Another year, another South by


Since I have all but abandoned the blog, I’m not sure why I feel so compelled to post an update of my most recent and fourth SXSW experience.1  But I do. And it appears to be happening.

Perhaps it’s because I feel like I’ve got the South-by thing down now, and I want to brag about it. Or maybe it has to do with my crazy experience with Airbnb that resulted in me realizing a company can totally buy my love (through great customer service and well, buying me stuff). Or possibly because this was the year I felt most like an insider & realized how many people I know only through this annual trek to Austin. Likely, it’s all those things, along with the fact that I should be writing a conference paper.2 

This was the first year I went without a wristband of any sort, and the second time I did not rent a car. I did not miss the wristband at all, and thanks to a $50 Lyft credit that was available to new users during SXSW, I spent around $90 in transportation (including getting to/from the airport). Last year, I got a great deal on my car rental, but with the rental fees plus parking fees, I spent over $300. Even without the Lyft credit, $140 is way more manageable than $300!

I booked my Airbnb & flight pretty early this year, and was SO pleased with myself – great deals & a great location! And then… at the sort of last minute, my Airbnb host cancelled on me. Like any good disgruntled customer, I tweeted about it & tagged @Airbnb. Nearly immediately, Airbnb customer service contacted me via Twitter, email, and a phone call. They offered to find me a replacement place, but as soon as I could, I started searching for another place & eventually found something pretty close to my price range, and in an OK neighborhood. Airbnb customer service followed up again, covered the price difference between the two bookings, and then gave me a $100 credit towards my next Airbnb. They also had a gift bag waiting for me at my place when I arrived in Austin, gave me $200 towards a pair of boots at Allens Boots, and a free two-stepping lesson at the White Horse. Consider my satisfaction and love bought, Airbnb.

Enough of all that – how’s about the music?!? For the past couple of years, my South-by plan has been go to all the Bloodshot things I can, and then hit anything else, if possible. This year, I did the following (pics to follow):

  • Tuesday
    • El Mercado3  for James McMurtry, Robbie Fulks, and the Grahams
    • A bit of the Swollen Circus at the Continental Club
  • Wednesday
    • Gingerman for the Blurt showcase, including Freedy Johnston, Brett Harris, Robbie Fulks, and the Supersuckers
    • Continental Club for the Bloodshot Records showcase, including Al Scorch, Banditos, Yawpers, Lydia Loveless, and the Waco Brothers
  • Thursday
    • Broken Spoke for (the last song by the Wacos), Luke Winslow-King, Robbie Fulks, and Corb Lund
    • Gingerman for the Wacos, Banditos, it’s not true to say I really paid attention to Churchwood, but I certainly heard some of their stuff, and a song or two by Bad Luck Jonathan
    • Thursday night, I may have gone to watch the UK-Stoneybrook basketball game & made friends with some folks from Kentucky who now live in Austin.

And of course, Friday was the Bloodshot Yard Dog party, with Possessed by Paul James, Rosie Flores, Robbie Fulks, Luke Winslow-King, Lydia Loveless, Al Scorch, Banditos, the Yawpers, and, of course, the Waco Brothers.

Some general thoughts? Any time the Wacos play it’s a blast, and I’m continually amazed that Jon Langford always remembers me. I saw Robbie play a solo show, but the rest of the time, he was playing with a full band, including pedal steel, and it was all awesome. The Yawpers are crazy. Like, seriously crazy, and you need to see them live. Al Scorch, another new Bloodshot signee, is just as charming as heck. The Banditos have gotten even better since I last saw them. At Ginger Man, when they played their cover of “I Put a Spell on You,” Mary Beth ended up singing on a table in the middle of the crowd, and we were basically all dead. It was possibly one of the best live songs I’ve ever seen.

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Here’s a version, if you’re curious, but that day at Ginger Man was way better. I promise.

Finally, when I saw the Supersuckers play at Ginger Man, I noticed their bass player looked a lot like Danny, the bass player for Banditos (or Danny looked a lot like him). When I heard that the Supersuckers had been added to the guest list at the Continental for the Bloodshot Showcase that night, I knew what I had to do. I put a few folks on the lookout, and managed to snag a photo. It was as awkward as you’re thinking it might have been, but the guys were pretty good sports about it.

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And finally, finally, one of the best parts of the week was seeing all my Bloodshot pals and South-by friends.


1. My previous SXSW blog posts had been sad and sorry excuses for updates, but there are some photos. You can check them out here, here, and for my first year, here and here.

