Saturday, March 19, 2011

SxSW Day 8


SxSW Interview: Yoko Ono

Couldn't miss this interview. It was unusual in that the session began with a 15 minute video about Yoko's life. It wasn't clear whether it was self-produced or not.

Yoko spent a lot of time talking about her life, latest causes, and the situation in Japan. It seemed to go by very quickly, I will probably take the chance to rewatch the video when it is posted by SxSW. Yoko Ono Interview

Mastering Vinyl, Hear All About It

This was undoubtedly one of the best technical music panels that I have ever attended. The panel consisted of aficionado Michael Fremer, who produced a fantastic documentary about vinyl records are mastered and produced, and two legends, Doug Sax and Bob Ludwig. If you own any vinyl, it is more than likely that several albums have been mastered by one of these two gentlemen.

Lot's of good information from this talk, and I am relatively sure that I will want to obtain a copy of Fremer's DVD, after seeing excerpts. Furthermore, I will be getting a new cartridge and bring my turntable and vinyl out of storage. Back to the future!
Michael Fremer, Doug Sax, and Bob Ludwig

Get Band Business Doing Smart

This panel featured the always entertaining Martin Atkins, and Hillel Frankel (who I believe may be Martin's agent). The premise was a mock debate, in order to discuss Atkin's guerilla marketing strategies for music.

Martin never disappoints, and I really appreciate what he is giving back to the world of Music.

Hillel Frankel, Steve Hutton & Martin Atkins

Bobby Long

I'm having a difficult time remembering the next 3 day stage acts. I do remember that I enjoyed listening.

Bobby Long on the Day Stage

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

Caitlin Rose

Caitlin Rose

Random Shot of ACC during SxSWm

The Austin Convention Center


Dutch Impact

Another party, another cash bar (handled by the same caterer). Oh well, the good ole days of free food and booze are over I guess.

I stayed for one set, a band named Black Atlantic. They were good, not great, and not as interesting as the Canadian band from yesterday.
Dutch Impact Party Dutch Impact Party Schedule The Black Atlantic

Hilton Stage - Brooke Fraser

A very nice, mellow singer/songwriter type with a backing band. Incredible voice. Brooke Fraser


Boy & Bear

This was a great Pop/Rock band from Australia. Another Handicapping panel suggestion, and another winner. The crowd at Buffalo Billiards agreed. Boy & Bear at Buffalo Billiards

Dirty Beaches

So this was the first stinker. I stayed for exactly half of the first song, and left wondering how this person was able to get a showcase.


I decided to head over to Cedar Street. As I got there, the crowd seemed unusually sparse. After hearing Keepaway, I understood why. Strike two.

Birds & Batteries

I then walked over to the Tap Room, and finally found a band that was tolerable. I wasn't blown away by this act, but found them listenable (and avoided a strike out). Birds & Batteries at the Tap Room

Leslie Stevens and the Badgers

I decided to stay put, just in case. The next act Leslie Stevens, was a female Country/Americana singer from Southern California. She had a pedal steel player, and some members of the band, Paperclip, joined her on stage for a few songs. Leslie Stevens and the Badgers


I then returned to Kiss & Fly for Oberhofer, another Handicapping panel recommendation. I found them listenable, but not engaging. Oberhofer

Lanterns on the Lake

This was a very interesting Cinematic, post-pop band from NE England. They played a mix of acoustic and electric instruments, and sounded very good in the Central Presbyterian Church. This was only showcase I saw at this venue, BTW. Lanterns on the Lake

Amy Speace

Not being able to get enough of St. David's, I returned there and checked out this country singer, Amy Speace. She was an accomplished singer, but this music seemed very pedestrian to me. Amy Speace

Mother Mother

I had picked out this band from an iTunes or Amazon sampler for SxSW. The band executed just fine, but the venue, Swan Dive, sucked.

If there is one complaint I have about SxSWm, it's the temporary use of these Dance Clubs as live music venues. What was particularly annoying about this place, was their insistance on playing House Music at loud volumes, while the band was trying to do a sound check. The results when the band started playing were as expected. I really wanted to go throttle the DJ.

