1999 SXSW Music Festival


All showcases subject to change


FASTBALL: All it took was a song, "The Way," and Austin's previously ignored power pop trio Fastball wound up generating a platinum album, a year of solid touring (Everclear, HORDE), a pair of Grammy nominations, and a SXSW '99 panel to discuss the phenomena. Best of all, their latest in a series of increasingly rare local shows is free-to-the-public, outdoors, and at the request of their hero, Joe Ely. (Waterloo Park, 6pm) -- Andy Langer

JOE ELY: When Ely finally won a Grammy last month as part of Los Super Seven, to many Texans it was long overdue. Ely is one of the true gods of Austin songwriters, a Lubbock native who plied his Panhandle poetry into some of the most visionary music ever to come from Texas. Half honky-tonk hero and half outlaw roots-rocker, Ely rides a hard road into the sunset with no regrets and a hell of a recording history. He also lights up a stage like whiskey on fire -- expect no less at this outdoor gig. (Waterloo Park, 7pm) -- Margaret Moser

KRUSHED: With three stages over the course of one night, SXSW's "Krushed" showcase reflects this festival's strongest and most ambitious hip-hop effort yet. Keeping in mind there's so many acts and hip-hop's reputation for unpredictability, here's a rundown: At 8pm, you've got several full-band efforts to chose from, including the Sounds of Urchin, a live-instrumented Brooklyn collective. Upstairs, there's Springfield, Mo.'s funky Ghetto Blaster, featuring Beck sideman Theo Monde, and locals 512, an R&B trio getting ready for their forthcoming Tyme's Runnin' Out CD. Back downstairs, you've got Hip-Hop Mecca fave Nick Nack, and San Diego turntablist Constructive Rukus. At the same time, two of Austin's most popular acts, Disgruntled Seeds and Trey God square off upstairs against Long Beach's super-melodic Ugly Duckling. On their heels, you can tour I-35 with multiple Dallas Observer Music Award winner Shabazz 3 and Houston's K-Otix, easily two of the hottest and most label-ready unsigned acts in the state. Closer to home, there's Austin's Mirage and Houston's Ukalipthis, a DJ collective featuring ex members of Mathmatech, the crew that plays an hour later. Also at 10pm, there's Dead

Rob Swift

Prez, a politically conscious duo with a new Loud release, Police State. They'll be followed by another pair of acts supporting new releases, Park City Illinois' Rubberoom, whose Architechnology just dropped on 3-2-1 Records, and their Atlanta-based labelmates, Micronauts. Following a set from one of Austin's most popular roadshow attractions, Organized Konfusion's Prince Poetry, there's Oakland's Mystic Journeyman, a DIY outfit featuring two MCs with the fest's two best monikers, PSC (Pushin' Suckas' Conciseness) and BFAP (Brotha' From Anotha Planet). Meanwhile you've got superstar X-ecutioner DJ Rob Swift working downstairs with Trick 740 and Big Sev, and Boston underground radio giant Up West. Wu-Tang Clan! That's all you need to know about New York's Inspectah Deck, easily the conference's most anticipated hip-hop entry. Then again, those in the know seem pretty exited about Austin's Bornu Empire and Loud Record's Defari, a NY DJ, dancer, and rapper who's Focused Daily debut is earning rave reviews. And what do you wanna bet Austin's X-Man and Toothless Rob also hold their own with their KVRX fans upstairs? Add three break crews and a graffiti crew working all night and you've got a lotta hip-hop culture brewing on Sixth Street. Who'd a thunk it? (Bob Popular, 8pm-1:30am) -- Andy Langer

MURDER CITY DEVILS: It's clear Seattle's Murder City Devils are out to save the black and bitter soul of their beloved punk rock. Broken Bottles Empty Hearts ('98, Sub Pop), accomplished its mission with more butt-swinging punk than you can shake a wallet chain at, yet it's the pyrotechnics of their live sets that qualifies them as saviours. (Stubb's, 8pm) -- Christopher Hess

GWIL OWEN: The Nashville-based singer-songwriter is known best in Austin for his songwriting excellence, primarily for all the tunes Toni Price has recorded over the course of three albums. But few artists this or any other year at SXSW can boast this credential: The song "A Soft Place to Fall," which he wrote with Allison Moorer, was featured in The Horse Whisperer and is up for an Oscar this year. (Pecan St. Ale House, 8pm) -- Margaret Moser

JIM LAUDERDALE: He's been seen adding his tender vocals to Lucinda Williams' strong alto so much of late it's easy to forget the Nashville-based songwriter has penned number one hits for Vince Gill and Mark Chestnutt. Lauderdale is from the old school of songwriting, where the craft is more important than the cash, and counts highly praised albums such as Whisper and Persimmons to his name. Onstage, his smile and scruffy good looks are as engaging as his words and music. (Austin Music Hall, 8pm) -- Margaret Moser

