Posts Tagged ‘South by Southwest

16
May
19

Movie Review: “J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius”

“J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius”

“We are actually Religion, that seems like an Art Piece, that seems like a religion, that seems like performance art, that seems like a joke, that seems like a religion…” This quote got my attention in the “J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius” and most readily defines the J.R. Bob Dobbs’ movement and the message in Sandy K. Boone’s documentary film currently making its way through the festival circuit. The documentary envelopes everything from the Church’s inception to the current status as the Bob Hobbs’ story is told anecdotal fashion representing the aesthetic of movement itself. The history and evolutions of the Church of the SubGenius is as infamous and as obscure as it is dense and complicated for the outsider to fathom. Founders Doug Smith (a.k.a. Reverend Ivan Stang) and Steve Wilcox (a.k.a. Dr. Phyllo Drummond) were just 2 dudes smoking some weed when the revelation of “Bob Dobbs” was conceived in these young men’s minds. The message was clear and can be summed up in a few words to quote the Reverend Ivan Stang from his very own lips, “Bob, Slack, and the conspiracy!’

 

Sandy K. Boone and the “J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius” crew at the South by South West screening at the ZACH Theatre.

“J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius” is a relatively linear storyline covering the inception of J. R. “Bob” Dobbs “Super Salesman” as conceived by Doug Smith and Steve Wilcox as a means to reject the idea of American mid-century normalcy. “Bob” Dobbs found a sweet spot in the ‘70s and ‘80s counterculture that perfectly reflect their and many others overall disenchantment post-WWII America. It portrays the counterculture’s common ill at ease feelings with normalcy and socially acceptable behavior. Both Smith and Wilcox taps into a similar sensibilities that both R. Crumb comics and Gilbert Shelton’s “Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers” does, but in a twist explores the rejection of social norms by embracing  in “Bob”, the pinnacle of those beliefs from a different vantage point, rather than extolling the virtues of the eccentric and weird. J. R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius uses the facade of normalcy in a satirical attack of those accepted and worshipped values. Of course, something like J. R. “Bob” Dobbs movement evolves and grows over the years by adding layers and enlarging mythology takes on a new depth of meaning. The doc captures all the key moments that crystalized the Church of the SubGenius into a movement. The doc familiarizes the audience with church history by informing the audience with the cult’s terminology and jargon, like these terms “, Pinks” or “Normals”, “Pleasure Saucers” and the very important and fundamental concept of “Slack”. These all are essential parts to understand the ideals and social commentary the Church of the SubGenius lampoons and ridicules. 

Continue reading ‘Movie Review: “J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius”’

03
May
19

The Martin Atkins Interview

Martin Atkins Extravagant Behavior Interview and photo shoot. Photos © Billy Bennight all Rights Reserved.

On a Tuesday afternoon, I join longtime friend Austin’s cultural arts and SXSW insider Peggy Ellithorpe with her friends for drinks at the Hampton Inn and Suites’ balcony for happy hour. I had been in Austin since Saturday for SXSW and it seemed to be the perfect time to get together and catch up. The balcony overlooked the Austin Convention Center from the east along with clubs, bar and venues interlaced and resting around the nexus of SXSW activities. It was a lazy and friendly affair as introductions were offered and conversations developed between us. Soon a stately gentleman with a definitive Rock and Roll persona and a young lady joined us for drinks. This was when the energy in our circle ramped up. The gentleman was Martin Atkins and his manager, Molly. Martin Atkins has legendary status as the drummer for Public Image Limited besides being a producer, a creative and driving force in Brian Brain, Public Image LtdMinistryNine Inch NailsPigface, and Killing Joke over the passing decades. We enjoyed an introduction and brief chat then I struck up an enjoyable conversation with Molly and arranged an interview with Martin the following day. 

Monday through Thursday the Hampton Inn has a happy hour starting around 4 and going till 7. The second floor of the hotel is a comfortable space with a welcoming interior and the “NOLA styled balcony” outside with big picture windows offers a satisfying view of the city. It was there I met up with Martin again and slid to a quieter corner of the hotel’s common area for our meet-up. Over the years I’ve met many people who were associated with the Sex Pistols or PIL. Among them were Steve Jones, Jah Wobble, Glen Matlock, Dennis Morris, and producer Nick Launay. The former three I’ve had extensive conversations with about those early heady days about the Pistols and PIL. So it is understandable I was excited to get yet another authoritative point of view from a key member of this musical watershed that spun out in so many directions changing music and the relationship of music to its audience forever. Martin is a smart and detailed individual keenly focused on his work with his own artistic and business contributions offering me a compelling insightful view of the workings of the Post Punk phenomenon of Public Image LTD. He further honed in my understanding of those tumultuous years with Johnny Rotten (aka John Lydon) at the helm of these musical juggernauts with portraiture and analysis of who Johnny is as a person and as an artist. Martin’s many gifts outside of being a talented drummer is an entrepreneur, an engineer/producer, head of his own record label, a writer, a college instructor among other things. To say the least he is busy and has his fingers in many different pies. 

We sat down for the better part of an hour and chewed the metaphoric fat and got down to a very matter of fact discussion of PIL, the music business and the creative forces that drive a creative genius like himself. Dig in folks because this is one hellacious wild ride and one interview I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. It’s that cool!

