Thursday, March 13, 2008

SXSW Day One (Wednesday)

WednesdayStarted out (noon) at the Bandango Party at Yard Dog where we saw John McNicholas and grabbed some (free) beer. Look at these adorable young fiddlers on So. Congress.

We watched Mason Jennings at Jo's and headed over to the big Guitartown party at Mother Egan's. The 5 hours we spent there were spent listening to really solid outstanding Americana, alt-country, or alt-what-have-you bands. We saw Tom Freund, Shawn Mullins (first time to see him and he was awesome! Watch the video for "Beautiful Wreck" below)

Jon Dee Graham played a hard rocking set and was absolutely great! I was not familiar with Chip Robinson, Eric Ambel, and Blue Mountain (more about them in Thursday's post) but we really enjoyed them a lot (it's so nice, if you don't travel, when these things come to your doorstep as they do during SXSW). Then came the late addition to the lineup: Bela Fleck, appearing as part of Abigail Washburn's Sparrow Quartet, which also features Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee! All outstanding musicians. Bela must be the best banjo player in the world. What a treat to have seen all these folks at such close range, in the daylight but in the shade, and merely for the price of a couple of glasses of Guiness.

The Sparrow Quartet was a bit late showing up, so we were very pressed for time in getting over to the Austin Music Hall for the Music Awards (we were on foot, which isn't necessarily slower considering the parking situation).

Lots of upsets and surprises in the Awards themselves, enough for a whole new topic. The show was held in the newly-remodeled Austin Music Hall, which sucks as much as ever, in our opinions. Same bad acoustics and they've added a mezzanine with a shaky railing, so big whoop.

Show highlights:
Lyle Lovett, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Colin Gilmore performed with offspring and relations of Uncle Walt's Band (the talent is inherited).

Gary Clark Jr. WOW! OK, I really hope this kid is the "next big thing out of Austin." We have been seeing him in these clubs since he was too young to be in them. He was damned good back then, playing traditional blues styles, but has really blossomed with his own style in the past year or so. He appears in the 2007 movie Honeydripper (dir. John Sayles, starring Danny Glover).

Also in the show... The Judys and a set with indie sensations Okkervil River with Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators) sitting in.

Spoon made a major sweep at the Awards, and on our way out of the Hall, we were right by Britt Daniel of Spoon, so we got to shake hands and congratulate him. That was pretty cool. Then we hoofed it back to the car... 10 blocks... but we can't complain about free parking. A great kickoff day!!
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