The evening didn't start well for me: I had listened to a
MP3 of a song by a band that shall remain nameless, and heard enough
Springsteen and Petty influences to decide to check them out as they
played close to the hotel, making it a good starting point for the
evening. However, I failed to read the band info, which mentioned that their
“highly energetic performances are drawing comparisons to arena rockers
Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Kings of Leon”. So I got the Bruce part
right, but their generic stadium-rock didn’t work in a
small bar in front of 10 people or so. There were warning signs even before
the show even started: The singer carefully checking his hair in a
mirror. The band huddle. A 5 string bass. I’m pretty certain that I was the
only person in the room that wasn’t part of their entourage. The good
news is there are always options during SXSW, so I moved on quickly.
Cary's at her best when collaborating. The fiddler and vocalist came to
prominence as a member of Whiskeytown, the sweet foil to Ryan Adams'
country-punk urges. The Cleveland native's ensuing work with Tres
Chicas and Thad Cockrell brought out her strengths as a singer and
composer, and those traits are a prime focus on Are the Small Ponds.
She and Matt Douglas of Raleigh, N.C., folk rockers the Proclivities
entwine their voices on a five-song EP. […] The pair sings of romance
in a way that's poetic, never saccharine, and sonically impeccable. A
tempting appetizer.” – Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
always worth seeing no matter which project she’s involved in, and
tonight was no exception. With Skillet Gilmore on drums they played a
couple of songs from their debut EP and some brand-new material.
Watch a video from this show here.
blue-collar roadhouse sound that borrows as much from Farrar-Tweedy as
Springsteen. Stagger’s grit and gloom are on par with the influences.”
- Harp Magazine
Leeroy Stagger spends a lot of time on the road, yet somehow he rarely
plays in Toronto. This showcase
presented a good opportunity to find out how the songs from his latest
album would sound in a live setting. The set balanced old and new, with
new songs fitting in seamlessly with some of his best tunes from
previous albums. Setlist: “Long Way Home”, “Petrified World”, “I
Believe In Love”,
“Everyone’s On Drugs”, “Stormy”, “Holy Water”, “Radiant Land”, “Where I
Listen to and buy his latest album Little Victories here.
Watch a video from this show here.
Gibbs has a gritty vocal style that seems to automatically give his
music an air of authenticity. Like Steve Earle or Tom Waits, this gives
the impression of a man who carved his songs from hard-lived
experience. The folk-country arrangements, from twangy steel guitars to
backwoods mandolins, deepen these impressions.” - Ronnie D. Lankford,
I'm always a bit hesitant to add solo performances to my SXSW
schedule. While it's good to have a balance between quiet and loud set,
acoustic performances can be a bit tedious, especially after 10+ hours
of live music. But there was nothing tedious about Otis Gibbs'
performance: he is a gifted storyteller and an excellent songwriter. It
also helped that the audience was quiet, attentive and appreciative, which unfortunately isn’t the norm for 6th Street clubs at
any time of the year and especially not during SXSW.
Listen to / buy his current album Joe Hill’s Ashes here. Or watch the official video for the standout track “Kansas City” here.
“Having cut its teeth in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Telegraph Canyon came to Austin to record its sophomore full-length, The Tide And The Current,
with Centro-Matic's Will Johnson, with whom it shares a ragged,
rusty-red-barn aesthetic. At the center of the seven-piece group is
singer-songwriter Chris Johnson, who […] has forged an epic take on
Americana that sits as comfortably with Broken Social Scene as it does
with Old 97's.” – A.V. Club Austin
a good turn-out for this seven-piece, a very young audience. Esther's
is a good place to see live music with good sound and a great view of
the stage from pretty much anywhere in the room. It's also easy to
judge how well the band is doing by checking how many
people are stopping outside to watch through the large
windows facing 6th Street. Some stopped for Telegraph Canyon, but most
moved on after a couple of songs, and so did I.
“With his 2010 disc Goodnight Lane,
Colin Gilmore returned to the Austin music scene with a twangy jolt.
The son of Jimmie Dale, Colin mixes a bit of his West Texan, Buddy
Holly-influenced style with a love for the Clash into songs that are
memorably breezy and filled with youthful vision.” – Jim Caligiuri,
I had seen Colin Gilmore once before, playing a solo acoustic gig at
SXSW seven years ago and had not been overly impressed. I arrived in time to catch
the last 3 songs of his full band set and enjoyed the performance a lot more
in this setting.
Listen to “Laughing Hard Or Crying” here.
a roots rock everyman, routinely cranking out hearty workingman’s music. [Broken]
continues his streak of satisfying releases. Thibaud is at his best when he
takes on the emotional conflicts of people grappling with their everyday lives.
[…] Guest vocalists Bill Janovitz (Buffalo Tom) and Lori McKenna lend their
considerable talents to several of the tracks, their distinctive voices adding
extra depth to Thibaud’s lyrics. In the end, however, it is Thibaud and his
songwriting that shines brightest.” – Mayer Danzig, Twangville
is another example of one of my favorite artists who regularly tours in
Europe, but rarely plays outside of his home base in North America. His
Austin band led by Tom Gillam delivered a solid, rocking set - a highlight of the evening. Setlist: “Drifting”, “Lost
Again”, “Broken”, “Anywhere”, “Northern Skies”, “Blue Skies Back”, "Stranger" (a new song), “Three
complete show from 2009 here.
Hobart Brothers & Lil' Sis Hobart is: Jon Dee Graham, Freedy
Johnston and Susan Cowsill. The band formed in 2009 when Jon Dee and
Freedy got together to write a couple of songs about their early days
in music, when they washed dished for a living. The band name refers to
the commercial dishwasher know to all aspiring songwriters. Then, at
last year's SXSW, Susan Cowsill joined as Lil' Sis Hobart, and the
family was complete.” – SXSW.com band info
What better way to finish Day 1 than to see some of my favorite musicians together on stage? Backed by
drummer Russ Broussard and bassist Andrew Duplantis, The Hobart
Brothers and Lil' Sis Hobart covered a lot of ground from rootsy to power-pop material. They did get to play two
encores, a rare occurrence during SXSW. I'm looking forward to
hearing the album they plan to release later this year.
Watch a video from another one of their SXSW appearances here.
After 13 hours and 15 different bands I was glad that my hotel was not too far away. Read about Day 2 here...
(c) Steffen Paulus 2011