SXSW 2009: Saturday wrapup

The last day of SXSW was spent catching bands I’d missed the previous few days and hanging with old “friends” that I’ve made over my years of writing.

Started out at the Creekside Lounge to see Duquette Johnston and the Rebel Kings at the Birmingham, Alabama showcase. I met Duquette when he was in Verbena many years ago (’96-ish) and we’ve traded a rare e-mail or two every couple of years up until the last two or so years where he’s shown up on MySpace. His live show was more rocking than his debut Etowah – kind of Neil Young / My Morning Jacket / Drive-By Truckers-ish. Good ol’ rock from the South. Been listening to his acoustic CD-R that he gave me a copy of that afternoon – hopefully you’ll have a chance to hear it soon.

(Duquette Johnston on the far right)

Headed over to the SXSeattle party to catch up with Ben London (Alcohol Funnycar, Sanford Arms). I booked Ben a solo show in Columbus a few years ago and it was a great night. Haven’t seen him since then so it was great to hang with him for a few. I caught just one song of Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head at the party but definitely a band I want to further investigate.

Over to the Sidebar to (finally) see Dead Confederate. Last year these guys got a prime slot opening for R.E.M. at Stubb’s. Since that time they put a great debut CD (Wrecking Ball – #4 on my favorites of 2008 list), have toured relentlessly with bands like the Whigs, and played a ton of shows at SXSW this year. I can’t help but get a Nirvana vibe from them although I hear a lot of mid-90s grunge and mid-90s Athens, Georgia-based bands in their sound as well.

Hooked up with Wes Kidd (Triple Fast Action) after Dead Confederate and we went to see a band that is interested in him managing them. We went back to the Birmingham party to catch O+S (Orenda Fink – Azure Ray; Cedric LeMoyne – Remy Zero) who were really, really good. I think they may have just finished some tour dates with Great Northern which would explain why Rachel and Solon from that band were hanging out at the show.

Went back to the hotel to change and pack (flight left at 6:30am on Sunday morning) and then back to 6th St where I met back up with Wes to see a band he does manage – Elizabeth and The Catapult. I didn’t know anything about this band prior to seeing them other than that the drummer used to be in Via Audio but I was really impressed. You’ll see more of them on in the future.

To close out my 2009 SXSW experience, I caught The Shys final show of the fest (it was their seventh!). I was a fan  …. or, make that a fanATIC … of The Shys before seeing them at SXSW in 2006 but their live performance in ’06 and ’07 made me a true believer. Everytime I write about The Shys I wonder aloud why they aren’t HUGE and I still don’t have a good answer. Seriously, if I keep pounding it home, maybe somebody will stumble across this and finally realize that this is just one of those bands that needs to be seen (and loved) by the masses. Not sure what happened with the deal they had with Sire but now that they’re free agents, maybe they should try what The Damnwells tried (and have been successful with) earlier this month and release music for free on-line just to get people to hear it.

SXSW, I love you. I had a great year seeing familiar bands (Great Northern, The Damnwells, Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer), catching new bands (Elizabeth and the Catapult, Austin Collins, Red Riders, The Boat People), catching up with old friends (Wes Kidd, Ben London, Duquette Johnston), meeting people that I’ve worked with over the phone or via email for years (Regina Joskow), and meeting new friends like Niall, our Irish roommate for the week.

Until next time ….

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