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SXSW - Highlights of South by Southwest

SXSW - Highlights of South by Southwest

By Dan Locke
Photos by Dan Locke

We have all heard of South by Southwest (SXSW). That is the big music fest held in Austin, Texas each year around the middle of March. But, do you really know what SXSW is? I am here to explain the mystery behind SXSW.

SXSW has always been held in Austin TX from where it got its start. In the beginning the decided to hold it in Austin TX, because of the relaxing environment that they had. Or maybe because Austin is a big college town and they know how to rock and still stay independent (indie rock).

What ever the reason, SXSW has become a place where artist can showcase their talents to the labels and the general public without any

pressure. And it has became a place where the labels can take a vacation to relax from the pressures of the big corps. giant.

SXSW begin in 1987 with it focus being the independent artist showing their talent. But in the 90's the labels started to use SXSW as a place

they could used to launch their new talent to a all new level. But at the same time some felt by letting the labels doing this, it hurts the unsigned

act and puts them on the back burner.

But then 911 hit and there was a major shutdown in 2002. A lot of the big shows during that year were stopped (Brittany, Fleetwood Mac,

Christina Aguilera and Lollapalooza) which caused a chain reaction in the business. I.e. Labels started to get rid of bands who were not selling

big numbers and labels started to combine with other labels.

Which brings SXSW back to its roots. The focus is back to indie music and it is the place were indie music has a voice.

It has became a place where a band could showcase their talent as they promote themselves during the fest. And being SXSW people think it is only there to see tons of bands. But a person can focus on all aspect of the business. From touring, management, booking, mortaring, legal matters, PSA, television, radio and the internet. There are panels for everyone.

And the food is great and the beer flows freely.. During most day shows you beer and food are free.

There are 1331 showcases and more then 9692 attendants at the Fest this year.

First thing you have to remember about SXSW before you go is you need a badge or wrist band.

Before you go you need to book a room.. Remember with 16,490 room nights booked during the fest.. Rooms are hard to come by. And while

booking try to get a room need the fest. This year I got a deal on airfair and a room for about $450.00 for the whole time there. But the kicker

was the hotel was 15 miles from the center of town and the taxi ride each day cost me about $20 each time. If you can buddy up. It will save you

a lot in the end. Once you are downtown there is no need for a car. Because you can get to any one of the 58 Music Venues by foot or bus at

night. To find the free buses look for the signs marked The Starlight Shuttle and the Moonlight Shutter which this year ran Wed 6pm- 3am,

Thursday/Friday 5pm-3am and Saturday 6pm-3am. On of the nicest things was the bus was free during SXSW. So I had no problem getting from point A to B.

While you are at SXSW check out The Austin Chronicle for up-to-date listing of day and night shows.

But most of all enjoy your time at SXSW.

Highlights of South by Southwest

South by South West ("SXSW") has come and gone. And I had a great time there. The thing about SXSW, there are so many bands how does

one find out who is playing and where (there is over 1300 bands). You start to figure out who you will like to see. Well let start by telling you it is

impossible to see all of the bands you would like to see. Before you start to check out SXSW the one thing you should do is check out the

schedule with is posted on its website www.sxsw.com And start to check out who is

playing. The schedule which starts to get posted about a month before SXSW. After you figure out who you would like to check out.. Throw the

list away because everyone I have talked to said your plans get change day by day. You can change your schedule , but you start hearing buzz

about a party or a band. And you get invited to parties. So your plans can chance day by day. Also another thing you have to look out for is the

daytime shows. The only thing that is posted on the SXSW website is Nighttime shows. So the daytime shows are either word of mouth or

check out the SXSW yahoo group for details on who is playing.

Here is a list of cool bands that has played SXSW in the past not including 2004 or 2005.

Barenaked Ladies, Beck, Ben Folds Five, Tony Bennett, The Black Crowes, Black Eyed Peas, Blur, David Byrne, Johnny Cash, George Clinton, Cypress Hill. The Darkness, Death Cab For Cutie, Ani DiFranco, Dixie Chicks, Flaming Lips, The Flatlanders, Kevin Fowler, Doug E. Fresh, The

Fugees, Gang Starr,David Gray, Guided By Voices, Ben Harper, Interpol, Wanda Jackson, Jewel, Norah Jones, Wanda Jackson, Jurassic 5,

Kinky, Li'l Flip, Nick Lowe, Thomas Mapfumo, Roger McGuinn, Medeski Martin & Wood, Mogwai, Monster Magnet, My Morning Jacket, Willie

Nelson & Family, Randy Newman, North Mississippi Allstars, Beth Orton, Carl Perkins, Iggy Pop, Ray Price, Robert Randolph, The Rapture,