Extravagant Behavior: The first thing that came to mind when I was reading the article… I spoke to Nick (Nick Launay) when he was there (in the studio for Flowers of Romance years ago) when him and John locked out the producer. It brought back that memory. I thought, were you there when that happened?

Martin Atkins: I’m not sure. I remember some of these stories and I have my own stories I remember.

Extravagant Behavior:…and you can tell those stories.

Martin Atkins: Right… I do remember we recorded, I think Nick could be talking about something called “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. I think Nick has talked about doing a couple of dub versions. One extremely insane dub version, which was his first credit. When you listen back, you’re like “oh my god”, it’s like anything you overuse some tools when you first discover them. Then he re-did “Home Is Where The Heart Is” that was kind of chilled out. Around that period I also remember an assistant engineer that we put in the vocal booth and say okay we are going to have you test the mic. But he wasn’t testing the mic, he wasn’t testing it with the track. (the engineer called out) “Hahaha!, I had the oven repaired. Home, home is where the heart is…” and John just took whatever he was saying and turned it into a song. Which then they miscredited to Jim Walker the original drummer. Then Quintin Hailen (sic), who I will see in Tulsa Oklahoma, he wrote a book called “Rise and Fall” about PIL (Public Image Limited). He then dissected my drumming and juxtaposed it with Jim Walker’s drumming showing evidence that my drumming – Jim Walker was so much better than I was because of my drumming on “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. Which I drummed on and co-wrote was miscredited. I’m just like… yeah! But I know that was a really special time for Nick. It was his first 10 weeks in the business and part of my first 10 months in the business. The relationship I had then with Nick was kind of gleeful… would be the word I’d use. Gleeful children, because we were. I think I was 19, maybe twenty. I don’t know how old he was, probably the same age. Gleefully in the studio where Phil Collins recorded “In The Air Tonight” – just me and him! I’ve heard, and I talk about this in my book a bit. It’s about memories and how we remember things. John now thinks he was the mastermind behind the stuff as does Keith. The truth is, Nick and I laid down the basic tracks, if not, 90% of the musical part of “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. “Banging The Door”, “Four Closes Walls”, (it was in) 1981 and this was released as part of the “This Is What You Want” sessions. But this was released as part of the Flowers Of Romance recording sessions. For one reason or another Keith, John didn’t choose all of those tracks to be on Flowers that might have been more cohesive than it ended up being. I might put a Spotify playlist together of… 

Extravagant Behavior:…of what it might have sounded like?

Martin Atkins: Yeah! I do remember we, I just did a bunch of tracks and left on tour with my punk band Brian Brain in the US. I know there is a song called “Vampire” which was released on the 40th year box set. And I just thought, “Oh shit!” I’ve been holding onto this track for 40 years, maybe 35 years. So I went to Spotify to listen to it with just my drums. I don’t know what they’re doing by releasing that because I have the version with bass. keyboards and fully formed vocals. “Why wouldn’t they say hey Martin?” Because they know I’m gonna say, “what are you going to give me?”

Extravagant Behavior: Because it’s still works, and it’s still your artistry.

Martin Atkins: Yeah, and I’ve held on to it and they didn’t, so fuck off!

Continue reading ‘The Martin Atkins Interview’
28
Mar
12

Alejandro Escovedo and Friends at the Continental Club: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

I found myself for the first time in days able to take the morning on a slow start path. My host Mike was up and was kind enough to make coffee for us both. He had hooked me up with a great place to stay and inadvertently introduced me to new friends. We finally had time to get to know one another. Of course we related to one another how crazy Southby is and each of us recounted stories as it related to the previous weeks events. We stumbled upon the topics of Rhett Miller. Mike is a fan and a friend. We concurrently experienced The Old 97’s during the 90’s in Dallas. He remembered and recounted things I had long forgotten as he elaborated on Rhett’s career and talent to me. I could only endorse his sentiments with occasional flurries of my own observation of that time in Dallas. There was a part of me that wished we’d had this conversation 2 days earlier but it was such a good feeling to have this connection right then and there as we traded stories in his living room. It appears that Rhett played his last Austin-ish gig in Willie Nelson‘s cowboy town 40 miles outside Austin. That show would have been a sweet ride! Mike was totally cool and it was really nice to get to visit during the decompression part of SXSW.

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My next move was more exploration. I had Mexican food on my mind. It was the return to the taco theme I had earlier in the week. I cruised South Congress diverting to South 1st Street on a deeper level of exploration to happen upon El Tacorrido. The only Taco joint I know of that has 2 drive thrus. I was smitten! I wanted to use the drive thru but after a bit of a wait and a keen desire to hook up, I settled for the walk up solution. The menu was slightly different form most Tex-Mex feeds and that really drove my curiosity. I ordered a gordito and a breakfast taco. I explained it to my friend Jonas like this: “This taco stand is really different for Mexican food in Texas. I can’t say it’s truly Tex-Mex. I’m having difficulty pin pointing exactly the style but it’s more south and inland. Or in other words it’s not the kind of food you find on the border or made for American taste buds.” I was completely satisfied when I headed over to Bouldin Creek for my morning coffee. I spent a few hours organizing photos on my computer as a way to bide my time before the big send off show.

