SXSW is itself, of course, on some level a celebration of extremism—hours upon hours of shows and schmoozes upon shows and schmoozes all concentrated in a few dozen blocks with a few thousand bands and a few thousand people more.


Our Man (Not) in Austin Jeff Leven Files the First of His Daily Recaps of the Annual Rite of Spring

So once again it’s time for my annual SXSW show list, scoured from scads of emails, hours online and coin tosses between competing showcases. But this year there’s a twist. For the first time in ages, I’m actually not attending SXSW. My daughter, Laura Whiteley Leven, was born March 3, and while those who know me well know that SXSW is far and away my favorite week of the year, my most closely observed religious holiday and a passion in and of itself, leaving a two-week old, a mom recovering from surgery and a toddler older brother readjusting to a drastic new reality just wasn’t something I could do.
Stated that way, it’s an obvious enough decision not to bear further discussion, but it does gesture at the peculiar challenges the music business places on family. While pretty much any parent with significant work demands has to do a degree of juggling and while the higher ranks of the music business have no shortage of committed family people, the music business in particular has a Peter Pan lane that’s maybe not so common in the culture at large. There’s a pace and a mix of travel and nights at clubs and weekend events that certain jobs often command, or which the conflated business-and-social-scene on some level urges, particularly for those of us in a slightly younger generation, where gradual entrenchment and institutional traction haven’t mooted some of the basic legwork of nightly networking.

If success is somewhat a function of the number of quality at-bats you can get, the gravitational pull is towards more and more time in the game. I'm always amazed, honestly, at the number of people I see routinely out on weekends, late on weeknights, or with emails that bounce-back because they are traveling. Clearly behind many music business professionals are legions of significant others, family and friends with an extreme amount of patience and tolerance for a career that sometimes careens towards 24-7.

I know in my own case I'm lucky to have the support and acceptance of my own family, particularly my wife, and while I try to make up for it with early morning toddler time and an attempt to hold back the tide on weekends, I acknowledge with some real guilt that the balance isn't always what it should be. SXSW is itself, of course, on some level a celebration of this extremism—hours upon hours of shows and schmoozes upon shows and schmoozes all concentrated in a few dozen blocks with a few thousand bands and a few thousand people more. In that light, maybe this year's abstention is a way to communicate a little overdue gratitude to my family for their tolerance on so many other nights here in town and a way to embrace a better balance by virtue of sitting one out for a change. Certainly not that heroic in context, but some basic thing to feel good about :)

All that being said, next year with older kids (and a likely scheduled visit to their grandparents) I have every intention of going back to Austin with proverbial sevenfold vengeance :) AND in the interim, I still wanted to feed everyone my usual rundown of client shows and other recommendations! So here it goes:


Blair: http://www.myspace.com/musicblair
In a nutshell: While her first effort, the versatile Pluto EP had me at hello, with her new album Die Young, Blair has utterly outdone herself. Transplanting from New Orleans to NY, Blair's adventurous and increasingly intimate lyrics mirror her journey with the collected wisdom of a few thousand miles and a hundred gigs and it's edgy and bracingly true all in the same breath.


Wednesday, March 17th
8pm - Jaime's Spanish Village *Autumn Tone showcase* w/Happy Hollows 

Thursday, March 18th
12pm - Habana Calle 6 *Muzzle of Bees party* w/Peter Wolf Crier, more
3pm - Lambert's *Aquarium Drunkard day party* w/Warpaint, Henry Clay People, Roadside Graves, more

Friday, March 19th

1pm - Doc's Motorworks - *Sum Fun party* w/Black Hollies, more
Saturday, March 20th
12pm - Red Eye Fly *WXPN day party* 12pm w/Lissie, Local Natives, Rogue Wave, more

Crash Kings
: http://www.myspace.com/crashkings
In a nutshell: Galvanizing pop/rock trio with dizzying instrumental skill, great songs and charm to spare. Signed by Linda Perry/Sylvia Rhone to Custard/Motown. Debut album and first single "Mountain Man" really connecting at radio, including KROQ add! Best of all, the live show is utterly stunning - one of the best you'll ever see.
And check these out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEQ2ia1bP0g and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iM6g8BqOCD0

