As SXSW 2011 rapidly approaches, we’re already feeling the energy building. It gets better every year and there is no better place than Austin to have over 30,000 creative professionals from all over the world descend, swap ideas, inspire one another and envision the future.
SXSW, of course, holds its roots as the world’s premier music festival and has, evolved, to include Interactive and Film. So, it seems appropriate as we gear up for “South By” that I take a few minutes to share some thoughts on the Austin music scene that I live and love.
If you play music, you know you’ll always have a receptive audience in Austin. If you love listening to music, you are forever amazed at the breadth of talent in our city.
I’ve walked into blues bars and have seen Pine Top Perkins, one of the oldest living Delta blues performers play the piano in his mid-90s. On other nights, I’ve heard Randy Pavlock and Twenty Four Seven play Stevie Ray Vaughn songs so well, I could swear they were cousins. Of course, no one could possibly replace Stevie Ray, who started out in places like Antone’s and will forever be one of the coolest and best guitar players to ever live.
If you like country, we start with Willie Nelson, who plays often in Austin and lives in Dripping Springs. If you haven’t been to Willie’s 4th of July party, you need to put this on your bucket list. You may want to check out Carolyn Wonderland at Nutty Brown Café and hear her amazing combination of vocals and guitar licks. Some of our stars have had tougher times, but have bounced back, like Roky Erickson, an amazing singer, who formed Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators a few decades ago and is now back playing in Austin. He’s a real treat to listen to and we’re glad he is back.
The venues have names like Stubbs, The Backyard, Threadgills, The Broken Spoke and the Saxon Pub where you can hear top performers seven days a week. Some of the best are people who are famous here, but less well-known nationally. Bob Schneider’s concerts are always fun. He can sing a melodic song, then rap, then let it all hang out with a rock n roll number. I never know exactly where Bob is going next. Every now and then, it’s worth visiting the Broken Spoke for some two-step to Alvin Crow, a phenomenal fiddler, at one of Texas’s last true dance halls.
Austin has a lot of special people and bands, ranging from Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel in Austin to our friends from Houston, ZZ Top, and the Garza brothers from San Angelo who form the Los Lonely Boys. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t end with a tribute to Bob Wills, the father of western swing, who hailed from Old Union, Texas. If you need to know how important he is to musicians, just know that The Rolling Stones played one of his songs when they visited Austin a few years ago.
My wrap on this topic is to say that “nothin’ says Austin” like:
“Best Mistake I ever Made” – Kevin Fowler
“I Can’t Get New Orleans Off My Mind” – Marcia Ball
“Way Down Texas Way” – Asleep at the Wheel
“Austin After Midnight” — Jimmy Lafave
“Snake Farm” – Ray Wylie Hubbard
“Sara Smile” – Monte Montgomery
“Heaven” – Los Lonely Boys
“La Grange” – ZZ Top
“She’s a Lot Like Texas” – The Derailers
“Cold, Cold Feeling” – Randy Pavlock and Twenty Four Seven
“We’re All in This Together” – Jack Ingram
“New San Antonio Rose” – Bob Wills
“Amarillo Highway” – Robert Earl Keen
“Don’t Slander Me” – Roky Erickson
“Vodoo Chile (Slight Return)” – Stevie Ray Vaughn
“Bullets” – Bob Schneider
“How Long Blues” – Pine Top Perkins
“My Baby Don’t Tolerate” – Lyle Lovett
“You are Always on My Mind” – Willie Nelson
“Misunderstood” – Carolyn Wonderland
See you at “South By” next month!