Monday, March 23, 2009

SXSW Day 5, Sunday 3-22

I rested. Took Day 5 off. My mind felt like one big jumbled song so I gave up. Silence was sounding very nice.
There is so much music that you make choices, live by them and can't regret what you did or didn't see. However, I do regret a couple of things because it was totally unnecessary.
Friday night Alejandro Escovedo brought his 15 piece orchestra (including horns!) to the Hotel San Jose outdoor venue. From what I heard, he blew Congress Avenue wide open. Had I not over indulged at Maria's that day I would have been there.
The 2nd regret is missing Amy Speace. She played several times during the week and I always seemed to be about a day behind her everywhere I went.
Other than that, no complaints. We managed to hear many new artists while also supporting some of our local favorites like BettySoo and Jenny Reynolds who were also running all over town playing.
We didn't buy wristbands or badges and had no trouble getting in anywhere.

BASKERY at Threadgill's 3-21 SXSW outside stage

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STONEHONEY at Threadgill's 3-21 SXSW outside main stage

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JIMMY LAFAVE inside at Threadgill's 3-21 SXSW

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SXSW Day 4, Saturday 3-21 at Threadgill's

Decided to spend Saturday at Threadgill's. They had a good lineup both inside and out. You have comfortable seating, good food and after Friday's events that is what I needed.
Inside they had a gig called MusicFog Showcase. It was being broadcast over the internet at, a new venture from what I gathered. At 11am Jimmy LaFave opened the show. He was followed by 7 other artists. Outside there were 2 stages, the main and a temporary one set up in the grass. That way they could have music going continuously outdoors. The outside shows were sponsored by Folk Alliance International.
Spent most of the morning inside and the afternoon outside. A couple of highlights were hearing Ray Bonneville and Stonehoney for the first time.
The jaw dropping event of the day however, was when 3 sisters from Sweden called Baskery hit the stage. I cannot rave enough about this band. Country punk with great harmony vocals, high energy, simply fantastic. Their sound is led by a slide, 6 string banjo player who also plays drums and harmonica, all at the same time. On one song she was absolutely wailing on all 3 instruments and you really have to see it to believe it. When finished, they received a standing ovation and cheering like you hadn't heard all day long. By far, the best performance I saw during my 4 days of SXSW.
Check out the video I took of them here:

Also, hit their myspace page:

Honestly, they are TERRIFIC!

RANDY WEEKS at Maria's Taco Xpress SXSW

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SARAH BORGES at Maria's Taco Xpress SXSW

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The Sin City Social Club holds a bash every SXSW at Maria's Taco Xpress. It is always a fun time. We saw 11 bands including Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles along with Randy Weeks. The highlights for me were those two. Honestly, the tequila got in the way so I know I had fun but I can't write about the day clearly and am not going to try. We left before Mother Truckers and Heybale closed out the night there. Heard the next day it was loud, rocking and complete madness. I believe it.

TINA DICO at live.create.lounge SXSW

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KIM TAYLOR at live.create.lounge SXSW

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SXSW Day 2, Thursday 3-19-09 TINA DICO and KIM TAYLOR

Most of Thursday was spent traipsing up and down Congress Avenue between Guero's (Miranda Lee Richards), Hotel San Jose (Cuff The Duke from Canada) and Yard Dog (Joe Pug). Later we went downtown to Antone's (saw an Australian hard rocking band), The Amsterdam (Kacy Crowley)and then made a mad dash to South Austin's Saxon Pub (BettySoo).
But it was the night time that turned out to be the right time. Went back downtown to a place called live.create.lounge. It was off 6th street (think Mardi Gras - ugh, drunks everywhere) but was a world away, thank God. We went because I am a big fan of Tina Dico and have never seen her. When we got there a sign was up outside saying no admittance without a badge or wristband. We had neither. Walked up to a guy who was working the door and said we wanted to see Tina Dico, any chance of that happening? He asked if it was just the two of us and when I said yes, he replied, go on in. Very cool.
We walked in and it was a small room with most people sitting on the floor, paying attention completely to the person on stage. This turned out to be Kim Taylor. I'd never heard of her. She floored us. A singer/songwriter from Cincinnati who has a wonderful voice, is poetic and very melodic. I will be following her and sure hope she comes back to Austin soon so I can catch a full show.
Check her out:

