with Thistled Spring’s instrumentation. Soft and delicate at times, I found myself not listening to his words but taking his voice as another instrument in the ensemble. It was a nice change of pace especially as an avid folk and singer-songwriter listener who sometimes over-analyzes lyrics. The album’s closer, "Heaven’s No Place," allows Justin to really show how talented he is as a singer as he reaches a volume and octave that makes you take notice. The song is a fitting end to the album, evoking the feeling of night fall on a cool spring day.

I tend to think of bands by their regions and Horse Feathers is a great musical representation of the Northwest. Many bands and songwriters try to capture the Oregon landscape or environment but few can pull it off. Thistled Spring is a great representation of the Pacific Northwest from one of the most consistent bands the region has produced over the last few years.

Thistled Spring will be released on April 20th by Kill Rock Stars.

Monday, March 1, 2010

SXSW preview - 2010 Ramble Creek day party

Of all the SXSW shows that we preview on Windfarm, we can't possibly attend every single one because of various time conflicts and the like, but every now and again, there's comes along a "can't miss" day party that we hope we can convince you to attend. Hopefully you've not yet grown tired of the previews, and haven't enacted any kind of a self-imposed boycott on blogs that are covering SXSW. In short, Ramble Creek has put together one of the best day show line-ups I've seen thus far. While the line-up should be enough to get you there, there's the added bonus that Lone Star Beer and Waialua Soda Works will be providing you with refreshing beverages as well.

Ramble Creek is an Austin-area recording studio that has been gaining a very solid reputation in Texas because of the great work they have produced. The studio has recorded some of my favorite albums of the last few years, most notably those from the likes of Doug Burr, Monahans, Telegraph Canyon, and Collin Herring. Additionally, they recorded forthcoming albums from Lubbock-scene stalwarts One Wolf (One Wolf II: Secret of the Wolf) and Denton-based songwriting genius Doug Burr (O Ye Devastator) that I am quite excited about, to say the least.

I'm less familiar with Seryn, Austin Collins and The Georgian Company, although I expect they will be of similar high quality as the rest of the line-up. While I hear promising rumors here and there about the "Special Guest," no official announcements have been made about who this artist might be. We'll pass that info along in coming weeks if we hear, but I expect whoever it is will be well worth your time.

Everything you need to know is on the poster below. Check out Showlush for additional details. I know I said your SXSW schedule will fall apart after the first day, but the beauty of this show is you can just show up and stay all day. See you there.