MARCHEL IVERY: Dallas jazzman Marchel Ivery is a significant link in the long and lustrous line of Texas tenors, a name to be mentioned in the same breath as Fathead Newman and Illinois Jacquet for his masterful blending of blues moves in the traditional be-bop music he plays. Ivery has recorded two albums for Dallas indie Leaning House Jazz, and is a big part of that label's growing reputation as a provider of top-quality, straight-ahead jazz. (Elephant Room, 9pm) -- Christopher Hess

... AND YOU will KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD:Rolling Stone's David Fricke was knocked out by this local foursome at last year's conference, when they were fresh off their hard-hitting, ear-splittin' debut, known now to history as one of the last great Trance Syndicate albums. Fricke wasn't lucky enough to be at a house party last fall, when the band tore through chestnuts like "Helter Skelter," "Light My Fire," and my friend Chad's living room like it was feeding time at the zoo. Sorry, Dave. (Buffalo Club, 9pm) -- Christopher Gray

MOKE: NME called this brilliant South London collective "Blues Against the Machine," and they couldn't be more right; Moke's self-titled debut grooves fluently around both Public Enemy sirens and Delta slide guitars. They're currently touring with the Black Crowes, but don't be fooled; think Keb Mo fronting the Deftones or Corey Glover leading Skunk Anansie. Then think "can't-miss" showcase. (Steamboat, 9pm) -- Andy Langer

ZEN GUERRILLA: This unsightly band of prog-punk metal terrorists has probably peeled paint off every one-horse toilet from Emo's to CBGB's. The Bay Area band's musical ambush, jumping from Alternative Tentacles to Sub Pop, takes no prisoners (like their show-stopping version of Iron Maiden's "The Trooper"), and should be right at home on one of the best bills of the conference: the outdoor stage at Stubb's with the Murder City Devils, Supersuckers, L7, Unsane, and Neurosis. (Stubb's, 9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

CLARENCE GATEMOUTH BROWN: A virtuoso on both guitar and fiddle, Slidell's Gatemouth Brown is hands-down one of the best musicians in a state that claims some greats. Soulful, sly, and almost sinister, the 75-year-old Brown mixes jump blues and jazz for a Creole combo that always satisfies. (Liberty Lunch, 10pm) -- Jay Hardwig

Paul Burch

PAUL BURCH & THE WPA BALLCLUB: Recent scientific studies have revealed that to some people, certain tastes, smells, and sounds have color. If a recent feature in No Depression is any indication, Nashville's Paul Burch is one of these individuals. This being the case, the free 'n' easy country swing of his two delightfully buoyant releases for Checkered Past, Pan-American Flash and Wire to Wire, are the colors of autumn -- rich browns, burnt yellow and oranges, and ruby reds. A percussionist/
vibist for countrypolitan collective Lambchop, Burch is said to be preparing a more pop-oriented release. Jeff Tweedy, look out. (Scholz Garten, 10pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

KITTY GORDON: Here's the best SXSW '99 act you've never heard of. Turns out, Borrower's drummer Nina Singh is quite a singer-songwriter, so, A&R weasels, here's the easy fact sheet you can cell phone back to your bosses on the coasts: a cross between Sheryl Crow, Everlast, and Billy Corgan whose home recordings already sound better than most major-label efforts. If her live set is half as good, you can thank me later with a platinum album. (Steamboat, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

PATTI GRIFFIN: Austinite Patti Griffin hasn't sold gold or platinum for A&M, but she did survive the Universal merger. Why? Because her voice and songwriting only gets better, and because it was obvious that in-house competition from a Sheryl Crow album and the merger's trauma were the only things standing in the way of '98's hard-rockin' Flaming Red and the pop success it deserved. (Austin Music Hall, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

HOT CLUB OF COWTOWN: The Hot Club of Cowtown has made such a successful transplant into Austin's music scene, you'd think they've been here all their lives. In the tradition of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and their Hot Club of France, this Texas country version of European jazz with bass, guitar, and violin is sophisticatedly swinging and always a good time. (Maggie Mae's West, 10pm) -- Christopher Hess

THE SUPERSUCKERS: Virtually the Last Men Standing in the whole Sub Pop explosion, these creepy Tucson/Seattle jackalopes were among the first punkers to confess an affection for country music, as expressed on Must've Been High and a CD-5 collaboration with Steve Earle. Rest assured, though, the debauched minds behind The Smoke of Hell and La Mano Cornuda are in no danger of mellowing, as Eddie Spaghetti and accomplices greet the millennium with 1999(666), a devilishly horny collection of outlaw rock from Texas' favorite honorary sons. (Stubb's, 10pm) -- Chris Gray