Soon the hour was upon us and I headed over to pick Karen up and to share a little pre-celebratory happy hour at her hotel. I have to say, I was a bit antsy now knowing how both Mike Mills and Peter Buck were showing for tonight’s performance at The Continental Club. I count myself extremely fortunate that the first year I attended SXSW I was made aware and got to experience Alejandro Escovedo and Friends at The Continental Club. I have Karen to thank for that! It’s a cozy environment and the place is ran well. Now it’s an irresistible tradition. It’s such a great way to say farewell to Austin and SXSW. As we rolled up Alejandro was outside visiting with folks. He’s very approachable and a nice guy. It was nice to be inside The Continental Club where Karen and I turned into fans. Miss Melvis was playing. We enjoyed the show but we considered another Happy Hour moment was in order out at my car. We scored the cups at Zen next door and we were on our way. You could hear the sound of clunking paper cups and a toast if you were close or maybe, just inside the red Ford Focus. It was a nice bottle of red wine. Usually, I’m not so inclined to drink red wine but this was pretty good stuff. We then joyfully returned to the club locked in for the rest of the night.

By the time we returned Jesse Malin of D Generation had taken the stage and was entertaining everyone. I continued my Happy Hour on a little longer by drifting to the back bar that I favor the most. I bumped in to Lenny Kaye as the star-studded event bubbled with a who who’s in the back. Again I moved up front I staked my place near the front when the young musical team called Ghost Wolves started a short and energetic set. Konya on drums/vox and Carley on guitar. They started out their set on each other’s instruments and then flipped after the first song. Karen wasn’t feeling it, but I was kind of feeling it. It was like Loretta Lynn singing for the White Strips. By this time Kimiko had join us. It was good to see her. She’s got a cool way about her. She was representing Rosie Flores who would play later that night. This was her reason to be at The Continental Club on this fine evening. She smartly drifted to the back to await for Rosie appearance. Karen and I were up front when Garland Jeffreys took the stage: I mean he took the stage hostage! This man knows what he’s doing! Photo op after photo-op. I’m not familiar with the man’s material but was I was surprised how much his music sound like early to mid Rolling Stones. He did a riveting version of “? and the Mysterian” 96 Tears. He was one of highlight of the evening: a ball of energy and passion. I drifted to the back as did Karen, eventually, where we sat near the threshold of the door. It was time to cool off from the hot and tightening room. Tommy Stinson was taking the stage, I guess, just fresh from the G&R’s tour. I was drinking beer in the back again. I managed to come up for Barfirld (The Tyrant Of Texas Funk). The brother was funky with ranch fresh Cowboy look. He kept it funky and showed us his James Brown dance, except no leg splits. It was good stuff: comedic and entertaining. Damn good drinking music. So I headed back and drank again. At this point Karen spotted David Fricke, I saw him too, from Rolling Stone at the back door. Before long Kid Congo Powers (The Gun Club and The Cramps) would attach himself to the stage and I was all over that! I’ve been wanting to see Kid Congo for years and tonight it would be consummated. How romantical! Kid Congo spread his freak flag far and wide in the Continental Club as I squeezed to the front to catch his much of anticipated act. The former Cramps alumni kept us all completely entertained. He refered to Lux Interior, no, not Nick Cave, at one point when he said there was visionary who told me, “One day Kid you will have your own band and you’ll call it Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds”. I think his time in the Cramps were well spent because he kept us engaged in much of the same way the Cramps would have had they been there. After Kid Congo left the stage was about the time the lock down happened: no ins or outs! There was some speculation Bruce Springsteen would appear. I now believe it was for Mike Mills and Peter Buck. I headed to the back where I had to say hi to Kid Cango and take a few photos. I mentioned to him that Lux had jumped a couple of rows of people one time at the Spirit Club in San Diego and had tongued me. Then I told him that after that people thought I was pretty cool. That made him laugh. Then when I tweeted it, I found later, he had re-tweeted it on Twitter. I was honored he’d bother to do it and it made me laugh too. Then a little later I spotted Rosie and asked her for a photo or two. Once again I drifted to nostalgia. Rosie was at one time very much part of the LA Rock scene. She was one of the main forces in the Screamin’ Sirens. I know I’ve seen them perform. I think if was at Janice DeSoto’s club or maybe Cat House. But what was on my mind at that moment was the Hollywood Hillbillies. The band had a chicken in it. I loved it at the time. I mentioned Hollywood Hilllbillies to Rosie. Her response to me was she was in that band early on, for 3 weeks. I hadn’t remembered she was in the band. Then she qualified it by saying, “I was in the band before the chicken”. She knew about the chicken! That was a great moment. Only someone in the scene would know that! I chuckled. We finished and I decided to hang towards the back in stalker fashion. I was thinking when Mike and Peter enter I’d spot ’em. At this point we’d entered the home stretch where Alejandro and the Sensitive Boys played till they closed the place down. It’s always one of the best parts of the whole proceedings. I had seen Lenny Kaye learning the word to a song while leaning up against a car. I know because I ask him. I thought he’d gotten a ticket and he informed me other wise. It must have been one of Neil Young songs because he performed an engaging version “Like a Hurricane”. I found myself singing along to “Like a Hurricane”. Then Rosie Flores was announced and join the fun up on the stage. Rosie sang, “If I Could Only Be With You” and then followed it up with a duet with Alejandro with a her and Dave Alvin wrote together called, “Goodbye Again”. The crowd was enthusiastic and riveted. In this time some how, some way, both Mike and Peter got past me. Strangely, Mike Mills started doing this hula move during the cover of a The Troggs “Love Is All Around”. Peter Buck was channeling Michael Stipe hiding in the back corner when Mike Mills strapped on his bass to lead us in a sing-a-long of “Don’t Go Back to Rockville.” I had waited all night for this moment and was pleased I’d made it. As quickly as they had arrived they departed. I pushed through the crowd to catch them, but poof, they were gone, gone, gone! Sniff! Alejandro finished the set with Waco Brothers member Jon Langford for a rousing version of The Clash‘s “Rock The Casbah”. Karen found me and indicated it was a good to leave. I agreed. It was a long week followed by a long day capped off by many amazing performances. It was now time to take the gold home and prepare for long travel day before us both. Here’s to next year: a bigger better SXSW and going for more Hipster Olympic gold!

26
Mar
12

SXSW: Songwriters, Performance and Super Stars

The morning came quickly, as they do for SXSW. I rose to greet my new roomie Robert Singerman at Mike’s place. After both of us did some organizing and necessary clean up Robert and I headed out to downtown Austin proper on different paths for a similar end. He had a BMI breakfast at the Four Seasons, while I would head to Bouldin Creek Cafe to load up on coffee, breakfast and dump my digital mass in my laptop in prep of Fader Fort’s MyMusicRx charity event. On our way to the Four Seasons our conversation turned to music. Imagine that! Robert is working on a number of projects. One, 88TC88.com, brings translated, approved music titles and distributes these songs for sale on mobile carriers with this international music, which is sold with the lyrics embedded in the media in Mandarin underneath, so the Chinese people can understand the lyrics from various languages. The reverse will happen in the future bringing translated Chinese muisc to an International market. He’s directs the Brasil Music Exchange in North America, a Brazilian Trade Office to increase sales of Brazilian music in the US and Canadian market. Then the conversation turned to Lil Wayne. Robert found Lil Wayne preformance had the same kind of energy as Angelo Moore of Fishbone or HR of Bad Brains. I mentioned I’d photographed HR at Sunset Junction a few years back. Robert asked if he was using. I said I didn’t see a glass pipe. HR was working an arabic camo look that night and he was in fine form for the show. Robert encouraged me to drop by the Cutting Edge Music Showcase at The Victory Bar & Grill later that day. Robert is involved with Eric Cager who’s the founder and Director of The Cutting Edge Music Conference. Robert, himself has been involved with bands we all know like: R.E.M., 10,000 Maniacs, Gypsy Kings, Fela, King Sunny Ade and Smithereens to name a few. This showcase would have an international flavor with an emphasis on NOLA talent. As we rounded the corner on Caesar Chavez that led to the Four Season I agreed to see him later that afternoon to check out the showcase that would prove to be my jumping off point for the days activities.

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I arrived at Bouldin Creek Cafe. Bouldin Creek Cafe is not more that a mile and a half away from the Four Seasons. I came to have coffee in a friendly and cool environment I had discovered through my friend Greg, an Austin native. I soon sent out a text to Karen to see if she was going to be on board for the MyMusicRx brunch at Fader Fort presented by Converse. I was looking forward to the event because it was going to be my first Fader experience. Once I was appropriately jacked up on coffee and finished with my computer activities I, excitedly, scooted over to the MyMusicRx for an open bar brunch. I met Katie, my truly lovely hostess, who was a combination of Nancy Steiner and Dita Demone, two women I adore, who was manning the door and who had put me on the list for MyMusicRx event. About this time I got a text from Karen who had just gotten up and started moving around. She had been up to 4:30am working. She had such a full plate from the previous day she couldn’t possibly make the brunch, but we’d hang out later. I completely understood! MyMusicRx people were smart about presentation at this event. They delivered the Tex-Mex cuisine on nice china and the beverages in the appropriate glasses for our drink of choice. The food was provided by Bon Appetit. The menu consisted of Strube Ranch Barbacoa kolache or the Vital Farm Eggs and Kitchen Pride Mushroom Kolache with a choice of Fiesta Tortias (whole wheat or flour) and either Smoked Hickory Bacon, Vital Farm Eggs and/or Richardson Farms Carnitas. The drinks of choice were Bloody Mary’s or Memosas. I choose the memosas because it make me feel pretty as my strolling beverage and the Strube Ranch Barbacoa Kolache and a Richardson Farms Carnitas with Vital Farm eggs on a whole wheat tortia suited my culinary palate. I repeated the Richardson Farms Carnitas with Vital Farm Eggs on a whole wheat tortia again and had many repeats on the memosas. From there I planted myself near a tall table were I engaged Jorge and a young lady in a toast with our memosas. We continued by making small talk before both bands played. After this I found a comfortable spot in a nice arm chairs where I could take it all in in repose: i.e., shooting photos and videos with ease while in line of the subject matter. All in attendance representing MyMusicRx concern were Rob Stone and Joh Cohen of Fader, Geoff Cottrill of Converse and Regina Ellis of MyMusicRx and Children’s Cancer Association. Rob Stone started off the proceedings by sharing his own story. Rob referencing his own bout with cancer, as a child, brought home the importance of MyMuscRx and Children’s Cancer Association outreach to children suffering with cancer to all there. He tied this in with how music had made a difference in his experience and how he wanted to share music with those suffering and fighting cancer. Regina was next up to explain how MyMusicRx had reached out to over 500,000 kids suffering with chronic illness and cancer out of the 20,000,000 of those currently suffering under those conditions. Regina pointed out how something as simple as purchasing your favorite song from i-Tunes could bring MyMusicRx experience to sick children everywhere. I was impressed by the 500,000 number reached when you take in account how expensive it is to reach out to others in hospitals and communities. I have to say that’s quite an accomplishment! Finally, Jon Cohen wrapped things up nicely by interjecting the importance of people getting involved and acknowledging those who were active in making this happen before he introduced the musical artist LP. From here on out the crowd would mix and would be entertained by both scheduled bands.