Ricky Skaggs, Elliott Smith, Patti Smith, Soft Boys, Sonic Youth, Spoon, The Strokes, Sublime, System of a Down, Ike Turner, X-ecutioners,

Rufus Wainwright, Tom Waits, The White Stripes, Lucinda Williams, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Yo La Tengo

During the the years oast some of the highlight artists have include:

Alkaline Trio, American Music Club, Atmosphere, Devendra Banhart, The B-52's, The Black Keys, Blues Traveler, BR5-49, Broken Social

Scene, Junior Brown, Cake, Calexico, Cave In, The Church, Slaid Cleaves,Coheed And Cambria, Jessi Colter, Comets on Fire, Control Machete,

The Cooper Temple Clause,The Crystal Method, Jamie Cullum, Matthew Dear, The Decemberists, Gavin DeGraw,The Delgados, Dillinger

Escape Plan, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dizzee Rascal David Dondero, Drive-By Truckers, Franz Ferdinand, Melissa Ferrick, The Fiery Furnaces, Fifty Foot Wave, The Flatlanders, Flogging Molly, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Patty Griffin, Handsome Boy

Modeling School, Har Mar Superstar, Robyn Hitchcock, The Hives, The Holmes Brothers, The Honorary Title, Van Hunt, Jack Ingram, The

(International) Noise Conspiracy, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, Stanley Jordan, Junior Senior, The Killers, Kris Kristofferson, Ted Leo /

Pharmacists, Toby Lightman, The Lilys, Little Richard, The Living Legends, Los Lobos, Los Lonely Boys, Jesse Malin, Camper Van Beethoven, J Mascis, The Mavericks, Nellie McKay, Mission Of Burma, Modest Mouse, Mosquitos, N.E.R.D., NOFX, Old Crow Medicine

Show, Old 97's, Ozomatli, Particle, Pedro the Lion, Michael Penn, Liz Phair, Plastilina Mosh, The Polyphonic Spree, Powderfinger, Pretty Girls

Make Graves, Kermit Ruffins, Scissor Sisters, Secret Chiefs 3, The Secret Machines, Ron Sexsmith, Six Organs of Admittance, The Sleepy

Jackson, Mindy Smith, Snow Patrol, The Sounds, Southern Culture On The Skids, stellastarr*, Joss Stone, Swishahouse, They Might Be

Giants, Sharde Thomas, The Rising Star Fife And Drum Band, The Thrills, Toots and the Maytals, Trans Am, Tv On The Radio, Umphrey's McGee, The Unicorns, John Vanderslice, The Von BondiesThe Walkmen, The Wildhearts, Wrens and Dwight Yoakam.

As you can see, there are many many bands that have played at SXSW in the past.. And have become well known. But at the time they played

SXSW they were just indie bands trying to make it. So this year I went down to SXSW to check out all of the up and coming bands and here is

my list of the highlights for 2005.

The Neville Brothers
They are still riding high on their New Orleans jam funk style of music.. But they the best New Orleans has. And they still sound really good.

Aimee Mann
Performed to a sold out crowd at Stubbs. It was so crowded in fact I had to stand on top of a speaker to watch the show.

The Wallflowers
Jakob Dylan should be more then a poster child of children of Rock stars who go into music. He can really play.

Erykah Badu

She gave a talk at the conference hall and she was talking about how SXSW helped her with her career. She performed at SXSW and handed

someone a cassette of her music. This person give it to someone they know and that person give it to someone else and this handed her a

development deal (they did know where to put her at that time) and now she is a star. And that night she gave a wonderful performance at the

Austin Music Hall.

Petty Booka
This was the 2nd time seeing this Japanese girl ukulele duo. Think of Doris Day is from Hawaii.

Nashville Pussy
Picture guitar player with a body of a model and the guitar abilities of Angus Young from AC/DC. With one of the hardest working bands touring. You have Nashville Pussy. The thing that people come out to see her looses her top at every show she plays in.. And ends up playing in her bra.

I ran into Embrace during a small day show. They sounded like Coldplay meets Oasis. But this maybe because Chris Martin wrote some of the

songs on the Embrace new album (Gravity)

The Legendary Shack Shakers
Some people call them punk music and some call them Rocker Billy. But I call them pure fun in the way they play their music and work with the

crowd. This is just a three piece band which I have caught at the Abbey Pub (in Chicago) before now opening up for Robert Plant. And the crowd

was just amazed in how they took over the crowd. JD. Wilker (Vocals/harp) had the crowd in his hands.

