Monday, March 23, 2015

SxSW 2015 Wrap-up

File this in the better late than never category

Day 0 - Badge Pickup

So, this year was a bit different. For the first time since 2010, my
little brother Sean was unable to make it here. We usually have a
good time getting our badges Thursday night, and then going somewhere
for dinner. I didn't realize how much I would miss this time, but I

He said he intends to come next year, so things will return to normal.

Day 1

The highlight of the first day from a SxSWi perspective, was the
Charles Barkley interview. He is as funny in person, as he is on

After some forgettable panels, I saw two great documentaries, City
of Gold, and For Grace.

City of Gold

Jonathan Gold is a food critic who lives in LA. I felt a certain
affinity with him, because he appreciates the same sort of low
ethnic, street cuisine that I do.

For Grace

This was a documentary was about the amazing chef, Curtis Duffy. A troubled youth who managed to rise in the world of cooking, opening an restaurant that eventually acheived a Michelin 3 Star Rating.

Day 2

I spent most of this day attending screenings, including:

  • Frame by Frame - an excellent documentary about photo journalists in Kabul, Afganistan.
  • The Boy - a fictional account about a young boy becoming a psychopath.
  • and ...

Son of the Congo

Son of the Congo - a documentary about Oklahoma Thunder player, Serge Ibaka. Which I enjoyed, even though I'm a Spurs fan.


Moonwalkers - a film with stars Ron Perlman, and Rupert Grint. I found this one generally uninteresting other than the chance it afforded me to star gaze.

Day 3

It seems as though every year, I get more and more immersed in SxSWf. I spent another day watching 4 screenings. The choices for this day included:


I had circled this one in advance. Like 25 Feet from Stardom, this film had the added bonus of Mavis in person.

Peace Officer

An important documentary. The escalation of SWAT teams in the country is out of control. This film hits you in the face with the facts, in case you've been asleep.

A short break during the day. Can't remember what was being promoted, but this campaign had lots of St. Bernards walking around town, and also in a pen on 5th Street.


I found this independent movie enjoyable, but flawed. Some obvious problems with the plot and writing.

Rolling Papers

  • A documentary about the legalization of Marijuana in Colorado. I think this film could have been better, as well.

    Day 4

    • Knock, Knock, It's Tig Notaro - a entertaining look at comedienne, Tig Notaro, as she went on a House Show tour.
    • Krisha - Kudos to the writer and director for making a movie with a real plot, I liked it.
    • Best of Enemies - Buckley and Vidal. A highly entertaining look at their famous debates.
    • They Will Have to Kill Us First - A real tear jerker. A band continues to play despite the attempts of religious extremists to eradicate them.

    Day 5

    • Wild Horses - Robert Duval's film. I would highly recommend it.
    • A Poem Is A Naked Person - a film tangentially about Leon Russell. So, I got see Leon in person, can't say I would recommend this film, however. A bit boring.
    • The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson - Interesting documentary about a musician having to face his own mortality, after finding out he had a terminal illness.
    • Jaco - No other words than fan-fucking-tastic. I have new found respect for Rob Trujello after this screening.
    • He Never Died - Like the Perlman film, I got to star gaze again. This time it was Henry Rollins. Not bad, but not good either.

    Day 6

    • Deep Web - as a documentary director/producer for the Internet age, Alex Winter is a home-run hitter.
    • The Damned: Don't you wish we were dead? - a documentary about the Damned. Captain Sensible was in the house.
    • The Last Man on the Moon - Gene Cernan was present to discuss Apollo 17, the last mission to the moon.

    Colm Mac Con Iomaire

    An acoustic singer/songwriter type. Very enjoyable, perfect for the acoustics of this room.

    Mother Falcon

    A local Austin band actually. Most people would describe these guys as a Jazz band. Don't get me wrong, there are some exceptional musicians in this band, but having spent all of those years around NYC, I have more stringent requirements improvisation-wise, before I award that title.

    Black Violin

    I had seen and met both of these players a year before at SxSW. I finally got to see them play. Like Mother Falcon, they are very heavily Classically trained. Very entertaining, and a bit more dynamic on stage than the previous band.

    Day 7

    So, my buddy Adrian Belew was in town with Daniel Rowland (Adrian's sound engineer), and Nick Mueller (developer) promoting Adrian's mobile app, Flux and Flux.fx. I've spent quite a bit of time with Ade and Daniel at TOAPP camp. Since I was also a Beta-tester for the Flux apps, I had exchanged emails and NDA's with Nick.

    Adrian was interviewed for SxSW, but did not play. Team Flux spent most of their time on the floor at the Gear Expo.

    I did manage to catch former STP frontman, Scott Weiland on the day stage.

    Since they were in town, fellow camp alumnus, Cedric Theys and I, had dinner with the guys that night. Despite missing the showcases that night, it couldn't have been a better night. The Margaritas were flowing.

    Day 8

    So to start off the last day, I got early to see Snoop Dog's keynote. For the opener, he had the very awesome Hypnotic Brass Ensemble from Chicago.


    One pleasant discovery this year was this band from Korea, on the day stage, Su:m. Unbelievable stuff, very relaxing, and intriguing.

    Ryan Bingham

    Jaco - Film panel

    Breaking A Monster

    Wynonna Judd & the Big Noise: Stories & Song

    Day 9

    Landfill Harmonic

    First I saw the film. I won't lie, it made me cry, while simultaneously obliterating every excuse I've ever had for not making music.

    At the end of the film, I then walked with the entire cast to the Driskill in order to see them perform. An absolutely transformative experience, and one I will probably never forget. Sometimes the universe delivers a message when you're most receptive, and need to hear it.

    Qarabagh Ensemble

    There's no way to describe this band from Azerbaijan other than fucking incredible. Despite talking to their manager here in the US, I still do not know where I can purchase a recording ( or twenty).

    Day 10 - BBQ

    So, for the past 5 or 6 years ago, I have been going to the BBQ, after hearing my friend Frank Souders describe how it helped you ease back into normal life. Multiple years ago, I also met two gentlemen, Marvine Harris and Hillery Robinson, because they noticed I was wearing a Baltimore Ravens t-shirt walking around the convention center. Marvine is a fellow Baltimoron, and Hillery is from TX and now lives in Pflugerville, but he also lived in Baltimore for a while.

    We have become good friends, and have run into each other every year for the past 6 or 7 years. We all have the same passion for music, and are all musicians. I always make it a point to get a picture with my buddies, at the BBQ.

    Normally, Marvine plays softball, but the games were cancelled, and the location was moved to Fiesta Gardens this year. It turns out however, that it didn't rain after all, and the weather was quite nice.

    Here's my pic from 2013