Austin Diaries: Four Days at South by Southwest
"I'm On a Mission From God!"
Click to read about: Day 1
| Day 2 | Day 3 | Day
Friday, March 15, 2002 - I’m wondering how many people
will be reading this later? How many people, that is, who
heard me talking up a storm; ‘cause I was on a mission during
the trade show. It wasn’t a mission to sign up members for
the site, although ostensibly that is what I was there to
do. That, and to help Steve out with everything, demonstrate
the web site to people, and otherwise make myself useful.
But on Friday I took off on a tangent. I became an evangelist.
I am very passionate about what I feel, and I feel that the
Internet offers all musicians a way out of the valley of doom!
“This is our chance, we’ve got to take the bull by the horns
(an appropriate analogy for Texas, don’t you think?!) and
opt out of the standard relationship between artist and label.
We’ve got the opportunity to create something entirely new.
Tear up the standard contract; get rid of the royalty scheme.
Let the artists make the bulk of the money that they generate
from their work, and own the rights to it. Blow off the major
labels, have it your way!”
I went off. I talked it up with everyone I came in contact
with, and if you came by our booth on Friday, you know what
I mean, because you undoubtedly heard my rant. I got into
it with a very nice woman, Pat Enyart of Shoot to Thrill Photography.
We argued about the viability of going up against the huge
corporate monoliths that constitute the recording industry.
It went on for a while, and I’m sure she thinks I’m nuts!
But, hey, it’s worth a shot, isn’t it?
In the early afternoon Robbie Robertson was interviewed by
Ben Fong-Torres of Rolling Stone regarding the new release
of the updated and digitized version of The Last Waltz. I
attended and what they showed of the new movie (Which debuted
at the Paramount Theater in Austin that night) looked really,
really good. There is also added footage, more music, and
interviews with Robbie Robertson, Martin Scorcese and others
about the making of it all. Robbie was asked a question about
signing his first record deal. He told us that it was because
of his manager that they got a good deal, the same one who
was managing Bob Dylan at the time, who wouldn’t have let
them get screwed. Take note, people. Good management makes
a HUGE difference when dealing with the major labels. So does
good legal representation. That’s solid advice you can literally
take to the bank!
after the trade show closed up for the night, I parted company
with Steve for a personal reason, I was going to meet my cousin,
Laura. Her husband, Tracey Dear (yes, that is his real last
name, not just something Laura calls him!) plays in a band
that is very popular in Austin during SXSW, The Waco Brothers.
That had played a set during the afternoon at Yard Dog’s Art
Gallery, and I met up with them just after they had finished.
As Tracey explained to me, it was a terrible gig, plagued
by “technical difficulties”. The PA went out after the second
song! (Bummer, dude! The “technical difficulties” scenario
would play out in a particularly heinous way Saturday night
at The Drink, but we’ll get to that in a minute.) Oh well,
that wasn’t their SXSW showcase, anyway. That was Saturday
night at Mother Eagan’s at 1:00 am. So we ate some great Mexican
food at Guero’s, and then my cousin, who went to college at
the University of Texas in Austin, promised to show me the
“real” Austin later that night.
The best music I encountered during the whole SXSW was not
a SXSW sponsored gig. Laura and Tracey took me to the thick
of it at a little honky-tonk dive bar called Ginny’s Little
Longhorn. It was my kind of place, cramped and dirty with
the paint peeling off the ceiling, reeking of beer on the
floor (or worse) and clouded up with second hand smoke! The
crowd was made up of local Austin folk, not music biz smoothies.
We listened to the first band finish their set, and someone
in the audience told me that the female pedal steel player
played with Asleep at the Wheel. They sounded great, good
ol’ Texas country. Up next was the main attraction, James
Intveld, formerly of the Blasters. We stood right next to
the band as they slammed through some very well done Texas
country blues and rootsy rock and roll. Their guitar player
was great; he really knew what to play, and when to play it
so as to take the song to the next level. He was firing off
all manner of rockin’ country blues licks, trashy and flashy,
and the crowd just ate it up.
It was about one o’clock when they dropped me off back at
the hotel, and Steve was still out. He came straggling in
around two-thirty, lookin’ rode hard and hung out wet, but
happy. He told me he had been at Stubbs listening to Robert
Bradley and Johnny Lang and it was great. Well, another day
down, one more to go. We both partied pretty hard tonight,
had to make up for last night, you know, and we’re both looking
forward to doing it again tomorrow! As Steve said to me when
he was contemplating going at it all over again tomorrow,
“I’ll sleep when I die!”
Click to read about: Day
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