LP took the stage, as it were, as a 5 member ensemble. LP is a song writer who had written for such pop artist as Nas, Christina Aguilera, Joe Walsh and Rihanna. At MyMusicRx showcase features a 5 song Ep called, Into The Wild, she’s releasing via Warner Bros. in late April. I picked up her promotional DVD/Ep, while I was there and found it’s rather enjoyable. She pulled up to the mic with electric ukulele is hand, looking like a young Bob Dylan, but she sang with ease and great versatility, while still holding to the singer songwriter tradition. She has a unique and lovely voice. The girl has range! The backing band displayed musicianship I found to be polished, providing a flawless performance for LP. The sound, I guess, wasn’t right because the sound guy kept coming up and getting in the way of the performance, tweaking the sound. It was a solid performance and was perfect for what would be considered early in the day for SXSW. I recorded “Tokyo Sunrise” and I have included it as part of my article so you can discover the music for yourselves. After a short break and a brief introduction Yawn took the stage and introduced us all to their sound. A quick riff on what their sound is like would reference Vampire Weekend or Sigur Ros. This Indie Rock group has opened for the Kooks too. They provided naive sing-a-long harmonies, calypso rhythms in this percussive pop that lightened the room’s mood and made the room flow. They made networking an easy task with their marvelous soundtrack. We all eased in to more drinking and light socializing as the band played on. MyMusicRx brought together a great combination of purpose and music for a wondrous day starter for Friday’s SXSW experience. I went away ready for more fun and looking for more great entertainment.

My next hit was the Front Gate Morning After Party. I was off to South Congress again. Street parking was at a premium yet I found a spot a block and a half away. The party was being held in a parking lot. I negotiated the entrance, passed the stage where J Roddy Walston & the Business were setting up to find the open bar to continue my mamosa bender. Strangely, I wasn’t getting much of a buzz, except from awesome bands I was seeing play. More tacos too as I bellied up to the food line facing the stage. J Roddy Walston & the Business laid down the Bluesy uptempo Rock. While J Roddy Walston & the Business was too straight ahead for my taste the crowd, women closest, were relating strongly and the ladies were very much enthralled. All those boys had beautiful heads of hair: so we had a combination of hair lust/envy from the ladies as J Roddy Walston & the Business collectively waved their freak flag under the partly cloudy afternoon light. They would make a perfect Texas brisket and BBQ party band and I have to say they were! All of this allowed me to focus on my drinking. I focused on it for about an hour before I made my way once again to The Victory Bar & Grill for the Cutting Edge Music event Robert had invited me to. It so happened that my arrival at the Cutting Edge Music event, produced by Eric Cager, was happening in the back stage area I come to know the Day before for Miles Davis House. It was there that Robert spotted me first. He was feeling a little more uptempo from our early morning visit after he had the pleasure of a couple beers, as we all do at SXSW. By this time I was mildly buzzed and full. Robert offered me the Crawfish Monica and we continued to talk music. Robert pointed out that the city of New Orleans was hosting and supplying some of the talent of the event. Drastik (Truth Universal) was owning the stage with his NOLA style rhyme, while we were visiting. He had turned me on to Jerry Lindqvist earlier on our ride to the Four Seasons. Robert was kind enough to introduce me to a bunch of talented musicians that included Tiffany Shea, Ashley Fayth and Nanna Larsen as part of the International Songwriters Tour. He introduce me to Tony Moore who is the songwriter/producer and Zebra-man, who sets up a great singer-songwriter showcase every year in New Orleans, as well as in SXSW and books a great London venue too. I saw Tony play with a young and talented female singer before I headed out. He introduced me to Tiffany Shea first and from that point on she and I continued to talk off and on for as long as we could before they all headed out to their next gig and my slated arrival to see Rhett Miller. I discovered she was a fan of Rhett Miller too. So I decide that it would be a good idea to shoot her and her compatriots too. She was touring with them all and they were also staying with her in Nashville. By the way, this continued the theme of singer song writers started earlier in the day. I went for the fade to catch Rhett and while Robert was really engaged with a couple of folks I simply had to go. I wanted to make Rhett’s gig if at all possible.