LOU ANN BARTON: It might not be a stretch to suggest that Lou Ann Barton is due for a revival. The once and future queen of Austin Blues still creates magic with her sassy roadhouse style, honed in the smoky clubs along Jacksboro Highway and shaped in Austin for over two decades. Onstage, she burns like a cigarette in the dark and her fiery intensity can be eerily bone-rattling. (Antone's, 11pm) -- Margaret Moser

THE BLAZERS: Hotter than a soaking wet Salma Hayek, L.A.'s low-ridin' Blazers never leave an audience anything short of gasping for more. This four-piece melds traditional Latino songcraft and rock & roll as masterfully as Los Lobos and our own Texas Tornados, and their trio of Rounder releases are just warmup for their booty-shaking live workout. (Continental Club, 11pm) -- Christopher Gray

DAMIEN JURADO: Damien Jurado is a big burly guy who plays quiet folk songs acoustically. Under that surface, this Seattle-based ex(?)-punk delivers lyrics that are poignantly simple and frighteningly honest in a sweet, disarming voice. A new Sub Pop CD, Rehearsals for Departure, is just in time for SXSW. (Iron Cactus, 11pm) -- Christopher Hess

ROGER MANNING: Hailing from the subways of NYC, Manning is perhaps the most articulate and engaging of all the anti-folk singers spawned by the punk rock revolution. His self-titled album on Shanachie was one of 1997's most arresting releases. Onstage barefoot, Manning's wordplay and commanding presence wins converts even when he's competing against rock guys whose amps go to 11. (Ruta Maya, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

DJ ICEY: One of the key players in Florida's burgeoning electronic underground, Icey's breakbeat-driven techno is like mainlining Ritalin; kids doze off with a dreamy smile while adults start to wiggle. This Is How My Drummer Drums is a rightfully lauded percussive epic, while acid-influenced loops and housey beats fill out the rest of Icey's repertoire. (Fat Tuesday, 11pm) -- Marc Savlov

JOSEPH ARTHUR: Two years ago, Akron singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur came to Stubb's to support his stunning Real World debut, Big City Secrets. It's a gig people still talk about today. To match the striking soundscapes and wonderfully complicated imagery on the album, Arthur's live accompaniment is an acoustic guitar and sampler. Hopefully he'll use the same setup to preview his forthcoming T-Bone-Burnett-produced effort. (Flipnotics, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

MERCURY REV: In the alternate universe of this Woodstock, New York sextet, Karen Carpenter hosts the Seventies kids' show The Great Space Coaster and Rod Stewart fronts Pink Floyd. Last year's top-ten-list lurking Deserter's Songs was cosmic, orchestral weirdness with musical saw from manic geniuses infamous for their onstage antics. (La Zona Rosa, 11pm) -- Kim Mellen


VARNALINE: For last year's The Sweet Life (Zero Hour), this NYC-based trio wandered into the Catskills looking for the soul of old backwoods country, and recorded in a century-old church, wrapping earthy, elemental themes in absolutely celestial pop. (Atomic Cafe, 11pm) -- Kim Mellen

DON WALSER: Don Walser is a bona fide hometown hero, a local boy made good whose love of classic country and genial nature are outstripped only by his powerhouse voice. That golden tenor, in full evidence on Watermelon/
Sire's Down at the Sky-Vue Drive-In, has earned Walser a national following and confirmed his reputation as the "Pavarotti of the Plains." Quite simply one of the best. (Broken Spoke, 11pm) -- Jay Hardwig

TOMMY WOMMACK: Tommy Womack is a Sixties-era English pop star trapped in the body of a good ol' country boy from the rolling hills of Nashville. With pedal steel, slide guitars, and banjo provided by none other than Al Perkins (Gram, Emmylou, Stones), this blondes-have-more-fun boy delivered tuneful country pop for Checkered Past last year that was indeed Positively Na Na. (Scholz Garten, 11pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

Kate Jacobs

KATE JACOBS: A Hoboken-based "country girl," Kate Jacobs has drawn strong indie press for her thoughtful, sepia-toned songwriting and quirk-folk sensibilities. Bar/None's Hydrangea is an elegant, eloquent mix of love stories and family portraits, delivered with a high sweet chirp that's equal parts Victoria Williams and Jiminy Cricket. (Speakeasy, 11pm) -- Jay Hardwig

ROBERT EARL KEEN: When Robert Earl Keen puts the pedal to the metal for Terry Allen's "Amarillo Highway" on 1996's No. 2 Live Dinner, the result is nothing short of Texas music at its most transcendent. But Keen, whose latest album is Walking Distance (Arista), is no cover boy; this Aggie has songs ("The Road Goes on Forever," "Corpus Christi Bay," "Undone") just as evocative, terse, and anthemic as anything by Allen, Guy Clark, Steve Earle, or the late Townes Van Zandt. (Austin Music Hall, 11pm) -- Christopher Gray

