SXSW2006 - Day 4
Susan Cowsill, Sarah Borges, Matt Keating & Emily Spray, IV Thieves, Peter Case, Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3, Susanna Hoffs & Matthew Sweet, Tift Merritt, Echoset, Grady, Magneta Lane, Damone, Nebula, Wussy, Scott Miller & The Commonwealth, Dash Rip Rock, The Magnolias
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18-March 2006 2006  /  Photoindex  /  Home

Susan Cowsill @ Threadgill’s
“Having devoted decades of ensemble vocal work to groups ranging from '60's teen rockers The Cowsills to desert-rock shamanists Giant Sand, plus four under-appreciated roots gems with the Continental Drifters, Susan Cowsill's career is a testament to persistence. On [Just Believe It], her solo debut, Lucinda Williams pitches in, but Cowsill hardly needs the help. From the chiming guitars of "Palm Of My Hand" to a celestial "Who Knows Where The Time Goes", it belatedly opens the book on a singer-songwriter of considerable range and breadth.” - Uncut
It had been a difficult year for Susan Cowsill since I had seen her at SXSW 2005, so it was nice to see her and the band again. Rob Savoy had been replaced by one-time Continental Drifters bass player Ray Ganucheau. They played quite a few songs from Just Believe It, with some Continental Drifters tunes
("Snow", "The Rain Song") and covers (Lucinda Williams’ “Crescent City”) thrown into the mix, plus some new material (“Crescent City Snow”).
Susan Cowsill
Susan Cowsill
Susan Cowsill
Susan Cowsill

Sarah Borges @ Threadgill’s
“One of New England's finest new singer-songwriters, Sarah Borges mixes the swagger of Chrissie Hynde with the passion of Hank Williams for a sound that's truly unique. Her 2005 debut, Silver City, produced by Paul Q. Kolderie (Morphine, Uncle Tupelo, Lemonheads), won raves nationwide for its dynamite combination of country, soul, and punk.” – Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
I had heard many good things about Sarah Borges over the last few months so I was looking forward to her set. I wasn’t disappointed, although I could imagine that songs like “Daniel Lee” work even better in a smoky club at night than on a rainy afternoon at 2:30pm.
Sarah Borges
Sarah Borges
Sarah Borges
Sarah Borges

Because of the weather, things were running late at the Pop Culture Press Party at the Dog & Duck Pub. Instead of the originally planned two stages, only the one under the tent could be used. So I got to see a bit more of Matt Keating & Emily Spray, the IV Thieves (formerly known as Nic Armstrong & the Thieves), and a rocking set by Peter Case.
Matt Keating & Emily Spray
Matt Keating & Emily Spray
IV Thieves
Peter Case

Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3 @ Dog & Duck
“[tick… tick… tick] is the strongest, most live-sounding, most vigorous recording he’s made in years.” – Chicago Reader
Another packed house for Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3 and a fantastic audience reaction to their set, which consisted of “Bruises”, “Death Valley Rain”, "Cindy, It Was Always You”, “That’s What You Always Say” and “Amphetamine”. Despite the fact that things were one hour behind schedule they were brought back to play encore (“Tell Me When It’s Over”).
Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3
Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3
Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3
Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3
Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3
Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3

Susanna Hoffs & Matthew Sweet @ Dog & Duck
“Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs have always displayed an unapologetic love of '60s pop in their own music, and they even teamed up as part of the pop supergroup Ming Tea to record the terrific "BBC" for the first Austin Powers film, so the duo's 2006 album, Under the Covers, Vol. 1, feels logical and right. […] The affection that Sweet, Hoffs and company display for this music is the reason to hear this record: they're having such a good time playing their favorite songs, it's hard not to smile along as well.” -  Stephen Thomas Erlewine, allmusic.com
I hardly recognized Matthew Sweet when he got up on stage; he looked quite a bit different from when I last saw him with The Thorns a few years ago. Susanna Hoffs certainly hadn’t changed a bit, and the combination of Sweet’s typically crunchy guitar and Hoffs’ trademark voice worked very well. But it wasn’t just Sweet and Hoffs: their band with Greg Leisz on lead guitar, Ric Menck on drums, Tony Marsico on bass, and Paul Chastain on guitar played a big part in making the material sound fresh. “I See The Rain” kicked off a set which also included "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere", “Different Drum”, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and “Cinnamon Girl”. Fun!
Susanna Hoffs & Matthew Sweet
Susanna Hoffs & Matthew Sweet
Susanna Hoffs & Matthew Sweet

Tift Merritt @ Jo’s Café
"[...] the most accomplished new American female singer-songwriter to emerge in a decade." -  Uncut
Tift Merritt played her only Austin show for the week on the parking lot stage at Jo’s Cafe. It took her and guitarist Brad Rice a while to get the mostly seated crowd going, but eventually this turned into one of the best sets of the week. Opener “Stray Paper“ was followed by “Virginia, No One Can Warn You“, “Write My Ticket“, “Ain’t Looking Closely”, “Supposed To Make You Happy”. Tift tried out two new songs before “I Wanna Go With You”, “Good Hearted Man”, “Tambourine”, and “Shadow In The Way” ended the show.
Tift Merritt
Tift Merritt
Tift Merritt
Tift Merritt
Tift Merritt
Tift Merritt

