- SXSW 2010 -

I write these things every year because I want to share the fun I had. But when I read other people’s reports I think ‘What is the significance? That this guy was there? Does that make it important?  Is he saying since he saw it it’s the best?  Well, I won’t be dubbing anything “the best thing at SXSW.” 

Except to say that this SXSW was equal to all the others. 

Every one is fantastic, brilliant and precious.

Tuesday March 16

The flight to Austin for South By Southwest always excites me, like I’m a shut-in: “I’m getting out.” It’s not just somewhere, it’s the Cannes of the music world, the town I invented when I was 10 where there’s rock & roll everywhere. It’s so joyful and pleasurous I fear every day that I’ll wake up with a donkey’s tail.

The flight on Southwest was worth the money. Well, what I used to pay, under-$200. But not $337. The seat seemed more cramped than I remembered. And when my back, which ached already, ached more from my seat leaning forward I asked for a blanket or pillow to put behind me they said ‘We haven’t had those for years.’ It’s blasphemous to say, but you’re packed in like a slave transport ship. You’re shoulder to shoulder, the aisle fits a whole person nearly, there are 130 people and two restrooms and if you need to stretch a leg you have to stand where the  stewardesses sit. Flying is for the birds. 

Once landed, I checked for a bus to the Convention Center. But it was 4:00 - the plane arrived late - and I needed to get to the car rental place by 5. (Note; renting at the airport runs approximately $100 more.) I asked about transportation at the Information desk, and the guy said “Foyn, I’ve been trying to get a hold of you.” It was John Stainze, the once-English Austinian whom I’ve known for years in record collector circles and during his stint in L.A. working for Mercury Records after he signed Dire Straits. 

The $20 shuttle was the answer, and soon I got in a van with 3 other pe¯ople and headed downtown in punishing traffic and dampness: it had rained and would again. Once the others devanned I moved to the front passenger seat and the driver, a guy around 30 from ‘South America,’ said “So this festival is some kind of big deal, eh?” I allowed as it was the biggest in the world. 

“I had some guys in here today from the Netherlands - you know where that is? Their band played here last year and now they’re back to do it again. What makes you people all come here?” The non-stop music, I said. “Well, you know, I like music, too, I listen to it at home and stuff, but what’s the deal about hearing it all day?” (I thought of immediately of Groucho and the man with 12 children. “Why so many?” he said. “I love my wife, Groucho.” “Well I love my cigar, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while.”)

It was my first encounter in a long time with a normal person. There’s music, and there’s movies, and sports and rodeos and the internet and having a family and other things to fill your time. I live in a music bubble of opportunity, not choice. 

Got the car, picked up my friend and host Kent Benjamin and we went to the Texas Chili Parlor. Kent was housing me like he has one week annually for 20 years. and also hosting two filmmakers from Tulsa who came to film Dwight Twilley’s stint opening for Big Star. Dropped Kent back at his car and went to the Convention Center to pick up paraphernalia for the coming four days. 

I have been gifted, literally, for 20 years as a press and tv person at South-by. The packet full of music- and party-invitations and -favors also includes a weighty event guide telling you where panels are being held and what bands are playing at night, all 1700 of them. (The sanctioned ones; another 300 ‘draft’ alongside the fest.) 

Since it was Tuesday registration was a breeze, just walk up and get your stuff: Wensday, the official start, lines stretch endlessly. I went to the press booth and got validated, and also glimpsed and nodded at a streak that looked like Luann Williams, who annually oversees the trade show and the festival magazine and the record collector convention and I think the food concessions, custodial services and  directs traffic on 4th Street. One doesn’t see her, just a blur.

Wendesday, March 17

Me ‘n Kent broke fast at Maudie’s, one of a chain that originated in a strip mall west of downtown. I recklessly ordered three Pete’s Tacos, eggs scrambled with cubed potatoes, ground beef, cheese, and perfectly-measured jalapeno slices enclosed in a flour tortilla, and ate them all even after two filled me: I could die any minute, why not take all life offers? Then drove downtown and parked near the Convention Center in a $10 lot. 

The purpose of being in the SXSW maelstrom is to bounce off people like a pinball off bumpers; you do it enough and you win when you encounter people you want to see, and I spent a good part of the day there dropping in on panels and scouring the band schedule and marking things I wanted to see. Of course, like religion, the things you mark are only suggestions; other opportunities and discoveries will overtake your plans.

