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.

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