SXSW 2004 – Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - Morning + Afternoon

POP STARS: dads who rock @ Caritas Community Kitchen (SXSF - South By Soup Fest)
(Michael Fracasso, Nathan Hamilton, Matt the Electrician, Beaver Nelson)
Michael Fracasso
“A project where a new definition is offered of what it means to be a POP STAR. Men who balance their musical lives, family and fatherhood... dad singer songwriters - the true POP STARS of the music scene.” -- Comboplate Booking Band info
Nathan Hamilton
Comboplate Booking presented a line-up of musicians to serenade the lunchtime patrons of the Caritas Community Kitchen. Cross-marketing at its finest, everyone benefited from this event: the media, by getting a new and exotic location to portray musicians during SXSW. Caritas, by drawing attention to the work they do around the year. The musicians, by getting a bit of media coverage, and the people who rely on the soup kitchen for their daily meals, by getting a free show.
Matt the Electrician
When I arrived just before 11am, the major news services in Austin already had TV crews wandering among the regular guests. Unfortunately each "Pop star" played only one song.
Beaver Nelson

The HaveNots @ Caritas Community Kitchen (SXSF - South By Soup Fest)
The HaveNots
“Forget the Thrills, rejoice instead about the HaveNots, Brits who've managed to reinvent the sleeptime museum of low-end alterna-folk with their
Bad Pennies debut. Hushed vocals ricochet between Sophia Marshall and Liam Dullaghan, backed by spare arrangements like molten butter.” -- Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle
The HaveNots
The first band that actually signed up to play the event, the HaveNots had a hard time making their quiet songs heard over the noise of the chair-moving, soup-eating crowd.
The HaveNots

Women In Docs @ Caritas Community Kitchen (SXSF - South By Soup Fest)
Women In Docs
“Brisbane duo Women In Docs have already built a strong fan base through the folk festival circuit and their first full-length album should attract many newcomers. With a well-crafted and terrifically realised set of songs, Chanel Lucas and Roz Pappalardo build on their acoustic base with expanded arrangements that incorporate keyboards, percussion, banjo, trumpet and violin. This makes for infectious folk-pop that may be a bit girly for some, but irresistible for others. The influences are obvious, from Tiddas to Indigo Girls, and fans of either will find much to enjoy. The opening track "Crown St" is as catchy as hell and sets the pace for a collection of sunny and sweet songs about girl meets boy, boy meets girl, girl reconciles relationship with mother. It's all disarmingly charming and its enthusiasm and energy make it difficult to dislike.” -- Tom Jellett, The Australian

Women In Docs
“Armed” with guitar, base and violin and a few up-tempo songs the Women In Docs were the first band of the day that actually got some reaction from the lunching audience. A really fun set. Make sure to check out one of their songs here.
Women In Docs

Mark Geary @ Caritas Community Kitchen (SXSF - South By Soup Fest)
"When you talk to Mark Geary for half an hour you see the real thing: real hurt, real on-the-edge fragility, real drive and a real intensity that has to share a border with a dark shade of obsession. Unlike the adolescent temperaments of some of his many Dublin singer songwriter peers, Geary's overbearing intensity is not an act, it is a carefully glossed over reality." -- Matthew McGee, Sunday Tribune
Mark Geary
Playing solo acoustic, Mark Geary had a hard time getting any attention. The news crews were busy interviewing Women In Docs, then packed up and left.

Milton Mapes @ Caritas Community Kitchen (SXSF - South By Soup Fest)
“This local quintet released the widely lauded Westernaire last fall on Austin's Aspyr alongside a re-release of their debut EP, The State Line. This Crazy Horse, named after founder Greg Vanderpool's grandfather, specializes in a snorting blend of yearning and ass-kicking.” -- Melanie Haupt, Austin Chronicle
Milton Mapes - Greg Vanderpool
Only songwriter and bandleader Greg Vanderpool represented his band for this gig. A challenge given the venue and audience, but he did do a pretty good job.

The Wailin' Jennys @ Caritas Community Kitchen (SXSF - South By Soup Fest)
The Wailin' Jennys
“Three of Winnipeg’s finest folk performers, Cara Luft, Nicky Mehta and Ruth Moody, have banded together in a folksinging trio called The Wailin’ Jennys. Singing original compositions and rootsy covers, The Wailin’ Jennys got together for what was supposed to be a one off gig at Winnipeg’s Sled Dog Music and café earlier this year. That one show gave the trio enough attention that they have been busy playing folk festivals all summer and have released their self-titled debut album. The EP features songs written by each songwriter and features soaring harmonies throughout. Covers included are by Emmylou Harris, Leadbelly and Mike Scott.” - Brent Hagerman, Tri-City Review

The Wailin' Jennys
Similar to the Women In Docs earlier, the Wilin’ Jennys connected well with the crowd. Their set included a cool cover of Neil Young’s “Old Man”, during which one older man stopped eating and just sat there listening and crying.