Classicists play outside the CC

At the CC ran into Billy Altman and Charlie McCardell, a pair I find by radar each year within an hour of getting there, and they led me to the Red 7 to see Those Darlins, the Murfreesboro girls I love so dearly (and have seen four times already). Their raucous and raunchy set delivered on their promise, thrilling the audience, which was about 90% male, give or take 10%. (No other band offers punk rock girls doing Carter Family songs while occasionally breaking into fights.) Then the three of us returned to the CC and saw the new Blowfly documentary movie that gets worse the more I think about it. The POV is of the beleagured, tolerant drummer who must put up with Blowfly’s irrationality and moodiness. I left feeling dirty, and not from the songs.

I went to the trade room where media and music services are offered and lit upon the Library Of Congress table, posted there I guess to solicit contributions of your historical music stuff. “I have a tv show in L.A.” I said to the proprietor, and looking at my badge he said “I know who you are, you don’t have to identify yourself.” (Holy smokes! If only it translated to an income.)

My friend Cliff was in town from NY, so I drove him and his wife to a Mexican restaurant I’ve always wanted to try on south 1st Street. Unfortunately I grabbed the first one I saw on the right, El Mercado, and it was not great. Only when we drove further south after eating did I see the one I’d sought.

Ian McLagan, Dog & Duck Pub

That night I went to the Dog & Duck do to see Ian McLagan for the umpteenth and by no means final (unless he or me drops dead -  say, this theme keeps cropping up) time. His show is so great, his singing and playing so divine, one wonders if other music is necessary: the whole world of it could be condensed down to him, and he is pretty condensed already. Also went to see the Coal Porters, Sid Griffin’s English aggregation (he, the Kentuckian who founded the Long Ryders in L.A., lives in England to be near his wife and children) at Opal Divine’s, pretty damn chilly outside, even in the tent. The troupers held forth bravely and musically on this, their SXSW debut.

Coal Porters at Opal Divine’s

March 18 Thursday 

Parked downtown 10:30, walked over to the 4 Seasons and met Cliff and his wife again and he drove us to Lockhart, about 30 miles south of Austin. Lockhart was most celebrated for Kreuz’s, which served cooked meats sans sauce on brown butcher paper, which you ate by hand in the dining room adjoining the oven/store. (The cooking is done with wood fires. Due to a peculiarity of the architecture, you must run past piles of flaming logs, singeing your ankles and calves if you linger. On a hot summer day it’s like Hades, Texas.) 

I first went here in 1982 when I met my friend Dick Blackburn in Austin. We saw Little Charlie Sexton somewhere, and then I joined up with my parents, who were motoring west from Chicago for the winter. That visit to Kreuz’s loomed in my memory as a nightmare in which a mad German (they were: now Latins) in a butcher coat and bow tie cried Javold! while hacking beef with a huge cleaver. Subsequent visits in 1992 and 1999 eased my mind.

The Kreuz family had abandoned this site and opened a larger one up the road, but was unclear to me whether Smitty’s, run by former Kreuz employees, was in the same bldg. Sure enough it was, and we ate there. I’m sure Kreuz’s was as good. And the following Monday I got to see a Travel Channel program about both of them! (Though I, by now a native, resented the cheerleading and bossiness of the NY gal who runs the tv show.)

Smitty’s fire pit, and customers

Back in Austin, I hung around the Convention Center, attended some panels and got a massage from the massuesse stationed in the press room. And at 4:00 happened past the CC Day Stage and was drawn in by the remarkable sound of the Codeine Velvet Club, from Glasgow, Scotland. Apparently my fascination was everyone’s: many other people saw them at other sites during the fest and reacted with equal approval but not the surprise.  (Everybody knows what’s going on but me.) I thought, for the one song I heard (and filmed), they were like the Jefferson Airplane, sans hostility to the audience.

Checked then my email and there was a missive from Sid Griffin offering dinner to any friend showing up at Threadgills at 7:30. I got there at 6:50, curious who’d be playing on the restaurant’s front lawn, and encountered a sardine-can packed crowd cheering Roky Erickson. Enjoyed that, enjoyed the dinner with Sid and the band, and agreed to meet them at Beauty Bar to see Low Anthem at 10. Trouble was they had only SXSW wristbands, not the prestigious badge, and couldn’t get into the show (this baffles me, it wasn’t crowded) and Low Anthem started out so quietly and was so unevenly lit that it thwarted my attempt to video them that I left to check the other excitement on 6th Street.

Roky in Threadgills parking lot

Repetition is one of my problems: I do things to death. Those Darlins, were on at 11 at Billboard Live, and since I’d been touting them to people we all met there and TD’s put on a show that insistently refused to catch fire. It was just one of those things: maybe being on a big stage inhibited their interaction. We all scattere before their set’s end, and I went with Sid to Antone’s to see Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, from Watsfield, Vermont, a great belter with a great band.