The powerful parking gods was and were favoring me throughout my SXSW adventure. Free parking abounded and I locked in a spot 3 blocks from Sixth Street. As I move towards my mission to see Rhett Miller I crossed the second block where there was this long line. I figured that no line would be this long without a reason. So I inquired. I was told it was the Google Parking Lot Stage featuring artist like Jimmy Cliff and The Shins. They were at this moment letting non-badge holders in because the crowds were too thin. Snaps, my plans changed instantly. I love Rhett but I’ve never seen The Shins or Jimmy Cliff. The line was quick too. Before long I was sucking on cheap bad beer and downing energy drinks. Jimmy Cliff had a small ensemble with a drummer, himself and another fellow on guitar. I wasn’t feeling the raga drop or that I was in the midst of Reggae history being made right before my eyes. I’ve met the big boys of Reggae, that is Sly and Robbie many years before and they rang my bell. This was long before Reggae became a retro thing where Rasta bands covered seventies pop songs to make old white men happy. Back then the songs pinned were filled with stories of social change and revolution. So I didn’t expect that part of my soul to be feed on this afternoon. Jimmy Cliff put together a credible and solid set of his tunes. Jimmy closed out his set with Peter Frampton’s Baby I Love Your Way. It was a crowd pleaser. Black Star followed up while I drank more. I didn’t get interested until I heard Jean Grae bump up the rhyme a notch or two. I drifted down near the stage where I ran into Zachary and Alexandra for a catchup session. I decided to see if I could hook up with some Google jello shots down stairs and that path led me to Jennifer Tefft from The Satellite. After that little run in I returned to Zachary and Alexandra where Vince had popped out from backstage after Black Star’s performance. It was great to see him! Vince, Zachary and Alexandra were headed over the Jack White’s solo Third Man Showcase at The Stage On Sixth Street. Oh. how I wanted to go! I did what I could to weasel in but the crowds and badges prevailed. I knew what a treat they were in for, having seen The Dead Weather in August of 2008 at the Regency Theater in DTLA with a Third Man Records Pop Up Record Store. The Dead Weather killed that day and Jack White was about to kill at The Stage for all involved. I stayed and awaited for The Shins domination of the Google stage. James Mercer was first to move toward to the center of the stage and the crowd was at its maximum. The crowd noise raised in approval upon their arrival. I decide to hold a space to center right or to my left to photograph and video. The Shins keep a long and engaging set fill with catalog favorites such as Caring Is Creepy, Know Your Onion!, So Say I and closing with Phantom Limb. On most of the songs the fan sang along knowing the lyric and the tunes. On more than one occasion and previous to this show I’d mention I was going to catch The Shin. People response would nearly spontaneously as they would say: The Shins sounds just like they do on their albums. As if that were negative or a disappointment. Funny, that used to be the criteria used to know if a band was really any good and/or they were musicians. The Shins, surely, are not a jam band. So knowing the musician you’ve come to see have the proficiency and the ability to deliver on their own songs should carry the balance of their performance. The Shins music is held together with dynamic range, artistry and lyrical content that comes closer to poetry than most Pop music. So with this later definition clarifying performance. The Shins delivered, delivered and delivered!

I left the Google stage to head over to Sixth Street to The Stage On Sixth Street so I could be appropriately disappointed by stacked lines and an overcapacity room. I stood there for a while staring from the outside as if I was a member of an Indonesian cargo cult looking longingly, lustfully on a cargo plane. For the most part I’m not a fan of Sixth Street. It’s too crowded and usually not enough good stuff to keep you hanging on. I was hungry and there was a fast and cheap solution, Hoek’s Death Metal Pizza. Death Metal Pizza has a thriving business. Go there for the pizza and stay for the attitude! It’s the only place I’ve eaten at that’s generated Foursquare comments within minutes of my checking in and then a lengthy full-scale text conversation around the topic lasting nearly an hour. Don’t tell me that Death Metal Pizza doesn’t have some crazy witchy thing going on! Of course, I gobbled down the pizza and almost immediately went into a stupor. Sixth street had nothing for me now, as Jack White faded to the back of my brain. I headed to my digital friendly coffee shop Bouldin Creek Cafe. The idea was to recharge. I spent 2 hours there while transforming photos and videos. I left around midnight to see if I might find an easy score on parking for Rhett Miller’s next to last performance. I did a “drive by” by the Cedar Door Court yard and nary a parking spot to be seen. The heaviness of the day had definitely wore me down and with so many exploits already under my belt I wasn’t compelled to try to cash in on this one. Surely, I’ll see Rhett again. As the city descended deeply into some heavy partying I roll north-east to my digs to be reborn on the morrow once again.

