Farewell to the Madness
Remembering Doug, the Dicks, Devo, and more
By Margaret Moser, 4:41PM, Mon. Mar. 23, 2009
Between, tributes, panels, and posters, it seemed as if Doug Sahm was the most ubiquitous person at South by Southwest. He hasn’t been with us for 10 years, yet somehow I imagined I’d see his cowboy hat bobbing through the crowd the same way I always think I see Clifford Antone’s ballcap in the crowd at Antone’s.
Nostalgia seemed to be the unspoken theme amid the hot young acts, or at least what’s old is new. Metallica, Jane’s Addiction, and Devo are spring chickens, and while the Fireants were the youngest band to perform at the Music Awards, the Dicks, Roky Erickson, and the Doug Sahm tribute garnered the most ink. Surfing the net during SXSW is better than Twitter, especially when you find information such as the reference to “Jimmy Vaughn, Stevie’s little brother.”
My highlights were spontaneous and fun. Author and queen of all groupies Pamela Des Barres called me late afternoon at the Music Awards saying Exene Cervenka was in town and wanted to present an award and here’s her cellphone. I said hell yeah and promptly forgot about it. Three hours later, the staff radioed that Exene had arrived and where was her presenter info? Fortunately, Exene is a pro and joined David Yow onstage for the Dicks’ Hall of Fame award, then gave Best Punk Band to One-Eyed Doll.
Best Tradeshow Demonstration: Denise Peskin’s Medstar massage chairs. These ultra-deluxe models did everything except ask for eggs over easy. Well, almost everything. The foot massage was delightful.
Best Tradeshow Candy: The macadamia nut chocolate kisses at the Hawaii booth. Fantastic!
Most Unexpected Celebrity Sighting: The Energizer Bunny drummed his pink little way down Sixth Street.
Favorite Panel Quote: Danny Fields at the Sacred Cows panel, asking for a definition of sacred cows, then claiming “God is the Hindenburg of sacred cows.”
Still Hot Alert: Clem Burke: the rock & roll Dorian Gray? From Blondie to Magic Christian, he’s always been adorable and he’s still at it.
Total Nice Guy: Little Stephen really will stop and talk to you. He visited SXSW last decade, the year before The Sopranos broke, and was then the coolest guy imaginable. He hasn’t changed a bit and has excellent taste in music.
Celeb You Didn’t See: Debbie Gibson at the SXSW Underage Day Party Friday at Momo’s. She’s better known as Deborah now, and runs her Electric Youth music program out of California, but she’s bubbly and pretty as ever, and completely dedicated to the cause of young musicians.
NY rock & roll legend legend Danny Fields dropped in on Friday for less than 24 hours to join the rock critic panel Slaughtering Sacred Cows. Fields, whose résumé includes editor at 16 Magazine, Elektra Records with Iggy and the Doors, being Linda McCartney’s best friend, and being the Ramones' original manager – gushed over his conference experience in an email Sunday night with the most heartfelt words about SXSW I’ve read in a long time:
“Going to sleep with Metallica, some Irish band, and a marching band coming up at me like a big-bass heavy dream. It was truly one of the GREAT musical experiences of my life. SO much better than ‘going to see an act.’ I wish one could do the art world or the book world so powerfully and beautifully.”