SXSW 2008 Recap – Music

SXSW 2008: March 7 – 16, Part 2: Music, Music, & More Music!

Tuesday: The companion’s flight came in at 11 PM. After picking her up at ABIA, we headed straight for the Hole In the Wall on Guadalupe for the annual Swollen Circus shindig held each year on the eve of SXSW Music. This year would pay tribute to NYC musician and good friend Drew Glackin. If you’ve seen any roots-leaning music in the Big Apple, you likely encountered Drew. The Silos, Tandy, Jack Grace Band, Gingersol, Eric Ambel’s band, etc. were just some of the bands he graced with his presence on lap steel, guitar, or bass. Playing three-song sets, we caught Gingersol, The Minus Five (with Peter Buck from REM in attendance), Gingersol, Syd Straw (joined by Tom Freund and Mike Mills from REM), and closers The Silos with Jon Dee Graham. An explosive evening and fitting tribute to Drew.

Wednesday – Saturday (March 12-15):
Who we saw on Wednesday:
Malcolm Holcombe – Solo on acoustic and like the wild man from Borneo. We wanted more from this guy!
Ed Harcourt – my son thought he sounds like David Byrne. Whatever.
Matthew Ryan – Playing solo inside the Scoot with the din of hard rock from the outdoor stages, Ryan coolly delivered a 45 minute set that demonstrated all his chops – guitar, voice, songwriting. Very impressive. New record due in April.
Shearwater – Someone called them Okkervil River Jr. Will Sheff was a one time member. While they head in an Okkervil direction at times, these folks are a whole different beast. Front man’s voice is otherworldly. Previewed a bunch of songs from upcoming release on Matador slated for June. They sounded good.
Chip Robinson & Eric Ambel – Former Backsliders front man with former Backsliders producer mixing Backsliders blasts from the past with a few new ones. Had me recalling just how good a band the Backsliders were.
Blue Mountain – Quite a one-time alt country of yore punch what with following Robinson & Ambel. And like the aforementioned, had me reminiscing just a great a band Blue Mountain was. New album due in July and new songs sounded real good.

Who we saw on Thursday:
Amy LaVere – Cool, calm, collected and deserving of big things. In addition to this day gig, she also played two SXSW showcases which is pretty unheard of, not to mention finding her way onto KUT.
Black Diamond Heavies – Interesting mix: organ & drums and no more. Throbbing beats!
Two Cow Garage – Straightahead rock & roll.
Glossary – One of the tightest bands I’ve seen. They rock, too.
Grand Champeen – See Glossary.
David Serby – Long, tall cool Californian playing cool country music in the Dwight mode.
Li’l Cap’n Travis – Our most favorite Austin band. Beach Boys meets the Beatles meets Hazelwood. Gorgeous tunes.
Bobby Bare, Jr. – Better all the time.
Felice Brothers – New to these ears. Earhty mix of accordion, guitars, etc. I could get to like ‘em.
Spoon – Amidst the mob scene at Auditorium Shores. Too many people, too far away, but we finally saw Spoon.
North Mississippi All-Stars – 2nd coming of the Allman’s??
Cornell Hurd Band (with Bill Kirchen) – Like comfort food after the Spoon scene.
Patricia Vonne – not a fan.
Syd Straw – Band featured Gurf Morlix & Rich Brotherton. Syd in her ususal Sydness. Laughs & beautiful singing.

Who we saw on Friday:
Bloodshot Party @ Yard Dog:
Andre Williams – noontime show that got the day going better than anything. Sort of like a Jager shot. Andre was stylish and in fine voice with Alan Oldies Band backing to the hilt.
The Silos (in tribute to Drew Glackin) – Jon Dee joining on guitar. Silos rock the Yard Dog tent.
Bobby Bare Jr. – See Thursday. Ya know, Bobby plays shows in his socks.
Ha Ha Tonka – Youthful energy = hard rockin’.
Deadstring Brothers – Stonesy and like them more everytime I see them (4x now).
Mark Pickerel & His Praying Hands – Ya gotta get his new one. Dig the quaver in the voice.
Firewater – Latest Bloodshot signee. Interesting stuff.
Justin Townes Earle – Decked out in suits, this was old school country from the Son of Earle.
The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir – Always intense.
The Waco Brothers – Pass the tequila.

Evening for Saus-Tex Night at Jovita’s:
The Tex-Mex Experience (with Shawn Sahm) – So much like his dad it’s scary. These guys have the Tex-Mex r&r thing down cold. Saw Rounder Records head man in attendance. A deal in the offing?
Los #3 Dinners – San Antonio institution.

Who we saw on Saturday:
Kevin Gordon – With band. Love him more everytime I saw him. He pulls some incredible sounds out of the guitar. Played a new, yet-to-be-titled song about high school days that blew us away.
The Whipsaws – From Alaska playing in the 85-degree sun with a drummer who looks of Eskimo heritage. Cool rags couldn’t cool down his playing. They rock real good.
Tim Easton with Whipsaws – Always a treat.
Tommy Womack – We love Tommy Womack. 1st time seeing him with band.
Chuck Prophet – Holy shit.
Cornell Hurd Band – Texicalli thing relocated to Torchy’s Taco’s lot.
Waco Bros – See Friday.
Sarah Borges & Broken Singles – Knockin’ ‘em dead doing New England proud.
Blue Mountain – See Wednesday.
Wussy – Best band show we saw. Damn they were loud and good. Combo of Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker is a lethal one. Love the way she sings astep behind him. Side note: cleaver grew up in a house built over a graveyard. Muts explain Ass Ponys creepiness.
Demolition String Band – Twang rockin’ these days and man can Boo Reiner burn the strings.
Dave Insley & Careless Smokers – More lethal twang.
Jesse Dayton & Brennan Leigh – Duo singing in the classic country style. Brennan can sing it!
Anders Parker – Sleepy, moody set.
Caroline Herring – Actually early Sunday morning. Saw her in a church. Her songs are potent and her voice clear with a Southern twang to it. I found her mesmerizing.

Stuck to most of the usual haunts: El Sol y Luna, Evangeline, Woodland, Maria’s, etc. One new discovery was the Dart Bowl. Excellent, but greasy lunchtime enchiladas with a side of fries. Dig it.