2. Yeah, you know it’s really because of that… professional procrastinator and all that.

3. You should not be surprised to know that El Mercado is a Mexican restaurant with a venue in the back.
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A whole lotta stuff…

It’s been a while since my last post, but here are a few updates.1 I met with the California Closets consultant yesterday and decided how to use my winnings. I have three small closets in my room (one is a small linen closet), and I currently have a roommate (rendering my walk-in closet spare bedroom off limits for storage, not to mention I still have all of these boxes of books from my office). Consequently, I have a bunch of stuff in my bedroom that normally wouldn’t be there, so I opted to get a wardrobe type thing in lieu of changing out my current clothes closets. This gives me six large drawers, a few shelves, and a several feet of additional hanging space, and hopefully will help my room look less like a storage warehouse. I also decided to go ahead (and splurge) and get the linen closet re-done while I’m at it. Of course, this pushes me over the dollar amount that Off Broadway will cover, but I figure this is the only time I’ll ever have this opportunity and motivation anyway.

Dave Rawlings Machine at the Georgia Theatre in Athens, GA, November 26, 2013; Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch, John Paul Jones, Willie Watson, Paul Kowert

I saw one of the best live shows of my life the week of Thanksgiving – The Dave Rawlings Machine at the Georgia Theatre. There are lots of reasons this show was amazing (that it was basically a supergroup, the venue is pretty spectacular, the setlist was incredibly diverse, etc.), but my favorite part was the joy that seemed to emanate from the folks on stage. In light of my recent research revelation regarding performance theory, I couldn’t help but view the evening’s events through the lens of identity construction.2 Many issues were thought-provoking (and probably merit another blog post, or wait, a dissertation chapter), including the aesthetic values of various “americana” genres, including country and rock broadly, but also subgenres like bluegrass and folk, not to mention the importance of “authenticity” in relation to these genres.3 But really, I was impressed, entertained, and inspired – the music sounded good and felt good.

Also, Thanksgiving happened. My family spent a few days in the mountains, doing something different from our regular routine. I had been dreading Thanksgiving a bit, imagining it would all just be overwhelmingly sad. But I was wrong. Yes, there were moments of sadness, but it was great to spend time with my family, and being in a different place actually seemed to help (me, at least). We survived it, and that’s something.

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Finally, in the category of college football, months ago, I had decided that I would attend the SEC championship game today (mistakenly assuming that Georgia would be playing Alabama again) as my very last college football game as a student, since I didn’t go last year. As it turns out, the Georgia – Kentucky game a couple of weeks ago gets that honor. It seems fitting, I suppose. And no, I have no intention of traveling somewhere not that exciting to go to a not that exciting bowl game.


1. And no, I haven’t finished my dissertation yet.
2. Philip Auslander, “Musical Personae,” TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies, Vol. 50, No. 1, Spring 2006.
3. The presence of John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin certainly amplified these thoughts, cf. Susan Fast’s work and view of Jones as “the band’s solid, learned musical technician.”

My trip to Chicago (with a bunch of pics)

I posted a few pics from my trip on Facebook & Instagram, but here are (quite) a few more.

Getting from Midway to the train involves a not short walk:

I interviewed a musician at Cafe Mustache (the second interview I’ve conducted there), so afterwards, I wandered around Logan Square. At the suggestion of my interviewee, I ate at a great place called Lula Cafe. It was delicious and super hip. It’s right on the square, but as I was heading that way, I passed the new Chicago Diner location!!! I knew I was going to have lunch at the original Chicago Diner later that week, so I managed to keep walking. I also passed the Rocking Horse en route; I know nothing about the place, but their sign is pretty special!

I got to go to Ravinia to see a Prairie Home Companion, and of course, spent some time at the Hideout. My friends introduced me to another Chicago venue that features live country music, the California Clipper, and I ate at my favorite restaurant in Chicago: Handlebar. And thanks to the previously mentioned interviewee, I got to see the Sanctified Grumblers and the Carolina Chocolate Drops at City Winery (for free!).

And finally, I spent a couple of days at the Chicago History Museum. It’s located at the south end of Lincoln Park, and is quite close to the lake. I got to see the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup after seeing a show at the Hideout. That night, I also met someone from my tiny undergrad institution who I had NOT known previously. Not only did we both go to Transy, we were there at the same time, and even played in the band together! I still can’t believe it. Pretty cool.

Another trip to Chicago is in the books, and it’s looking like I won’t be going back any time in the very near future (I’ll go back eventually, of course). This is bittersweet because I obviously love visiting the city, but it also means that I’m that much closer to finishing this degree. And well, we all know that I need to be transcribing and writing, not traveling! Thanks for the fun and good times, Chicago!

Happy Friday Music Fun: Son Volt version

I’m going to see Son Volt tonight. After iconic alternative country band Uncle Tupelo broke up in 1994, Jeff Tweedy formed Wilco, and Jay Farrar formed Son Volt. Although both of these bands have experienced success, I think it’s fair to say that Wilco has fared a great deal better (in many ways). However, Son Volt released Honky Tonk last month, and is now touring to support that album. I’ve only seen them play live once, in addition to seeing Jay Farrar live once, so I’m excited for tonight.

