SXSW — oh, that old thing? That was sooo…last Saturday. Before it fades from memory, only to be replaced by the latest whiskey bar, here are a few more toasts.
On Friday, we swung by the Band of Gold (featuring Archie Bell, DJ Fontana, and Barbara Lynn) but drove on by Club De Ville, daunted by the early line-formations. We saw the chalk outlines of a very long wait and checked in on Bettye LaVette at La Zona Rosa to see she cancelled. Oh well, Fatcat Records, Pawtracks, Bubblecore, and Motormouthmedia.com hosted an avant-art-hippie-core hoedown right down the street at Fox and Hound, featuring the Mutts, Tom Brosseau, and headliners Animal Collective. That brought out the girls with dyed black hair in tiered skirts and, natch, the boys with beards. I was wondering where they all were. Great merch table, by the way — a righteous free CD with every purchase.
The lady-centric First Nation disappointed with their low energy musicmaking, but man, Storsveit Nix Noltes from Reykjavik, Iceland, worked those accordions, trumpets, cellos with lovely Eastern European folksong abandon. “Dance, dance!” yelped the cellist leader. We hear and try to obey — but the beards are screwed on too tightly. I hate when that happens.
Earlier Friday eve, I stepped into Yard Dogs, near Club De Ville, to glimpse the finale of the Bloodshot Records party. Nice music-related folk art inside, including Mekon Jon Langford’s faux-weathered works in tribute to Hank Williams and other country and American idols and icons (he was throwing down an opening the next night), and Jad Fair’s whimsical, colorful ink and paint pieces. “Folk” art here means art by music folk or about music folk — got it? Get it. The best buy had to be Rev. Howard Finster’s wood cutouts of musical legends (I know I was tempted by a Merle Haggard piece with very defined teeth).
Stepped into Ba Da Bing/Leaf’s showcase at Blender Balcony at the Ritz (just had to fight the lines for Brakes, the Kooks, Editors, KT Tunstall, and the Feeling for the Blender Bar space at street level). Early on, Utrillo Kushner of Comets on Fire played songs in the key of “solo project” alongside Garrett Goddard of the Cuts on drums. It’s called Colossal Yes. Dig the ironic Magnum PI shirt!
The Ba Da Bing showcase closed with a rare show by London’s Th’ Faith Healers, one of my pre-grunge post-punk faves from back in the early ’90s day. Thrilling. Regained faith. Was healed. Went home and fondled the flannel.
Another awesome, somewhat unappreciated aspect of the SXSW music conference (which Guardian contributor Kurt Wolff had to remind me about): Flatstock Poster Convention, usually held simultaneously on the groundfloor of the Austin Convention Center. The denizens of one booth silkscreened T-shirts as you waited, and most artists also designed a poster for the exhibit. Drool over the splashy graphics. Be pleasantly surprised by the reasonable prices. Reach for your wallet. Shield your precious new piece of art from the rain.
Philadelphia’s Pushmepullyou Design boss lady Eleanor Grosch; www.pushmepullyoudesign.com
Boss Construction from Nashville, TN; www.bossconstruct.com
Matt Daly of the Bird Machine, Inc., Chicago; www.thebirdmachine.com
The Decoder Ring Design Concern, Austin, TX; www.thedecoderring.com