SXSW 2004 – Saturday, March 20, 2004 - Evening

Jeff Black @ Hole In The Wall
Jeff Black
“Jeff Black comes from a long line of farmers and truck drivers who could turn an emotion into a story. Likened to rockers Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen and often compared to troubadour poets like Harry Chapin and Steve Goodman, Jeff’s songs reside just outside the realm of pop music today.” -- SXSW Band Info

Jeff Black
Saturday night at SXSW is not for experiments. For the first few showcases of the evening I picked some of my favourite artists who rarely play in mainland Europe. I started with Jeff Black at the Dualtone showcase, which began late because legendary "Cowboy" Jack Clement was rehearsing with BR5-49, his band for the evening, and the SXSW crew was too star-struck to tell him to get off stage. The Hole is never a good place for acoustic music, and tonight was no exception. Loud chatter from the bar was somewhat disruptive in a set that included “Rain” (on request) and a long, long version of the “Town-topic Hamburgers” talking blues.

Kevn Kinney's Sun Tangled Angel Revival @ Cactus Café
Kevn Kinney
“Kevn Kinney has now fused his alt-country, folk, psychedelic, and rock styles into one amazing new band; Kevn Kinney's Sun Tangled Angel Revival.
Kevn Kinney's Sun Tangled Angel Revival (also the title of the new unreleased record), was produced by David Barbe (Son Volt, DBT) at Chase Park Transduction-Athens GA and will be released on "a yet to be determined label" in late summer of 2004.” -- Kevn Kinney press info      
Kevn Kinney's Sun Tangled Angel Revival
The last time I had seen Kevn Kinney in concert was almost 10 years ago, which is much too long considering that his old band Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ remains one of my favourite bands and that the name of this website was inspired by one of their songs. For the official showcase Kevn played with the semi-acoustic version of the Sun Tangled Angel Revival, two acoustic guitars, bass, and a minimal drum set. The set including new songs (“Sun Tangled Angel Revival”), older material from his solo releases (“Time”, “Broken Parts and Auto Parts”) and the old DNC song (“Peacemaker”) from the ’89 album Mystery Road. Excellent venue and excellent performance!
Kevn Kinney's Sun Tangled Angel Revival
Michelle Malone @ Fox & Hound
Michelle Malone
“When Michelle Malone delivered
Stompin' Ground last year for Daemon Records, she must have had surgery afterward for all the gut-bustin' she did. After nearly 20 years as Atlanta's "next big thing," Malone's cut her own beltin' groove of Southern rock with panache.” -- Margaret Moser, Austin Chronicle
Michelle Malone
Another long-time favourite from Georgia was next. “Moanin’” Michelle Malone had left most members of her band at home this year, so only drummer Linda Bolley joined her onstage. A bit rough sounding in the beginning, they soon hit a stride and worked their way through many songs from their latest CD Stompin’ Ground.
Michelle Malone

Jeff Klein @ Mother Egan’s
Jeff Klein
“Gruff voices and cynical hearts always betray a romantic. Something of a UK sensation, Austinite Jeff Klein helped his cause with last year's One Little Indian debut,
Everybody Loves a Winner, the local singer-songwriter's second LP. He'll burn your house of love down.” -- Raoul Hernandez, Austin Chronicle
Jeff Klein
Jeff Klein and band, Chris Heinrich (pedal steel / guitar), Jacob Schultz (guitar), Jason White (drums) and Ken Schatz (bass) delivered an alternating attack of fast, intense rockers and slow, brooding tunes. The showcase included "Stripped", "5 Good Reasons", "California", "Another Breakdown" and "This Old House". As in previous years I had only one complaint: the set was much too short with only 6 songs, and Jeff left the stage with 10 minutes to spare.
Jeff Klein

Maplewood @ La Zona Rosa
“Maplewood make you nostalgic for something you may not really have experienced. They don't sound exactly like America or Bread or the Byrds or the Flying Burrito Brothers, but they sound exactly how what you remember those bands sounded like.” -- Andy Wang, NY Press
Maplewood
Things were running behind schedule at La Zona Rosa, which is why I ended up seeing Maplewood. Their music was just a little too syrupy for my liking, but luckily they only played for about 30 minutes.