However, if I could rearrange that night I would have gone at 10 to Prague  to see the Jim Jones Revue, from England, whom I later learned are wild rockers a la Little RIchard, followed by Kid Congo Powers’ Pink Monkey Birds. Also, at that same time I’d’ve liked to’ve seen the Court Yard Hounds (the Dixie Chicks minus one) at Antone’s or Country Joe McDonald at the Hilton Garden Inn at 1. 

And also I’d like to’ve checked my video camera before recording over an entire hour of last January 8th’s Elvis show. (Sorry, Michelle Shocked!)

The big show that night was at La Zona Rosa with Ray Davies and Roky Erickson. A hole was left in the sked for Joan Jett, who didn’t show so Davies did two hours. Also there, Nicole Atkins, John Hiatt, and The 88’s. But not me.

March 19 Friday 

Discovered, finally, the $7 city-run Convention Center parking lot (the fee includes three ins & outs!) on San Jacincto and hied over to the annual BMI breakfast on the back lawn of the Four Seasons Hotel. It is an invitation-only gathering unless you don’t have one, so I joined Billy Altman out near the swimming pool taking refuge from the overcrowded tables. (Hundreds of freeloaders. Good fixins.)

Paul Body in command

From there went to the Convention Center and went to the Press Room, used a computer, got another massage, and ventured out to a few panels and a bunch of backslapping. I finally ran into Paul Body, and we sat and compared notes about the fest. Then I ran into Ed Ward, whom I’d first met in San Francisco - make that Sausalito - in 1972 when I lived in Santa Cruz, and we sat for a while watching the passing parade, then went to the Elvis panel helmed (Levon Helm played a non-announced set at Cedar Street Courtyard Wensday, but I missed it) by Billy Altman. 

Wanda, Billy, James

This convocation featured a rekkid company kid (from RCA/Sony? RCA/Facebook? RCA/General Motors?) and Raul Malo, Wanda Jackson, James Burton, and a guy from Graceland. I am apt to ask challenging questions to the non-veteran members of such a panel, but felt no need to grandstand, and besides, the question period was halved as time ran out. Malo was introduced in an ethnic sense of which he might be tiring, the RCA kid had pretty much nothing to say (“Now we’re going to treat his catalog with the respect it deserves,” probably correcting with the 75th anniversary box the sloppy, uneven disrespectful 50th Anniversary “He was just some dumb hillbilly” set), Wanda did her tried and true presentation of the ring Elvis gave her when they toured the South in 1955, James Burton was forthcoming but unfocussed, not understanding the thrust of one questioner (asked if he “followed Elvis’s ass” to know what song he was doing like D.J. Fontana said, because he couldn’t hear El’s voice over the screams, he said “No, we got along real well”) and contributed a foggy anecdote that he was strumming “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” during a rehearsal break one day and Elvis said “What is that song?” I hardly think Elvis was unaware of Hank Williams’s most famous, most done-by-everyone song. The EP Enterprises guy said he vigorously pursued licensing the Elvis image and that the Graceland tour was a heck of a good thing.

Ed Ward holds court at the Convention Center with Austin’s Vic Gerard

After that, me and Ed decided to get dinner. We went north to his hotel, then way south to Ben White and Lamar to Tequila Azul. Passing the Air Force base off north MoPac, Ward said “Phil Ochs birthplace.” Ochs’s father was stationed there during WWII. 

Tequila Azul is quite a find. It’s got yer gourmet presentation and the eatin’s as good. Loved it. From there Ed drove back to the cheap garage on San Jacincto (he was the one who tipped me to it) and we walked west to the Austin Music Hall, with a quick sidetrip to La Zona Rosa where he wanted to check out a band someone recommended. 

But the walk made me wary: wind was blowing and the next day it was set to rain, and I was plenty afraid of getting caught a half-mile from my car in a frigid downpour with a new cold symptom emerging each morning, making me scared I’d be a cold-ridden mess unable to fly home Monday. As winds whipped through the tent outside I near-panicked when I felt an imaginary raindrop so I skedaddled over to the Music Hall through the new high-rise maze between it and La Zona Rosa and got in for the last song by Raphael Sadiiq, the wondrous reggae-ish Sam & Dave type performer from L.A.. 

