SXSW 2009 Music Festival - Day 4 - Afternoon
Amy LaVere, The Mighty Stef, Jon Dee Graham, James McMurtry, Andre Williams, Baskery, Tim Easton, The Deep Vibration
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Amy LaVere @ Jo’s
“Although Amy LaVere currently calls Memphis home, the bass-playing pixie is a native of Bethany, Texas. Her jazzy folk, as perfected on Anchors & Anvils, possesses an intoxicating Waitsian smoke-and-whiskey vibe.”  – Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
After a quick drive to pick up a replacement camera I was back in action and ready for day 4 of SXSW. Amy LaVere’s show at Jo’s was listed for 1pm, so I expected to be early when I got there at 12:30, but much to my surprise the band was already on stage. With drummer Paul Taylor and guitarist Steve Selvidge backing her up, Amy's set turned out to be a
pleasant and relaxed way to start the day. Listen to the really cool song “Killing Him” here on the SXSW website. 

Across the street, the Continental Club was already at capacity for Mojo Nixon's annual Mojo’s Mayhem party, but after a very short wait I got in to see The Mighty Stef finish his set with “Dead Flowers”.

Jon Dee Graham @ Continental Club
“An Austin fixture since he was a teen Skunk and later True Believer, Graham's gotten better with age, 2006's Full [is] his strongest combination yet of gravel voice and gritty turns of phrase.” – Michael Bertin, Austin Chronicle
It was good to see Jon Dee Graham back in action after his accident last year. The Fighting Cocks for this occasion were Andrew Duplantis on bass and Joey Shuffield on drums, plus
James McMurtry who played guitar and sang on one song. Their 40-minute set included “My Lucky Day”, “Burning Off The Cane”, “The Change”, “Not Beautifully Broken”, “Laredo (Small Dark Something)”, “Wait”, and “Something Wonderful”.

James McMurtry @ Continental Club
“The further James McMurtry gets from the big leagues of the music business, the better it seems to be for his music. McMurtry was still finding his feet as a recording artist with his first three albums for Columbia, and just began hitting a groove when he signed with the independent Sugar Hill label. Now recording for a renegade start-up label called Lightning Rod Records, McMurtry has cut what may well be his best and most consistently interesting album to date, Just Us Kids, a dozen songs clearly informed by the American malaise of the first few years of the 21st century and the disillusion over the ongoing war in Iraq.” - Mark Deming,
A characteristically solid set by James McMurtry with Ronnie Johnson on bass, Daren Hess on drums and Tim Holt on guitar. They were joined by the "bee-dancers", who seemed to bring the faintest of smiles to James’ face, a very uncommon sight.

Andre Williams @ Continental Club
“Forty years ago, Andre Williams sang for Motown and Chess and penned hits for Stevie Wonder, Ike & Tina Turner, and George Clinton. In the last decade, he's become the "Black Godfather," playing the role of croaking, badass MC in campy funk ensembles like the New Orleans Hellhounds, which released 2008's Can You Deal With It?” – Daniel Mee, Austin Chronicle
Backed by the Allen Oldies Band and two go-go dancers Andre Williams proved that he still knows how to work a crowd into a frenzy with a set that featured signature songs such as "Agile, Mobile and Hostile", "Car With A Star", "I Wanna Be Your Favorite Pair of Pajamas",
"I Can Tell", "Bacon Fat", "Let Me Put It In", "Pussy Stank" and "Jail Bait".

Baskery @ Threadgill’s
“[Baskery’s] thing just happens to be a passionate and full-blooded – albeit mostly acoustic - reinvention of American roots. […] On a debut CD enhanced by a lovely, warm, live intimacy, breathlessly buoyant vocals, instinctive harmonies and wry lyrics, it’s less Abba meets Roxette than Dixie Chicks crossed with the Roches.” - Colin Irwin, MOJO
After the semi-darkness of the Continental Club it was good to get back out into the sun. Baskery works a similar niche as Those Darlin's and Katzenjammer, mixing a lot of youthful energy with traditional musical elements. Their set got them a standing ovation from the (otherwise seated) audience. Listen to “One Horse Down” here on the SXSW website. 

As part of the Twangfest at Jovita’s Tim Easton was playing an unannounced gig as a last minute replacement for Eli “Paperboy” Reed.

The Deep Vibration @ Jovita’s
“If you want to embrace a roots-friendly country rock sound that harkens back to the 1970s, you can't fault the Deep Vibration for striving to get the details right. Based out of Nashville, the Deep Vibration's debut EP Veracruz includes some impressive and appropriate guests — Al Perkins, who's played pedal steel with everyone from Gram Parsons to Dwight Yoakam, adds his licks to two songs, while legendary songwriter and keyboard man Spooner Oldham tickles the ivories on four cuts, and Gillian Welch contributes lovely harmonies to the closer, "Tennessee Rose." [...] There's no question that the Deep Vibration have carefully listened and learned, but while they've got the moves of their key influences down pat, they haven't figured out how to write songs nearly as compelling as any of the folks they love, and that's their greatest stumbling block. The five songs on Veracruz show promise and no small amount of skill, but until the Deep Vibration develop a musical personality of their own and songwriting chops to go with them, they're going to have to settle for being a '70s tribute band whose songs seem curiously familiar and unfamiliar at once.” - Mark Deming,
It will be interesting to see how this band evolves over the next few years. Songs like
“Oklahoma City Woman Blues (Veracruz)” (listen here on the SXSW web site) contributed to a strong debut EP and a solid set at Jovita's, which also included a cover of Bob Dylan's “Shot Of Love”.

Continue to evening...

All photos (c) Steffen Paulus 2009