Cracker + Camper Van Beethoven @ La Zona Rosa
Cracker
“Cracker is one of the last great American rock bands. Whether rocking out with their Nineties FM radio hits or twanging it up as they did on 2003's Countrysides, this group isn't above having fun on stage, no matter how cynical the lyrical content.” -- Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
Cracker
"LP is a young post-suburban New York woman who grew up with a head full of rock dreams that she's been trying her entire life to fulfill. Enter Cracker's David Lowery. Lowery caught LP's former band tearing it up in a club in New York and invited them to tour with Cracker, finally bringing her on board as a backing vocalist and then building a band around her to record this debut album. [...] LP's debut, Heart-Shaped Scar, is a roaring, snotty, bratty, bad-ass pop/rock record full of killer riffs, crunching guitars, and LP's voice, which is equal parts Maggie Bell, Pat Benatar, and Robert Plant ground like glass through a deep Rolling Stones, Bad Company, Lynyrd Skynyrd, blues-rock, and biker sensibility. [...] Heart-Shaped Scar is American rock & roll that's saturated with a soul that's rarely encountered anymore. The lyrics aren't awesome, but they're better than most. And besides, it's a debut; her voice is unique enough to carry her for an album or two - if doing such a thing before maturing is something remotely possible in our culture. Recommended for those who remember how [to] let it rock and miss it. -- Thom Jurek, allmusic.com
Cracker

“After stellar sets at SXSW 03, CVB returns to promote bonus-track-laden reissues of their four pre-Virgin LPs on Cooking Vinyl/Pitch-a-Tent. The Santa Cruz, Ca.-bred, country-flavored psychedelic punk troupe draws on everything from absurdist humor to lush, intricate jam pieces. What would you expect from an act that covered Fleetwood Mac's
Tusk in its entirety?” -- Greg Beets, Austin Chronicle

Cracker
Another 20 minute wait followed, but finally David Lowery, Johnny Hickman, Victor Krummenacher, Jonathan Segal, Kenny Margolis and Frank Funaro were on stage and kickstarted their set with "Been Around The World". Due to the earlier delays they raced through their set almost without any pauses between songs.
Cracker + LP
The highlight of the set was "Cinderella", a hidden track from Gentleman’s Blues. Singer L.P. was in town and joined the band for this song.
Cracker + LP
She’s a remarkable singer, it's too bad that she didn't have her own showcase. If you are not familiar with her make sure to visit her webpage and check out her music.
Cracker + LP
After “One Fine Day” the band morphed into Camper Van Beethoven: Johnny Hickman left the stage and Greg Lisher took over guitar duties. After a few songs I left, because there was one more band I had to see.
Camper Van beethoven

The Bottle Rockets @ Opal Divine’s Freehouse (Parking lot stage)
The Bottle Rockets
“Just off a successful tour opening for Lucinda Williams, Festus, Mo.'s Bottle Rockets have hit full stride. Their 2003 Sanctuary CD,
Blue Sky, is their finest work to date, a genuine accomplishment for a band that's been battling the alt.country wars for a decade.” -- Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
Bottle Rockets
While their latest album is a bit more polished than previous efforts, this wasn't the case with their live show. A rocking set, culminating with a rousing version of Doug Sahm’s “I’m Not That Kat Anymore”.
Bottle Rockets

And that was it for 2004. What was different? There was even more music to see this year: about 1200 official showcases at 50+ venues this year, plus countless “unofficial” parties, in-stores and evening gigs. Does it make any difference? No. It just means that there are more bands that you won’t be able to see.
About 8000 badges were handed out to people officially attending the conference, 14000 wristbands were either given to bands or volunteers, or were sold at $105.
After last years’ problems with counterfeited wristbands they were equipped with a radio frequency ID chip, which was checked at some of bigger clubs.
Considering the huge number of bands and fans things went quite smoothly. Of course some of the venues were not as good as they should be, and you have to wonder why anyone would book a Sugar Hill / Vanguard Records showcase in a place like Coyote Ugly’s.
The most talked about incident involved Grammy-winning band Ozomatli, who led a conga-line onto the street at 2:30am. As hard as it is to believe, the self-proclaimed “live music capital of the world” has a noise ordinance which prohibits live music after 2am, and some overzealous police officers tried to enforce the ordinance in the middle of one of the city’s biggest music festival. One thing lead to another, and as a result two musicians and the band manager spent the night in jail. Read all about the incident here.
Overall 2004 was another fun year at SXSW. There was one more show I saw before flying back: See pictures from a fantastic show by Grady (Gordy Johnson from Canada’s Big Sugar, “Big” Ben Richardson and Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton) here.

Thanks to Kate Ryans, Cathy Fischer, Elizabeth Derczo, and Edgar Heckmann!

See y'all next year...

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All pictures (c) Steffen Paulus 2004