SXSW Flickr Photo Gallery

25
Mar
12

SXSW: Bounced in Austin On A Thursday With A Splash Landing Into Miles Davis House

As I sped down the road towards Austin away from Sherman in my rented red Ford Focus. The mile peeled away under the cloudy sky, clouds like white pillows or cotton balls rallied around me, billowing out in all directions under the wide open spaces of Texas: through the greenery of rolling hills of North East Texas, the towers and tangled express ways of Dallas that then gave way to Highway 35 and the arid flat lands of South East Texas that eventually opened to Austin. To say the least it’s a long drive to the largest Interactive/Film/Music convention in the world. The traffic thickened after Waco making it more a challenge to reach my destination in a timely manner. This was my third year at SXSW. Foursquare called me a sophomore, not knowing of my first outing 3 years earlier when I stayed with my gracious host Mary Kate. This year’s event loomed large and rather intimidating for me with over 120 RSVPs locked in and 5 artist I wanted to catch while I was “down in it” in Austin for the weekend.

I was fortunate enough to network through Christine, a social buterfly from Dallas, I had the pleasure to meet while having sushi in Silverlake with Doug and Johnny. We had made contact originally through Facebook. It so happened she popped in on us while she was visiting LA when we dined on tasty Sushi and enjoying multiple sake shots together. She’s a marvelous ball of fire and quite the conversationalist. I was working a number of Austin options that appeared to be on the fade when Christine came through and introduced me to Mike. Mike had opened his home to me for the few days I’d be staying in Austin. I would come to know as time passed and as this story unfold that Mike and I share some similar connections that go back to Dallas a city I lived in for 2 years. I arrived in Austin with all the deets to crash at Mike’s place and set up camp.

I set out from his place to find The Victory Bar & Grill where Karen organized and set up Miles Davis House. I finally deciphered the layout of The Victory Bar & Grill. Among the distractions set before me I decided to head down a long hallway that led into a large back room. It was dark and I immediately saw the stage to the left and booths to the right. I nested in the booths. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before I saw some familiar faces. Earl E. Gibson III (an exceptional photographer) and Erin Davis (Miles son), both came up to say hi and made me feel at home. Soon Karen was in the mix. We visited for a while and Vince Wilburn Jr. came up to give me a big old hug. Vince always puts a smile on your face. It was good to see him. Karen pointed out that Left Over Cuties were playing at the moment. I was amazed how much they had improved from the summer at El Cid and Sunset Junction party. I had arrived late and I had missed the only viable time to catch The Magnetic Fields, a band I yearned to see and the prospects for Fiona Apple were looking grim. While these unsatisfied expectations were on the back burners at the moment I couldn’t resist exploring The Victory Bar & Grill before I headed out. I landed outside where I met 2 young and talented musicians Alexandra Lee of Alexandra and the Starlight Band and Zachary James of Zachary James and the All Seeing Eyes. We all had a great little chit-chat. I got them to pose for a few shots and then Stuart Johnson, the drummer for Left Over Cuties, jumped in to add energy and kookiness. From there on the group shots explored their interpretations of Metal poses with all the gravitas of Rock gods. After all this passion I took the time to shoot a few shots of Vince and Erin outside The Victory Bar & Grill before I jaunted over to see Fiona.

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I left the Victory Bar & Grill to arrive near  the Austin Texas Central Presbyterian Church where a host of showcases were taking place besides Fiona Apple’s. One of the brutal truths of SXSW is if you arrive too late for a show, YOU ARE TOO LATE! No badge, no connections, no begging will lift you through the threshold to magically transport you to the center of the action. I came upon the badge line first. An exceptionally long line to arrive at 10 minutes after 8pm. Fiona was on at 8pm. I knew all was lost. But to make sure I cruised over to the wrist band line to see my hopes utterly dashed upon the steps of that Presbyterian of the church. This was a tough blow, although, I think of Fiona Apple as a nice second to say The Shins or The Magnetic Fields. Having 3 and 1/2 hours sleep under my belt I decided not to squander my flagging energy waiting in a line: a line that I’ll never see the virtue of being inside the sanctuary to see the barefoot chanteuse. I decided to hit South Congress to do something more than snack as I had The Boiling pot earlier on my arrival. I love downtown Austin but I’ve longed over the last few years to get a grip on what South Congress is all about. So I headed to yet another axis of the SXSW experience on South Congress. I wanted tacos! I found a spot near Home Slice Pizza and Güero Taco Bar. Güero’s is always crowded and that’s year after year at this time. As I walked to the corner to cross the street bands were blazing out the Rockin noise at Home Slice with a Boho crowd clustered around the popular pizza joint listening to music and eating copious amounts of pizza. Once across the street and inside Güero’s I found the place full but the bar area was available. After some thought I figured it was in my best interest, time wise. to plug into the bar. I sat next to 2 gentlemen in the middle of their meals and waited to be served. One of them decided to ask me if I were press. I was surprised by the question because I always try to keep that stuff on the down low. Then it dawned on me that I was wearing my Fader Fort Presented by Converse Press wrist. So I admitted I was press. We spoke in between my ordering and eating about his love of Punk Rock. He told me he followed the Ramones like a deadhead would follow The Grateful Dead. His friend to the left of him endorsed the comment and I laughed at the idea. Our conversation continued in-between my bites. The tacos were nice Tex-Mex fare, the red beans were, well, red beans and the Mexican rice was the worst I had ever eaten. So I passed on the rice. The guys bid their adu and the weight of possibly missing Semi-Precious Weapons were taking their toll in my mind on my drive to catch some new exciting bands.

