Monday, March 12, 2018

It's SXSW Music Festival Week!

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Thee Oh Sees at SXSW 2016

Once again I'm heading to Austin, Texas this week for South by Southwest.

Starting Wednesday -- (meaning early Thursday) I'll be posting here about the music I see. It looks like great year for punk and garage-punk. Among the bands I hope to be seeing are The Dwarves, The Ghost Wolves, The Sloths, Bubble Puppy (!), local Austin favorites The Ugly Beats, etc. Plus, as usual, Bloodshot Records has a great line-up, including my old favorites The Waco Brothers and a new favorite, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers.
Jon Langford and Bill Kirchen Reenact the Battle of Waco
Bill Kirchen with The Waco Brothers during SXSW 2012

Because of SXSW there will be no Wacky Wednesday or Throwback Thursday this week. (And no radio playlists because Tom Adler's covering The Santa Fe Opry for me and Steve Tibbs is doing Terrell's Sound World.)

Last time I went to SXSW, two years ago, I had to crap out on my blogging because I was trying to do it on my iPad and the blogging program I had sucked the warts. Hopefully you won't have to put up with my sniveling excuses this year.

Be sure to follow my Instagram feed for cool bitchen iPhone shots of rock 'n' roll in action. (Of course there you'll have to endure cute snapshots of my grandsons, who live in Austin.)

I posted this memory on this blog exactly four years. Hope it's not too early to recycle.

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The Grannies, during SXSW 2014
I've got a long history with SXSW. The first time I attended was in 1995. It basically was a spur of the moment decision following a conversation with the late Alex Magosci, a coworker who had a band called Junk, which he fondly referred to as "Santa Fe's most dysfunctional band." He convinced me to travel with junk, which at that point was just a duo, Alex and his girlfriend Virginia Plain (but everyone knew her as "Sandy"), in their convertred school bus, lovingly dubbed The Junk Heap.

No, they didn't have an actual slot at the festival, but Alex thought he had lined up a few non-affiliated gigs. So I got my press credentials (which was so much easier back then) and talked my editor into giving me time off to go to Austin for a big Sunday spread. She even got me a little walking around money for the trip. (That was so much easier back then too.)

It was a wild trip. The Junk Heap, which we all thought was parked safely, started rolling unmanned and nearly hit a gas pump in Santa Rosa. The the damned thing broke down in Clovis. It was obvious the bus would never get to Austin. My editor was expecting a big feature on the festival, so I ditched Alex and Sandy and took a plane from Lubbock.

I felt bad for them, but a couple of days later, who did I run into but Alex and Sandy. The Junk Heap had come through. Of course, all the gigs Alex thought he had lined up fizzled one by one. They tried to set up in various spots along Sixth Street only to get get thwarted one by one. 
Junk rocks the Littlefield Mall, 1995

Finally Alex found a friendly shopkeep on Brazos who let him plug into the store's electrical outlet. They started playing right after an Irma Thomas outdoor show about a block away, so they got an instant crowd. They played an inspired handful of songs, which was cut short once again by the Austin police. But they sold about $200 worth of their cassette tapes.

I joined them for the drive back. The Junk Heap broke down again, this time in Fort Stockton, Texas. I barely made it to work Monday afternoon.



Austin Banjo Band
Perhaps the Austin Banjo Club is playing this week

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