Two bits of related information:

1. Sometimes I’m an idiot and I just can’t help it. Last weekend, I purchased my ticket for the show online, and headed to Atlanta — only to realize, upon my arrival at the venue, that the show is tonight. Duh.

2. Uncle Tupelo was/is a great band. Despite the fact that my dissertation will, in some ways, attempt to decenter the alt.country narrative away from this band, they’re still in my Top Ten.

So here’s some Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo for your Friday enjoyment…

Son Volt’s “Hearts and Minds” off the new album:

And Uncle Tupelo’s take on the Gram Parsons/Flying Burrito Brothers song “Sin City” (which sort of begs for an intertextual/framing academic discussion, and won’t happen here right now):

Happy Friday, y’all

SXSW, part two

I went to South by Southwest a couple of weeks ago, and I wrote about my first couple of days here.

On Thursday of SXSW, I headed out to the Broken Spoke on South Lamar for the Twangfest Day Party. The Broken Spoke is a honky-tonk dance hall, that (according to their website) has a history that dates back to Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. So much about the Broken Spoke is remarkable, but it’s certainly curious to see high-rises in construction on either side of this meeting hall/barn-like structure. On the inside, not much has changed at the Broken Spoke. It’s a restaurant, a bar, and a music venue with a huge dance floor. I saw Kelly Hogan, Bruce Robinson and Kelly Willis, and Dale Watson there. I also caught a bit of the Carper Family and Ron Sexsmith in the small restaurant-like front room.

When I arrived, I wandered around to check the place out, and eventually sat down at a table on the edge of the dance floor. Shortly thereafter, I was joined by an older couple who were Austinites and regulars at the Broken Spoke. Thanks to these nice folks, I got a thorough history of not only the table at which we were sitting, but also the property, the room, the repairs to the ceiling, etc., the owner, and the way things usually work at the Spoke. They were generally appalled and irritated that folks were gathering on the dance floor as Kelly Hogan was taking the stage (there’s a sign, and eventually the dancers cleared out the standers). These folks were so nice and informative, and introduced me to other regulars and friends — it was like my own official tour! But the best part was that I got to dance my first official two-step. I’ve gushed about mentioned that I love the Empty Bottle on Fridays, but I certainly fell in love with the Broken Spoke on my first visit!

Thursday night, I went down to Sixth Street with plans to see Rodney Crowell, Shonna Tucker, Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, and Emmylou Harris. I saw Rodney Crowell and Shonna Tucker, and was pleasantly surprised to see Shonna’s band is mostly Athens guys that I know. I was heading toward Antone’s to catch Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale when I got a text saying that the Waco Brothers were doing a surprise/secret show on the rooftop of a very random bar. I changed directions, and went to see the Wacos. The stage was quite small, which didn’t quite suit the Wacos, but they made the most of it. And there was a fog machine, which was fun and funny.

After the Wacos show, I went to grab a bite to eat with a friend, and as we were eating on the back patio, apparently Ice Cube, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy were performing just on the other side of the patio wall. We were able to catch glimpses of the performance on the building-turned-gigantic-vending-machine-turned-screen, and we were certainly able to hear them. And with that, I called it a night.

SXSW, part one

I went to SXSW and survived! This survival is due in no small part to the kindness and hospitality of Piano Friend and his Roommate. Piano Friend let me have his room (and car) even though he was out of town most of the week, and Roommate (having met me briefly one time a couple of weeks ago when I was visiting) was so nice and helpful… and even made me coffee in the mornings. I know, right?!? Seriously, these are just two more folks I’m blessed and privileged to know, and can’t say enough how much I appreciate them!

I was lucky enough to get an artist wristband, but really, I only needed it a few times. In some respects, it was kind of wasted on me, but I certainly felt cool wearing it all week!

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Why didn’t the wristband get used to its fullest? Because at any given moment there were at least 3 million Things going on, and only 1 million of those Things were official. I regret that I never made it to any of the panels in the convention center, nor did I take advantage of the Artists Lounge.

So what DID I do all week? I pretty much stuck to my plan, and here are some highlights…

Tuesday

What I learned on Tuesday is that having a car greatly enhances one’s South By experience. I may have waited a couple of hours for a bus, which kind of negated my “don’t stay out too late” plan. I know South By is the exception, and it’s probably an unfair comparison, but Capital Metro is no CTA. Since Piano Friend had left me his car to use, on Wednesday, I did some driving.

Wednesday

Wednesday night was the Bloodshot showcase at the Continental Club on South Congress. Another great venue, I heard from some Austinites, this is a club with a lot of history, and the owners have kept it up quite well. It has a nice retro vibe, and a great sign behind the stage, and classic neon sign outside. The Bloodshot line-up was strong: Luke Winslow-King, Murder By Death, Deadstring Brothers, Lydia Loveless, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, and the Waco Brothers.