Griffin-Altman confab

Ran into Sid Griffin there, and Jason Gross, and Billy Altman again. Smokey Robinson came onstage to the drumbeats of “Going To a Go Go” and my knees buckled with joy: perhaps for this crowd he’d do a 60s Miracles show. Though it turned out not to be that, what I saw was wonderful, but when the singalong of “My Girl” ran to 10 minutes I’d have enough AND was chary about rain so I walked back briskly to the garage and debarked, destination unknown.

Smokey Robinson 

I checked my club guide. Buddy Miller, whom I’d seen twice (Antone’s in Austin, Hardly Strictly in SF), was playing at the narrow Cedar Street Courtyard, between two bldgs, and I thought, Heck, I’ll see him again. Parking again for $10 was annoying but not decisive. Truly detrimental was taking a space in a lot on 3rd & Congress, walking over to the pay-machine and finding it was $15. This was not going to make or break me - I'd pay $15 to see a concert - but it irritated me so I unparked with a plan to repark at a familiar $10 lot, but turned up Congress north to take a flyer that someone might pull out at midnight and bingo!, a white pickup truck backed out and I made a u-turn to grab, gratefully, this heavenly handout.

Walked over to the Cedar Street Venue (on 4th, there is no Cedar Street) past partying youths (this, the former warehouse district, is a college-student destination) and headed down the stairs to find not much of a crowd and Chris Morris. I wanted to film it but couldn’t get close enough nor to the balcony that perched tantalizingly overhead (“band and friends only”) but I did find a chair and was able to stand fairly steadily with my hand against a brick wall providing the support my arm so often needs holding a video camera more than a couple of minutes.

Buddy Miller 

“The Opening of the Parking Space” turned out to be a miracle, because Buddy Miller was marvelous. He is the best singer in the world, with the same evident soul as Hank Williams with different timbre, a one-of-a-kind magician of vocal and guitar mastery: I draw a line from Hank to Gary Stewart to Buddy. When he launched into “That’s How Strong My Love Is” (introduced as an Overton Wright song, news to me) I got chills that didn’t come from the night air. He is “it.” Patti Griffin, who’s touring with him, joined for the last few songs.

I had time to get to Buffalo Billiards to see Shelby Lynne but my feets were about to fail me, so I drove down Congress and stuck my head in the Continental Club in time to see some great Band-influenced early 70s-style country type music from the bearded Dead String Brothers from the down-home rustic cow town they call Detroit. Really enjoyed them, capping another fabulous night in Music Heaven, USA.

March 20 Saturday

Woke up, got outa bed, went to run out to my car and was hit with a blast of icy wind from Alaska. Coldest day so far, but at least the rain (and big thunder) had exhausted itself overnight. Went to the Mean Eyed Fly to catch some band that Billy Altman said was great, but that band was delayed an hour so we all (with Andy McCardell) debarked for Flipnotics, a small coffee shop on a hill to see the Coal Porters again. “It’s mighty early” said Tall Sad Sid as he and the gang soldiered through a lively and joyful set with vigor and approximation. Everyone was thrilled, the place filled as the set went on. 

Coal Porters at Flipnotics

Then I took those boys back to Mean Eyed Fly and subsequently missed all sort of great music (it was the Mojo magazine party, where I ran into Celia Hirschman, who’d last poked me at SXSW -- “Hey, Art” -- in, oh, 1993) but I had to pick up Kent, who’d not eaten in 24 hours, and take him to Serra’s where we had a swell and filling (it was with me for days) lunch. 

From there I flew solo out to Oltorf and 1st to Cornell Hurd’s annual non-SXSW hoedown. He, the king of Austin country-swing and mockery, moved his annual to-do to this locale after years of outdoor gaiety at the Texicali Grill, which closed in 2008. This time it was too damned cold to be in the parking lot so was held in a small adjunct to the bar, which didn’t allow too much room for latecomers. Cornell is big and great, like and unlike Ray Benson, and the most astute and funny quipper I have ever seen. Watched him for a while, jockeying for a view, then squatted to take video of the great Bill Kirchen who donates his services to this fais-do-do yearly. 

Bill Kirchen, Sarah  Brown

“Put something in the tip jar” he said. “Appreciate what you’ve got. You think there’s a Cornell Hurd in every town in America? Well there’s not. This is a wonderful thing and we’re all lucky to be here.” He had come from playing at a peace rally down by Town Lake, where he nearly froze his fingers off. “I have perfected two-finger playing” he said. 

