Thursday, 17-March 2005   

The sun was out again on Thursday morning, and I was looking forward to another superb afternoon party! The St. Louis Twangfest Festival organizers had always put on good parties during SXSW over the last few years, but this time they had a perfect line-up. And, unlike other parties, the bands actually got a chance to play for 40-45 minutes.
Twangfest


Magnolia Summer @ Jovita’s (Twangfest Party)
“What goes into an album that feels timeless? Sonics, certainly, and Levers and Pulleys brims with all the right touches, from the plangent hum of electric guitars and their underlying textual bed of gently strummed acoustics, to the old-chum familiarity of Chris Grabau's vocals, to the instrumental nuances (violin, E-bow, Hammond organ, even sitar and mellotron) that simultaneously lend an old-time tone and a vibe that's sunshiny and psychedelic - The Band meets the Jayhawks, maybe.” – Fred Mills, No Depression
Magnolia Summer
I arrived at Jovita’s at noon, just when Magnolia Summer started their set, which turned out to be perfect “morning music”. Great melodies with just the right amount of crunchiness, quite similar to fellow St. Louis acts Wagon or Nadine.
Magnolia Summer


Richmond Fontaine @ Jovita’s (Twangfest Party)
Richmond Fontaine
“Formed in 1995, this Portland, Ore., quartet has five time-honored bittersweet country rock albums under its belt. Their 2004 El Cortez release, Post to Wire, produced by J.D. Foster, features their love for Hüsker Dü, Willie Nelson, and X.” – Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
Richmond Fontaine
I had at always liked Richmond Fontaine on CD, but the one time I had seen them at SXSW in 1999, their show had left much to be desired. I guess they had an off-night back then, because today I thoroughly enjoyed their set, especially the “Song For Dead Moon”.
Richmond Fontaine


Trish Murphy @ D&L’s Texas Music Cafe
Trish Murphy
“She spent most of last year gigging with gal pals Kacy Crowley and Renee Woodward as Braless (now rechristened the New Hot Damn), but Trish Murphy solo is no slouch. 2003's Girls Get in Free flows with nostalgic reflections on her Houston childhood and stoic testimonials of her hard-won inner peace.” – Christopher Gray, Austin Chronicle
Trish Murphy
Just before 2pm, I made a quick dash over to the Texas Music Cafe to see Trish Murphy perform under the big tree in the back yard, along with Rafael Gayol on drums and Mike Moyer on bass.
Rafael Gayol
The set featured quite a few songs from Girls Get In Free, which is about to be re-released with full global distribution, as well as older songs such as “Relentless” and “Outsider”.
Trish Murphy


Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3 @ Jovita’s (Twangfest Party)
Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3
Jason Victor
Jovita’s had significantly filled up by the time I returned for my third Steve Wynn set in as many days. Austin Chronicle critic Jim Caligiuri wrote about this show: “Those who haven’t seen yet seen Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3 might find this hard to believe, but in this writer’s opinion they’re the best rock band in town this week.”
Steve Wynn
Linda Pitmon
The set: “What Comes After”, “Strange New World”, “Burn”, “Death Valley Rain”, a new song called “Deep End”, “That’s What You Always Say”, “Amphetamine”. They got a fantastic reception and had to come back for an encore (“Days Of Wine & Roses”).
Dave DeCastro
Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3


The Bottle Rockets @ Jovita’s (Twangfest Party)
Bottle Rockets
Bottle Rockets
I had not planned on sticking around to see the Bottle Rockets for the second time in less than 24 hours, but by now Jovita’s was so crowded that there was little chance of getting back in for Calexico’s set later on. Brian Henneman joked that they had played the "Duluth Ice Fishing contest” the day before. “Indianapolis” started the set, which featured quite a few songs not played the previous night such as “Get Down, River”, and ended with “I’m Not That Kat Anymore”.
Bottle Rockets
Bottle Rockets


Calexico @ Jovita’s (Twangfest Party)
Calexico
“Tucson's Calexico recalls the sweeping vistas of their Southwest home, drawing on spaghetti Westerns, Latin influences, Fifties jazz, country rock, and surf. They collaborate with such disparate artists as Nancy Sinatra and Iron & Wine and played a big part in the upcoming Los Super Seven project.” – Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
Calexico
After a Giant Sand concert almost ten years ago, Joey Burns had given me a cassette tape with a photocopied cover that said Superstition Highway, and I had been following Calexico’s progress ever since. However, for a number of reasons I had not been able to see them in recent years, so this show was a perfect opportunity to see Joey, John Convertino and the rest of the band in action again.
Calexico
By now the venue was completely packed, with many people listening to the show from the parking lot. The band delivered a fantastic set, capping it off with “Corona”.
Calexico


