Well folks, I attended my 2nd SXSW in Austin last week and like the first time, it was an overwhleming experience. Bars, burger joints, coffee shops, pizza places, taco joints, art stores, parking lots, private homes, you name it there were bands playing. 1300 invited to SXSW proper and probably another 1000 bands who come to town to play the many non-SXSW sanctioned venues and storefronts in the hopes of catching someone’s ear. Free beer? It’s everywhere. Heck, there was even a party at this boutique with bands and all where they were giving away free vodka. Holy shit to that! Anyway, I got to Austin before the music portion of SXSW started and was able to take in a good number of films being shown as part of SXSW Film. Some of the more memorable ones were:
Diggers: Directed by Katherine Dieckmann, it’s a decent coming of age film set in the mid-1970s about four buddies who make their living as clam diggers on the South shore of Long Island. Raised at that same time and in the same neck of the woods, it hit home. Also, a terrific mid-1970s soundtrack with Big Star tunes galore.
1 More Hit: A very frank documentary on former Pharcyde front man J. Swift and his continuous struggles with drug abuse and homelessness. Talk about hopelessness, at least that’s how you’ll no doubt feel watching this.
Smiley Face: Directed by Gregg Araki, it’s a pretty darn funny day-in-the-life story of a very stoned girl.
The Whole Shootin’ Match: This regional independent film set in Austin in the late 1970s was worth the entire price of my SXSW film pass and I was pretty happy to finally see it. Made in 1978 by the late Eagle Pennell, it’s about a couple of freewheeling slacker types looking to make it rich, but are in no hurry to get there. This was the film that inspired Robert Redford to create the festival that would go on to become Sundance. It comes out on DVD later this year.
Now onto the music. Well, there was a ton of it. I saw in the following order: Moonlight Towers, Hangtown, Jon Dee Graham, Pam Tillis, Nathan Hamilton, Postmarks, Jon Langford Band, Milton Mapes, Randy Weeks, Mike Stinson, Tony Gilkyson, Ramsey Midwood, The Trip Wires, Tommy Womack, Li’l Cap’n Travis, Dolly Varden, Glossary, Two Cow Garage, Big Sandy with Los Straitjackets, Dexter Romweber, The A-Bones, The Alarm Clocks, Sam the Sham, The Reigning Sound, Mary Weiss, Danbert Nobacon, Mark Pickerel & his Praying Hands, Deadstring Brothers, Graham Parker, The Silos, Gore Gore Girls, Waco Brothers, Tift Merritt, Billy Joe Shaver, Jean Pierre & the Zydeco Angels, Anais Mitchell, Bil Kirchen, Cornell Hurd Band & friends, Brothers & Sisters, Amy Cook. There are probably several others, but they escape me.
Food was pretty darn good, too. So much for diet and eating smart, some of the highlights included:
Shoal Creek Saloon: Hush puppies, fried oysters, crawfish & shrimp
Kruez’s BBQ (Lockhart, TX): Sausage, pork chop & brisket
Texicalli Grill: Queso fries, Teisco burger
Louie Mueller’s BBQ (Taylor, TX): An out of this world pork steak sandwich on white bread with pickles & onions <-THE MOMENT!
Torchy’s Taco Stand: fried avocado taco <- another moment!
El Sol y Luna: chorizo migas
Evangeline Cafe: gumbo, oyster po-boy
Man, I am salivating just typing this. Anyway, I highly recommend to one and all that you get your asses to Austin & SXSW next year. Frankly speaking, you can have a ton of fun for not a lot of money. I didn’t buy a music wrist band and still saw a ton of stuff.