What started out to be a small and intimate alternative to Austin’s sprawling SXSW gathering every March, and that was only known initially through invite or word of mouth, has now become arguably the most important and exclusive gatherings in all of American roots music every year.
The original concept of South By Southwest was not to be a funnel for corporate brand recognition through music, or as a springboard for superstars to increase their street cred on social media. It was a place for artists and industry to come together in the discovery process so worthy talent could find support for their music.
Aaron Lee Tasjan, Alice Wallace, Billy Strings, Caroline Rose, Colter Wall, Elijah Ocean, Emily Herring, John Baumann, Joshua Hedley, Luck Reunion, Lukas Nelson, Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Nikki Lane, Ruby Boots, Sarah Shook, The Brother Brothers, Tyler Childers, Willie Nelson, Wood and Wire
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.
A. Michael Uhlmann, Alice Wallace, All My Exes Live in Texas, Beth Lee and The Breakups, Billy Joe Shaver, Brennen Leigh, Brent Cobb, Brooklyn Country Cantina, Cale Tyson, Cary Baker, Croy and the Boys, Elle King, G&S Lounge, Giddy Ups, High Plaines Jamboree, Jenni Finlay, Jimmy Samon, John Conquest, Kelsey Waldon, Kem Watts, Leo Rondeau, Luck Reunion, Lukas Nelson, Lustre Pearl, Margo Price, Nate Boff, Noel McKay, Not SXSW, Parker Millsap, Paul Cauthen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sarah Shook, Shinyribs, Simon Flory, Spring Fling, Sunny Sweeney, SXSW, Teri Joyce, The Defibulators, The Wild Reeds, Threadgill's, Whitney Rose, Wide Open Country, Willie Nelson
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.
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.