SXSW2007 - Day 1
Randy Weeks, Ed Pettersen, Michelle Shocked, Jud Newcomb, Matt The Electrician, Nels Andrews, Hangtown, Ana Egge, AJ Roach, Kevin Carroll, Wrinkle Neck Mules, The Silos, Idgy Vaughn, Elemeno P, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, The Holmes Brothers, Joe Purdy, Ari Hest, Paper Moon, Patty Hurst Shifter
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14-March 2007 2007  /  Photoindex  /  Home

When I left my hotel just before noon to walk over to Mother Egan’s I was greeted by grey skies with some drizzle in the air. Luckily most parties were well prepared and had set up a tent. This year there were many different day parties all over town on the Wednesday, but the Guitartown party was one of the trendsetters many years ago. The event always had a strong line-up, so it was my first stop for this day. Randy Weeks was already halfway through his set when I got there, but what I heard sounded pretty good.
Randy Weeks

Ed Pettersen @ Mother Egan’s
“While the album title uses the term "new punk blues," what Ed Pettersen is is a singer/songwriter who utilizes elements of rock, folk, soul, and, yes, the blues in his literate yet visceral music. The Long Island-born, Nashville-based Pettersen stocks his disc with a bounty of colorful tales, whether he is writing about others or himself. […] New Punk Blues amply demonstrates that Pettersen has much to say and a compelling musical style to express it.” – Michael Berick, allmusic.com
I first saw and heard Ed Pettersen last year at SXSW, but he’s been making music for well over a decade. He mostly played songs from his new album The New Punk Blues of Ed Pettersen, plus an older song (“Built To Last”), which has also been recorded by Dion DiMucci. Ed’s a great storyteller (check out “June 1945”), both in between songs and in his lyrics, making this the first memorable performance of the day.
Ed Pettersen
Ed Pettersen

Michelle Shocked @ Mother Egan’s
“For more than 20 years, Michelle Shocked has followed her muse with both success and setbacks. Her latest releases are an ambitious trilogy of discs from 2005, and '07 promises to find the native Texan/current Los Angeleno again in the spotlight with a Live From Austin City Limits CD and DVD.” – Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
I hadn’t expected much, simply because I hadn’t followed Michelle’s output for the last 15 years or so, but her 30 minute set was terrific. The tent had filled nicely by the time she went onstage at 1pm, and she delivered an electrifying mix of Rock, Blues and Gospel, expertly backed by the John Gaar Band.
Michelle Shocked
Michelle Shocked
Michelle Shocked
Michelle Shocked

I caught a little bit of Jud Newcomb before I had to move on. Seela was adding some lovely harmony vocals to his songs.
Jud Newcomb


Over at the Comboplate Booking party at Guero’s Matt The Electrician was just finishing his set when I arrived.
Matt The Electrician
Matt The Electrician
Matt The Electrician

Nels Andrews @ Guero’s
“Sparsely arranged, slyly intelligent country-folk stuffed with juniper winds, Juarez jails and long women in short dresses, delivered with all the gruff urgency of Tom Waits over lap steel and ruptured guitar.” - Uncut
I was at Guero’s to see Nels Andrews, whose 2004 album Sunday Shoes was one my favorites of that year and I was looking forward to hear some new songs. A new record is apparently almost ready and he played a couple of songs from it, including one called “Sunday Shoes” (yes, the title track of his first album will actually appear on his second...). Colin Brooks (Band Of Heathens) added some beautiful lap steel, and A. J. Roach joined them to play banjo on two songs.
Nels Andrews
Nels Andrews
Nels Andrews

Hangtown @ Yard Dog Gallery
“Hangtown's corner of the Americana world is fraught with muscular roots rock that draws as much on power pop as it does the garagey side of Neil Young or the classic Southern rock of Lynyrd Skynyrd.” - Erik Hage, allmusic.com
From Guero’s I walked a block to the Yard Dog Folk Art Gallery, another mandatory stop on the day party circuit. Wednesday is usually the best day for a visit during SXSW - the crowds tend to get bigger and bigger throughout the rest of the week. The Tampa Bay Area Arts & Music Organization party offered free Alligator chilli and more importantly music by Hangtown. When I arrived Jon Langford was on stage jamming with the band before handing over to them for their regular set. Hangtown released two excellent records in 1999 and 2001 before splitting up, but they reunited in 2005 and recently released an EP produced by Eric Ambel. They sounded a bit rusty, but it was good to see them again anyway.
Hangtown
Hangtown
Hangtown

