If you love music — past, present, and future — and if you want to feel the pulse of new music from around the world, you need to experience South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference in Austin, Texas. Showcasing nearly 2,000 musical acts from around the globe at over 80 stages, the four days of music in downtown Austin it is unlike any other music festival in the world. You try and prepare by reading blogs and listening to music, but when the first day gets going, all gets tossed out and you listen, follow the music, and try and hit as many venues as you can. You just don’t want to miss anything; but you go with the flow and it all works.
Below you’ll find brief descriptions of some of the highlights with an accompanying photo gallery:
- The music conference’s first night featured Michael Monroe, the frontman of a high-energy Finnish band who also started the ‘80s punk band, Hanoi Rocks.
- Motörhead, a British rock band formed in 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian Fraser Kilmister (known mostly by his stage name Lemmy), played a set during which Lemmy stated, “We are Motörhead. We play rock and roll.” Before Motorhead, Lemmy was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix in the late ‘60s, prepping his guitars for his performances. Motorhead has a huge following from just about every age group, and they played at the Austin Music Hall.
- Some of the most soulful, deep-rooted music was found in the smaller venues. Walking down 6th street, with music coming from every angle, I heard some great southern rock coming out of Memphis. The band was called Modoc.
- Spoon, Austin’s hometown indie rock band, played at a packed Stubbs, an Austin institution for music.
- Ray Davies, lead singer and songwriter for The Kinks, also made an apperance. The Kinks are one of the most prolific and long-lived British Invasion bands.
- After three days of beautiful warm weather, Saturday saw the temperature dropped 20 degrees. First venue for the last chilly night at SXSW was at a small local hangout/club called Opal Divine’s Freehouse where Moreland & Arbuckle — a Delta blues, folk, rock, and soul band from Wichita, Kansas — played. Guitarist Aaron Moreland, shown with the classic custom cigar box guitar, has played with Buddy Guy and Johnny Lang.
- There were so many other bands I did not mention, Francis from Sweden, Sambada - an Afro-Brazilin group from Santa Cruz, CA, The Coolness, folk singer Shannon McNally, folk singer Billy the Kid, Los Lonely Boys, and The 88 from LA.
- By Sunday I was ready for a break. Going to bed at 3:00 a.m. catches up with you. But I did not want the music to end. SXSW 2011, I cannot wait.