Echoset @ 613 Trinity
“While thoroughly contemporary, Echoset could seamlessly fit onto a bill with R.E.M., Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Guadalcanal Diary-anthemic songs you’ll be humming on the way home.” -  Dean Bonzani, Flagstaff Live
I was blown away by their 2003 album Mile Marker Four and their showcase at SXSW 2004. However, it seems that several personnel changes over the last couple of years have somewhat derailed the band. Echoset’s sound on their debut had two major ingredients: singer Beth Puorro’s strong voice and Travic Cohee’s powerful and precise guitar work. Unfortunately, current guitarist Sarah Glynn’s playing was unconvincing and she seemed out-of-sync with the rest of the band, resulting in a largely disappointing set.
 
Echoset
Echoset
Echoset
Echoset
Echoset

Grady @ Dirty Dog Bar
“Grady has not so quietly stepped up solidly in the ranks of Austin blues. The band, including former Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton, plies a wicked, tough – loud – blues at home in both juke joint and urban bar. 2004's Y.U. So Shady? was hot and beefy.” – Margaret Moser, Austin Chronicle
Billy Maddox took over from Chris Layton earlier this year, but Grady’s sound remains unchanged. This band is always worth checking out!
Grady
Grady
Grady

I made two more quick stops before heading towards Red River. Torontonians Magneta Lane were playing the sparsely filled Buffalo Billiards, while Boston’s Damone sounded like Lita Ford doing Joan Jett covers at Friends.
Magneta Lane
Magneta Lane
Magneta Lane
Damone
Damone

Nebula @ Red Eyed Fly
“With Kyuss now long gone, Monster Magnet traveling distant galaxies, and Fu Manchu driving their graffiti-decorated vans over groove-rock desert highways somewhere in the distance, are Nebula the last of the prototypical stoner rock Mohicans? Strictly speaking, no, since they themselves were relative late arrivals to the scene, having sprung fully formed from the bowels of the aforementioned Fu Manchu in 1997 — but in terms of the mostly unadulterated '90s-style stoner rock (psychedelic and space rock-infused, sure, but ultimately grounded in '60s garage and '70s hard rock) heard on their fifth full album, Apollo, quite possibly.” - Eduardo Rivadavia, allmusic.com
I’m not sure how and why, but Nebula ended up playing two official SXSW showcases within three hours. They played the show at Red Eyed Fly on borrowed equipment at 10pm before rushing over to Emo’s for another set at midnight.
I didn’t get the impression they were holding back during this gig...
Nebula
Nebula

Wussy @ Opal Divine’s Freehouse
“Chuck Cleaver - Ass Ponys, you remember, they still play out around Cincinnati - joins unknown Lisa Walker, multi-instrumentalist Mark Messerly, and amateur drummer Dawn Burman for 11 three-minute songs, all about perfect, one after the other after the other. [...] The band sound is more Velvets than Burritos, yet country still. It's as if they've reduced all of white Ohio to an articulated drone, unlocked a silo or warehouse of hummable tunes, and worked out the harmonies.” - Robert Christgau, Village Voice
I had 
Sam Roberts next on my list, but there was a short line at Momo’s, and although I most likely could have gotten in after a short wait to see, I decided to head across the street to see Wussy. Their songs were appealing, but their performance was overly chaotic and sloppy.
Wussy
Wussy
Wussy
Wussy

Scott Miller & The Commonwealth @ Opal Divine’s Freehouse
“Long ago, Knoxville's Scott Miller was a V-Roy. As a solo artist, his discs are equally witty, literate, and rockin', particularly the highly praised Thus Always to Tyrants in 2001. Miller's intense songwriting reflects his love for the South, and with that in mind, his new Citation was recorded in Memphis with Jim Dickinson.” – Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
In contrast to the previous act, Scott Miller delivered a super-solid set. Nothing outstanding, just good songs, a good band and a good performance.
Scott Miller & The Commonwealth
Scott Miller & The Commonwealth
Scott Miller & The Commonwealth
Scott Miller & The Commonwealth

It was getting late and I was getting tired, so instead of walking back to the heart of Sixth Street, I decided to stay at Opal Divine’s for Dash Rip Rock, most likely the only band that performed the very first SXSW in 1987 and SXSW2006. I ended the night and the festival at Karma Lounge for a rare performance by The Magnolias.
Dash Rip Rock
Dash Rip Rock
Magnolias

Thanks to Kate Ryans, Cathy Fischer, Kimberly Horne and Edgar Heckmann.

All photos (c) Steffen Paulus 2006

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