In all reality, I can't imagine setting foot in this club at any other time. I'm hoping there will be a pendulum swing back towards live music, in the next decade, putting these dance clubs and the choke-and-puke bars out of business. (I can hope, at least!)

Ron Sexsmith

This was another SxSWm highlight for me. I got see an entire set of Ron Sexsmith with his backing band. Outstanding! Ron Sexsmith at St. David's Sanctuary

Friday, March 18, 2011

SxSW Day 7

Panels and Day Stages

Matt Haimovitz & Uccello

This was an interesting opening act, right before the Keynote. A quartet of cellists played a variety of material, including an interpretation of the Led Zeppelin's Kashmir. Comparisons with Kronos quartet, are to be expected.

From what I understand, Haimovitz (on the left) is a Music professor, and the rest of the ensemble is composed of his students. I wish that I would have had time to catch one of their showcases, but that just didn't seem possible. Matt Haimovitz & Uccello

SxSW Keynote: Bob Geldof

Sir Bob Geldof opened his keynote lamenting the fact that an impressive list of people had given keynotes in previous years. Feeling somewhat inadequate, he wondered if he was up to the task.

Putting modesty aside however, he then went on to talk about why Rock could have only emerged from America, and why it was important to the rest of the world. He got more specific, talking about how Howling Wolf and Elvis changed his entire world, when he first heard them. Rock music was a catalyst for things that would have never emerged otherwise in Ireland.

Bob then went on to say that during his most recent trips to the US, that we as a nation, seemed tired and exhausted. His challenge was that the US needed new voices to emerge, arising to challenge the status quo. He also indicated that perhaps another nation would need to step up, although he wondered who that could possibly be. He was sure however, that somebody needed to. Bob Geldof Keynote

Golden Ears

This was a State of the Union address for the A&R world. I'm going to have to go back and listen to the audio again, because although I didn't take good notes, there was some very good information and demographics provided during the panel.

Emmylou Harris

Although I fully intended to see Emmylou later in the evening at Antones, I decided to check out this set on the Day Stage, as a precaution. This ended up being a wise decision, as you will read later.

So, Emmylou played a short set of 4 songs, with a little bit of monologue in between songs. She was as fantastic as I would have expected. My only regret was not getting a better picture, but the iPhone doesn't really do too well in dimly lit scenarios. Emmylou Harris

Still Corners

This was Pop act, who were fortunately still playing after Emmylou. I was able to catch one or two songs. Very listenable, I wish I had had time to hear more. Still Corners on the SESAC Day Stage

Josh Ritter

Josh was another recommendation from the Handicapping panel. A solo, singer/songwriter type who was a little more on the Country end of the spectrum. I stayed for the entire set, and found it enjoyable, even if it wasn't my favorite genre of music.
Josh Ritter on the Day Stage

Today's World of Songwriter and Artist Music Licensing Deals

As a proud member of the Austin Music Foundation, I have gotten to know the Brabec brothers (Todd and Jeff) personally. Not only have they spoken at every one of the 7 SxSWm conferences that I've attended, but they have also been brought to town by AMF several times.

Once again, they were top of the licensing game, and their information is invaluable to anyone who holds a publishing copyright. The new information that they discussed this time, was about the mobile App market.

The respect they garner was evidenced by the presence of several big-time, Entertainment lawyers in the audience. Todd and Jeff Brabec

The Head and the Heart

Another recommendation from the Handicapping panel, that was spot on. They were similar in some ways to James Vincent McMorrow. Very enjoyable set, I will most likely buy some music from this band. The Head and the Heart

Songwriters Explain Everything

This was another fantastic panel featuring songwriters Hayes Carll, Ron Sexsmith, and Hazel Dickens. Of course, all three artists played during the session, making for a very special experience.

