For those that have never been to SXSW, the whole thing is broken down into showcases. A showcase can be put on by a record label, a booking agency, a publicity agency, a radio station, a blog, it doesn’t matter. And where doesn’t matter either. Wherever there is space in or near downtown Austin, there’s a band playing. Bars and venues of course, but restaurants, street corners, even gas stations are all fair game. Find yourself a space and make it happen!
There are two major types of showcases, “official” SXSW showcases, and unofficial showcases. The official showcases can be hard to get into. You might need tickets, or wristbands or badges, or some combination thereof, and those things can cost exorbitant amounts of money. But many of the unofficial showcases are cheap or free, and some even offer free beer and free food. Last year I only paid to get into one of the dozen or so showcases I attended, and that was the very last one. This year will likely be the same.
A lot of the unofficial showcases might dub themselves as “anti-SXSW” “not-SXSW” or “XSXSW”. These are usually grassroots-based showcases that are against the industry takeover that has happened with SXSW over the years, and think the festival should focus more on the music.
Here’s the list of my Top 5 showcases I will be attending.
#1 Hillgrass Bluebilly’s 4th Annual XSXSW Showcase
This is the top showcase for me this year folks, from Hillgrass Bluebilly Records. It is a packed lineup at what is becoming the biggest anti-SXSW event in Austin. Check out this lineup, delivered on three stages over 5 hours:
8:35 – The Harmed Brothers // 9:20 – Shake It Like A Caveman // 9:40 – The Boomswagglers // 9:55 – Willy Tea Taylor // 10:05 – Rose’s Pawn Shop // 10:20 – Soda // 10:45 – Austin Lucas // 11:00 – Tom Vandenavond // 11:40 – Drag The River // 12:20 – Chili Cold Blood // 1:05 – Possessed by Paul James
#2 Bloodshot Records Showcases
Last year I planned my whole SXSW around the Bloodshot Records events, and that’s not a bad way to go about it. Boasting a lineup of Scott H Biram, Whitey Morgan & The 78’s, Eddie Spaghetti (of the Supersuckers), Jon Langford, Ha Ha Tonka, it’s hard to miss. It is also one of the few chances to see The Waco Brothers, who are never given enough credit for being there at the beginning of the “Death of Country” scene that creates the foundation of Bloodshot.
Last year the Bloodshot Showcases created two of my favorite moments of SXSW, 1) Whitey Morgan telling the story of how Dale Watson gave him the song “Where Do You Want It?” about Billy Joe Shaver’s shooting (watch video), and Chris Scruggs (BR549, Hank III, Bob Wayne, too many others to list) playing with Rosie Flores (watch video).
#3 ninebullets.net Showcases
When ninebullets.net published the lineup for not one, but two showcases, I was blown away. It made me think, why the hell doesn’t Saving Country Music have a showcase? Maybe next year folks, but for now I’m going to be enjoying the fruits of everyone else’s labors. More info on the ninebullets showcases.
#4 TeXchromosome – Women with Texas Spirit
Brigitte London & Ruby Jane at the same show!? This showcase is power packed with beautiful and talented women folks, and once I get there, I ain’t leaving! It goes down Friday the 18th.
12-12:30-Kim Monroe // 12:40-1:10- Janine Wilson // 1:20-1:50- Robin Wiley // 2-2:30-Bonny Holmes // 2:45-3:15 – Linda McRae// 3:30-4::00 Mandy Marie Luke // 4:00-4:30 – Brigitte London // 4:45 -5:45-Temple Ray & The Mastersons // 6-6:40 – Ruby Jane // 6:55 -7:35 – Jess Klein // 7:45-8:25 – Penny Jo Pullus // 8:30-9:10 -Lisa Morales // 9:20-10:30 -Lissa Hattersley & The Greezy Wheels Family Band
#5 Rusty Knuckles Showcase
This will be my first chance to see Hellbound Glory, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Click here for more info.