Each performance space played a significant role in that particular show’s experience. From the cold, grey Austin Music Hall, to the sunny tented patios, and pulsing honky-tonks. The final show I saw was in the quiet sanctuary of a church.
One half of the Rochester contingent was at the Continental Club in South Austin on Saturday afternoon. It was 90 degrees and sunny. We had walked across the bridge over the Colorado River which runs right through Austin. Not that Colorado River, I was told. Without an atlas handy, I had to believe it to be true.
The line to get in the Continental Club was fairly long. We had probably already missed the Mother Truckers whom I had looked forward to since last year, and Steve Poltz, who I found out later was someone not to miss. Rather than wait in line, we continued walking in the sun.
The Austin Music Hall had great security. Ready for any emergency. They promptly removed the half of turkey club I had saved from earlier that evening. I should have considered throwing it away hours ago.
It was a compromise going to the Austin Music Hall. One thing that makes SXSW special is the small, club venues. The Music Hall (capacity 4,400) is larger, even larger than La Zona Rosa (700) where Van Morrison had played two nights before. It was almost full. Crowds shoulder to shoulder standing on the floor space. We went to the second level to sit on one of the concrete slabs that also serve as stairs.
Known for its great Mexican restaurants and Texas bar-b-ques, Austin also is home to one Disney-like New York Deli. Time and convenience finds me eating a turkey club on rye, deli style. I can’t confess this to anyone.
(Great connoisseurs of eclectic music also appreciate fine local cuisine. The large bar-b-qued turkey leg, for instance. Rochester's own Richard Storm is such a man.)
It’s a short hike down 6th Street, across town to Waterloo Records. Ninety degrees, sunny. Pass Mother Egan’s Irish Pub, already into Friday’s music at just past noon.
Waterloo hosts multiple bands throughout each festival. My niece Kate’s favorite in 2007 was catching Iggy Pop and the Stooges there in full glory, autograph and all. We were on our way to see Shelby Lynne.
It was forty minutes early. The crowd was active but sparse. Ten minutes later people began staking out their territory and it filled up. I planted myself right in the “S” section. Paul Simon, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra. Plenty to check out while waiting.
The final day of South By Southwest viewed from a foot below:
"It's the end of the tour" Last day. I've already seen so much great music this week, I'm inured and ready to start passing judgment on anyone and everyone. Unfortunately, the spring break crowd is returning tonight, and the clash of the SxSW crowd with the usual Sixth Street bunch is never pretty. Fortunately, there's a number of pleasant and random surprises.
Gina Lee and the Brisket Boys: (Botticelli's) Two-stepping country band, local regulars down at the Broken Spoke. Very funny commentary throughout by the guy on keyboards. Couples are dancing, interrupting lunch service. Very nice.
The view from a foot below continues with this entry from Austin resident, my niece, Kate Wright:
By day three you're the walking dead, and this morning I forgot to drink any water before I left the house. Of course, it was 90 out.
Lightspeed Champion: (Volume) Funky little folk rock trio from Britain playing an impossible number of concerts this week. Lead singer is going to go get a Star Wars tattoo in a few hours, we're invited to watch. Funny argument amongst themselves about which Weezer song they want to cover.
Actually, spring begins tomorrow. On the calendar at least. Those warm March days in Austin left us northerners feeling like we leapfrogged a season. Only to return to snow on the eve of spring back in Rochester.
So it seems "Spring Is Just Around the Corner" could have only been written by someone up north. Richard Julian is that guy. His new cd, "Sunday Morning in Saturday's Shoes" is an excellent collection of finely honed, odd, authentic songs.
This was the first show Thursday night. I had been curious since an earlier cd of his, "Slow New York", and then his work, along with Norah Jones, with the Little Willies. Like spring, it was worth the wait.
This entry was buried in the comments to an earlier article. Let's get it out in the open. Another in the continuing guest commentary from my niece Kate...
The View From A Foot Lower
Hi, I'm Scott's niece Kate, and I think he and I saw entirely different festivals. With a few notable exceptions, I saw almost entirely music that I was unfamiliar with. Anyway, Scott's asked me to share my notes, so here we go.
James McMurtry: (Mother Egan's) Awesome outlaw style blues-rock guitarist. Looks like Stevie Ray Vaughn and kinda sounds like him too. Much of the commentary is political, and he's very well informed.
My time at SXSW these past two years has been made easier, much more enjoyable, and more of a challenge to keep up, thanks to my wonderful niece Kate Wright, a grad student at the University of Texas. Here is her experiences and review of day two:
Long day yesterday, but mostly a good one. Spent most of the day at a label show, then a little more travel in the evening.
Peter Bradley Adams: (Friends) First act I caught of the Sarathan Records show. Pretty standard acoustic boy rock, but the singer is very cute, so he may go far.