After dinner I stopped briefly at Antone’s on my way to Sixth Street.
The Duhks
The Duhks played their folky blend of styles, but I was ready for some slightly louder sound by now, and continued on to Flamingo Cantina, which was an official SXSW venue for the first time this year. Kissinger were just finishing their set when I arrived.
Kissinger


Southern Bitch @ Flamingo Cantina
Southern Bitch
“Musically […] the band has shifted direction, closing the gap between their aggressive live shows and their roots-ish past. 'The band has really come into its own and has a unique sound, I think now,' explains guitarist Wendy Musick. 'It's gone more in a rock direction and is a little less country… a little less twangy.' […] But for now, Southern Bitch remains one of the most solid rock bands in Athens.” - Will Brooks, Flagpole Magazine
Southern Bitch 
Fresh from a stint opening for the Drive-By Truckers, Southern Bitch came to Austin to deliver a very convincing show. Their sound is can be compared to Raging Slab, but with much stronger songs. Check out one of them here on their SXSW page.
Southern Bitch


Southern Bitch finished early, and next door at Bigsby’s things were running late, with Magnolia Summer still playing to a half-empty room when I arrived.
Magnolia Summer


Milton Mapes @ Bigsby’s
“Chief songwriter Greg Vanderpool's frequent references to windswept deserts, lonesome sunsets, and blood-stained river rocks only emphasize the cosmic insignificance of mankind's endeavors – except for the price they exact on the soul. His characters drift aimlessly through the songs, looking for a way out of their dead-end lives but finding only empty rooms and emptier bottles. Musically, the scenery gradually shifts between the Nebraska-like austerity of "Bowie AZ" to the early Crazy Horse stagger of "When the Earth's Last Picture Is Painted," as the subtle variations in mood and tone match the forlorn tenor of the lyrics.” – Christopher Gray, Austin Chronicle
Milton Mapes
Last year I had seen Greg Vanderpool perform solo, and was eager to see him perform with the full band, based on the strength of their CD Westernaire. It might have been the less-than-perfect sound, or the fact that the band essentially played in the dark, but I left the show somewhat under-whelmed. I’ll give them another chance next year…
Milton Mapes


The Reputation @ Friends
The Reputation
“Led by former Sarge guitarist/vox Elizabeth Elmore, the Reputation combines tough guitar with melodic pop, but it's the ebullience and vulnerability in Elmore's voice that sets the Chicago quartet apart.” – Greg Beets, Austin Chronicle.
The Reputation
Sometimes things go wrong. It’s just bad luck if they go wrong during your 40 minute SXSW showcase. Ten minutes into The Reputation’s set, a tuning peg fell out Elizabeth Elmore’s guitar. After it was “fixed”, it fell out again. Then the keyboard plummeted into the audience. And finally, during their last song, there was power outage.
The Reputation
All this made it hard to focus on the music, but when they actually played, they sounded quite good. Check out a song here.
The Reputation
The Reputation


I stopped briefly at the Hard Rock Café where Australian guitar virtuoso Jeff Lang played solo, before continuing on to the Crowne Plaza.
Jeff Lang


Nini Camps @ The Lounge at Crowne Plaza
Nini Camps
“Nini Camps [is] a diminutive dynamo with a looped guitar who recently finished touring with Los Lonely Boys. Born in Miami, she now calls NYC home and brings together these two urban streams into heartfelt, tropically spiced, urban-fueled power folk.” - David Lynch, Austin Chronicle
Nina Singh
I dreaded going back to the Lounge, but last year I had seen Nini Camps in the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite the sober surroundings, she delivered a very enjoyable show. Nini was backed by Will Sexton on bass and Nina Singh on drums, who provided a solid base for her fantastic guitar work
Will Sexton


Tegan & Sara @ Eternal
Tegan & Sara
Tegan & Sara
Tegan & Sara
“These Canadian twin sisters and band of swarthy back-ups specialize in nongrating folk punk. The ladies, barely in their 20s, released third LP, So Jealous (Vapor), last year.” – Melanie Haupt, Austin Chronicle
Tegan & Sara
Tegan & Sara
Tegan & Sara
I managed to squeeze into Eternal just before the line outside became too long. It was good to see the twins again; since I had seen them last two years ago, they had expanded their band by an additional guitar player, which resulted in a much fuller sound. A fun show which featured many songs from their latest release. If you don't know the band yet, listen to a song on their SXSW page.
Tegan & Sara
Tegan & Sara
Tegan & Sara

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All pictures (c) Steffen Paulus 2005