Sunday 20-March 2005

After some much-needed rest and a hearty breakfast taco at “Juan in a Million” on Austin’s east side, I was ready to see more music.


Matthew Hebert @ Cheapo Discs
“Hebert is a gifted writer with a mellow, lightly raspy voice that sounds like a Bay State John Prine.” – Steve Morse, Boston Globe
Matthew Hebert
Matthew Hebert
Jon Nolan @ Cheapo Discs
Jon Nolan
Jon Nolan
Ware River Club had been regulars at SXSW in recent years, and this time band-leader Matt Hebert was there to promote his upcoming solo record. He was actually joined by some of his band mates, so his set didn’t sound that different from a WRC acoustic show. Matthew shared his slot with Jon Nolan, who played a few songs from his upcoming solo debut.


Mekons’ Jon Langford and Sally Timms shared the opening slot at Alejandro’s traditional yet unofficial SXSW closing event at the Continental Club. I arrived just in time to see the last couple of songs, with Beatle Bob dancing away merrily on stage.
Jon Langford
Sally Timms
John Schooley’s One Man Band was next, but his act appeared to be little more than a Bob Log III clone minus the helmet.
[Update 30-January 2006: John sent me an email today pointing out that his first One Man Band release came out about 2 years before Bob Log III's debut. So much for my "clone" theory...]
John Schooley
David Garza, who had stepped in for the originally scheduled Nicholas Tremulis, played a diverse and appealing set featuring Nina Singh on drums.
David Garza


Charlie Sexton @ Continental Club
Charlie Sexton
Charlie Sexton
Charlie Sexton
Shannon McNally @ Continental Club
Shannon McNally
“In a post-Sheryl Crow/Shelby Lynne world, Shannon McNally has a real shot of stardom, since there have already been artists who have opened the doors for her classy, urbane, slyly roots singer/songwriterism. That's not to say that McNally is totally indebted to those artists, even if her debut, Jukebox Sparrows, recalls both, along with touches of everyone from Lucinda Williams to Stevie Nicks. It's that she's departing from the same point — post-alternative singer/songwriter pop, with a heritage in classic rock and a fondness for classic country, but with enough hipness to know when to keep things calm and measured and when to haul out the obligatory trip-hop drum loop. […] A very enjoyable, promising debut from an artist who could turn into something special.” - Stephen Thomas Erlewine, allmusic.com
Shannon McNally
Charlie Sexton + Shannon McNally
For this show, Charlie Sexton played an abbreviated version of his official showcase, before asking Shannon McNally to join him and his band on stage. I knew Shannon from her collaboration with Neal Casal (Ran On Pure Lightning EP), and was looking forward to seeing her in concert for the first time. She has a gorgeous voice, and did a few new songs before her set was cut short by a power outage.
Charlie Sexton
Shannon McNally


Raul Malo @ Continental Club
“The Mavericks, who reunited last year, were the great Latin-accented country act of the Nineties; the lingering sound of the band is Raul Malo's voice. Malo intends to perform this showcase acoustically, but if you're hoping for a souvenir, you'll have to wait for June's new album.” – Margaret Moser, Austin Chronicle
Raul Malo
Raul Malo played an acoustic set of some of his favorite (non-Mavericks) songs. The ladies in the house loved it, but I got bored quickly.
Raul Malo


Alejandro Escovedo @ Continental Club
Alejandro Escovedo
“In the clarified artistic vision of a mature musician with a broken heart, a spiritual sense of his place in the world and a rich, resonant voice, Escovedo devised an electric folk idiom — part Townes Van Zandt, part Band, part Rolling Stones.” - Ira Robbins, Trouser Press
Alejandro Escovedo
Jon Dee Graham
Shortly after midnight, before introducing Alejandro Escovedo, Continental Club owner Steve Westheimer asked the crowd: “Do any of you ever f*cking sleep?” “Tomorrow”, the audience replied as one. Certainly not before seeing the man everyone had come to see. Al started off with “Put You Down”, in a set that also included “Sex Beat”, “Everybody Loves Me”, “Crooked Frame”, “Baby’s Got New Plans”, “Wave”, “I Was Drunk” and “Losing Your Touch”.
Alejandro Escovedo
Mark Andes
There was a power outage during “Velvet Guitar”, and once it was restored Al launched into ”Wanna Be Your Dog”, “Gravity / Falling Down Again / I Wish I Was Your Mother” (complete with story about seeing Mott The Hoople in 1973 and about playing with Ian Hunter at Auditorium Shores a few days earlier). Al’s fantastic band included Bruce Salmon (keys + guitar), Brian Standefer (cello), Hector Munoz (drums), Mark Andes (bass) and his old True Believer bandmate Jon Dee Graham (guitar + lap steel).
Bruce Salmon


And that was it - SXSW 2005 was over. There were 1367 “official” showcases on 58 stages, with some artists playing more than one official showcase, and many more playing day parties. Artists ranged from Aa (Brooklyn) to ZZZZ (Chicago) – not to be confused with zZz (Amsterdam). Does it matter whether there are 700, 1000 or 1300 acts? It does matter to fans of genres which weren’t as prominently featured in previous years, such as HipHop and DJs. But, with only 6 showcase slots each night, there are only so many bands you can see unless you try to see 3 bands an hour, which isn’t much fun as far as I’m concerned. For me, the highlights of SXSW 2005 were The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3, Kathleen Edwards, Alejandro Escovedo, Matt Mays & El Torpedo, Calexico and Tegan & Sara!

Thanks to Kate Ryans, Cathy Fischer, Harlan Seagran, Brittani Mathis, and Virginia Evans.

See y'all next year...

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All pictures (c) Steffen Paulus 2005