Steve Wedemeyer @ Tower Records
Steve Wedemeyer
“Steve has songs... it was a joy to work on a record that was about something, with real honest-to-god songs. It's a hell of a debut, if I may say so myself" -- Jon Dee Graham

Steve Wedemeyer
Steve Wedemeyer did not have an official showcase during SXSW, making the set at Tower Records his only Austin gig of the week. I liked his Jon Dee Graham produced debut Disclose a lot, so I decided to skip the annual Loose Diamonds reunion at the Guitartown party. Obviously my expectations were high, but his performance was nothing short of convincing, despite the small crowd. Some of his songs reminded me quite a bit of Matthew Ryan. His band provided perfect backing - quiet/atmospheric to rocking whatever was appropriate for a particular song. A great set - highly recommended!!!

The next stop was the Guitartown party, which has become the event to attend on Wednesday afternoon. The sun was out, and the patio at Opal Divine’s was already crowded with music lovers despite the presence of St. Patrick’s Day parties all over the city. Opal Divine’s actually had a St Patty’s day party in the parking lot at the same time, and across the street Mother Egan’s also had pseudo-Irish acts perform all day.
Guitartown party

Jon Dee Graham @ Opal Divine’s Freehouse (Guitartown Party)
“Gravel voiced singer; gifted songwriter; vicious, sometimes tender guitarist. Bandleader, collaborator, producer. His resume includes Lou Ann Barton, John Doe, Calvin Russell and - most notoriously - monster Texas alt-rockers, The True Believers. Three acclaimed solo albums under his belt, and about to unleash number four on New West.” -- SXSW Band Info
Jon Dee Graham + “Scrappy” Jud Newcomb
Jon Dee Graham played together with fellow Resentment “Scrappy” Jud Newcomb, swapping not only solos but also guitars mid-song. A good mix of old and new tunes with the typical between-song banter.

The Silos @ Opal Divine’s Freehouse (Guitartown Party)
The Silos + Jon Dee Graham
“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

The Silos
A different Silos line-up today and a special treat: Jon Dee Graham sat in for the majority of the set (“The Only Love”, “Four On The Floor”, “Whistled A Slow Waltz”, “Innocent”, “When The Telephone Rings”, “Holding On To Life”, “Dissatisfied”) before Tom Freund took over guitar duty for the final song “Take A Hit”. The new album by The Silos is ready and will be released later this year. Run, don't walk to get it - it's clearly their best CD of the last ten years.
The Silos + Tom Freund

Patty Hurst Shifter @ Opal Divine’s Freehouse (Guitartown Party)
Patty Hurst Shifter
Beestinger Lullabies is a powerful record, filled with well-written rock tunes, all penned by Chris Smith. […] Impressive ensemble musicianship and exceptional songwriting are always keys to a great rock album, and PHS brought both qualities to Beestinger Lullabies.” -- Durham Herald-Sun
Patty Hurst Shifter
Last year Patty Hurst Shifter played the same party, a show which introduced them to a lot of new fans and helped the band to sign with a European label. This year the band focused very much on new material from their (unrecorded) next release.
Patty Hurst Shifter

Two Cow Garage + Brent Best @ Opal Divine’s Freehouse (Guitartown Party)
“Cleverly described as Uncle Tupelo's nephews, Two Cow Garage takes strong cues from Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy's punkier sides. Not easily pigeonholed, the band also digs deep into the honest country-rock of Slobberbone and Drive-By Truckers, but somehow still manages to maintain their own soulful sound. […] Every song on Please Turn the Gas Back On burns with the amber light of the heartland - hungover and heart-wrenching, sweetly fumbling and furiously pounding, gritty as barn doors and sweaty as a backseat in August.” -- Zac Johnson, allmusic.com
Two Cow Garage
“Best is usually associated with beer-infused Denton twangers Slobberbone, but he's been getting out on his own lately. His tales of sodden self-reproach are always laced with mordant humor and more than a little defiance, rather than woe-is-me agonizing.” -- Jerry Renshaw, Austin Chronicle

Brent Best
Although Slobberbone played a few shows just prior to SXSW, the band is currently taking a break and Brent Best performed during the festival under his own name. For this gig he hooked up with Two Cow Garage, launching right away into “The Pinball Song”.  With the sun setting behind the stage, the Guitartown party came to an end. A great event, marred only by bad sound: hopefully they can get someone a bit more competent to do sound next year.

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All pictures (c) Steffen Paulus 2004