The biggest takeaway from SXSW 2017 will be that for the first time since the very inception of the idea over 30 years ago, the annual music gathering experienced a palpable draw down in attendance and industry participation to a degree that it fundamentally changed many of the dynamics and rigors one must endure to attend.
Garth Brooks, take your free tickets to the Auditorium Shores stage and your Frito bags with your damn brand on them, and go back to Oklahoma and roll around naked in your massive, massive piles of money. You don’t belong at South By Southwest.
The Spring Fling is hosted by A. Michael Uhlmann, a native of Switzerland who moved to Austin over 25 years ago to cover Austin music. Held at the authentic local honky tonk called Giddy Ups south of town in an area called Manchanca (pronounced “Manchank” by locals), the Spring Fling tries to embody what Austin music used to be.
Saving Country Music has confirmed with the Austin Police Department that the three suspects are still at large, and the incident is still under investigation by the robbery division. The investigation is being called aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. It happened at 3:04 a.m. early Saturday.
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.
SXSW is an irresponsible mess that puts artists, media, industry, and local citizens in inhumane, and sometimes dangerous positions, even without activating any immigration rules. And hopefully this issue will expose the culture of control that ironically has allowed the event to get completely out of control, and will hopefully encourage SXSW to reform.
When the fiercely-independent, renegade music journalist and publisher John Conquest passed away on September 30th, it left the fate of numerous important institutions Conquest had both founded and operated up in the air. Conquest was a dogged champion of independent artists, as well as independent music journalism.
It took the death of four people and dozens of others injured after a drunken madman ran his car through a crowded downtown Austin street in 2014, as well as a completely clusterfucked permitting system by the City of Austin so mired in red tape it takes months of dedicated manpower to actually put on a show, but it appears that SXSW has finally reached a point where the annual event has stopped growing uncontrollably.
Aaron Lee Tasjan, Al Scorch, Andrew Combs, Daniel Antopolsky, Heartworn Highways Revisited, Jamie Lin Wilson, Jonny Fritz, Luck TX, Luke Winslow-King, Margo Price, Michaela Anne, Parker Millsap, Possessed by Paul James, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robbie Fulks, Robert Ellis, Sam Outlaw, Sam Quinn, SXSW, The Black Lillies, The Wild Reeds, The Yawpers, Townes Van Zandt
Screw spending somewhere between $700 to upwards of four figures for some official SXSW badge or wristband just to get turned down at most of the shows you want to get into because you’re not on some VIP list. The smart and frugal SXSW goer knows that the free, all access day parties and unofficial showcases is where it’s at, and many of the events even provide free beer and food.
For every officially-sanctioned event, there’s two more that squeeze in where they can and try to keep the original spirit of SXSW alive, including the now 8th Annual Brooklyn Country Cantina, which boasts a stacked 2016 lineup including Sam Outlaw, Daniel Romano, Possessed by Paul James, The Quebe Sisters, Mike and the Moonpies, and many more.
Starting around 2011 or so, if you hung around and talked to up-and-coming country and roots bands attending SXSW, you’d hear whispers about an invite-only event out at Willie Nelson’s ghost town outside of Austin called Luck, TX. Luck was originally constructed as part of the set of the movie The Red Headed Stranger released in 1986—a companion to Willie Nelson’s legendary album.
The great internet purge of cool small-time music publishing enterprises continues. Couch by Couchwest is the latest victim, announcing earlier this week that it is calling it quits. Founded nearly six years ago to be an alternative to South by Southwest held every mid March in Austin, CXCW took the performers who couldn’t attend the event, and matched them up with patrons who couldn’t attend the event.
The past 24 hours has seen some big signings by some worthy artists to record labels. The old-school throwback St. Louis singing and strumming song man Pokey LaFarge has signed to the prestigious Rounder Records. Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band has signed with Yazoo Records, and the Alabama-bred gritty and greasy Banditos have signed to insurgent country label Bloodshot.
Alison Krauss, Banditos, Bloodshot Records, Charley Patton, Del McCoury, Jack White, Justin Townes Earle, Lydia Loveless, Mississippi John Hurt, Neko Case, Pokey LaFarge, Re. Peyton, Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Ricky Skaggs, Robert Plant, Rounder Records, Ryan Adams, Scott H. Biram, So Delicious, SXSW, Wayne 'The Train' Hancock, Willie Nelson, Yazoo Records
The underlying problem is that free music is quickly becoming seen as an inalienable right for all Americans, and all of the world’s consumers, if we haven’t reached that dangerous plateau already. And the even more dangerous step of expecting musicians to pay to have their music heard is becoming more of a reality every day—evidenced by this Super Bowl Halftime news.
Willie Nelson’s private town called Luck, TX that sits on the edge of his ranch just west of Austin in the Texas Hill Country was heavily damaged in storms that moved through the area late last week. “Our beautiful Luck wasn’t so Lucky recently,” the Willie Nelson camp said in a statement, “Last week’s tornado force winds ripped several buildings apart…”
American Aquarium, Band of Brothers, Damaged, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Luck, Luck TX, Lukas Nelson, Nikki Lane, Shakey Graves, Shovels & Rope, Storm, SXSW, Willie Nelson, Willie Watson, World Headquarters
A fourth victim has died due to the horrific car crash at South By Southwest 2014 in Austin, TX. DeAndre Tatum, known by friends and family as Dre, was an 18-year-old graduate from Ft. Worth’s Trimble Tech High School. Tatum had been hospitalized at University Medical Center Brackenridge in the Intensive Care Unit ever since the March 13th accident.
Shakey Graves is quickly becoming an inspiring independent roots music success story and in a big way, despite what seem to be his best efforts to remain as unassuming, humble, and non-commercial as possible, while people gladly shove dollar bills at him. But 2014 promises to see a sea change from this rising roots artist. He’s assembled a band to take his song craft to the next level.
Saving Country Music was out and about Austin, TX and its outskirts over the past week or so as part of the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) gathering, pounding the pavement and looking for the next country music artist worthy of your ears that you may never otherwise hear about. In the coming months I look forward to taking some of these discoveries and sharing them with you.
American Aquarium, Brooklyn Country Cantina, Hurray For The Riff Raff, J.D. Wilkes, Legendary Shack Shakers, Lukas Nelson, Mickey Raphael, Nikki Lane, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sam Doores, Shovels & Rope, South by Southwest, Sturgill Simpson, SXSW, The Cactus Blossoms, The Defibulators, The Deslondes, The Dirt Daubers, Tim Easton, Willie Nelson, Willie Watson
After 2 people were killed, and 23 injured in a horrific incident during the annual South By Southwest gathering, it’s easy to overreact, and point fingers, and lay blame. But make no mistake about it, on Thursday morning, SXSW changed forever, as well as it should. even without this big, headline-grabbing accident, is, and has been for over a half decade or more, an absolute, colossal failure of logistics.
Tragic news out of Wednesday night’s South By Southwest festivities, as a car reportedly drove through the throngs of concert goers, killing 2 and injuring 23 according to Austin’s ABC affiliate KVUE, including five critically. The incident happened on Red River St., near 9th and 10th Streets, in the heart of Austin’s downtown entertainment district. Red River, along 6th Street, frame the heart of Austin’s downtown music corridor