SLOBBERBONE: Country-rock, with the emphasis on rock. Denton four-piece Slobberbone deliver their goods with a smile, a snarl, and a swift kick in the ass. Their latest, Barrel-Chested (Doolittle), explores such timeless diversions as faded love, brisket, and passing out on the front porch. (Maggie Mae's East, Midnight) -- Jay Hardwig

CALEXICO: Tucson's lowrider supergroup has watery, turquoise Georgia O'Keeffe visions of the Southwest to shake, but by the grace of Saint Rita of Cascia, patron saint of the lonely and desperate, they take a sharp turn down the suncracked road of desert lounge, kicking up a cloud of dust that coats your tongue and leaves Giant Sand in your ears. (Jazz Bon Temps, Midnight) -- Kim Mellen

GUY CLARK: Guy Clark is a Lone Star legend, known far and wide for his weary voice and classic songs of wisdom and grit. On his '97 Sugar Hill CD, Keepers, Clark revisited a few of his old friends ("Texas, 1947," "Desperadoes Waiting for a Train"), and odds are he'll do the same, in fine style, here. (Liberty Lunch, Midnight) -- Jay Hardwig

EARL HARVIN TRIO: Dallas drummer Earl Harvin provided an Elephant Room-ful of jazz fans with the most awe-inspiring musical experience of last year's SXSW. Harvin, bassist Fred Hamilton, and pianist Dave Palmer barged their way through a two-hour set with a furious energy that out-rocked any of the weekend's rock shows. The trio recently recorded a live stand at the Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas for future release on Dallas independent label Leaning House Records, and if the packed houses at the Mercury this past December were any indication, the new stuff is even hotter. (Elephant Room, Midnight) -- Christopher Hess

Ten Percenter

TEN PERCENTER: Street buzz doesn't get much louder than the one on Ten Percenter, a local outfit that falls somewhere between the Foo Fighters and Weezer. Their live shows have become pretty good exercise in pop dynamics and their demos have been more than encouraging; they've already landed radioplay in Austin and San Antonio for tracks from next month's Planetarium Quality EP. (Electric Pavilion, Midnight) -- Andy Langer

UNSANE: A lot of people would find being beat over the head with grinding feedback played at nine times the speed of God to be pure, unadulterated hell. For those who enjoy such sensations, may we suggest an hour-long session with New York's Unsane. When this venerable quintet has had their way with you, you'll be ready to sign over your life insurance policy and maybe even your first-born. (Stubb's, Midnight) -- Greg Beets

TISH HINOJOSA: In a town known for a disproportionate share of talented singer-songwriters, Austin's own Tish Hinojosa has risen to national acclaim with her multi-lingual interpretation of folk, country, pop, and Hispanic styles, as can be found on her 1997 sampler on Rounder, The Best of the Sandia. (Hole in the Wall, Midnight) -- David Lynch

LUCINDA WILLIAMS: It's all been said before: Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels on a Gravel Road was perhaps the landmark album of 1998, a savvy blend of roots, rhythm, and rhyme that fairly drips with Southern sensibility. Her summer set at Antone's was instant history, catching Williams just as she stepped into the national spotlight. She returns to the Austin Music Hall with most of the same musicians and a shiny new Grammy in tow. (Austin Music Hall, Midnight) -- Jay Hardwig

Kathy McCarty

KATHY McCARTY: Dating back to the dawn of Austin's fabled New Sincerity days, Kathy McCarty co-founded Glass Eye, a group often described as "avant-garde," though their music had more in common with the thunder of AC/DC than the whir of Throbbing Gristle. McCarty still offers haunting, angular songs like those she brought to the Eye, with a sideline of spotlighting songs by Daniel Johnston. (Buffalo Club, Midnight) -- Ken Lieck

BAD LIVERS: The (nominally) Austin-based Bad Livers have made a name for themselves playing bluegrass with a song list at once stoically traditional and wildly inventive. Their latest for Sugar Hill, Industry and Thrift, was more of the blessed same, mixing rag, grass, tuba, and a touch of cornpone to cook up one of the best platters of 1998. (Liberty Lunch, 1am) -- Jay Hardwig

60 CHANNELS: Fifty-seven channels and nothing on. On Channel 60, however, there's "The Angel," upending channel surfers last year with both her Jaz Klash project, a joint dubscape with Bristol's More Rockers, and her highly rated 60 Channels. Featuring voice-over work from Angie Hart (ex-Frente), Navigator (Asian Dub Foundation), and House of Pain administrator Craig McMadd, Tuned in Turned On (World Domination) stars a nocturnal drum-n-bass beat that moves like a time-lapse picture of this DJ's home metropolis of L.A. at night. (Fat Tuesday, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

