"Slightly off the beaten path, we had one of our most relaxing, best shows this year. Front lawn, sun shining, beautiful trees and cactus all around and people just lounging out. Cans of Lone Star on ice in the turtle-shaped sandbox nearby."
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Yesterday was a fun day. Got a Jimmie John's sandwich and wandered around a bit downtown. Then headed to South Austin for some outdoor house parties, which by the way, are totally the way to go.
First I checked out the 3rd Annual Brooklyn BBQ party in someone's backyard off of South Congress to see alt-country/bluegrass/punk band the Defibulators. Erin's brother and my brother went to junior high together, so I keep up with what she's doing and her band is really fun. The bbq had two stages, food, drink and dancing.
Then I headed over to a house show at Brian and Elaine's house. They came to my show on Thursday and enjoyed it so much that they invited The Family Crest and Megan Slankard to perform in their front yard It was a blast.
It was also really nice to hear Megan play an acoustic set with just her guitar. This girl can sing.
Even on such short notice, a bunch of Brian and Elaine's friends showed up, many of them with their kids. It was so fun to watch them enjoy the music and just wander around. Watch this video and just look at all those little faces. Some of them were super into the music. I got another video on my camera of them playing percussion along with the Family Crest, I'll post it when I get home.
Then it was over to a funny little bar called G&S on South First that I had never noticed. I finally got to see The Hello Strangers live, which was a total treat. Larissa and Brechyn have all these new songs that I'd not heard before, like this gospel-y tune "Big Flood." I love the way these ladies harmonize. This song gave me goosebumps.
I have a lot more videos and photos to share, I'll try to roll some of it out in the next couple weeks.
Today we decided to go toobing in the Guadelupe River. It was WAY too cold for toobing. I don't recommend it. My butt is still freezing, and strangely, I got a little bit of color.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Here's the highlight of the evening for me (for obvious reasons). I have more videos and will load them up, but it's taking too long right now and I have to get moving. It was sort of dark in the room, but you can see what's going on. And, again, I'm super impressed with the audio on this little flipcam.
I HIGHLY recommend throwing a house show if you have ever entertained the idea. They are intimate and fun. Performers always seem to prefer them and throwing parties is just always a good idea.
This is the Family Crest performing "In the Avenue" featuing yours truly on vocals. I am now an official member of the extended Family Crest! w00t!
Had a great, successful house show, will post video from it tomorrow. Everyone had a blast.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Walking into the Ghost Room on 4th street, I instantly remembered how good Gary Clarke Jr. is. With his husky, yet smooth voice and mad guitar skills, why is this guy not famous? As a rock and blues guitarist, his sound is like a modern Jimi Hendrix. His vocal stylings are somewhere between Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and Ben Ottewell of Gomez.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to hear a whole other side of Clarke at a singer/songwriter in the round show and heard him play a beautiful acoustic with intricate finger-picking. I remember thinking, "where did this come from" and why can't I hear more?
Clarke told me after the show that he will be going on tour soon, and that he hasn't recorded any of the softer, acoustic tunes. I really hope he does, it'll show off how versatile he can be.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Finally I got to see Fitz & the Tantrums live! I'm also happy to say that I also converted two of my friends over as well who had not heard of them. I, myself, was converted after Amber Gregory's excitement of their Bay Area shows last year. So after finding rockstar parking, we slid over to the Waterloo Records parking lot (they no longer have SXSW shows in the store, which is good news for everyone) and were treated to the funky sounds of Los Angeles based Fitz & the Tantrums.
We found front duo Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs outside Amy's Ice Cream around the corner and had a quick chat, they were as nice as can be. The fangirl in me waited in line to get them to sign my newly purchased copy of their first album Pickin' Up the Pieces.
The music is a sort of reinvention of soul music. It's modern, yet very much firmly based in Motown and STAX. Fitz has no guitar (score!) and instead has a baritone saxophone (double score!) played by Jamie King. The music is fun, but definitely has a certain edge to it, and a good amount of passion and anger. And that's what I think drives it. The performance is super tight and groove-worthy. The vocal combination of Fitzpatrick and Scaggs is perfect. And although Fitzpatrick has a great voice that suits the music wonderfully, I wish Scaggs would get to sing more lead. But, really, that's my only complaint.
I don't know the history of each of these musicians, but these guys are seasoned professionals that know their stuff. Bassist Ethan Phillips and drummer John Wicks lay down tight, funky grooves and keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna has chosen the perfect keyboard tones for each song that gives each song a specific personality of sorts.
The song "Dear Mr. President" pleads with (I assume) Mr. Obama, "Hey put your foot down, and take a look 'round, if you don't like what you see." Say it. Hallelujah. And songs like the fabulously catchy "Money Grabber" (see the video below) and "Rich Girls" suggest that Fitzpatrick might have had some specific troubles mixing money and women. I'm really enjoying the dark "News 4 U" with a chorus of call and response between Fitzpatrick and Scaggs that gets in your head.
I took video (including a cool cover of Sade's "Sweet Dreams"), but the amplification was too much for the little flipcam, so I give you their performance on Conan, the late night talk show host with the best taste in music.
This is The Beaumont from Lubbock. They are not for the un-humored, singing about every hedonistic, R-rated theme you could think of: drugs, Toby Keith being a pretty woman, having an affair with a member of the AARP, mayo as a favorite lubricant, burning churches and every sexual taboo you can think of. These good (?) old boys are not for the faint of heart and easily offended, so of course I was laughing my ass off.
In their cowboy hats, sunglasses and cowboy shirts, these middle-aged dudes could not have been more hilarious, making everyone in the room smile and shake their heads in disbelief. The Beaumont is like Z Z Top on a drinking binge.
This is a snippet of "Money for Drugs" (I took this with my friend's flipcam, pretty good!):
I was pleasantly surprised by Austin based White Dress. It's nice to see more and more powerful women with electric guitars in their hands. Singer-guitarist Arum Rae Valkonen has a versatile voice that spans a range of colors from Billie Holliday to Ann Wilson. Combined with her dirty guitar sound and the badass drumming of Grant Van Amburgh, a Black Keys comparison is unavoidable.
Monday, March 14, 2011
This will be my 5th time at the festival, and I *think* I've gotten a the hang of it by now. It helps that I can work from wherever there is internet and I have friends who still live there to stay with. It also helps that I know where all the good taco stands are.
I'm also very excited to be hosting my very first house show on Thursday the 14th with Bay Area bands The Family Crest, Dina Maccabee and Foxtails Brigade! It looks like we're going to have a full house! (Let me know if you're in town and you'd like to come) It's been such a pleasure working with my friends to put this together, and house shows are a really wonderful, intimate way to hear music. I think it will be especially excellent after dealing with the street crowds downtown all week.
My general SXSW advice:
- wear comfy shoes
- drinks lots of water
- don't worry too much about sticking to your schedule of bands to see. Even if you have a badge or wristband or whatever (and you don't really need one by the way, there's so much free stuff going on): shows are full, places are further away than you think, you might want to stay for the next band or you might find that there's a glorious sound coming from that tent over there! FOLLOW YOUR EARS! You never know what might come your way, and that's the whole point of this festival, to discover new things.
I have been a fan of the Bees since discovering them randomly on a sampler CD I picked up at a Radiohead concert in 2003. They don't tour to the US very often so I will not be missing this one, even though they are playing at 1 in the morning. They have an 1960s thing going on: garage rock with a psychedelic, folky vibe:
These ladies are Girls Rock Camp alums, so of course I'm excited about them. They were recently featured on a cnn blog. Woa! They are still in high school and embody what camp is all about. AND, they are sharing the stage of the Girls Rock Camp showcase with the Bangles. Not too shabby.
The Hello Strangers:
My friend and former classmate Larissa Chace Smith and sister Brechyn, whom I've written about before, will be in town from central Pennsylvania! Think Neko Case times two! I love the vocal harmonies. Their music tells the stories of women caught in bad relationships who might take matters into their own hands every now and again. I've not gotten to see them live yet, but love their recordings.
Erin B. is the younger sister of Eli, who is my pianist when I sing in Los Angeles. Eli and my brother played music together in junior high. The Defibulators throw a raucous party of what I'm gonna call country-punk. I've been getting to know their music over the years and it keeps changing. The new album "Corn Money" has a fun combination of honky-tonk tunes and 1930s-type ballads.
And, of course, I will be eating lots of tacos.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
This is a mix I made in 2007 when I worked at the Hatbox, a hat store in Austin on 6th Street, during South by Southwest. It was super fun putting hats on music industry folks from all over the world. David Boreanaz (from Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Badly Drawn Boy came in to browse around.
I added a couple things that have come out since then like the Maneja Beto tune. All of these songs are upbeat, suitable to be played loudly in a retail shop.