Billy Idol
Billy Idol headlined the first night at SXSW at Stubbs to promo this new CD "Devil's Playground" And it has be awhile since we have heard

anything new by Billy. Yes he tour a couple of years ago. But it has been years since he had new material to showcase. And you could see by

how the crowd reacted to he that he still had what it takes to hold a crowd. And get the crowd to sing every note.

Mr. Idol was reunited with Steve Stevens on guitar for this tour. Steve has been his main guitarist since day one. You could see why with Steve addition of soul-stirring melodies and true raw energy. The CD was going to be release a couple days later so what a way to let people hear what the CD is about. I am sure he sold a few copies that night.

Healing form Rio Grande River, this band won a rafting trip from a local rock radio station and played their first gig around the campfire that night. And they still sing about the same things that they song that night. Beer, women and partying. And being at SXSW they didn't have an showcase so they paid for a booth and give people who would listen free beer. This was either live or by CD. And it work a lot of people brought

CD from them.

Some of the songs on the CD are Titty Bar, Open Minded Redneck and Wasted. These guys are a lot of fun to listen to so check them out.

The Dears-
A cross between the Doors, U2 and The Smiths with a edge of Manchester Modern Rock. This band from Montreal was formed in 2001with the

only original member Murry Lightburn still in the ban. Murry on guitar is joined by Natalin Yauchak- keyboards, Martin Palland- Bass, Steve

Donoso III-drums, Valeria Jodain Keaton- Keyboards/flutist and Patrick Krief- guitar, they have create a new sound with ton of energy.

They have a very ultimate style of solid pop elements in their music which play off well as being very radio friendly. Their eclectic sound will make them a friendly addition to any style radio play list.

While I was watching the band play live I overheard someone telling a friend " They are my best new band'"

Susan Cowsill

There wouldn't have been a Partridge Family without her family. The cowsills were what the Partridge Family television show was base on.

She is a very easy going person and nice see that she is still playing after all these years. You have to remember Sue retired from music at the

age of 12. And now she is back showing her thing..

The Raveonettes
This Danish duo of June Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo gave SXSW a new sound back in 2003. And how they have developed over the last

couple of years. They are still a great band, but what got to me was a remake of "Be My Baby". This just floored me.

Give you the feeling that you are in the middle of the Mardi Gras

Ian Hunter
David Bowie friend.. All the Young Dudes himself.

Robert Plant
Led Zeppelin is no more, but Robert Plant is still out there with his new band "The Strange Sensation" With his new band he is heading toward a new chapter of music. He is now doing what he loves a bend of blues and new world beat. Also with a new label backing him (Sanctuary

Records) Robert will continue to sale CD's.

The Morning After Girls
A couple of years ago the big buzz were The Raveonettes. This year the new kids on the block is a Melbourne quintet "The Morning After Girls"

who sound make you feel you are back in San Fraisanco during the Summer of Love 1967. They have a fun pop sound.

Guide By Voice Hoot Night
This annual cover blowout, has grown in such a way it has created it own mythology to the point that the subjects usually play it sown hoot night.

Del Catillo
Give a very impassioned performance before the Neville Brothers. I have never heard anything about him. But what really got me to smile was his bend of classical guitar meet Latin groove.

Rolling Blackout
Past Punk angst meets classic rock charm

The Donnas
We all have heard of The Donnas. You either love them or hate them. And I think since they were opening up for Billy Idol they have a lot of new fans. They have become a high energy female band with is a lot of fun to watch.

They started on a small Midwest label (Lookout) popped over to Atlantic in 2002. And they started out as punk to hard rock and with a bit of pop undertones.

Willie Nelson
Willie always play at The Backyard. And this year he played there for 2 nights. I have heard the reason why he plays at The Backyard was for the Bar-Q.

Ambulance LTD
I saw them in a really cool alleyway.. They simply rock.

Formed in Gainesville, FL in 1995, this 3-piece band has gain a large following.

Heartless Bastards
A sweet home town girl sound.

Guitar Wolf
The band can play unforeseen they lose their bass player right after SXSW. I am glad I had the chance to see them.

Queens of the Stone Age
They are a fine example that a band can move on after having unique personal problems. I am sorry I missed them.

The Pierces
This sister duo whose home some vocal and harmonies give new meaning to gifted artists.

You may think o these little girls as the next hands-on. But that is not the case. Because these 10 and 12 year old sister duo have a nice

indeed piano/synch base pop sound.

Rocky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators)
The boys from Austin TX are back.

Elvis Costello

Gave a talk on why he change from the big record company to a small label.

New York Dolls
They played a Friday afternoon show at the Spin Party.

Pam Tills
If you know anything about Pam it is like a visual history of country music with her Dad being Mel Tills. Seeing her is little seeing the history of country music.