Thursday, March 18th
8pm - The Rusty Spurs/Black And Tan

Friday, March 19th
2:15pm - Roxwel.com at Dog & Duck Pub
5:30PM - Molotov Lounge

Saturday, March 20th
4:30pm - Belmont

Gaby Moreno: http://www.myspace.com/gabymoreno
In a nutshell: Fresh off triumphant tours with Ani DiFranco and Tracey Chapman and a collaboration with Van Dyke Parks, Gaby's arresting voice, warm and joyful presence and effortless guitar work pull her far apart from the burgeoning ranks of singer-songwriters. Wrote the theme song for "Parks and Recreation" and her new album Still the Unknown has more than a few personal theme-songs waiting for discovery.
Wednesday, March 17th
6pm - One-2-One Bar (Spin It Indie)
Plus Beatles Ukulele Performance TBA (email me)
The Henry Clay People: http://www.myspace.com/thehenryclaypeople
In a nutshell: The kind of music music lovers love to love, HCP combine elements of classic rock (the Boss, the Stones) and classic indie rock (Replacements, Pavement, Built to Spill) into an irresistible cocktail. With the right amount of alcohol in you (or the band) it's the most fun live show you'll see for months. New album coming out on TBD/ATO this summer. Look for May California dates with the Drive-By-Truckers!!!!

Wednesday, March 17th
12:50pm Quinnstorm & C3 Presents @ Lamberts
2:20pm Little Radio @ Red Eyed Fly
10:30pm Stubbs (indoor)
11:45pm Stubbs (indoor)
Thursday, March 18th
2:00pm Roky Erickson’s Psychedelic Ice Cream Social @ Threadgills
3:45pm Aquarium Drunkard @ Lamberts
8:30pm Billions Showcase @ Club de Ville
Friday, March 19th
3:30pm Buddyhead @ Annie’s West
6:00pm - Pure Volume @ 504 Trinity Street