Ana Egge @ Guero’s
“With her fourth album, Out Past the Lights, Brooklyn-based, New Mexico-reared singer/songwriter Ana Egge puts her age-defying pipes on display, sounding a couple decades older than her actual age of 28. Her rich, distinct voice and knack for songcraft is visualized with the help of producer Jason Mercer, who offers a sparse presentation for the countrified, pedal steel-steered keeper "Apple Tree" and the threadbare folk of "Stone Bone." - John D. Luerssen, allmusic.com
Back at Guero’s, a good-sized audience braved the constant drizzle to see Ana Egge’s solo acoustic set, who did a excellent job at keeping the crowd’s rapt attention.
Ana Egge
Ana Egge
Crowd at Guero's

A. J. Roach @ Guero’s
“There's a sad beauty, a bittersweet melancholy that runs through the songs of A. J. Roach, as pure and welcome as an Appalachian spring. Observant, stark and honest, Roach sings of longing, love and loss ("Little Bit Brighter") and tells a great story about his moonshine runnin' "Granddaddy". Recalling John Prine, Roach keeps things close and simple.” - Brian Quincy Newcomb, Paste Magazine
Colin Brooks was back on stage, this time with A. J. Roach, who alternated between acoustic guitar and banjo. The highlight of the set was a song called “Revelation”, the title track from his newest record, for which Nels Andrews added acoustic guitar.
A. J. Roach
A. J. Roach
A. J. Roach

My next stop was at the Club de Musique party at the Hole In The Wall to see Scott Laurent, however it turned out that the schedule for this event had changed and Scott had already played two hours earlier. Kevin Carroll’s (ex Sleestacks) set wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I wanted to see. Plan B called for a drive back to Sixth Street.
Kevin Carroll

Wrinkle Neck Mules @ Opal Divine’s Freehouse
“If you're the type of person who likes to take the time to apply meaning toe the utterly meaningless, think about the role of the mule in popular music. There's the wild-eyed Southern Rock Band Gov't Mule, the Tom Waits album Mule Variations and the line from Bob Dylan's "Visions of Johanna" - "jewels and binoculars hang from the head of a mule." How do the Wrinkle Neck Mules fit into this equation? If you were to combine the riff-centric guitars of Gov't Mule, the outstanding weirdness of Waits and the Americana of Blonde on Blonde-era Dylan, you'd be faced with a sound comparable to this Richmond five-piece.” - Ryan Muldoon, Richmond Times Dispatch
Plan B turned out be a pretty good choice: The Wrinkle Neck Mules delivered an engaging set and sounded best when they swapped banjo and mandolin for electric guitars.
Wrinkle Neck Mules
Wrinkle Neck Mules
Wrinkle Neck Mules

The Silos @ Mother Egan’s
"Walter Salas-Humara's songs are as straightforward, physically affecting and musically uncompromising as can be found anywhere in the American pop underground." - Robert Lloyd, L.A. Weekly
I crossed the street and went back to the packed tent at Mother Egan’s to see the third set by The Silos in as many days. But, this one turned out slightly different: Jon Dee Graham joined the band to add some fierce lead guitar which complemented the sound of the band perfectly. The set with
“Keeping Score”, “Innocent“, “Four On The Floor”, “Tell Me You Love Me”, “The Only Love” and “Behind Me Now” was one of the highlights of the day!
The Silos
The Silos
The Silos + Jon Dee Graham
The Silos

After a dozen or so bands it was now time for a quick dinner break and to put on the wristband before the "official" part of the SXSW Music Festival started.


Idgy Vaughn @ Ale House
“Some debut albums set up careers with the promise of good things to come. Idgy Vaughn delivered Origin Story without warning, a recording so potent it can't be ignored. [Her] storytelling sensibility sends her right to the head of the class, where she need not cheat off Eliza Gilkyson or Sara Hickman, because Idgy Vaughn's done her homework. Origin Story just might be the local debut album of the year.” – Margaret Moser, Austin Chronicle
Before the festival I had downloaded (and listened to most of) the 700+ MP3’s of festival performers made available by SXSW. Idgy Vaughn’s “Good Enough” (stream it from the SXSW site here) was one of the most memorable tunes, no surprise given the all-star cast contributing to her debut, which included Lloyd Maines, Glenn Fukunaga, Redd Volkaert, Rob Gjersoe and others. Unfortunately these guys weren’t on stage with her for this show, and her acoustic band sounded slightly unrehearsed and tentative. But: Idgy has some great songs - she’s clearly someone to watch.
Idgy Vaughn
Idgy Vaughn
Idgy Vaughn
Idgy Vaughn