FREAKWATER: The tendency of most critics to refer to Louisville's Freakwater as alt.country no doubt stems from their affiliation with indie titan Thrill Jockey, but the band's four members -- lead by harmonic sirens Janet Beveridge Bean and Catherine Ann Irwin -- expand the label's horizons with straight-up bluegrass/country ballads that are surprisingly free of the genre-bending. (Jazz Bon Temps, 1am) -- Leigh-Ann Jackson

DASH RIP ROCK: We not suggesting this is your last chance to see New Orleans' smart-ass clown princes, we're just saying if you haven't seen this trio lately, you're missing more than just good laughs and party tunes. DRR have parodied everything from hometown heroes like Aaron Neville to their hit "(Let's Go) Smoke Some Pot," for a dozen years and still won't settle down and behave. (Waterloo Brewing Co., 1am) -- Margaret Moser

D.O.A.: Although singer/guitarist Joey Keighley has dropped "Shithead" as his middle name, playing acoustic protest music on the side, this 21-year-old Vancouver band is the most unforgiving hardcore unit to come out of Canada. D.O.A.'s sound hasn't changed over the years, pleasing those wanting 1-2-3-4 middle-finger music. (Back Room, 1am) -- Greg Beets

MEG HENTGES: Hentges' latest release Brompton's Cocktail is so charmingly quirky it's hard not to use the words "charming" and "quirky." And what she creates on album comes off just as clever live. Since her days with Two Nice Girls, Hentges has honed her songwriting, which owes as much to the Rolling Stones as Patti Smith. (Copper Tank North, 1am) -- Margaret Moser

WAYNE KRAMER: You can't get much better credentials than having played guitar for the legendary MC5, but Kramer hardly rests on his. With the David Was-produced Citizen Wayne (Epitaph), Kramer added elements of jazz, funk, and techno to his vintage punk rock sound. Older and wiser, Kramer still delivers the goods with the fury of a lifetime dissident. (Emo's, 1am)-- Greg Beets

ZEKE: Eat all the Nashville Pussy you can keep down -- take some Limp Bizkits for dessert -- but when you want to get serious about bitch-slapping, drag-racing crank rock, break yourself off a chunk of Zeke. Last year's Kicked in the Teeth (Epitaph) delivered its vicious thrills with all the delicate subtlety of your average "Stone Cold" Steve Austin match. (Emo's Jr., 1am)-- Chris Gray

AMY RIGBY: Defined as the "time of life between arrested development and hard-won maturity," 1998's Middlescene (Koch) followed Diary of a Mod Housewife in furthering the Amy Rigby Chronicles, the ongoing true story about a middle-class working Brooklyn mother struggling to find commercial success in the music industry. (Speakeasy, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

GREG TROOPER: In 20-odd years as a musical itinerant, Nashville roots-rocker Greg Trooper has earned wide respect as a performer and writer; his songs have been covered by Steve Earle, Billy Bragg, and Robert Earl Keen, among others. His latest on Koch, 1998's Popular Demons, is wholly impressive for its melding of sound and Trooper's words. (Hole in the Wall, 1am) -- Jay Hardwig

EPHRAIM OWENS: Trumpeter Ephraim Owens is a prominent figure in the solid crop of young jazz players in Austin, and this showcase at the historic Victory Grill is part of the Dial Tone records showcase, with whom Owens is currently negotiating for his first jazz recording under his name. Owens mixes original compositions with wonderfully styled takes on standards, and with vocalist Yashi Vaughn in the lineup, the range runs from funk to free form. (Victory Grill, 1am) -- Christopher Hess

Dale Watson

DALE WATSON: Picking up where Johnny Cash's middle finger to Nashville Inc. left off, Austin's hard-workin' honky-tonk superhero Dale Watson is nothing but the genuine article. Last year's Truckin' Sessions (Koch) spread a serious case of White Line Fever that can only be broken with a couple bottles of Lone Star and a little sweat on the dance floor. (Broken Spoke, 1am) -- Kim Mellen

NEUROSIS: Be warned: If you see Neurosis and neglect to wear earplugs, you will be in pain. These Bay Area banshees, preparing for the release of their Steve Albini-produced Time of Grace, routinely generate noise levels to make Lockheed envious. If you're one of those hardy souls who likes having your teeth rattled, however, you could scarcely do better than letting these necromancers of noise submerge you in a deafening din. (Stubb's, 1am) -- Christopher Gray

JETS TO BRAZIL: Listening to Orange Rhyming Dictionary, it's difficult to fathom that Jets to Brazil aren't British. The NYC trio, led by Jawbreaker's Blake Schwarzenberg, meets all the qualifications for being labeled Brit-pop, but the key distinguishing factor is the sheer loudness with which these guys rock. That's purely American. (Atomic Cafe, 1am) -- Leigh-Ann Jackson