I won't lie, I was there to catch Ron play. Songwriters: Hayes Carll, Ron Sexsmith, Hazel Dickens


The Other F Word

This ended up being my last screening of SxSW 2011. I chose this film because I had heard very good things about it, while waiting in line at the Ritz for Beginners.

The basic story was about several aging West Coast Punk Rock musicians, and how their lives had changed, now that they were in their 40's and had kids. The F word was obviously fatherhood.

The subjects of the film included Jim Linberg of Pennywise, Flea of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Mark Hoppus of Blink 182, Tony Hawk, Art Alexakis of Everclear, and Ron Reyes (aka Chavo) of Black Flag. The best line of the movie came from Jim Linberg, who said to paraphrase as best I can, "When I perform for audiences that are predominantly 20 years younger than I am, I feel like the clown at kids's birthday party. Maybe I should be up here on stage making balloon animals"

Great documentary.

Additional clips can be found here.


Moody Theater - ACL Live

While waiting to enter the Moody Theater for Bob Geldof, there was Street Marching Band down below the balcony performing arrangements of Rock songs. Of course, here in Austin, this is treated as nothing unusual. Street Marching Band serenades the ACL Live balcony

Bob Geldof

The first show of the night was Bob Geldof. He is about to go on tour, and this was one of his first shows with the band. Besides Bob, there was one other member of the Boomtown Rats in this band, bassist, Pete Briquette. Bob mentioned that it had been quite a long time since he last played in Austin, because the venue was Armadillo World Headquarters.

The set went by way too quickly and featured a good mix of his new material and a healthy selection of Rats' songs. On my end, I spent most of the time on the floor in front of the stage, but snuck up to the balcony for the last 10 minutes, just to see things from above. Bob Geldof Bob Geldof

Francis Mbappe

This was a fantastic afro-jazz trio, led by a bassist from Cameron, named Francis Mbappe, along with Cuban guitarist Richard Padron, and Will Calhoun, best known as the drummer for Living Colour. The show was at the Elephant Room, and all of the usual suspects (various Jazz fans living here in Austin) were present.

Without a question, I will be on the lookout for more music from Francis in the near future. Will Calhoun Francis Mbappe and Will Calhoun

Abigail Washburn

Abigail is another favorite, and I have seen her a number of times, but always with Bela Fleck and the Sparrow Quartet. This time she was appearing at Antones, with a new band.

This great show went by way too fast. The only bummer being the crowd, because Antones was filled to capacity. I abandoned any plans of returning to Antones a few hours later for Emmylou Harris, since I had already seen her at the Day Stage. Abigail Washburn

Takashi Kamide

This was my first showcase at St. David's this year. (St. David's is my favorite venue because the acoustics are so fucking great in both the Sanctuary and Bethel Hall. I caught the last song of Takashi Kamide's set, a Japanese accordion player with an avant-garde bent.

G. Love

G. Love is a Blues act from Philadelphia. The Sanctuary was the perfect venue for this group, which features primarily acoustic instruments, particularly the Dobro. Great set, great sound. G. Love at St. David's Sanctuary

Lia Ices

This was an Avant/Experimental act that I also found enjoyable. I need to listen to more from this band, as well.

City and Colour

I'm not sure that this band was on my radar, but the quality of the other acts at St. David's convinced me to just stay put. I'm glad I did, because this was the best band of SxSWm, as far as I'm concerned.

Dallas Green is a Canadian vocalist and guitarist from the band, Alexis on Fire. As a side project, he created City and Colour, sometimes performing solo, other times bringing along 3 other musicians to back him up. On this evening, he started the set with the band, and then finished the last 4 songs by himself.

All I can say is wow. This band knocked me on my ass. I loved the musicianship, the vocals, and the songwriting. Apparently, I was one of the uninformed, because it seemed at times that about 75% of the audience was singing along to their music. They have a following, and it's well deserved if I must say so myself.