Shannon McNally
Shannon is a soulful singer songwriter who understands that music is to entertainment form that should have substance. Not just special effect.. Music needs to be pure.

The Pillows
Since forming in the late 80's. The Pillows have gain a wide reputation with their high energy shows. I feel that everyone should check out a Pillows show and you will be leaving asking for more.

The Start
Punk singer Aimee Echo knows how to work a crowd.. The night I saw them the club was packed. And they give a killer show.

Sarah Black
This Australian singer songwriter has the talent to make it in the hard pressure of the US music market.. Because once you hear her you will never forget her.

Jackie Bristow

Holly Thorsby
I saw her doing a show at one of the record stores. She is from Australia from the same town as Sleater-kinney and Joanna Newson. But she

doesn't sound like them. Her sound is like a morning blue bird singing in the rain.

Amy Correla
Amy was the first artist I have every photographed 6 years ago. And now I can see how she has grown.

Morrison William
The only country artist I checked out during SXSW.

Rachel Fuller
Rachel has been composing music since the tenor age of 10 and has had her music recorded by the London Chamber Orechesta. And she is

the girl friend of Pete Townshend of the rock band The Who. It has been rumon all week that Pete was going to show up and play somewhere. I

was thinking at his girlfriend showcase.. But no Pete. And since I was running from seeing Amiee Mann and had to get back to The Wallflowers.

I left Rachel's show. And I didn't notice the woman who I was standing next to.. After I left she got up to the piano and did a song with Rachel

And that woman was Mick Jagger ex-girlfriend Jerri Hall. Like I was telling you , you never know what is going to happen at SXSW.

Ugly Beat
They had a 60's folk, garage rock beat.

This Japanese band has blend in sound: Fusion , Latin, Techno, Electronica, Jazz, Rock, Hip-Hop. They have it all.

Brian Wilson
He didn't perform. But he gave a good talk on how he came to finished up the cd ":Smile". An album he started in 1967. The one thing that

amazed me was he didn't use any old tape. He started new from the start.

The Ditty Bops
Picture 2 girls in your high school getting a folk band together. And they upgrade to a better sound. And full band.

Brazilian Girls
They are not from Brazil (they are from New York) and there is only one girl in the band.

Jesse Skyer
Jesse was one of those artist I don't have the chance to catch at SXSW. So I had to wait until she came to town. She is a bit dark for being country. But she is still a joy to listen to. Her music is very narcotic.

Besides the showcases. SXSW give you the chance to meet artist you would never have the chance to meet.. Ie the lead singer for The Flaming

Lips was just hanging out (they had a film being shown at the film part of SXSW.

Another thing that SXSW does it has day parties. And if you get the chance to go don't turn it down. You will have some of the best food and

music you ever had. Don't forget about the free beer. The parties I end up at were the following:

Lava Records: A meet and greet with the people who work at Lava.

High Times Party- An great band lineup including: Asylum Street Spankers, Shannon McNally, Steel Train, Kan'Nal, Papa Mali and Tia Carrera.

And some of the best Tex-Mex food I ever had.

Roller Derby with Nashville Pussy playing the show.

The Filter Magazine Party- with Soundtrack of Our Lives, Trash Can Sinataras, Sound Team, Long View, Joy Zipper , Embrace and Stars playing this 2 day party.

Japan Party- Noodles, Titan Go Kings, The Pillows, Petty Booka, and Bonnie Pink. For food and drinks there was Japanese American style


Australia BBQ- Gyroscope, The Morning After Girls, The Grates, Sarah Blasko, Ben Lee, The Panda Band, Oldman River, Little Birdy, Missy

Higgins, Starky , Holly Throsby and The Fall. The line up of food was Shimp on the BBQ plus other great Australia food and wines.

GO GO Music had there own music fest going on also.

The great thing is for a lot of the day parties you don't need any badges or wristbands.

And for the people in the business. People who play in bands SXSW can be a big help.. The biggest thing is you can not make it in the

business if you don't work. So don't go there looking for a handout. Because it will not happen. Every artist I talk to on how SXSW helped all say

basically the same thing. You have to work to promote yourself. Once you get down there, hand out flyers, have Cds with you and pass them

out. So every played in the street in a empty parking lot to point the point across.

Two Cow Garage- It is a week long party, where record companies send there people down to check out the up and coming band. So you never

who you may meet.

Ted Wulfers- Who was not playing this year, but used SXSW to network. In which he talked to a lot of lawyers and publishes and now they have

a deal with Universal Records.

Elizabeth Elmore from The Reputation say it best."Always have a second guitar."

So in closing if you ever get the chance to go down to SXSW.. Do it because it will be the time of your life.

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