THE FLAMING LIPS: Last SXSW, Oklahoma boy and lead Lip Wayne Coyne had enough tapes and willing volunteers to make an entire downtown parking garage sound like Philip Glass' practice room. The racket moves indoors to La Zona Rosa this year, but this time Coyne's whimsy drifts toward more "conventional" territory, as in the tracer-streaked blisspop of 1995's Clouds Taste Metallic or the brain-melting delirium of 1997's Zaireeka, not to mention whatever's fresh out of the lab. (La Zona Rosa, 1am) -- Christopher Gray


All showcases subject to change

HAI KARATE: Led by Gas Huffer alum Don Blackstone, this former SF quartet now calls Seattle home. Full of amped up, driving tempos, their songs are short, kidney-punching tales of frustration and tongue-in-cheek Schadenfreude, found on their bombastic 1997 Man's Ruin debut. (Emo's Jr., 8pm) -- David Lynch

BRIGHT EYES: The precocious Omaha, Nebraska teenager Conor Oberst gathered some older friends -- including members of Lullaby for the Working Class, Of Montreal, and Neutral Milk Hotel -- to collaborate on his second Saddle Creek album, Letting Off the Happiness. The result is a steel-laced, fuzz-bass epic in the vein of NMH's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. (Electric Pavilion, 8pm) -- Kim Mellen

TOM LEACH: This Boston songwriter is the prototypical sleeper: no real buzz, but the folks who've seen him swear by him. While he mostly earns Johnny Cash-meets-the Smiths comparisons, his two Slow River sets are more versatile than that tagline suggests; he followed his ultra-depressing debut of home recordings with a rockin' live set. (Scholz Garten, 8pm) -- Andy Langer

The Meat Purveyors

THE MEAT PURVEYORS: Ever since one-third of the Bad Livers relocated to Cascade Country, the best-bluegrass-band-in-town crown has been worn by this fearsome foursome (five if joined by fiddle maestra Darcie Deaville). Their shows have that revivalistic, snake-handling fervor in spades, whether they're testifying on high-lonesome gospel or a funereal recasting of Elvis' Burning Love. (Jazz Bon Temps, 8pm) -- Christopher Gray

DARCIE DEAVILLE & TALLER DOG: High-in-demand session woman and all-around fiddlin' fool, Darcie Deaville takes a solo turn, stepping stage center and leaving the sidework to her Taller Dog backing band. A recent demo finds Deaville sawing through four full songs of sanguine twang and grit. (Maggie Mae's West, 9pm) -- Jay Hardwig

CONTINENTAL DRIFTERS: Started in L.A. by ex-Dream Syndicate bassist Mark Walton in 1991, the Continental Drifters eventually grew to include Peter Holsapple (dBs), Susan Cowsill (Cowsills), and Vicki Peterson (Bangles). In 1996, the sextet packed up and moved to New Orleans. Last year's Vermillion album showcased a king's lair of hollowbody pop melodies and strong harmonies. (Austin Music Hall, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

TERRI LORD: Those expecting a 20-minute drum solo from Austin's premier percussive princess won't know what's hit 'em when our luvable stick-wielder of countless local also-rans (Jitters, Bad Mutha Goose, Power Snatch, Sincola) takes a stab at the big time with two other long and pointy objects -- a guitar and mike stand. Yup, Terri's gonna step out to the front, play guitar, and share her luscious litany of heartfelt pop manifestos. (Flipnotics, 9pm) -- Kate X Messer

DEAD END CRUISERS: Nothing like a bona fide British accent to lend authenticity to Clash/Sham 69/Jam-style punk. Austin's four-piece Dead End boys play punk rawk with melodies and hooks that never taking a backseat to plain ol' power, bringing the London Seventies into the Austin Nineties and beyond. (Back Room, 9pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

DEVIL IN A WOODPILE: Hit the jug and pass it around for Devil in a Woodpile, a Chicago quartet that's all about down-home stompin' music with washboard, harmonica, steel guitar, and upright bass. Throw in the occasional tuba or ukulele and you've got the joy that is their self-titled 1998 release on Bloodshot Records. (Scholz Garten, 9pm) -- Christopher Hess

DUSTY 45'S: Seattle's Dusty 45's drag influences like Jerry Lee Lewis and Louis Jordan into the next millennium, with the quintet's self-released CD featuring a trumpet/flamethrower (yes!) and a sound that's near-impossible to sum up. (Caucus Club, 9pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

HUMAN: One of the first CDs of the year to elicit an unwelcome visit from a disgruntled neighbor ("Can you turn that noise down a bit? Please?"), Austin-based Human are likely to steamroll SXSW attendees with their hook-heavy brand of aggro slash 'n' burn crunch. Not as industrial as previously assumed, they've turned their attention to manhandling their guitars into sonic weapons of intimidation. (Back Room, 9pm) -- Marc Savlov

