A little more belated SXSW rambling
Relatively good news from the follow-up doctor — in a sling for a few more weeks but no surgery needed, and it’s OK to do moderate typing — so here’s a little more firsthand observations from last week’s SXSW in Austin…
In addition to Gomez (whose video I posted a couple days ago), the Thursday KGSR lunchtime broadcast included sets by Mark Olson & Gary Louris (who kindly signed a copy of the rare 1986 vinyl-only self-titled Jayhawks album on Bunkhouse for an ardent fan after their performance) and Ruthie Foster, who we featured on NoDepression.com a few weeks ago with a fine piece written by Jerry Withrow. Foster’s set was very well-received by the folks in the studio; this was her version of Patty Griffin’s “When It Don’t Come Easy”:
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Olson & Louris also turned up later that afternoon at the annual New West Records party at Club DeVille, playing a somewhat longer set which allowed them to work in a few old-days Jayhawks gems (much to the crowd’s appreciation). Tim Easton (whose new disc Porcupine is due out next month) had finished his set before I arrived, but we had a nice chat about a little xeroxed community zine he’s started out in the desert called the Joshua Tree Republic. Easton’s a true glutton for punishment, supplementing his singer-songwriter existence by starting up a print publication. It’s kind of a cool little thing, though, worth picking up if you happen to be out in the greater Pioneertown area. Don’t look for it on the web! … The New West party also featured a set by rising Canadian roots-troubadour Corb Lund; originally, Buddy Miller was supposed to play too, but of course his recent heart surgery put that on the shelf.
Wednesday’s activity mostly revolved around the annual Guitartown shindig at Fado; I’m not sure anything topped the first thing I saw when I arrived, which was Gurf Morlix’s deathly perfect reading of the Blind Boys’ “This May Be The Last Time”. (This video is from a performance a few days earlier in Dallas, but it’ll give you a general idea.) Chip Robinson & the Heavy Beat Outfit came close, though; Robinson appears to be back on top of his game as much as he’s been since the mid’-90s heyday of his old band the Backsliders….Wednesday evening brought a few fine sets at the Velveeta Room from the likes of Randy Weeks, Caroline Herring and Peter Mulvey – and a random act of great kindness by Buddy Miller’s old pal Patterson Barrett – before I called it a night.
I got into town early enough to also catch the annual Swollen Circus at Hole in the Wall on Tuesday evening, with a fine appetizer this year of the former Reivers – now billed as Right Or Happy – performing a few blocks south at the Dog & Duck’s annual St. Patrick’s Day blowout. Somehow this band has taken a 17-year hiatus and now appears poised to record an album that will stand on equal footing with the handful from their ’80s heyday. Later that night at the Hole, longtime hosts Michael Hall and Walter Salas-Humara served up their usual smorgasbord of songs from Austin and beyond, three at a time from a baker’s-dozen of performers, among them songwriter extraordinaire Freedy Johnston, Minneapolis roots-rockers Romantica, and the surprisingly radiant Michelle Anthony. (Though the less said about the first act on the bill, the better; in fact, I heard that klutz ended up breaking his arm just running down the street a couple days later.)
I’d actually written a longer and more extended bit about the Swollen Circus on Wednesday morning, but – beware to all bloggers on this site – the “Save As Draft” button at the bottom actually does no such thing. Essentially it does the exact same thing as hitting “Preview”, which means if you don’t subsequently choose to Publish or go back and revise, the entry isn’t actually “saved” anywhere. Probably no big loss, except that I vaguely recall having figured out the entire answer to saving both music and journalism in the contents of that post which is now lost for the ages. Oh well, back to the precipitious decline!
bonus video capper: