Sam’s Town Point Hosts Top Talent for “The Dance”

South By Southwest (SXSW) happening in Austin this week is the biggest annual music gathering in the United States each year. It’s also the biggest annual headache for many of Austin’s residents, including the musicians who call A-town home as the city is taken over by hordes of industry, Doritos activations, and general douchebags.

That was decidedly not how “The Dance” took shape at South Austin’s premier dive bar, Sam’s Town Point, which is nestled in between houses in a little neighborhood with no HOA. Similar to Austin’s other beloved dives like The White Horse and the Broken Spoke, Sam’s Town Point is delightfully decrepit, with deteriorating drop ceiling tiles, terrible lighting, a floor that shakes anytime someone walks by, but one of the best atmospheres and most authentic experiences you can find in town.

Under the curation of songwriter Ramsay Midwood, no matter who is playing at Sam’s Town Point, you know they’ll be good. In this instance, it was producer Jonathan Tyler who was the primary culprit pulling together the lineup and logistics for what is hopefully the inaugural version of “The Dance.” With a lineup that included Silverada, Reckless Kelly, Shinyribs, Rattlesnake Milk, and the legendary Willis Alan Ramsey, it truly was some of the best of Austin music.

“Most of us can walk home from this gig,” Willy Braun of Reckless Kelly said at one point, later dubbing the event “South by South Austin.” Tuesday is the day before the bulk of the music industry shows up to Austin, and indeed attendees were made up of many Austin folks playing hooky from work and a bunch of other musicians not on the lineup, including Austin’s Ellis Bullard, Rob Leines, and Sean Rodriguez from The Wilder Blue just to name a few.

Reckless Kelly also dropped the nugget that they might have an upcoming album produced by Jonathan Tyler in the works. So much for retirement. Up-and-coming singer and keys player Paige Plaisance who played in the afternoon also said she’d been working with Jonathan Tyler on a new project.

Silverada (formerly Mike and the Moonpies) remains arguably the greatest live band in all of country music, and proved it once again on the main stage in the yard outside of Sam’s Town Point. “This is some real South Austin shit we’re doing right here,” Mike Harmeier said.

A couple of months ago, Silverada changed their name from Mike and the Moonpies. It signaled a new chapter in a band that has been far too under-the-radar for far too long. Some have fear about what this might mean for the band moving forward. But ultimately it’s not the name that matters. It’s the music. And Mike Harmeier and the rest of Silverada know how to tap into something through music that escapes most everyone else. It’s not just songwriting. It’s not just energy. It’s something undefinable, yet inescapable. Whatever it is, Silverada has it.

As part of their blistering set, they featured multiple new songs from their self-titled album out June 28th, including a more atmospheric-sounding one they’ve been playing recently about “drifting away on a radio wave” that casually drops the line, “Americana is a myth.”

Mike Harmeier of Silverada

Speaking of excellent live bands, Kaitlin Butts is out there murdering at the moment, both figuratively and literally. Her set lists have a higher body count than a Quentin Tarantino flick. Don’t let the smile fool you, she’s a modern murder ballad queen who will shoot a man and cut a bitch post haste. She’s got a bunch of new bullets in the gun loaded up for 2024 if her set during The Dance is any indication. She may not be from Austin or Texas (Tulsa, OK), but she left a big impression on the South Austin crowd.

Kaitlin Butts

It almost seems like sacrilege to listen to Austin’s Rattlesnake Milk while the sun is still up. But this band is so smooth, they can make it feel like it’s the stroke after midnight in the broad afternoon, and you’re cruising down the highway under a starlit sky hurdling toward oblivion. There is nothing else like Rattlesnake Milk, in Austin or anywhere else. They are truly a unique specimen of American music, and one of the most underrated and unspoiled bands in the entire world.

Rattlesnake Milk

The Droptines from Uvalde County, Texas are quickly becoming one of the most buzzed about bands out there thanks to their new self-titled album (read review). They are true alt-country from Texas, meaning Americana with guts. They also happen to be killer live as they displayed during The Dance.

Connor Arthur of The Droptines

Along with the bigger names, there was plenty to discover with three stages and a frenetic pace to the event. As a few remarked, the talent assembled would have been enough to justify a three day festival. Mason Lively played inside of Sam’s Town Point beside the venue’s iconic sign. He features a soulful voice with the right songs to compliment it.

Mason Lively on the Sam’s Town Point Inside Stage

An often overlooked Austin band is the multi-faceted Sour Bridges, who really took it to the next level with the addition of fiddle player Camille Schiess. They just released a new album called Down and Out that’s worth checking out. They call their music “browngrass” from combining country, bluegrass, blues, and Celtic influences into a gritter version of roots music.

Bill Pucci and Camille Schiess of Sour Bridges

The event was sponsored in part by the Austin-based Big Hat Spirits whose name is inspired by the song “Man with the Big Hat” recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker with Willie Nelson, and written by Steve Fromholz. You don’t get more Texan than that.

The Dance at Sam’s Town Point was an excellent SXSW alternative, while still taking advantage of the robust talent pool in town for the annual gathering. Hopefully it happens again next year and becomes a South Austin tradition.

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All photos by Kyle “Trigger” Coroneos. For more photos and media, follow Saving Country Music on Instagram. Apologies to performers who were not mentioned or pictured. There was too much good stuff happening simultaneously to capture it all.

The legendary Willis Alan Ramsey
Willy Braun of Reckless Kelly
Cody Braun of Reckless Kelly
Singer/songwriter Jeff Crosby sat in with Reckless Kelly and sang a couple of songs.
Austin’s Aaron McDonnell
Paige Plaisance plays swampy, Louisiana-inspired music from Texas she dubs “Swampytokin’.”
Host Jonathan Tyler
The legendary Shinyribs
Mike and Omar of Silverada
Zach Moulton of Silverada
Catlin Rutherford of Silverada
Taylor Englert of Silverada
The Droptines
Rob Leines with Silverada drummer Taylor Englert, and the ghost of young Townes Van Zandt.
Backyard at Sam’s Town Point
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