Friday, March 19, 2004

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST DAY 2 (The Morning After)

Yikes, I haven't slept this late in a long time.

I thought I was on vacation this week, but Thursday morning walking around the SXSW trade show, whose smiling face did I see staring at me from a poster at a booth but Gov. Bill Richardson.

Jon Hendry and Mike Stauffer from the state Tourism Department were here in Austin extolling the virtues of the Land of Enchantment -- right there among other boothes pimping guitar strings, record labels, music software and rock 'n' roll magazines .

And they were giving out a poster featuring a Sgt. Pepper-like collage of famous folks with some connection to NM -- John Denver, Glen Campbell, Michael Martin Murphey ... and Bill Richardson. (What, no Buddy Holly, who recorded his greatest work in Clovis? No Jim Morrison, who as a boy was possessed by the spirit of an Indian worker who died in a car wreck near Albuquerque?)

Hendry told me about an idea in the works to start having music on Santa Fe's Plaza every night during the summer. More on that later, hopefully.

I saw a boatload of music yesterday in addition to Little Richard and Ronny Elliott. Here's some of it:

Sharde Thomas & The Rising Star Fife and Drum Band: Sharde is the granddaughter of the late Otha Turner, who was the best-known keeper of the flame of Mississippi fife and drum music, an ancient style with roots in Africa, as documented in Martin Scorsese's recent documentary on the blues. Sharde is just a kid -- looks about 10-12 years old -- but she does a great job on the fife, backed up by a bass drum and two snares. And on a couple of tunes she switched to electric organ for some stripped down basic organ and drum blues.

The Freeform American Roots radio party at Threadgill's: Part of Third Coast Music publisher John Conquest's "Not SXSW" festivities, this show featured short acoustic sets by singer songwriters. Among those I caught were Graham Lindsey, Colin Gilmore, John Lilly and Chrissy Flatt, back on guitar by Eric Hisaw, who I've had as a guest on my radio shows several times.

The Meat Purveyors: This is bluegrass music without the guilt. Or to use bluegrass terminology, all Saturday night, no Sunday morning. This female-led band of able pickers sing hopped up odes to sex, whiskey and general debauchery. You can't help but love them.

Cake: How have I missed this group these past few years. An Austin band, Cake is a unique blend of rock, funk, and even some latin sounds. They've got a keyboard player who doubles on trumpet, a singer who plays an acoustic guitar that sounds as if it were tuned by Son House on Mars and they do a moving version of the trash disco standard "I Will Survive."

The Yayhoos: My ears still ring! This is good, loud guitar rock with nods to Chuck Berry, Keith Richards and who knows who else (Mountain?) Led by ex-Georgia Satellite Dan Baird and ex-Del Lord Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, The Yahoos roar. My only disappointment: They didn't do "Dancing Queen." But they did a great version of "Love Train" and their take on "Roam" eased the pain of missing the B-52s, who were playing across town.

The Mekons tonight!


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