SXSW Music Review: Nine Mile Records & Touring Serves Up Tacos, Lone Stars, and Roots Galore at the Continental Club
Welcome to the Virtual Live Music Capital of the World
By Raoul Hernandez,
2:00PM, Sat. Mar. 20, 2021
Matinees at the Continental Club blot out the sun to spotlight Austin music: loose, literate, roots-bound. The homies at Nine Mile Records & Touring loaded into the South Congress speakeasy – shuttered all this time – for virtual tacos and Lone Stars at 11am Saturday. The brand’s four acts in 55 minutes stoked real thirst, too, amongst the 160-plus online.
Local siren Carson McHone actually kicked off the proceedings inside a dreamy Fifties-chic studio in Toronto, where the homegrown singer-songwriter remains holed up throughout all this. Backed by double guitars, Rickenbacker bass, congas, drums, and keyboards, the whole shootin’ match pivoted her sound. Though she broke out through country music, that genre’s inherently relative to any Texan, and here she leaned into indie rock from a forthcoming full-length.
McHone’s husky voice still lends the new material a subtle Western undercurrent in the larger Waylon Jennings sense – that you can’t take the country out of a Lone Star … – but given her home away from home, urban roots anthemics Blue Rodeo come to mind, or Maria McKee crossing over in Lone Justice. When the band died down, the tender edges of her dreamy bedroom vox popped in “Spoil on the Vine.”
Greyhounds followed those 20 minutes with 10 of their own. Keyboardist and singer Anthony Farrell and guitarist Andrew Trube, backed by a second guitar, drums, and a conga/tambourine on the sacred Continental Club stage, emanated cool Southern soul rock. Farrell’s voice, a big airy burble of Seventies woke, soothes like the venue’s plush velvet curtain behind the bands. The duo’s peak 2020 LP Primates swung the material, including closer “Stay Tonight,” all lava lamps, Persian rugs, and soft buzz.
The Deer, a fivepiece transitioning from folk-pop to indie folk, rollicked behind mandolin, fiddle, double bass, and frontwoman and keyboardist Grace Rowland. She still sings within the lines, but with rich, dove-y harmonies, the group melts into one sound. At the beginning of “Winter to Pry,” Rowland began nearly a cappella and, as with McHone, her avian cry came into sharp focus as the song’s fiddle bridged the icy highs of its titular season to the uplift of spring.
Finishing up the brunch in troubadour mode, Kevin Galloway, accompanied by Mark Williams on cello, circled the proceedings back to the beginning: a singer, their songs, a legendary stage the world over. The tart spruce sound of the latter’s instrument brought a low contrast to Galloway’s rich tenor, and suddenly all of us found ourselves in a UK pub somewhere – London, Edinburgh, Galway. Only it was Austin, a scene thawing from its “Virtual Live Music Capital” designation.