Uglybeats not ugly at all 

I left and went up to Antone’s Records on Guadalupe where the Freddy Steady daylong hootenanny was going on, and awaiting the Uglybeats’ appearance wandered into the adjacent cafe and saw one of my favorite Austin bands, Ricky Broussard’s Two Hoots and a Holler. (It was a mighty Dylan day for me as both Ricky and, earlier, Bill Kirchen did “The Times Are Changing.” And there would be more!) Returning to Antone’s I encountered Shawn Young, ex- of High Noon, and Bobby Trimble, longtime Big Sandy drummer now living in Austin. Bobby was the Uglybeats drummer, and they delivered a socko set of surf/psycho with a nice Farfisa organ touch. Then I rewandered next door and, again, watched the Coal Porters play to a dense, appreciative crowd. 

Art gets in the picture with Bobby Trimble and Shawn Young

Thence I joined them, over to South Congress to seek Mexican food, giving the band’s fiddler relief from the van in my car. We had no predetermined reconnoitering point and after veering down 1st instead of Congress and THEN going west instead of east, I knew we would arrive after the rest of them but the problem of reconnecting was solved when an unlikely parking space opened on the normally crowded street and as I nosed in encountered the rest of the band hustling determinedly to the nearest bar - Kismet! I watched the two English, one Scot and a Canadian drink for a spell (not Sid, he’s got stomach ulcer that could break through and kill him) then we all decamped to Guaro’s where a six-seat table finally opened after an hour’s wait. Had a nice time there, joined by LA’s auctioneer-talking Dan Perloff, and then drove three CP’s to 7th & Congress, and then I went to the Presbyterian Church to see - Why not! - Ian McLagan again.

Matt Moris, a really wonderful religious singer, just a guy with a guitar, was holding forth and I sat fascinated though not converted for 15 minutes.(Also fascinating was the sign “No bathrooms. There are porta-potties at 8th & Brazos.” You call this sanctuary?) Ian complained lightheartedly about being forbidden to drink or swear, but rocked forth with a wonderful show. (On hand were members of the Jim Jones group I’d missed.) I’d read about the superb acoustics of this church, but they were talking about bands other than Ian’s, as the sound reverberation sounded like Stan Freberg’s echo at the end of his “Heartbreak Hotel.” 

Ian McLagan and admirers

I saw Paul Body in the pews, likewise not praying, and asked who he was seeing. “Bernard Fowler” he said, of the L.A.-based backup, and lead, singer. Fowler had a crack L.A. band, with Waddy Wachtel and others contributing licks and poses, but it wasn’t my cup of tea and I stayed long enough to sneak to the stage back and say hello to their sound man Charlie Wood, who used to do my Elvis shows at the House of Blues.

Bernard Fowler 

Walked back into the cold night and jumped in my Versa and headed down to the Continental Club (I am always tempted to say the Palomino, though the CC is more hep) to see the end of the one non-hit wonders show. Came in when Kenny & The Casuals began playing and found Sid Griffin, very tired, holding a seat with determination to see Mouse & The Traps, the night’s headliner. 

Kenny & the Casuals 

In the middle of what seemed like an hour of Kenny/Co, I counseled the bedraggled Griffin to give it up. “You look a couple days past death. Why stay? Mouse might be good and he might not. What are the odds? How many times have you seen some act like that and been disappointed? Go home. You have a long drive ahead.” Stubborn like Barbara Fritchie he held his ground, unmoved by the wisdom of his elder, teetering in and out of consciousness but married to his cause. (Actually he is married to Dr. Rhiannon Owen. They just had a baby, Noah.) 

We waited some more. Time crawled. Finally at 1:45 out comes these older guys, one smaller with a mustache, dressed sharp and bursting with energy. When they took off with “Highway 61 Revisited” Sid and me and fifty other people fell to the floor in ecstasy. Two more songs ensued to our delight, and suddenly he launched into “A Public Execution” with precise execution. Man we were rocking! 

Mouse & The Traps 

But then it was over. Four little songs, but worth the wait. 

On the way out I told Sid what many people have told me, “Never take my advice, ignore anything I say.” 

At the same time I was cavorting with the CPs and re-seeing Ian and then Mouse, a Day of the Locust scene was transpiring at Antone’s nightclub, downtown, where the Big Star/Dwight Twilley show, now the Alex Chilton Tribute/DT Show, was 100% packed, with people trying to sneak in any door crack. Demand had so swelled that only badge-holders - writers, contributors or people who paid $700 for the festival - were let in, leaving wristbanders, cashpayers, and a whole lot of badge-holders literally out in the cold. That bash and tribute featured a lineup of guest stars including Mike Mills, John Doe, Chuck Prophet, M. Ward and Chris Stamey in a downbeat celebration of Chilton, who’d died of a heart attack three days earlier. 

I’m glad I gave up my space there to someone more attuned to that fella and that music. Curiosity always looms in situations like this but it was no time for me to be a looky-loo. 