Elemeno P @ The Parish II
“Alternating between alternative metal-tinged punk-pop and folk-inspired, acoustic-driven material (sometimes within the same song), New Zealand rock band Elemeno P […] formed in 2003 and debuted with Love and Disrespect, which went to number one on the national chart upon its release.” - Andy Kellman, allmusic.com
This year quite a few clubs hosted showcases where set times varied from the usual starting time on the hour. The Parish II was one of those places on the Wednesday, so on my way from the Ale House to BD Riley’s I stopped for a few songs by Elemeno P. Chart toppers in their home country they ended up playing the Jazz restaurant (dubbed The Parish II for SXSW), complete with people having dinner and waitresses balancing full trays of Cajun food through the sparse crowd in front of the stage. Hopefully the food was less bland and generic than the band’s material.
Elemeno P
Elemeno P

Blackie & The Rodeo Kings @ BD Riley’s
“A project producing a 1996 album featuring the songs of countryman Willie P. Bennett became a more lasting entity for Stephen Fearing, Colin Linden and Tom Wilson. […] Respected folkie Fearing and Linden, an in-demand guitarist and producer, discovered a common love of Bennett songs. Fellow Ontario musician Wilson, frontman for rockers Junkhouse, must have seemed an odd fit with the other two. But his love of Bennett songs and his distinctive husky baritone much like their idol's made him a perfect addition. Linden's blues roots, Fearing's folk influences, and Wilson's rock attitude and surprising country streak found broad common ground in what Linden disarmingly calls ‘roots music.’” – Mark Allan, allmusic.com
I cursed myself for stopping at The Parish when I saw the line outside BD Riley’s. But after a short wait the line started to move and I got in just before the band began their set. BD Riley’s is most likely one of the first venues at SXSW to see a band: the stage is tiny and surrounded by a waist-high solid-wood fence. But the Rodeo Kings (with Bryan Owings on percussion) made the best of the situation, engaging both the very enthusiastic audience in the room and the crowd outside through the open windows. Halfway during the show the band unplugged and moved to the middle on the audience for one song delivered campfire style. Hands-down the best performance of the day!
Blackie & The Rodeo Kings
Blackie & The Rodeo Kings
Blackie & The Rodeo Kings

The Holmes Brothers @ The Parish
“The Holmes Brothers' unique synthesis of gospel-inflected R&B harmonies, accompanied by good drumming and rhythm-based guitar playing, gives them a down-home rural feeling that no other touring roots music group can duplicate. […]  The Holmes Brothers are so versatile, they're booked solid every summer at folk, blues, gospel, and jazz festivals, as they play a style of music that is a gumbo of church tunes, blues, country, funk, reggae, roots rock, and soul. Although people like Bo Diddley and especially Jimmy Reed were early influences on Wendell and Sherman, gospel music also played an important role in their respective upbringings.” - Richard Skelly & Al Campbell, allmusic.com
As always, The Holmes Brothers delivered a marvellous live performance, with “Close The Door” from their most recent album State Of Grace and the rendition of “Amazing Grace” the highlights of the set.

The Holmes Brothers
The Holmes Brothers
The Holmes Brothers

Joe Purdy @ The Rio
“Joe Purdy, a singer/songwriter from Arkansas, put in his time working at a loading dock and as a counselor at a private high school before his song "Wash Away" became synonymous with the 2004 season of ABC's Lost.” – Margaret Reges, allmusic.com
Things were running late at The Rio, and it took a while for Joe Purdy and his band to get ready. I have never watched Lost, so I wasn’t familiar with his song on that show. But his song on sxsw.com was interesting enough to bring me to the show (check it out here). Not a bad set, he sounded a lot like Adam Duritz fronting The Waterboys.
Joe Purdy
Joe Purdy
Joe Purdy
Joe Purdy

I stayed at The Rio to check out Ari Hest, but his solo performance was a little too quiet, so I moved on.
Ari Hest
Ari Hest

Paper Moon @ Co-Op Bar
“Sprinkled with new wave theatrics and a sweet bubblegum pop or girl group flavoring, this Canadian group knows what it can and cannot pull off. The tight jangle rock […] is constant but competes with a synthesizer element, resembling a modern-day version of the Bangles or Go-Go's.” – Jason MacNeil, allmusic.com
A typical misconception about SXSW is that all 70 venues are live music venues year round. This is obviously not the case. Many clubs add a tent on the patio or in the parking lot and then there are restaurants, watering holes or dance clubs which are turned into SXSW venues. The Co-Op Bar was a good example: while the main room catered to its typical Hip-Hop/R&B audience, the SXSW stage was out on the patio, with a stage so tiny that the bass player ended up playing off stage. Paper Moon from Winnipeg delivered some nice pop songs, probably closer to the Cardigans than The GoGo’s, but still pretty good. Listen to a song here.
Paper Moon
Paper Moon
Paper Moon
Paper Moon

My last stop on the way back to the hotel was at BD Riley’s, where Patty Hurst Shifter tried their best to make that barrier in front of the stage disappear.
Patty Hurst Shifter

All pictures (c) Steffen Paulus 2007