Saturday was the last day of this year’s SXSW, and it was a good end to ten days of Interactive and Music for my part. I have attended seminars at both festivals with themes like transparency in the music business, data ethics, the right to be forgotten, Copyright in EU vs. the US, etc., and seen a lot of concerts every night. I also got to see and photograph President Obama and Michelle Obama. The last day of the festival I started at the Yard Dog with Churchwood and Jon Langford, and continued at the Continental Club with six other acts, among them Patricia Vonne, Jon Dee Graham, Tameca Jones and Linda Gail Lewis. (Picture above: Patricia Vonne)
South Congress seen towards North (from 2013)
South Congress towards South, with Austin Motel (from 2014)
A concert at San José’s parking lot (from 2013)
South Congress, or SoCo, is the new hip area in Austin after 6th Street has become more and more troublesome. Here are cool shops, good eating, Austin Motel, the Continental Club and many open air live music venues at the hotel San Jose and Güero’s garden. During the last Friday and Saturday at SXSW, there are even more, and one of these is the backyard at the art shop the Yard Dog. Here Bloodshot Records holds court every year.
Joe Doerr from Churchwood
My first time at the Yard Dog show must have been in 2003 or something. Since the Yard Dog sell Jon Langford’s art, it is only natural that he is the big star at the event. I had never heard Chrurchwood lead by charismatic singer Joe Doerr before, but they were great, and Joe Doerr is one of Austin’s best rhythm & blues singers.
Jon Langford has several bands, the Waco Brothers is the best known, while he had the Mekons earlier. He also has a band in his own name, a usually semi-organized chaos with Jon presiding over a happy bunch of his musician friends. They sound good, too!
William Harries Graham and the Painted Redstarts
William Harries Graham and Jon Dee Graham
After the afternoon music I had time to go down to my hotel for a little R&R before going back up to the Continental Club for the night’s concerts. The first act was William Harries Graham and the Painted Redstarts. If his last name sounds familiar, it is because he is the very talented son of Jon Dee Graham. His music is quite different from what his father does, more indie style. Jon Dee played with the band, sitting down at the side of the stage, and it is almost touching to see the musical communication between father and son. William Harries Graham is only 17 years old, but give him a few years, and hopefully he will get the recognition he deserves.
Jon Dee Graham played his set with his regular band, but with the Painted Redtstarts’ 17 year old bass player. I never heard anything that made me think he wasn’t the regular bassist in the band. I am impressed! Jon Dee’s music and lyrics are harsh, but with a poetic side that is enhanced by his raspy voice. He can go from soft to intense punk-like moods in the same song, and he is one of my must-see artists every time I am in Austin. You can read my post about him from 2012 here.
Linda Gail Lewis
I was in for a positive surprise when Linda Gail Lewis entered the stage. She is the younger sister of Jerry Lee Lewis, and she has the same spirit on the piano as her older brother, without the theatrics. Her band was equally good, and made for a good old honky tonk piano rock and roll happening.
Patricia Vonne’s gitarist, Robert La Roche and Clara Reed
Next out was Austin’s own Patricia Vonne with her band. I have written about Patricia on several other occasions, but it is always a treat to see her live. Her songs are good, and she alternates between English and Spanish in the lyrics. She plays the guitar as her main instrument, but won the Austin Music Award this year in the category Miscellaneous Instrument for her castanets, besides winning the Award for Best Female Vocalist. If you haven’t heard Patricia Vonne’s music, check it out. Her latest album, Viva Bandolero came out last year, and was voted as #4 at the AMA, while the theme song was voted #2 in the Song of the Year category.
Tameca Jones has been around the Austin music scene for over ten years, and she has made an impression as a soulful and strong singer who also writes good songs. She also has an expressive stage act with lots of feeling in her singing. So far she has not got the commercial recognition she deserves, but she might be on her way up. Gary Clark Jr. featured her voice on Wings on his latest album, Tameca Jones opened the Austin City Limits Festival last year.
Tomar and the FCs
The last act at the Continental Club, and my last SXSW concert this year, was Tomar and the FCs. Tomar Williams comes from a musical family who moved moved to Austin in the 80s, which gave Tomar the chance to start the band 6AM with his brothers. Still a teenager, he got the experience he needed as a band member and front man through this band, which was important for him when he moved on. Later he started producing, and signed with Universal Music Publishing as a producer in 2005. In 2015 he started working with the FCs, and they released their debut album in September that year. The band focuses on soul and rhythm & blues, and On stage Tomar and the FCs is the typical show man with good moves and a strong voice.
Tomar and the FCs was my last of about 40 concert from the 30th SXSW, and my 18th festival. I have enjoyed myself immensely, and have seen some new acts that I have liked, I have avoided the acts I know I won’t like, and I have had the chance to revisit artists I have seen before and that I love to see again. This year I never went to the outdoor stage by the Lady Bird Lake. I had plans to go there Friday, but the weather forecast told me to stay indoors that day, which was a smart move when the thunder started and all the concert venues stopped the music for the first hour of the night.
The Austin skyline seen from the Congress bridge, or the Bat bridge, as it is called
The seminars this year have been good, both at the Interactive and at the Music Festival. Personally I find more interesting seminars at the music than at the Interactive festivals, but then I am mostly interested in most things around copyright, the transitional period of the music industry, how and where the money goes, publishing, sync, streaming services, the changing role of being a musician, live music, the difference between European and American copyright legislation, etc. If I were interested in AI, gadgets, programming, gaming and all those other things that is included in the Interactive festival, it would have been a different matter.
A sculpture at the Austin Motel
So, I’ll be back next year for the 31st SXSW, and I am already looking forward to it.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.