Saturday, March 20th

2:30pm Pianos NYC @ Kung Fu Saloon
6:00pm Music by the Slice @ Home Slice
Also highly recommended:
Roadside Graves (http://www.myspace.com/theroadsidegraves). Amazing alt country/jam/heartland rock.
Miniature Tigers (http://www.myspace.com/miniaturetigers). Elegant, eclectic indie rock with feeling.
Kopecky Family Band (http://www.myspace.com/kopeckyfamilyband). Haunting symphonic raw emotion.
Leslie & the Badgers (http://www.myspace.com/leslieandthebadgers). Some of the best female roots vocals since Neko Case.
THE SCRUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wednesday, March 17th
7am - Greencards, Alpha Rev - Four Seasons KGSR taping
11am - Paste Magazine Party at Galaxy Room (w/ Roky Erickson & Okkervil River, Carolina Chocolate Droops, Roman Candle, etc.)
12pm - Freedy Johnston - Guitartown & Conqueroo Party - Joe's Bar & Grill
12:30pm - Anni Rossi - Mohawk and Club De Ville
12:50pm - Henry Clay People at Lambert's
1:20pm - Red Cortez (Little Radio) - Red-Eye Fly
2:20pm - Henry Clay People (Little Radio) - Red-Eye Fly
3pm - Chasing Kings - Fader Fort
4pm - Surfer Blood - Waterloo In-Store
5pm - Or, The Whale - Zone Perfect - Live Create Lounge - 503 Neches
6pm - Gaby Moreno - One 2 One
7:20pm - Lions of Tsavo - Mohawk
8pm - Blair - Jaime's
9pm - Year Long Disaster - Emo's Main Room
9:25pm - Freddie Gibbs - Aces Lounge
10pm - Mariachi El Bronx - Emo's Main Room
10:45pm - Kopecky Family Band - ASCAP Showcase - Dirty Dog
11pm - Gin Wigmore - Galaxy
11:45pm - Henry Clay People - Stubbs (indoors)
Midnight: Andrew W.K. - Time Out N.Y. Party - Buffalo Billiards
12:15am - Voivod (!) - Red 7
1am - Everest - Maggie May's
Thursday, March 18th
11:30am - Michael Fracasso - Opal Devine's
12pm - Blair - Habane Calle 6
1pm - Roadside Graves - Uncorked Tasting Room
1:35pm - Leslie and the Badgers - Cheers
2pm - Henry Clay People - Threadgill's - Roky Erickson's Ice Cream Social
2:30pm - Terrible Things - Purevolume Party
3pm - Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore - Waterloo In-Store
3:45pm - Henry Clay People - Lamberts
4pm - Roadside Graves - Habana Calle 6
4:30pm - Local Natives - Fader Fort
5pm - Paste Magazine Party (w. Lou Barlow, Gordon Gano, Low Anthem, etc.)
5:10pm - Fair To Midland - Emo's
6pm - The Constellations - EW/Steve Madden Party - Malaia
6:15pm - Will Sexton - Ruby Stardust
6:50pm - Joe Purdy - Stompin Grounds
7pm - Joshua James - The Parish
6-8pm - Davis Shapiro Party
8pm - Crash Kings - Rusty Spurs
9pm - The Whigs - Beauty Bar
10pm - Batusis (Cheetah Chrome from Dead Boys and Sylvain Sylvain from NY Dolls)
11pm - Avi Buffalo - Galaxy
11pm - Alpha Rev, The Constellations - 101X showcase - Dirty Dog Bar
11:30pm - Band of Horses - Stubb's
12:30am - Sage Francis - The Independent
1:10am - Miniature Tigers - Friends
Friday, March 19th
11:50am - The Narrative at Dine Alone Party - Iron Gate
12:30 - Moondoggies at Dine Alone Party - Iron Gate
1pm - Blair - Doc's Motorworks
1:40pm - Madina Lake - Bayou Lounge
2pm - Anni Rossi - French Legation Museum
2pm - Miss Derringer - Instore performance - Cheapos
2:15pm - Crash Kings - Dog & Duck
3pm - Tommy Keene - 301 Lavaca
3:30pm - Henry Clay People - Annie's West
4:20pm - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Filter
5pm - Twin Atlantic - Dirty Dog
5pm - Family Of the Year - Maggie Mae's
5pm - The Constellations - Digiwaxx showcase - The Ranch
5:30pm - Crash Kings - Molotov Lounge
6pm - Henry Clay People - 504 Trinity
7pm - Mayer Hawthorne & The County - Austin Music Hall
8pm - Band of Skulls - Beauty Bar
9pm - Harper Simon - Live Create Lounge
10:15pm - Violent Soho - Red 7 Patio
10:30pm - Jakob Dylan (w Neko Case and Kelley Hogan)
10:30pm - Honey Honey - Tap Room at Six
11pm - Quasi - Antone's
11:15pm - Audra Mae - ASCAP Showcase - The Driskill
11:30pm - Rusko - Stubb's
12am - Pierced Arrows - Encore Patio
12:30am - The xx - Central Presbyterian Church
1am - Jail Guitar Doors (Kramer, Bragg, Morello, Shiflett) - Ghost Room
Saturday, March 20th
12pm - Blair - Red Eye Fly
1pm - Charlie Parr - Red House Pizzeria
1:40pm - Drink Up Buttercup - 301 Lavaca
2:20pm - Steel Train - Bayou Lounge
2:30pm - Henry Clay People - Kung Fu Saloon
3pm - Dam Funk - Fader Fort
3:45pm - Plants and Animals - Galaxy
4:30pm - Crash Kings - Belmont
4:55pm - Roky Erickson w/ Okkervil River - Galaxy
5pm - Alpha Rev
6pm - Everloving Party (Garotas Suecas, Acid Mothers Temple)
6:45pm - Real Estate - Fader Fort
7:30pm - Malachai - Antone's
8pm - Texas Sheiks (w/ Jim Kweskin, Cindy Cashdollar, etc.) - Austin Music Hall
9pm - Watson Twins - Central Presbyterian Church
10pm - Audra Mae - The Arab Cowboy
10:15pm - Titus Andronicus - Red 7 Patio
10:30pm - Dwight Twilley - Antone's
11pm - Hypnogaja - BD Riley's
12am - Major Lazer - Cedar Street Courtyard
12:30am - Big Star - Antone's
1am - Death (Detroit punk) - Mohawk

Two heads are better than one. (6/18a)
Bugs is dancing in the street. (6/18a)
Pull up the Brinks truck. (6/18a)
Looks like we have a horse race. (6/17a)
Myriad lawyers, no waiting. (6/18a)
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?

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