I sped over to The Victory Bar & Grill just in time to catch Semi-Precious Weapons in search and destroy mode. I don’t think I’ve seen more action on stage since Wendy O’Williams of The Plasmatics or Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks. Thankfully, Justin Tranter can’t lactate like Wendy did: although, he played with his nipple while on stage. But the show was amazingly messy. Everyone in the group was jumping , crawling, crashing, playing , singing, spewing liquids as if they were a bunch of crazy monkeys on speed. I said on my Facebook fan page  as a comment they put on a show, show, show! The fans, yes the fans, were  as out of control as the band blew up and played off the crowd. You could honestly say their fans were as much of the show as the band. The fans were giving out the energy and the Semi-Precious Weapons were giving it right back at ’em! This eclipsed into over 20 minutes of magical mayhem of performance by the group. Later I headed outside. Semi-Precious Weapons geared up for  more photo opportunities with Erin and Vince by Earl. Karen and I had time to catch up as the Semi-Precious Weapons were in interviewed by Beta Records TV. Karen with Erin and Vince’s help put together this ambitious all day event for Mile Davis Estates with a host of new talented acts. All the while interweaving the legacy of artistry and innovation Miles Davis represents and carries on by his son Erin and his nephew Vince with these new breeds of entertainers. Miles Davis House shook The Victory Bar & Grill for a history making SXSW inaugural that sets a great foundation for next year’s blow-up event in Austin. We sat there for a while and talked about the day at hand, when Greg my roomie from last year, pulled up on his bike and joined in the fun. It was nice to see my homeboy after such a long time. Then Karen then had to run. Greg and I had a bromance drinking beers and yakking about all that had happened in the last year. Greg still had party left in him but it was after midnight and the fade was hitting me pretty strongly. I had only three and half hours of sleep and a 6 hour drive under my belt I felt it was time to melt into my digs. In Austin you got grab your sleep while you can when you’re playing in the SXSW Hipster Olympics.

SXSW FlickrPhoto Gallery

17
Mar
12

SXSW: Tidbits To Tie You Over

The excitement of SXSW was palpable as I expectantly waited for it while I was staying with my parents in Oklahoma. I arrived in Austin exhausted and running late because of unforseen events like tight traffic from Waco to Austin, All the elements made me roughly 2 hours late. So for this outing I’m coloring the events briefly as high lights till I can muster for a full-blown report.  The Party got started at The Victory Bar & Grill where Miles Davis Estates through a party to build on the legacy of Miles Davis. Erin and Davis and Vince Wilburn Jr. along with Karen Sundell but together a bunch of talented buzzy and up and coming artist for this event the included  Left Over Cuties, The Furious Few and Semi-Precious Weapons. I cruised between parties and events as I was trying to get m sea legs after landing in Austin. The night went late but not too late!

The next morning I was invited to MyMusicRxevent by Fader Fort. It was a charitable affair with delicious food and an open bar. More on the MyMusicRx event is located in my blog “SXSW: Songwriters, Performance and Super Stars” . I got my drunk on as I networked, listen to 2 marvelous bands: LP from New York and Yawn from Chicago. The Fader Fort and Converse event had the totally good vibes going on as folks talked about the good work being done by MyMusicRx for the Children’s Cancer Association through partnership with i-Tunes. It warmed up the day and me got ready for all the activities that were lined up. I followed this up with the Morning After Party where I continued my gluttony and drinking as some blues Rockers provided the Austin style soundtrack.

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My next stop was to drift by the Victory Grill once again for another showcase of International artist. I thought I was through eating when I was offered some crawfish monica. Robert Singerman turned me on to the party and a bunch of talented musicians that included Tiffany Shea, Ashley Faith and Nanna Larsen. I had a great visit with Tiffany and was surprised she was a fan of Rhett Miller. I so inspired her she decided to go the Rhett’s show on 6th Street. Once I departed the victory Bar & Grill I was on my way to Rhett’s show when I stumbled upon the Google party line that was pen to all. The artist who were playing included Jimmy Cliff and The Shins. I had to decide then and there what my priorities were and that ment hooking up with this show. Because this was the last chance to see The Shins, a band I discovered around 2000, but had never seen.

Once I was upon the 4th floor of this parking garage I could take in the whole city of Austin. What a beautiful and dramatic view. Jimmy Cliff was half way through his set and the crowd was thickening. It was time for more free beers and an energy drinks. I ran into Alexandra and Zackary, two young talents, I met during the Mile Davis House event the day earlier and we chatted. While we were talking, Vince Wilburn Jr. jumped in from backstage while Black Star finished and we all hung for a minute longer before they went off to the Jack White’s showcase. I continued there till The Shins finished their set. The place was packed and the fan were crowding in to catch every moment of this rare experience. The Shins delivered a great and solid set. I finally got to see a band I’d missed for various reason over the years. From there I had asperations to catch Rhett Miller later but I needed to score some food by that point and headed over the Death Metal Pizza. I locked in the pizza but all that cheese and grease hit me like a cannon ball and dampened my desire to log in a few more hours of music. I decided to load photos and video and when that was accomplished the call of sleep was strong. I decide to nest back at Mike’s place to pick up the SXSW gauntlet for Saturday because the party never ends at SXSW.

SXSW Flickr Photo Gallery




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