SXSW Music Live: Conqueroo Day Party

ATX hootenanny sends beloved PR maven out with a bang

For nearly a decade, veteran music publicist Cary Baker has hosted a SXSW day party boasting the best Americana talent in the name of his L.A.-based firm Conqueroo, founded in 2004. Baker declared this year his final trek to the festival, ending a run that began in 1988, SXSW’s second year. He left on a high note with Saturday’s blowout at Threadgill’s.

Kinky Friedman (Photo by Todd V. Wolfson)

Produced with local promoter Jenni Finlay, the afternoon hit an early high with a performance by ATX’s Charlie Faye & the Fayettes, who delivered “Sweet Little Messages” with the swooning, throwback harmonies found on their girl group bow of 2016. Fellow Austinite Kinky Friedman followed with 30 minutes that offered as much comedy as music, and debuted several new cowboy cuts, including “Jesus in Pajamas” and “Circus of Life.”

Canadian transplant now ensconced on South Congress at the Continental Club, rising indie country enthusiast Whitney Rose impressed like a harder honky-tonking Kacey Musgraves, but the party kicked into gear with Shinyribs. Leading his local sevenpiece, Kevin Russell shimmied Gulf Coast swamp pop and roots rock through the afternoon heat with cuts from his typically entrancing new LP, I’ve Got Your Medicine.

Inside, nomadic songwriting couple the Grahams scorched hard-hollering road anthems followed by an exceptional turn from Bonnie Whitmore, especially the biting title track from her new disc Fuck With Sad Girls and “She’s a Hurricane.”

Native Texan and longtime Austinite Sunny Sweeney took the outside stage in preparation of her last-minute booking as opener for Garth Brooks at Auditorium Shores. Her Threadgill’s show struck like an insider’s prelude among friends, especially the wonderfully bawdy innuendos of “Whiskey Richard.”

“I won’t be doing that one tonight,” she laughed.

Closing out the party, Mike Stinson unloaded rockabilly roar to set up Curtis McMurtry’s more jazzy folk turns playing with Diana Burgess on cello. Outside, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Curtis’ father James McMurtry capped the fête, with Hubbard laying profuse thanks to Baker for helping establish his career.

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