After Kim came Tina. Boy, this was so good. She is a favorite of mine and did not disappoint. Her intensity on stage is something to see. People talk about putting themselves out there but I don't think I've ever seen anyone more personal on stage than her.
A word about the venue; it's a cool little spot. The problem is it has really high ceilings and the sound is not good. If they can do something about the acoustics it would make a great listening room.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


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AUSTIN MUSIC AWARDS at Austin Music Hall 3-18-09

Night 1, Wednesday, was the Austin Music Awards and that is the official kickoff to the music portion of SXSW. This was much fun. The highlight of the evening were 2 songs to get things started featuring Ruthie Foster, Carolyn Wonderland, Suzanna Choffel and Nakia all singing/playing together. They did a great version of Ruthie's "Stone Love" followed by a cover of Ray Charles's "Yes, Indeed." One thing is certain, Nakia will make a name for himself. What a soulful voice this guy has. The 4 of them together are a great example of the Austin music scene. Ruthie, Carolyn and Suzanna really define soul in this town and Nakia can belt it right along with them.
Also outstanding on this night was a tribute to Doug Sahm, which had his son Shawn playing with his band the Tex Mex Experience. They did a rousing "She's About A Mover" and closed the night with Alejandro Escovedo joining them for "Too Little Too Late."

Sights on Congress Avenue during SXSW 2009

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SXSW 2009 3-18-09 through 3-22-09

This year I decided to go for broke and take in as much music as I could. I learned a few things and know what I will do differently from now on. There is such a thing as overload. Right now, the music is all jumbled together, except for 4 performances which completely stand out, at least for me.
Thursday I saw 9 acts, on Friday and Saturday there were 12 acts I saw each day. So...3 days, 33 performances and I will be talking about 4 of them.

Ray Benson and cast from A Ride With Bob

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A RIDE WITH BOB at the Long Center 3-14-09

This is a musical play Ray Benson put together on the life of Bob Wills. If it comes to your town, be sure to go see it. It's 2 hours of great music as Ray has his band, Asleep at the Wheel, along with many other stellar musicians performing. This show is lots of fun!

Monday, March 2, 2009


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THE PRETENDERS at Stubb's BBQ 3-1-09

Well, I'll be starting with a rant because I have to get it out of my system. Feel free to skip to the next paragraph for musical content only. I promise this will be the one and only as I didn't create this blog to get up on a soapbox. However, when a line in the sand has been drawn...Stubb's BBQ is a restaurant/outdoor concert venue. The outdoor concert area has food/bar stations set up. Now, Chrissie Hynde is a vegetarian, everybody knows that. Good for her, to each his own, I say. While we were standing in line waiting to get in, a woman came over to the line with a hand out and said "Chrissie wants you guys to have this." It was a little blurb about anti-meat. I thought, if she wants to spend the money on this to help get her point across, so be it. After the gates opened and we got inside, we staked out our favorite spot to view the show from and headed to get a beer and our usual chopped beef sandwich. We got up to the counter to see a sign that said "no meat tonight." Another sign said "wheat roast sandwich" and "vegetarian tamale" available. Wait a minute, aren't we at a bbq joint in Texas? It seems to me both Chrissie Hynde and Stubb's BBQ sold their souls. And we, the paying customers, were the ones who got screwed.
I guess it's ok for Chrissie to say, sure, I'll play a bbq joint and take the money. But, oh by the way, make me feel a little better about it and force feed crap (trust me, I was starving and went for the wheat roast sandwich) down my fans' throats. And Stubbs, who is in the business of beef brisket, says, no problem Chrissie, we know we're going to make a nice profit on filling our space for your show so, sure, we will force your will on our customers. What is going on around here? Did I not just survive 8 years of George W. Bush only to have Chrissie Hynde now enforce what freedoms I can't have? Two things, #1 is I won't be seeing The Pretenders again and #2 I'm done with Stubb's. I think the whole thing is appalling, wrong on every level.
By the time The Pretenders took the stage I was none too happy. But then here they came, Chrissie threw that electric on, walked up to the mic and they blasted off into "Boots of Chinese Plastic!" All was forgiven. Sort of. Until I woke up this morning. Since it's my last Pretenders show ever, I am happy to say it was great! Chrissie was in fine form, full of energy. She's taken off much weight since I saw her last about 2 years ago (of course, if she's eating the nasty stuff I did last night, I can see why she'd lose so much) and was very active throughout the evening. She still has Martin Chambers with her on drums but everybody else in the band, lead, bass and pedal steel, are new.
The new record, Break Up The Concrete, was well represented in the show. Along with the title track and opening first single, we also got "Don't Cut Your Hair," "Love's A Mystery" and "Rosalee." There may have been others but I can't say for sure. We got some great classics: "Kid," "Talk Of The Town," Message Of Love," "Cuban Slide" and "Stop Your Sobbing." There were a few ballads but this was mostly a rocking show and Chrissie, at 57, does not appear to be slowing down. Her voice too, sounds just like it always did, clear, strong and full of attitude. To me, she has the classic female rock voice. Just like Patsy Cline and Kelly Willis were born to sing country, Chrissie was made for rock n roll.
The set lasted an hour and 20 minutes. After the set came 2 encores and the first one alone was worth the price of admission: "The Wait" followed by "Precious." These 2 songs were blistering and I mean blistering! Had there been a roof, it would have blown off! Everybody went nuts. It was a great 10 minutes. The second encore was 2 songs also but I don't remember what they were. I think I was still wrapped up in the first encore.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


