“SXSW is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”
Every mid March upwards of 5,000 artists and bands trek to Austin, TX to participate in SXSW, and the smart participants avoid the the “official” stuff and instead hit the free parties all around town that offer the best opportunity to discover something new. There are so many unofficial parties, we could list 200 here and still leave some out. But in an effort to curate the noses of those Saving Country Music-oriented readers in the right direction, here is a smattering of recommended showcases presented in a similar fashion to SXSW itself, meaning a blobish mess.
No artist or event is intentionally left out. If you think something needs to be shared, by all means use the comments section below to peddle your party or SXSW schedule to the Saving Country Music faithful, just don’t be a whiner and preface it with,” I can’t believe you forgot…”
Good luck, drink lots of liquids, don’t forget to eat, and sit whenever you have the opportunity.
Wide Open Country at Lustre Pearl East
Join Wide Open Country for two FREE nights of great Texas music at Lustre Pearl East — away from the SXSW crowds.
Wednesday 3/15 Lineup:
6PM: High Plains Jamboree
7PM: Whitney Rose
8PM: Rob Baird
Thursday 3/16 Lineup:
6PM – Carson McHone
7PM – Shane Smith & the Saints
8PM – The Statesboro Revue
A Tribute to John Conquest
The Luck Reunion
For years this was one of the most exclusive SXSW events, held at Willie Nelson’s ranch in the little town they built for the movie Red Headed Stranger affectionately labeled “Luck, TX.” You had to know somebody who was connected to get in, and it was open and intimate. Now they’re turning it into the Texas version Lollapalooza, and it’s one of the biggest SXSW events all week. Word is it was sold out weeks ago, but if you can beg or barter a ticket, it is worth attending.
The Spring Fling
A great alternative for locals and out-of-towers alike, south of town and out of the madness, yet still an excellent roster of talent.
Southern Comfort and Baby Robot Media Yard Dog Day Party
Southern Comfort and Baby Robot media team up for this Thursday day party behind the famous Yard Dog art gallery with some great talent. Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires are playing, so bring your earplugs if you’re a baby (too loud for Texas@!#@!)
Bloodshot’s Yard Dog day party is one of the best, and one of the longest-running unofficial SXSW showcases out there. This year it features The Waco Brothers, HaHa Tonka who just released a new record, Sarah Shook who just signed with Bloodshot, as well as The Yawpers, Banditos, Cory Branan, and Zach Schmidt. Bloodshot’s official showcase is Wednesday night at The Continental Club.
SX Stiles Switch
A great showcase to get out of the madness, go a little bit north of town, get some amazing food and listen to some good tunes.
Brooklyn Country Cantina
Always one of the best unofficial showcases each year, this year it features headliners The Secret Sisters, Andrew Combs, and Scott H. Biram. It’s a good place to set up shop on SXSW’s most hectic day and not have to worry about moving around town.
Rebels and Renegades
Publicist Cary Baker has been covering SXSW for 30 years, but says that 2017 is his final hurrah. All the more reason to attend this stellar showcase put on in conjunction with Kent Finlay’s daughter Jenni Finlay.
KG Music Press Free Parties
KG Music Press is throwing multiple free parties with Carolina Chickadee Presents.
11:30 – 12:00 The Mighty Orq
12:20 – 12:50 AJ Hobbs
1:10 – 1:40 Mark McKinney
2:00 – 2:30 Calico The Band
2:50 – 3:20 Ted Russell Kamp
3:40 – 4:10 Jeff Crosby
4:30 – 5:00 Jon Dee Graham & William Harries Graham
5:20 – 5:50 Angela Perley
6:10 – 6:40 Brent Cowles
7:00 – 7:30 Susanna Van Tassel and Dave Gonzalez
7:50 – 8:20 The South Austin Moonlighters
8:40 – 9:10 Hard Luck Revival
12:00 – 12:30 Jericho Woods
12:50 – 1:20 Lilly Hiatt
1:40 – 2:10 Bonnie Whitmore
2:30 – 3:10 Brandy Zdan
3:30 – 4:10 The Mastersons
4:30 – 5:10 Jaime Wyatt
5:30 – 6:10 Travis Linville
6:30 – 7:00 Mike Stinson
7:20 – 7:50 Jesse Jay Harris
8:10 – 8:40 THE NATIONAL RESERVE