I will catch these guys on tour next time they come around. I've already purchased a shitload of their music. City and Colour City and Colour

Thursday, March 17, 2011

SxSW Day 6

Panels and Day Stages

Handicapping SxSW Showcases

This was great panel to open up SxSWm. It included people that wrote for several music blogs, including Hype Machine, as well as one blogger who had listened to every single audio clip, on the SxSW website.

The end objective was for each panelist to give their list of 10 to 20 bands, that had to be seen. I had some overlap with some of their choices. My own list was generated from a smaller and incomplete sampling. I can say that I adjusted my schedule based upon some of the recommendations.

I should mention also, that for this year, I made a conscious effort to avoid seeing Austin bands if possible. I figure that I can see those acts, any time.
Panel: Handicapping SxSW Showcases

Entrepreneurs in Music

This was a fairly interesting talk, with Eric Garland of Big Champagne, as one of the panelists. I found it interesting, primarily for the demographic information presented in the talk.


This was one of the more interesting bands I saw on the day stage, they were primarily Electronic, but with some acoustic Latin percussion. I found them reminiscent of Oingo Boingo, in their sound.

Unfortunately, I was not able to catch their later showcases. Casiokids on the Day Stage

SxSW Featured Speaker: Andrew W.K.

Figuring this was a Keynote, I decided to see what it was about. I left about 10 minutes into his monologue. I'm not sure why this guy is famous, and I'm pretty sure that I won't be buying any of his music.

Daniel Johnston - The First Fifty Years

I just happened to walk in on this one. Hmm, not sure what to say about this. I didn't really find Johnston's music that enjoyable to listen to. I've read his bio on Wikipedia and learned some more information about him. Daniel Johnston

Mobile Music Moves to the Cloud

This was the backup panel, after striking out on the other two. Interesting, but no new info. If anything, I'm sure that our Congress will succeed in successfully destroying any new business models that emerge, and the US will continue to be the backwater, with no services like Spotify.

James Vincent McMorrow

James Vincent McMorrow has almost an Irish Tenor quality voice. His band is fantastic. They are extremely competent and tasteful, and then knock you on your ass with their multi-part vocal harmonies.

This was one of the bands recommended during the Handicapping panel, and this selection was spot on. I'm considering buying their CD or a download.
James Vincent McMorrow

The Future of Music - Is There One?

Unlike earlier panels, I was waiting for this one because it featured Dr. Doom himself, Sandy Pearlman. I love this punker turned McGill University professor because of his no nonsense critiques of the music business, and his insight.

Surprisingly, Sandy has changed his tune a bit, and is enthusiastic about the vinyl resurgence, as precursor for more analog. He talked at length about whether there is something to the perception about the warmth of analog tape. He also said some interesting and provocative things about the truncation of the Harmonic series, by the CD Redbook spec and MP3 CODECs. It turns out that recent research is indicating that there is something to the preference by humans, for analog, and it's tied to our brains.

I had the opportunity to speak with him one on one later (a real treat). I now have a whole list of papers and books that I need to read, as a result of this conversation. Sandy jokingly told me that there will be test at next year's SxSW, and I could hand in my paper then.
The Future of Music - Is there one?

How to Keep Your Digital Music Flowing

I sat in on this panel, but was really planning my evening on my iPhone. I'll have to go back and see if the audio was posted.


Canadian Blast Party - Karkwa

I left the Convention Center and crossed the street to claim my free daily booze ration, and then sneak over next door to the Canadian Blast party. I was able to listen to one set, by a band from Montreal, called Karkwa. I don't know how to label their music, other than with the word Alternative. I did enjoy them, however, and will be looking for more of their music.

I did notice one disturbing trend. Other than the Brush Square tent run by SxSW, none of the booze was free anymore. The Canadian Blast Party had a Cash Bar. I guess this is a sign of the economic situation. However, I think the Cash Bars are here to stay now! Damn it!
Sign at Canadian Blast Party in Brush Square Karkwa

Hilton Stage - King Charles

After the Canadian Party, I strolled across the street to the Hilton to see what was going on there. An artist named, King Charles, was there. Backed by a band, he a very strong Reggae, Calypso, and Caribbean feel to his music. I stayed for the entire set. Sign at Hilton Day Stage King Charles on the Hilton Day Stage



This was a multi-national Rock band. I don't remember much about them, even though I was parked at Stubbs all night, and heard their entire set.