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RODNEY CROWELL listening to Michael Martin Murphey

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RODNEY CROWELL at Saxon Pub 2-27-09

Boy, a girl could get spoiled. Back to back nights of big names in small rooms. First was Thursday with Willie at Waterloo and Friday it was Rodney at Saxon. This is a a very small club with seating for 100, I'd guess. When I heard he was playing there I couldn't believe it and bought tickets immediately.
The day of the show I went over to Saxon to see how this was going to work, what time the doors would open, details really, because I figured there would be a ton of people and fighting for a prime spot once inside was the issue. Turns out, the owner of Saxon was sitting at the bar and explained things this way:
"Did you buy a ticket online?"
"Yes, I did."
"Ok, you won't have a seat tonight. All tables are reserved for people who paid $250 for the table and that is how we were able to get Rodney in here. We then sold 60 online tickets. This way, there will be plenty of room for everybody. We didn't oversell it. People will be comfortable."
He went on to say most of the people coming to the show would be those in town for the Sunday night Texas Heritage Songwriters Association induction ceremony. Guy Clarke is one of the inductees this year, along with Willie Nelson, and Rodney is inducting Guy.
Rodney's opening act at Saxon, Michael Martin Murphey, is also being inducted this year. Turns out Rodney was inducted last year. How I missed out on all of this information previous to this conversation is beyond me.
The owner said get here about 8pm and we will try to add more seats, make sure everybody is comfortable. The show, being broadcast live on KGSR, was to start at 9pm.
So, our group of 4 got there at 7:30pm. We went in as a local band, The Regulars, was playing, as they do every Friday from 6-8pm. We grabbed some good standing spots along a rail with a great sight line to the stage.
After The Regulars finished, the owner started getting the room set for the big show. He asked how many were in our group and then told us to take a table which was in front of Rodney's mic about 5 feet away! OK!
We shared the table with another group of 3 who also bought online tickets. This was the only downside of the evening as it appeared they had been drinking for oh, I don't know, about a week or so.
Now, the important stuff. The music. Michael Martin Murphey, I had no idea what he would be like. My thought going in was hurry up so we can get to Rodney, who I love. Turns out, Michael was great. He's written many songs over the years, recorded not only by him but Lyle Lovett, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and various others. There probably isn't anyone alive who doesn't know the song he wrote and had a big hit with in the 70's, "Wildfire." It was a pleasure listening to him. A cowboy writer with a powerful voice and he's quite the guitarist.
Rodney was Rodney, just great! He is a warm, funny guy live. Playing solo, sitting on a stool, he played songs from throughout his career. We got songs like "Closer To Heaven" from his latest record Sex and Gasoline, to songs written very early in his career. He told several stories, including one of being at the grave site of William Butler Yates and pledging to always sing this song. At this point he played Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty," with Michael harmonizing. You could have heard a pin drop during this one.
He also played a couple of my favorites, "The Rock Of My Soul" from his great record The Houston Kid. If you don't have that album, shame on you. He ended the night with "Stars On The Water" which goes way back and I love it. It was a request and he wasn't going to play it, said he needed a drummer, that it wasn't going to be good without the drum shuffle. So the requester said she'd play the drums and hit the wall behind her. He said ok, this is what you need to do and told the audience we had to do a 2-4 shuffle and also a 1-3 beat. We managed and it turned out pretty darn good. You can view the video of it here:
The best video I took all evening though is "The Rock Of My Soul":

This was a once in a lifetime deal. 60 spots available to see one of the best songwriters ever, in a very intimate space. Again, I say, only in Austin.