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.