James Blake

Although this was recommended by the Handicapping panel this morning, I didn't find much that I enjoyed or was interested in.

Smith Westerns

This was another Rock act that I found somewhat engaging. I used this opportunity to stake a claim up near the front, under the deck. The prime real estate at Stubbs. Smith Westerns

Raphael Saadiq

I had seen Raphael at last year's SxSW, and came away very impressed. Raphael hit it out of the park again this year.

He has successfully taken the old Berry Gordy/Motown sound, and brought in to the 21st century. Can't say enough nice things about this act. Raphael Saddiq

Duran Duran

For the last showcase of the night, I chose to release my inner teenage girl, and see Duran Duran. Since they were just kicking off for a tour, there were some minor glitches. They did sound well rehearsed, however.

I enjoyed this 90 minutes show, but am unsure I would ever go to see them again. Now, I can scratch them off of my bucket list. Duran Duran at Stubbs

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SxSW Day 5


Metadata: The Backbone of the Digital Music Commerce

This was a fairly interesting panel for content publishers, and artists. The panel discussed all of the metadata standards available for audio and visual content, and why they were important.

For someone not in this business, it would probably not be too engaging.

A Conversation with Randall Poster

I was anxious to see this talk, because Randall Poster is one of Hollywood's biggest Music Superviors. Originally, the interviewer was supposed to be Austin based, director, Richard Linklater.

Richard was unable to make it, so the substitute just happened to be my friend (and Austin Composer), Graham Reynolds. I will most likely re-listen to the audio for this interview several times.

Interview with Music Supervisor, Randall Poster

Practically Funny: How Alternative Comedy Kings Have Learned to Reach the Masses

This panel was a lot of fun, because all of the speakers were comedians. The host was Baratunde Thurston who is a writer and editor for the hilarious newspaper, the Onion.

Writing this now reminds me that I have never managed to catch any of the standup showcases during SxSW, and that in general, I have not been to a comedy club in a long time. I think that I need to remedy that.


My first stop of the night for music, was Momo's. Since I was outside, I had to take a picture of Katz's. I ate there for the last time on 12/28/2010, 6 days before they closed their doors for good. Truly a sad day, and horrible way to bring in the new year!! Katz's Klosed

Austin and Memphis Music Foundation Party

The reason I was headed to Momo's was to attend an Austin Music Foundation Party. Unfortunately, I could only stay for the first hour, since I had two films that I wanted to catch. I was unable to catch Martin Atkin's talk this time. AMF and Memphis Music Foundation Party Schedule

The first band up was Star & Micey, an excellent Americana act, with a strong Bluegrass feel. Star & Micey at Momo's


Both films that a selected tonight were music based.

Love Shines

This film was a documentary about Canadian Singer/Songwriter, Ron Sexsmith. Ron is an exceptional talent, who has never managed to get over the hump. This film documents his latest album and tour.

In order to jumpstart his career, Ron selected famed producer, Bob Rock, to help him on this album. You may recognized Bob Rock more for his work with Heavy Metal Bands, such as Metallica. Surprisingly, I felt Rock was even better at producing an acoustic artist like Sexsmith, than metal bands.

Along the way (and in the documentary), Ron also has received help from Keifer Sutherland, Steve Earle, Elvis Costello, and Sheryl Crow. The screening ended with a Q&A with both the director, and Ron himself. (BTW, Ron was also showcasing at SxSWm). Q&A for Love Shines

Sound It Out

This was a wonderful documentary about the last record store in northeast England, Sound It Out Records. Afterwards, the director and the store owner (and subject of the film) were available for Q&A.

All of this talk of vinyl, has me pining to get a new cartridge and break out my old turntable and vinyl collection, again. Sound It Out Cast