SXSW Music Festival 2012 - Day 3
Runaway Dorothy [Jump], The Hobart Brothers & Lil' Sis Hobart [Jump], Whitehorse [Jump], Meshell Ndegeocello [Jump], Rich Hopkins & Luminarios  [Jump], Alejandro Escovedo [Jump], Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band [Jump], Tommy Stinson [Jump], Rogue Valley [Jump], Luke Redfield [Jump], Cory Chisel [Jump]
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15-March 2012
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Blame Bruce Springsteen for screwing up my plans for Thursday. Bruce was originally listed as the conference keynote speaker (see video/transcript of his speech here), but a few days before the festival a show at an unnamed, “intimate” venue was announced. The only way to gain entry was to win a ticket through a raffle open to SXSW participants. I registered for the draw, but expected my chances would be slim. Much to my surprise there was an email in my inbox on Thursday morning notifying me that I was one of the 2500 or so lucky ones who would see him and The E Street Band perform at The Moody Theatre later that day. This also affected my plans for the afternoon as the required wristbands and tickets had to be picked up in person at the Convention Centre. So rather than spending all afternoon in South Austin I headed over to the ACC. 

Runaway Dorothy @ Chuggin' Monkey

“That Runaway Dorothy album is killer. It's great. It's so good...” - Adam Duritz of Counting Crows
A quintessential experience at SX is stumbling upon a band by just hearing their music while walking past a venue. Runaway Dorothy sounded interesting enough to entice me to stop at the Chuggin Monkey for a couple of songs. Any band that get people out on the dancefloor so early in the day deserves some credit. A nice way to ease into the day, although they did sound better live than they do on record.
Video from another performance during SXSW

The Hobart Brothers & Lil' Sis Hobart @ Ballroom G Day Stage - Austin Convention Center

Hadn’t planned to see the Hobart's again a day after witnessing their set at Dogwood, but by the time I had finally picked up the Springsteen wristband they had just started their set upstairs. A much better stage and much better sound made it well worth seeing them again, although both band and audience were a bit distracted by the fellow doing what Jon Dee referred to as “Baroque Yoga” in one corner of the room.

Whitehorse @ Trinity Hall

"On stage, Whitehorse is electric. The duo is like an edgier, dirtier version of The Civil Wars, but with no theatrics, and real chemistry." - Arden Ward, Culturemap Austin
Seeing Luke and Melissa perform together is always fun, and the last of their SXSW shows this year was no expception. However, I'm somewhat puzzled as to why Whitehorse generates so much more buzz than their individual projects. The way they play live requires them to use loops, constantly change instruments and switch between different microphones, to the point where I found myself completely fascinated by the delivery rather the songs. It was good, but I think I prefer to see them with a full band.

Video: Whitehorse - Killing Time (2011)

Meshell Ndegeocello @ Jo's Coffee

“Meshell has changed. So has her music. It’s more peaceful, freer. Her new album, Weather, cloaks itself in the colours of autumn, full of in-between shades and hues and with a certain mildness to it. The singer has let her feelings carry her along. Meshell has never been scared of sharing her most intimate thoughts in explicit or colourful terms that always come from the heart. As ever, she is true to herself. But Weather’s folk sensibility and pregnant acoustic melodies make this a supremely accessible album.” - Artist Bio
Finally made it down to South Congress to catch the tail-end of Meshell Ndegeocello’s performance. I wouldn't rate myself as a big fan and describing her music as "supremely accessible" is certainly a stretch, but it was an entertaining duo performance. 

Rich Hopkins & Luminarios @ Snack Bar

"Known for his work in the '80s with the Sidewinders and in the '90s with the Sand Rubies, guitarist and songwriter Rich Hopkins formed his own band Rich Hopkins and the Luminarios. His former side project became his full-time passion, combining the talents of many of the musicians he had been working with in the Tuscon, AZ, area." - Zac Johnson,
Even with all the schedule changes there was no way I would miss out on a chance to see Rich Hopkins. Unfortunately things were way behind schedule at Snack Bar, and while it was nice to hang out and chat, Rich got on stage about an hour late and only played three songs. The delay also meant that I could not hang around to see my all-time faves The Sand Rubies / Sidewinders who were scheduled to play later.
Video from a 2010 Rich Hopkins & Luminarios show.

"Professional" cameras weren't allowed at the Moody Theatre that night, not even with a SXSW photo pass, so I had to do a quick detour to the hotel to drop off the camera. The Low Anthem were just finishing their set and after a short changeover Alejandro Escovedo & The Sensitive Boys took to the stage and delivered a short set mainly drawing from the still unreleased Big Station. (a video from this show here)
Since my first Bruce Springsteen concert in 1985 I have seen him about 30 times in both Europe and North America, although less so in the last few years. In fact, this was the first time I saw the E Street band without Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons. In last years report I raved about this 2700 capacity venue – it was perfect for this show providing clear sight-lines and perfect sound everywhere. It also wasn’t overly crowded – there were quite a few empty seats in the upper section and it never felt overly busy on the general admission floor. The set included many new songs, and while at certain points during the set he had to work the industry crowd a bit harder than his average paying audience, it was a blast beginning to end. Guests included Tom Morello, Jimmy Cliff, Eric Burdon, and many others. Read a more detailed review here. Many youtube videos from the show exist - a couple are especially worth checking out:
Video: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - The Ghost Of Tom Joad (w/ Tom Morello)
Video: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - This Land Is Your Land (w/ many guests)

Tommy Stinson @ Lamberts

"Before being old enough to shave, Tommy Stinson was a member to one of the most influential bands of the ‘80s. Drafted by his older brother into The Replacements at the age of 13, he spent his youth contributing to epoch-defining albums and traversing across the country playing whiskey fueled shows. His subsequent years have been no less eventful - serving as bassist to both Soul Asylum and Guns N' Roses, he's never been idle for long. With his second solo LP One Man Mutiny, Stinson delivers passionate, albeit cliché rock. One Man Mutiny isn't perfect, but it's a highly listenable album from a man who's seen it all. Anyone who's heard of Stinson knows his story, and knows what to expect from him - compelling rock & roll." – Sam Baltes, Blurt
Obviously there wasn’t another event that evening which would top the show I had just witnessed, so the big question was whether to call it a night or to see more shows. I had to go to the hotel anyway to get my camera, but still had enough energy to head over to Lamberts, which was completely packed. It had been over 20 years since I had last seen Tommy, back then still playing with the Replacements. The set had a certain level of looseness often associated with his former band, but was a lot of fun to watch. 
Audio: Tommy Stinson - Meant To Be (SXSW event page)

Rock The Cause - Minnesota Remembers Vic Chesnutt with Rogue Valley, Luke Redfield and Cory Chisel @ Lamberts

I stuck around for the first three sets of this showcase by Twin City musicians celebrating Vic Chestnutt's work: Rogue Valley kicked things off with one of their own songs (which sounded VERY good), before doing a couple of songs by Vic (“The Gravity Of The Situation” and “Soft Picasso”).
Video from another Rogue Valley show during SXSW

Luke Redfield took over vocal duties for an off-key rendition of "Sponge" (see video here)

Cory Chisel was next with his own "It Won't Be Long" followed by one of Vic's songs.
Video from another Cory Chisel show during SXSW

As the performances meandered on I decided it was time to get some much needed sleep.

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All pictures (c) Steffen Paulus 2012