Let the post-SXSW depression begin!
By Jim Caligiuri,
12:04PM, Wed. Mar. 24, 2010
Tuesday night the traditional opening is at Hole in the Wall for the Swollen Circus, hosted by Michael Hall and Walter Salas-Humara. Roots-rockers Ha Ha Tonka, whose albums on Bloodshot are grossly overlooked, proved why they're Missouri's best band at the moment. Walter's expanded Silos played a new song or two, affecting as ever.
Wednesday's Cheap Trick interview was a hoot, although the explanation for Bun E. Carlos not attending the festival – he's a member of the band, but not a member of the touring band – was somewhat mysterious. Then it was over to South Congress to catch Austin Collins and the Rainbirds in the St. Vincent de Paul parking lot. Their new disc, Wrong Control, is one of my favorites so far this year, and live they proved just as dynamic.
Wednesday night things looked auspicious when both the Trishas and Suzanne Vega experienced less than ideal sound. That was really the only sound problem I ran into all week. At the Twangfest party at Jovita's Thursday afternoon, Tennessee's Glossary put on one of the more muscular sets I saw. Later, Brownout's showcase at the Scoot Inn was a 40-minute boogaloo. An alter-ego of Grupo Fantasma, there's no band in town that combine joy and musicality into one big, butt-shaking moment after another.
At the Sin City Social Club's party at Maria's Friday afternoon, Stonehoney's country-rock sounded so much better than the last time I saw them. Blues Traveler's John Popper joined Shurman for a couple of tunes. Not a combination anyone would have expected, but everyone involved sure was enjoying themselves. After attending the panel on the new British folk Thursday, I was curious to see what the buzz was all about, so I checked in with Trembling Bells at St. David's Friday night. The quartet's update on traditional music was a ragged combination of My Bloody Valentine and Fairport Convention. Not exactly folk as I'd describe it, but interesting nevertheless.
After that, I ran over to Cedar Street Courtyard for one of my guitar heroes, Buddy Miller, who was joined by Austin's most revered artists. Joel Guzman proved, once again, there's nothing he can't do with an accordion. While Patty Griffin, whose latest album was produced by Miller, did a fine job as replacement for Miller's partner Julie, their set made me even more excited for an upcoming appearance together at the Old Settler's Festival.
Two highlights on Saturday, when the cold turned me into a wuss. Athens, Ga.'s the Whigs blasted the parking lot next to Side Bar at the 40 Watt party. I stood at the side of the stage mesmerized by the trio's drummer, who, next to Dave Grohl, is the best stick man working today. Before checking into the Austin Music Awards, I caught Dustin Welch and his new band debuting some powerful songs in front of a surprisingly packed house that included Creed Bratton of TV's The Office, who's also an original member of 1960s pop band the Grass Roots.