Today was the first day of the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX. Over 6,000 bands send in demo tapes and the top 1400 or so are selected. There are about 60 music venues throughout town and for four nights, about 6 bands play at each venue. I’ve wanted to go for a long time. It’s been a great way for up and comng bands to get exposure. We went to the Americana Music Showcase and stayed at the same place all night. The first band we saw was Charlie Louvin – a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and has played with everyone from Cash to Elvis and a staple at the Grand Old Opry.
Next on stage came Sunny Sweeney who was thrilled to play the Opry just last weekend for the first time. Watch for her, she’s got a great country voice, country lyrics that turn a song in a phrase, and a good band. Her new album is #7 in the Texas music top 40, just ahead of the Dixie Chicks.
The great thing about SXSW is that you are able to meet and greet the artists after their performances.
Sunny takes some time out after the show with me!
Next up was the Holmes brothers, a blues trio from NYC. It sure sounded like these guys have played a blues lick or two in their lives.
Next was Ruthie Foster, a great singer with soul, folk, and rock influences. Imagine rolling up Aretha Franklin, Tracy Chapman, and Lucinda Williams all in one person. She was very energetic and has great pipes.
Finally, Ray Whylie Hubbard came on. He was a rather irreverant player with another great band. His latest hit is Snake Farm. SXSW is great for its unscripted, unrehearsed aesthetic. Ray, at different times brought on his 14 year-old sun to play a mean stratocaster, Buddy Miller, and the band that a few minutes earlier won best new Austin band, “Band of Heathens.” Musicians effortlesssly slide from band to band throughout the festival.