Sunday March 21

The festival’s over. Time for recovery. Filmmakers were gone. My cold was in its drip state and we quickly deconsidered going to the SXSW baseball barbecue, went instead to Trudy’s off the 35 where I, not a native, asked the third server if I looked ill since they all said “How are you doing?” Had some barbecue, returned to Kent’s to assess, yet again, his prodigious assortment of video, DVDs and CDs.

That night we planned to meet Paul Body at Opal Divine’s at 8 to see Susan Cowsill and then Bill Kirchen, but I was a little apprehensive because of the cold weather. (Kent had given me an antihisamine and it did the trick drying me out, but also knocked me out so I moved like I was underwater for 4 hours.) 

We got to Opal’s at 8 and there was no show. “Go to the Opal’s on Congress” they told us. Did so, but wind was even stronger in the half-protected stage on the high hill outside the restaurant so I sat inside nursing a hot chocolate. (Thanks Andy.)

Monday March 22

Had a final Pete’s Tacos breakfast at Maudie’s again, and drove to the Austin Airport. Found I could have had Maudie’s food at the airport - what a town! Also found you could use the bldg’s Wi-Fi, but only if you know how to access it. New to this process, I instead started writing this thing. And only 13 days later it was finished.


For a coppola other views:

Billy Altman

Jason Gross - the eating tour


Paul Body

2010 SXSW…………

After 2 days of traveling, finally arrived in Austin. Boy, do those years fly by. Austin hasn’t changed since last year. Just a little bit more traffic. The ride from El Paso to Austin was quite uneventful. We stopped in Van Horn, Texas to check out the Hotel El Capitan. It looks like a winner. 

March 12th 


Assume the geek position, it’s on. The interactive and movie portion of SXSW started today. First we had breakfast at Kerby Lane, then we came back to the Hampton Inn and walked about a half a block to Convention Center to pick up our badges. I had a little trouble getting mine. So watch out, there might be another Paul Body running around Austin. Walked down to the capitol for some exercise and then we stopped at Heritage Boots where Nancy picked up a nice pair of cowboy boots. It’s become an annual thing.

Then I bought myself a Meldrick at the hat store on 6th street. It was beginning to feel like SXSW because the streets are starting to crawl with badge wearers. Had dinner at Stubbs, which is something that we do at the beginning of SXSW because it is going to be too crazy later on in the week. Then it was time for our first movie which was called, “Rejoice and Shout”, which was a great documentary about gospel music. It had footage of all of heavyweights except for the great Dorothy Love Coates. We had a time in the Lord. It was great digging the bedrock of what became Soul music and Rock and Roll. Neither would exist with the church. It’s great being back in Austin.     

March 13th 


Saw really cool movie this morning, it was called Thunder Soul and it was about the Kashmere  high school funk band in the 70’s. The theater was packed. The band’s director was a man named “Prof” Johnson and he really worked those kids. The movie was an inspiration to any teacher out there who is feeling a bit down. “Prof” Johnson respected the kids and they respected him. We sat next to one his son’s and talked during the movie when things got a little emotional but that was cool because it must hard seeing part of your life flash by on the movie screen. It was a rocking good time. Then we saw “Ain’t In It For My Health”, documentary about Levon Helm, the great drummer. It was the exact opposite of the Kashmere story, it was about how everything can go wrong with music and Levon’s stubbornness to shine on his legacy. The music was great and Levon sitting around the table talking was even cooler. Later we tried getting into “American Grindhouse” but it was sold out. So we walked around Austin for a bit, the weather was perfect. Had a pretty good meal at Zen on Congress. Quick and fast, brown rice and teriyaki chicken. 

March 14th


Started off walking over to East Austin to the Carver museum to see 4 docs. It was blazing hot during the walk. The movies were pretty good. We walked back and it was just humid. Later on the afternoon we saw a doc called “Taqwacore” and it was about Muslim rap, it was very enlightening with some realÂly shots of Pakistan. Pakistan looks pretty tough.  We finished off the night at the Paramount where the movie that we were watching, “Elektra Luxx”, which stopped in the middle. The director, Sebastian Guiterrez handled it pretty good, with a lot of taste and class. Another great time was had. Well Evita’s one of our favorite restaurants in Austin has closed down. Well the Body funky tour has closed down another place.

