When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth – Now at SXSW!

The de-fossilizing of SXSW.

The general view is that South by Southwest remains a kid's game in search of the Next Big Thing. It's just as likely, however, that there are some oldsters participating, hoping to use the event as a springboard to jump-start their career or get in front of some tastemakers who will take the buzz home with them.

Nearly every genre is represented: Sixties stars like Sam the Sham, Terry Reid, Chip "Wild Thing" Taylor, and Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las; punk godfathers the Stooges; folk and country queens like Pam Tillis, Eliza Gilkyson, and Paula Cole; Seventies punk remnants the Buzzcocks, plus the Hoodoo Gurus, the Saints, and Beasts of Bourbon, all from Down Under; Eighties band leaders gone solo like Peter Case (Plimsouls), John Doe (X), Hugh Cornwell (Stranglers), and Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar). And in the maelstrom of more than 1,000 acts with names like When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, they may be overlooked by the younger set.

Gone are the days where you'd get up early, hit a couple of day parties, and then stay out past closing time, seeing 15 or more bands in a day. Now it's eat a good meal or two, see a new band your friend from out of town recommended, stop by the Yard Dog for a beer, and make sure you get to a venue early enough to get a seat. A couple of rare appearances worth seeing, seating permitted: Jandek, Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey (a tease of the dB's reunion), and Public Enemy.

There's also the return of the Ponderosa Stomp, which debuted last SXSW at the Continental Club and this year is scheduled for Friday at Opal Divine's. A fiesta held in New Orleans during the week of Jazzfest, it features pioneers from the fringes of the Fifties and Sixties, like Dennis Coffey, Archie Bell, Barbara Lynn, and Bobby Patterson. It'll only be overshadowed by the Stax Records Revue Thursday night at Antone's. Hosted by Isaac Hayes and featuring Booker T & the MGs (with Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn), William Bell, Eddie Floyd, and the ever popular "surprise guests," the showcase celebrates the 50th anniversary of the influential Memphis label.

Not interested in looking backward? Best known as a guitarist for the Drive-by Truckers, Jason Isbell has written some his band's most potent tunes lately. Still in high school, Sahara Smith has the local folkies in a tizzy over her precocious ability to mesmerize audiences. Austin "Beergrass"-ers the Onion Creek Crawdaddies perform an upbeat and slightly twisted form of the high lonesome sound. Eric Hanke is a Central Texas-based singer-songwriter in the mold of Bruce Robison. And from the Pacific Northwest, Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hearafter's blend of psychedelic folk and twangy rock is gripping and bold.

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SXSW, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, Sam the Sham, Mary Weiss, Jandek, Eric Hanke, Onion Creek Crawdaddies, Archie Bell, Ponderosa Stomp, Stax

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