SXSW, Take 5

I started this SXSW recap WAY back in March… like, in a very timely manner. Good intentions and all that… but I’m still a procrastinator at heart. So as I gear up for my second AmericanaFest with Bloodshot in September, let’s throw it back to March.

2017 marked the the FIFTH time I’ve been to SXSW! Fifth. As in, five years.

Like last year, I opted to go wristband-less; unlike last year, I was not showered with gifts and love by Airbnb.1  Instead, I was greatly concerned about transportation since Uber & Lyft were voted out of Austin this past year. Thankfully, many companies have stepped into the ride-sharing vacuum, and for the most part, I was able to get around town without any trouble.

The awesome thing about having four part time jobs is that there is a great deal of flexibility in one’s schedule. The downside is that you generally have to make up anything you miss, and/or you don’t get paid. This means, I opted to teach my Tuesday morning class and stress myself out getting to the airport on time for my flight. I made my flight, and got to Austin (via St. Louis) in time to catch a few things Tuesday afternoon/evening. And then, the week was in full swing.

The basic components of my schedule are now standard, including the Bloodshot showcase at the Continental Club on Wednesday, the TwangFest/KDHX Day Party at the Broken Spoke on Thursday, and Bloodshot’s Yard Dog Day Party on Friday… and whatever else I can get to in-between and around all that. This year, I was pretty pleased with the “in-between” stuff I managed to get to.

  • Tuesday
    • Ha Ha Tonka at the Back Alley Bash by Tequila Mockingbird
    • Jon Langford & the Far Forlorn at the White Horse; I caught a few songs by Corinne Rose before Jon went on.
    • Roky Erikson at (Historic) Scoot Inn2 
  • Wednesday
    • I finally made it to one of the best restaurants in the world: Bouldin Creek Cafe. And then headed to El Mercado to catch Whitney Rose & Sunny Sweeney. They’re both great, but I loved Sunny Sweeney.
    • From there I landed at a super hip coffee shop, Seventh Flag Coffee, to get some work done (including filling out my brackets).
    • The Bloodshot showcase featured: Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Ha Ha Tonka, Banditos, The Yawpers, Scott H. Biram, and of course, the Waco Brothers. The Wacos played well past 2 a.m., and folks were still there and totally into it
  • Thursday
    • I need to just come to terms with the fact that I will never see the opening bands (or more) at the TwangFest/KDHX Day Party at the Broken Spoke. This year, I missed Patrick Sweany, Ha Ha Tonka, and High Plains Jamboree, but DID catch Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Band of Heathens (although I wasn’t entirely paying attention to their set, because food…), Secret Sisters, and Lillie Mae.
    • I left the Broken Spoke and booked it over to Yard Dog to catch a solo Cory Branan set, and then I made my way to the Saxon Pub to catch a band called Churchwood, and to interview Bill Anderson, who happens to play in that band, but was also in the Bloodshot band, the Meat Purveyors. I interviewed Bill, on the record, and then after some much need late-night food, headed home.
  • Friday
    • The Bloodshot Yard Dog party start with Zach Schmidt (Nashville-based guy, cute, and charming as heck), followed by The Yawpers, Ha Ha Tonka, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Cory Branan, Banditos, and last, but certainly not least, the Waco Brothers.
    • After a quick stop at Guero’s, we headed to the New West showcase at Cooper’s BBQ, and caught Sara Watkins, the Deslondes, Andrew Combs, and Aaron Lee Tasjan.3 

A few items of note….

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers are the most recent band (at the time) added to the Bloodshot family. And they are great. I met Sarah in Nashville at AmericanaFest, and though I didn’t hear her play then, she was highly recommended by a friend & former Bloodshot employee, so I took his word on things. He was right.

I always meet new folks during this week, and this year, I met a few people with connections to Bloodshot, and a couple of gals who are good contacts for my academic and scholarly pursuits. But I also got to hang out with all my Austin pals, and got to share some music & a drink with folks that I know from ICMC!

South by generally affords a few (or more) wild and crazy moments, (of varying degrees). This year was no exception. For instance, I found myself in the backseat of a car with Jon Langford (which is exciting in and of itself, and no, we were not making out; but I’d totally support that rumor…) listening to a track off his upcoming album (Four Lost Souls recorded in Muscle Shoals) from his iPhone.

As an old lady, it is inevitable that at some point I find myself thinking that SXSW might not be worth it and/or I’m just too old for it. But of course, looking back at the great music I experienced throughout the week, along with all the folks I get to hang out with… I’m guessing you’ll find a similar recap here next year.


1. I did have a heck of a time booking a place to stay, including TEN confirmed bookings & NINE cancellations via Airbnb, but that’s another story for another blog post… one that likely won’t get written.
2. I was only vaguely familiar with Roky, but it was pretty cool to see him perform at this super cool and historic venue.
3. I admit that due to being an old lady, I left before Aaron’s set was finished. However, I managed to catch him playing in Athens at the 40 Watt in a New West Athfest kickoff show. I was greatly disappointed that he was not wearing a cape at the 40 Watt show.

IMG_4445

Aaron Lee Tasjan sans cape/fancy suit at the 40 Watt

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Guitar Slide Wednesday: Robbie Fulks and Jon Langford version

It’s been a wild couple of weeks around here, what with all the traveling I’ve been doing… and I apologize for the sporadic posting!

But it’s Wednesday, and we all know what that means. Since I went to Chicago recently primarily to see Robbie Fulks and Jon Langford, I thought I’d feature them both today. Neither song is super-duper strong on the whole guitar slide thing, but both feature the pedal steel, and well, that counts for something.

The first video is “Rock Bottom, Population 1” by Robbie Fulks from Country Love Songs  (1996). The second is a song called “Secrets” from Freedom and Weep (2005) by the Waco Brothers, one of Jon Langford’s many bands.

Enjoy!

Frequent flyer…

I’m looking at a lot of airport time in the next couple of months. I’m making a trip to Philadelphia for a conference in a couple of weeks, likely taking a quick trip to NYC in December, and possibly tagging along with Awesome History Goddess to Chicago for a conference in January.

Robbie Fulks at the Hideout this summer

And currently, I’m seriously considering flying up to Chicago for a show at the end of this month. Of course, this isn’t just any show: it’s Robbie Fulks and Jon Langford–at the Hideout on a Monday night. Fulks told me in an interview that he had never collaborated with Langford (who has collaborated with nearly everyone) because he (Fulks) was a contrarian. Apparently, the Monday night gig at the Hideout has de-contrarian-ed him, as now these two guys are sharing the stage on November 28 at (one of the) the best venue(s) in Chicago.

And I want to be there to see it. I’m even willing to risk the absurd temperatures that I’m sure the city will offer up. Of course, I can also chalk this up to research, as both of these guys have strong connections to Bloodshot. But really, I just want to see the show, which I’m certain will be highly entertaining and pretty much awesome.

Fabulous Chicago Actor and her Amazingly Talented Husband have been kind enough to open their home to me again for a night or maybe two. AirTran has a sale going on right now, but the flight would still end up being close to $300. Not bad, but not great for a grad student budget (especially considering the possible conference load coming up in the spring). But in the category of Rationalizing a Purchase, if I take this trip, then I’ll have enough AirTran points for a free flight. That’s totally worth it, right? RIGHT? RIGHT?!? Uh, I mean, I’m thinking about it.