Click to download
1. Something Good - LZ Love
2. Toot Your Whistle - White Ghost Shivers
3. You're Gonna Miss Me - The Thirteenth Floor Elevators
4. Big Fat Mama - Pinetop Perkins
5. Darlin' I'll Do Anything You Say - Junior Brown
6. Don't Wanna - The Asylum Street Spankers
7. Ritmo del Tambo - Grupo Fantasma
8. Stuck in a Crowd - Alpha Rev feat. Casey McPherson
9. City Song - Kathy McCarty
10. Mr. Atom - Liz Pappademas
11. Pride and Joy - Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
12. Solo Quisierea - Maneja Beto
13. Truck Driver - Scott H. Biram
14. Call Of My Heart - Toni Price
15. Bloodless Revolution - Carolyn Wonderland
16. Let's Talk About Jesus - Bells of Joy
17. Take The Fifth- Spoon
18. When She Walks Away - Alejandro Escovedo
19. The Lost City Of Refuge - …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
20. Cariño (First Date Mix) - Ocote Soul Sounds
Friday, November 12, 2010
Maneja Beto's new album Escante Calling (A Rare Calling) should not just be noticed by Spanish speakers, but recognized by music industry at large. Not just because it’s great record, but because of the direction it’s pointing. Maneja Beto will probably never become a household name (although if I ruled the world it would be) but the concept of the band’s music will become as commonplace as reggae or hip-hop: “Indie en Español” is a genre we’re going to be hearing more.
I met singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Alex Chavez in a Cultural Anthropology seminar at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005 when we had both just started our Master’s degrees (he completed PhD just this year). Once I heard his band's music, the genre “Indie en Español” made perfect sense. Maneja’s music lies in that nebulous “Indie” zone, a term that has lost it’s original meaning identifying a band’s separation from major record companies. These days it’s more of a category describing the fusion of styles, sounds and instruments. “Indie” is where experimental popular music lies.
If you like Radiohead, Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend and the Arcade Fire, you’ll probably like Maneja Beto. And if you’re a non-Spanish speaker, I guarantee the music is interesting enough that you might not mind so much that you can’t understand the words. Who can understand what Thom Yorke sings anyway?
Maneja Beto's fun video of the last track of the album "Ofrendas"
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Every time I look at the line-up of this year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, I notice another ridiculously awesome name buried in the mix: Patti Smith! Joan Baez! Sharon Jones! Elvis Costello! David Grisman! Trombone Shorty! Gillian Welsh! Ralph Stanley! The Indigo Girls! Conor Oberst! MC Hammer (had to mention)! The list just keeps going and going.
And what? Hardly Strictly is free??? Are you serious?? (Sorry, it's free every year, this 10-year anniversary line-up is just sort of blowing my mind.)
You know what that means: throngs and throngs of people descending on Golden Gate Park. How does one navigate this experience without getting totally frustrated? Golden Gate is not the easiest to get around for masses of people.
My advice: Don’t get overly ambitious about seeing every act you’re excited about. There’s just too much and it's too spread out. Pick one, maybe two a day, and just go with the flow. You’ll end up seeing something amazing that you weren’t expecting. Find a spot and stick with it. The line-up is full of so many amazing musicians that you’re going to see something good, I promise.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Maneja Beto, self described as "indie in Español," is the brain child of Anthropologist Alex Chavez. I met him in one of my seminars and his band quickly became one of the most unique and fun bands I've ever come across: think Joy Division and Elbow sung in Spanish with latin rhythms. Alex studies Mexican folk music and culture and is also in several other bands in Austin. Percussionist Bobby Garza is equally impressive on vocals and percussion. This is a super fun band to dance live as well.
The Asylum Street Spankers I met during my master's report research into Gospel Bunch in Austin. The research it self is a long story, but it turns out this irreverent, silly band who sings about beer and superheros, is also well versed in gospel favorites. They used to play the Gospel Brunch at La Zona Rosa in the 90s when they first got together. I interviewed Christina Marrs (WOW what a voice!) and percussionist/vocalist Wammo for my research and was lucky enough to catch them while they were doing a whole series of gospel shows at the Saxon Pub.
The musical vibe is traditional vaudeville from the early part of the 20th century with Betty Boop vocals (sometimes) banjos, mandolins and washboard percussion. But the lyrical themes of the tunes poke fun (SUV drivers in support of troops in the Middle East) at life both modern and past and just having a grand old sarcastic fun time. You will laugh your ass off: promise. They tour regularly, so check out their touring schedule.
Note: this band is not for the faint of heart. Language! language! language! (I just discovered a song called "Scrotum".)
Here's a gospel tune...
And a good old favorite...
Anyway, I'm off to eat breakfast tacos, sit in a river with a toob and a six-pack, hang at Barton Springs and sweat my butt off.