March 15th


Walked around Austin today. Just checking everything  out. Had a great breakfast  earlier at Kerby lane. Hope that they aren’t sick of seeing us. Saw the Kashmere Alumni Band at La Zona Rosa at the Austin Chronicle Party and they blew the roof off. It looked like snakes on the dance floor when they were playing. Ran into my homegirl, “Cleft Chin” aka Rene Sekula. It was cool talking to her for a minute. It was raining as we were leaving La Zona Rosa. Ended the night seeing the last part of “Elektra Luxx”, it was worth the payoff and staying until Áalmost 2 in the morning. A shout out to Carla Gugino, she came out in the rain, every inch a movie star in high heels.

March 16th 


Well the movie part of SXSW has ended. The last movie that we saw was “American Grindhouse” a salute to the good and bad movies of yesterday, the bad horror movies, the blaxplotation movie from the seventies, the lightweight porno flicks and others. It was hilarious. Saw it at the Alamo Lamar, one of the coolest places to see flicks. In a few hours the fun begins. The cool clothes, tight tight skirts, the cowboy boots and tats are going to be on the prowl. Saw two cool panels today, one featured Gustavo Santoelalla and the other was about Punk and Islam. Gustavo did the music for “Brokeback Moutain” and “Amores Perros”, so he is real heavyweight plus he’s a homeboy because he is based in Los Angeles. Got my pictured taken with him and he remembered me from Video Journeys.  One thing that I have noticed is the women are wearing high heel shoes inÁ Austin, they almost have that Parisian swing. The only thing missing is the click clacking on the pavement. Gonna be rocking like a chair for the next few days.

March 17th


It’s on, started with the Guitartown Party with Randy Weeks opening up the festivities.

Randy was once in Boss Angeles and I used to see him almost every other week at the Cinema bar, now he is based in Austin. He sounds real good, even has a female singer with him giving his music a certain sweetness. James McMurtry was next, just him and two guitars and it was pretty damn awesome. He has a great way with words, wonder why. Next was Jon Dee Graham, who funny and loud. We bought his CD as we were leaving. Tonight we started the night off Mi Casa Cantina. We saw a group called La Santa Cecilia, they are a cumbia rock band from Los Angeles and they were pretty good, the lead singer had on a Mexican skirt with tiny pictures of icons like, Frida, of course. Pedro Infante, George Harrison and others. After they finished we walked over to Stubbs to catch the last 2 songs of the Walkman but we did see full sets with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings who were funky, funky, funky and Broken Bells, who were all right, they kept the stage super dark so we couldn’t see them that well, they made you want to get in the corner and contemplate things.. Sharon did look good in sparkly St. Patty’s Day dress. I think she was bit too funky for the Stubbs crowd. 6th street was a sea of minis, Austin cleavage, green beads, the aroma of hot dogs and beer. All that is fine but it is the music that makes you want to groove. Tomorrow some green eyed soul from Smokey Robinson, the keynote speaker.

March 18th


Smokey Robinson the King of Green Eyed  Soul was as smooth as expected. Silky smooth. It is cool to see SXSW branch out with their keynote speakers, last year it was Quincy Jones and this year it’s Smokey. Everything he talked rang true. Can’t wait to see him perform tomorrow. Next up was a panel oËn “Bitches Brew” because it is the 40th anniversary of the album that turned the Jazz world upside down. Miles’ nephew said that there is an American Master doc coming soon. I said that would be cool, just keep Stanley “Grouch” away from it. Miles’ nephew, Vincent Wilburn cracked up because he had a few encounters with Mr. “Grouch”. I won a pair of ear phones by answering a Miles Davis trivia question.The day is staring to rock. Tonight was homeboy’s night the Auditorium Shores at Lady Bird Lake. First off were Bajofondo, a tango band from the future. The music is tango with a tip of the hat to techno music. So I was grinning like a jackass eating prickly pears. Tons of energy up there on stage. You could just about walk on the bass line. Next was Ozomotli with Will Dog aka El Rey on bass and usual they got the crowd rocking. I was wondering how they were going to follow Bajofondo but they did pretty good, they had the crowd up and dancing through their whole show. Boss Angeles should Ëbe proud of them. We finished the night at the Elephant Room, which a little basement club right out of Paris after WW2  listening to Brazilian music, we got the last half of Vander Lee, who was doing more traditional Brazilian music. He was followed by Natalia Mallo and their music had a bit more edge. Just 3 players but they played real good. Ran into a cat from the Miles panel and he recognized me.. Austin is a small town.