MUCHO MACHO: Not what you'd expect from the famed Beggars Banquet label, this minimalist electronic outfit uses retro breaks and beats to create a wholly new sound that's reminiscent of everyone from Kraftwerk to the Giorgio Moroder. (Bob Popular East, 9pm) -- Marc Savlov

BARBARA LYNN: This amazing performer must have read "left-handed, black female guitarist" in her press so many times it's tattooed on her bio. The Beaumont, Texas-based singer is too bluesy to be considered swamp pop, and too rockin' to be blues, but once you hear her signature tune, "You'll Lose a Good Thing," you'll never forget its sweet satiny soul. (Antone's, 9pm) -- Margaret Moser

MALACHI: In all the hype and credential-sniffing that goes on at SXSW, the electric gospel-funk of Austin's Malachi is like the beacon in a storm. Never mind that the Victory Grill is one of the town's treasures, Malachi will fill the venue with their gorgeous voices, blended together and lifted in praise. (Victory Grill, 9pm) -- Margaret Moser

HEATHER MYLES: A country crooner with equal parts hope and heartbreak in her voice, Riverside's Heather Myles has long been more successful at making good music than getting it sold. Rounder's Highways and Honky Tonks may not change that, but it's good listenin', combining a truckstop feel with some Nashville steel, mixing shuffle and sap, and topping it all off with Myles' rich and robust voice. (Continental Club, 9pm) -- Jay Hardwig

RED ELVISES: Not since Boris Badenov have Cold War-era affectations been put to such good use. With three members hailing from Siberia and one from Texas, L.A.'s Red Elvises take a big rockabilly beat and throw in a mess of nods to Eastern European music. No wonder Red Elvises are the highest paid wedding band on the isle of Sakahlin. (Waterloo Brewing Co., 9pm) -- Greg Beets

STARLING: Ottawa's iridescent trio Starling whips out some furious Artist Formerly Known As warbles and squeezes out some teeny-weeny Eno-Radiohead sparks for good measure -- at least that's how their self-titled debut on Racecar Records plays out. Let's see which way they lean live.(Ritz Lounge, 9pm) -- Kate X Messer

THOSE BASTARD SOULS: Twentieth Century Chemical (Darla) established this ever-evolving, Memphis-based side project of Grifters' guitarist Dave Shouse as alchemists mixing Rubber Soul-era Beatles and Morphine into an elixir for post-grunge salvation. The current lineup includes violinist Joan Wasser of the Dambuilders. (La Zona Rosa, 9pm) -- Kim Mellen

BILLY BACON & THE FORBIDDEN PIGS: Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs pack their porcine punch with a mix of rockabilly, roots, and blues. 13 Years of Bad Road (Triple X Records), recorded live in their hometown of San Diego, finds this less-than-august outfit layin' boogie in dependably gritty bar-band style. (Waterloo Brewing Co., 10pm) -- Jay Hardwig

THE BLUES SPECIALISTS: Over a decade ago, piano player Erbie Bowser and guitarist T.D. Bell gathered the cream of the Austin blues crop like harmonica player Mel Davis to form the Blues Specialists. Bowser and Bell have passed on, but under Davis' leadership the band continues. Bell's son Lawrence plays keyboards, and with others who grew under T.D.'s tutelage, the group's happy hours are still some of the best blues in Austin. (Victory Grill, 10pm) -- Christopher Hess

THE COUNTRYPOLITANS: Fronted by the sweet/steely voice of Elisabeth Ames, this Portland six-piece honky-tonk outfit brings a stripped-down Bakersfield style that veers toward rockabilly barn-burners and swingin' two-step numbers. Their Ultrapolitan CD Tired of Drowning features guest spots by Austin faves Dale Watson and Rosie Flores. (Broken Spoke, 10pm)-- Jerry Renshaw

EX-GIRL: Another Japanese girl-pop trio, but with one distinction: Their idea of pop is more about Sonic Youth than Matthew Sweet. While a lot of the sonic credit probably goes to über-producer Hoppy Kamiyama, there's still something very intriguing and very, very raw and noisy here. (Copper Tank Main, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

EL GRAN SILENCIO: At SXSW last year, Mexico's Plastilina Mosh were said to be a South of the Border Beastie Boys blowing up the Rock en Espa--ol revolution for the gringos running the music industry. If nothing else, Miles Copeland took notice, because this month his Ark 21 label debuts El Gran Silencio, another band of Mexican marauders from Monterrey, whose Libres y Locos delivers its hip-ska message with acoustic instrumentation and the genre's prerequisite bounce. (Scholz Garten, 10pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

