Page Two: Our area of the world here
The number of votes in the Music Poll is up this year, as well. March will bring a spectacular salute to the local scene, with the Austin Music Awards show at Palmer Auditorium on Wednesday, March 13, kicking off the tenth annual SXSW Music and Media Conference. The 10th annual Music Awards lineup already features Sixteen Deluxe; the Asylum Street Spankers; Dale Watson; Kris McKay with Kelly Willis, Abra Moore, and Sara Hickman; and more to be announced. Austin's working musicians and working music-industry talent will be honored by the Chronicle's readers in over 50 categories for their contributions to the local scene, with literally dozens of musicians being given awards. Given the national and international audience, the Awards show has become a premier showcase for an astonishing range of Austin talent, Garnering good press in Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly. This is the evening when Austin comes together to celebrate and honor their own.
The triumph of South by Southwest Music and Media Conference, of course, is the coming together of the city. Of those inside and outside the music industry, of waitresses and cab drivers, of door people and bartenders, of those working retail and those working music, of the musicians and the fans, of business and of fun. The SXSW Music Festival captures this Austin at its most vibrant and gets to the soul of the music. Expect it to be outstanding. (More information on p. 43.)
The Chronicle finds it both an honor and much fun to host the Music Awards, with help from our co-sponsors 107.1 KGSR, 101X, and South by Southwest. It is the participation of the community that lends the awards their honor and prestige. It is the voice of the people, speaking out.
Last Tuesday night, hund-reds of musicians gathered at Threadgill's, as they have long done at this musical (and culinary) landmark. It was the now-traditional event, the Seventh annual Musicians Appreciation Dinner at Threadgill's. The restaurant was packed, the food delicious and copious, with musicians talking and eating, and everyone having a great time. Co-sponsored with The Austin Chronicle by Threadgill's, KLBJ-FM, and the Austin Music Network, this dinner is one of the most outrageously fun events we oversee -- no money changing hands, no selling tickets, no tending an audience, just ravenous musicians being treated like royalty by Eddie Wilson and his patient, helpful staff.
When I came in this morn-ing, leaning against a file cabinet and a chair were two metal sheets, and on them dozens of short rectangular magnetic strips. The strips were in neat rows under headings like Dobie, Paramount, Village, and Union. On the strips were pasted white stickers and on the stickers were the names of various American independent films. The scheduling for the third annual South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival had begun, Chronicle publisher and SXSW director Nick Barbaro and SXSW Film executive producer Nancy Schafer had worked the night away arranging the 50 or so films and about 130 separate screenings at five different theatres.
(I'll take what I like to think of as a Don McLeese moment here and point out the obvious conflict-of-interest. Barbaro and I are directors of SXSW, Inc., along with Roland Swenson, who is the Managing Director of the operation. Therefore, anything I say here benefits us, okay?)
1996's SXSW Film Conference and Festival kicks off on Friday, March 8. The focal point of SXSW Film '96 is independent film and video making, how to make these endeavors economically viable and get an audience for your work. Some of the smartest talents working in independent film production, distribution, and exhibition will be featured, ranging from producers like Christine Vachon (Safe, Poison, Swoon, Postcards from America,andI Shot Andy Warhol,), Michael Chambers (Kids), Dolly Hall (The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love, johns), directors Maria Maggenti (Incredibly True Adventure...), Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise), and Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berlinger (Brother's Keeper, Paradise Lost: Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills), to many of the major independent film industry players including John Pierson (legendary producer's rep associated with She's Gotta Have It, Slacker, Roger & Me, The Thin Blue Line, and Hoop Dreams, author of the just published Spike Mike Slackers & Dykes), Michael Barker (former student head of the Texas Union film committee who pioneered innovative independent distribution, now running Sony Picture Classics division with his longtime partner Tom Bernard), John Sloss (lawyer and producer for John Sayles, Richard Linklater, and Whit Stillman), Eamonn Bowles (acquisitions department of Miramax), Dominic Griffin from Film Threat (and formerly of MTV's The Real World), and Ruby Lerner (executive director of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers -- AIVF). This is just a partial list of panelists. Also at the conference we will present for the first time a digital editing room, where company representatives will show registrants different editing systems in hands-on sessions. The SXSW Film '96 will offer two days of panels, workshops, demo reel sessions, three late-afternoon parties, and nine nights of films with some very special events being planned. There will be days and nights of learning, of talk, and of films -- many, many films.
Over the last two years, many of the films that first showed at the SXSW Film Festival went on to attract national attention and often critical acclaim. In our first year, screenings included Paul Zehrer's blessing, Rafael Zelinsky's Fun, Gregg Araki's Totally F***ed Up, Peter Jackson's Meet The Feebles, Rachel Liebling's High Lonesome, Arthur Borman's ...And God Spoke (Austinite Lee Daniel was cinematographer), Rusty Cundieff's Fear of a Black Hat, Peter McCarthy's Floundering, and Allie Light's Dialogues with Madwomen. That list includes just a few of the films shown the first year, the second year was even better, and the third year -- this year -- promises to be equally memorable. The films entered into this year's competition are outstanding -- over 430 films (99 of them features) were submitted. The special screenings being lined up for SXSW Film '96 match and improve on the previous years, with more being slotted as I write. Next week, more information about the film festival. (For information about registering for the SXSW Film Conference see the ad on p. 51. Also see "Screens" (p. 34) for more information on the films that have been accepted.)
And that's not all. Beginning Saturday, March 9 and running through Tuesday, March 12, the South by Southwest Multimedia Festival will highlight Austin as one of the multimedia capitals of the world. Last year's multimedia fest attracted Todd Rundgren, Richard Garriott, Bruce Sterling, Bob "Dr. Macintosh" Levitus, and other notable industry leaders. SXSW Multimedia '96 is now taking its place as one of the events for local, regional, and national developers, manufacturers, and multimedia buffs to attend. (See ad on p. 35.) n