March 19th


Alex Chilton, I hope wherever you are there is cold beer, loud music and neon hissing. For the rest of us, SXSW is still jumping. We went to a great panel about Soul Music. It was pretty fiery, people trying to figure exactly what Soul Music, Bob Davis had they answer when he said, somebody asked him about Jimi Hendrix and he said, it’s part of the thing, someone said, what about Rap music, Bob Davis said, it’s part of the thing, what about Miles, it’s part of the thing. Bob Davis hit the nail right on the head. Got my picture taken with Claudeÿtte Robinson, the former Mrs. Smokey, she’s still the most beautiful woman in the room. She’s still got like she had it in 1999 at the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Party. Ran into Fein Art at the Convention Center. Also Bill Bentley and Paul Cashmere. Tonight we went to the Austin Music Hall for a Soul Extravaganza. First up was Mayer Hawthorne and County, Mayer  came on in a skinny tie and a square cardigan sweater but he delivered. It was a great opening for Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears who tore the roof off the sucker. See Black Joe Lewis was like if Jimi Hendrix alive with a full horn section and a keyboard player. Black Joe has had the ghost of Howlin’ Wolf flowing through him, too. Damn he was good. I wondered how would my man Raphael follow Black Joe Lewis. Well Raphael Saadiq came on in cool red suit and his band was as hot a blazes. He was every inch the Soul Master. My buddy Erika Jerry isn’t with him anymore, so they didn’t do “Just One Kiss” but they ki¡lled all of the other songs they did. It was best that I had ever seen Raphael Saadiq. As long as he keeps Charles Jones on that Hammond B3, he will be all right. Smokey Robinson came next and what a show. Sure it was Vegas but those songs are part of our DNA. At Smokey’s panel the day before, he said he wanted his songs to last 300 years. They just might. The young girls standing next to me were going nuts. He almost brought the house with “Ooo Baby Baby”, it was lean, it was sexy and it was everything. By the time he got to “Tracks Of My Tears”, everybody was singing along, I couldn’t because I had tears in my eyes and a lump in throat. I am finally getting to see him do one of my FAVORITE songs. Dig it was even more magnificent than the record. It was slowed down to a simmering, it was burning like a volcano of course he ended with “Cruisin”, one of the all time great make out songs, a song to get you way past third base. The two cats next to m≠e had their minds blown, Victor the big kid from El Paso, said that Smokey was best entertainer that he had ever seen. Sharon Jones closed the show and did the Boston Pony all over the Austin Music Hall. Hard to believe that there is only one more night and then it’s over. 

Saw Jakob Dylan and Three Legs at the day stage thing at the Convention Center. His band featured the gorgeous Neko Case and her back up singer Kelly Hogan, who is equally gorgeous. The Zim’s kid was pretty good. It’s almost time for Scrap Iron Jr. to take us home.

March 20th


Almost done, it was freezing and raining today and after last night, I was pooped. That Soul Extravaganza wore me out. I did go to Stubb’s to stand in line in the rain to Jakob Dylan and Three Legs againand once again they did that very cool song, “Holy Rollers For Love”. It was Rachel Ray’s party and it was packed. I saw Andrew WK, who was once to new punk answer. It sounded like heavy metal to me. Three guitars playing the power riff. Jacob and Three Legs were better today but man, did Neko and Kelly look cold up there. Went to the Record Show, Flatstock and Guitar show later on. At the Record Show a guy who used to sell stuff at the Pasadena swap was selling stuff here. He was playing a CCR live video from 40 years ago and man, did that sound hot. It was great hearing and seeing some rock and roll, even if it was 40 years old. It was great digging THAT real rock drive because after all, it’s part of the thing. Ran into Alice the Japanese journalist who was at the Smokey Robinson a few days ago, she said that she was going to see Black Joe Lewis close out the awards show at the Austin Music Hall.

I told I was going to check out Bernard Fowler at the Presbyterian Church. At guitar, I finally realized the fascination with the guitar, what a beautiful instrument. Tonight was like that cig¢arette after a crazy night of riding the Midnight Handicap. It was about trying to gt that feeling back but Smokey, Raphael and the rest had used us all up. There was no getting it back. Ended the night seeing Ian Mclagan and the Bump and Bernard Fowler, two bands with a slight Rolling Stone pedigree. As I was walking to the church, I passed by a club that was playing some mad techno music. It reminded me of September in Paris but the line was long and the night was too cold.

March 21st 


SXSW is done. SXSW was completed today when I ran into Perloff and Paul Rutner on South Congress. Austin today is like the night after a hot, all wilted corsages and broken promises. Still in a Spencer Wiggins frame of mind. Wore my Amy Farris t shirt today because I wanted to be thinking her on the last day of SXSW, wanted to feel her vibe in her hometown, Nancy took a picture of me in front of the Continental Club.

--Paul Body