SPLIT LIP RAYFIELD: Split Lip Rayfield plays hyperspeed bluegrass rock with the roaring intensity of a still set to blaze. The 1998 self-titled debut from this Wichita, Kan. trio was a perfect fit for the grimy stables at Chicago's Bloodshot records, with enough sneering proclamations to make you lock up your daughters and hide your booze. (Maggie Mae's East, 10pm) -- Christopher Hess

ULTRABABYFAT: Any band that compares itself to "a demented game of Pole Position" is okay in my book. Atlanta's Ultrababyfat mines a thrift store mishmash of lo-fi neo-psychedelia and super-sweet harmonies that recalls Pavement, the Bangles, and the Breeders without running out of breath. I imagine they're pretty good at Pole Position, too. (Red Eyed Fly, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

GINGER MACKENZIE: This Austinite's pair of self-released records, Earthbound and Kismet, reek of radio-readiness -- as in radio might just be ready for an unapologetically pop singer-songwriter who can actually do both. Whether or not MacKenzie winds up with Lava/Atlantic, who funded Kismet, hers is the local name likely to be whispered at the Four Seasons. (Speakeasy, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

POP UNKNOWN: A book on Austin pop in the Nineties should include Mineral or Sincola. Given their roster, Pop Unknown appears to be a merger of these gone-but-not-forgotten bands, but they're more than the sum of their parts; they're smart, super-chunky, and electric. They deserve a buzz. (Electric Lounge, 10pm) -- Phil West


THISWAY: These New York pop addicts have only been together a year, but their forthcoming Reprise debut sounds like the work of veterans. ThisWay is full of well-crafted radio-ready anthems that fit between the Wallflowers, Matchbox 20, and the Goo Goo Dolls on a radio station near you. (Babe's, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

BART RAMSEY & NETI VAAN: "File under roots rock" advises the back cover of Bart Ramsey and Neti Vaan's new album, but that scarcely tells the story of Little Red Wagon, an adventurous album from the New Orleans pair that zings, zangs, and zungs from cabaret jazz to fiddle reels to gypsy ballads to country, folk, and yes, roots rock. (Flipnotics, 10:30pm) -- Jay Hardwig

FRED SANDERS: Fine-tuning his exuberant style in the clubs of Austin and releasing his East of Vilbig debut on Dallas' Leaning House Jazz label, pianist Fred Sanders then headed to New Orleans. He's since popped up in town on Rhodes heading his own band, Funkshun, as well as in trumpet superstar Roy Hargrove's band. (Elephant Room, 10:30pm) -- Christopher Hess

MEL SANDICO: The best hip-hop DJ in Austin, the diminutive Mel towers over other turntable wonderkids out there, mixing old-skool beats 'n' breaks with newer tracks in a scratch 'n' sniff soufflé that brings tears to the eyes of everyone not busy shaking their groove thangs. Part of Austin's 626/Soul Collective, DJ Mel enjoys unrivaled popularity as part of Blowpop at Nasty's Monday nights. (Bob Popular, 10:15pm) -- Marc Savlov

ANDREW BIRD'S BOWL OF FIRE: Instructor at Chicago's musical institution, the Old Town School of Folk Music, and part-time touring member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Chicago fiddler Andrew Bird leads his own band through the darker exotic areas of Weill/Brecht, Tom Waits, Fats, and Django -- check his Rykodisc debut, Thrills. (Jazz Bon Temps, 11pm) -- David Lynch

DAS WEETH EXPERIENCE: This Hamburg, Germany guitar band has been compared to everyone from Yo La Tengo to tourmates Giant Sand, which should give you an indication of where they're coming from. Dry-as-dirt vocals, echoey guitar, and a sense of enormous, overwhelming space make this a Kraut-rock epic that borders on the sublime. (Ritz Lounge, 11pm) -- Marc Savlov

DEXTER FREEBISH: This little pop band with the geeky name has been attracting mega-attention from labels since they were "discovered" playing a non-showcase gig on Sixth Street at SXSW a few years ago. This year they've upped the ante by winning "Best Pop Song" in the much-publicized John Lennon Songwriting Competition, and since then a lot of A&R types don't think that name is so stupid after all. (Babe's, 11pm) -- Ken Lieck

KIM LENZ & HER JAGUARS: This is spit-shined rockabilly that's as fiery as the lead singer's mane. Hailing from Dallas, Lenz and her Jaguars released their self-titled debut last year on HMG to much acclaim. With rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson in town, you know Lenz & Co. will be out to impress. (Waterloo Brewing Co., 11pm) -- Christopher Hess

BILL LLOYD: With Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, Bill Lloyd, formerly half of the Nashville duo Foster & Lloyd, continues his recent explorations in melodic power pop. The album, out on Koch this month, is a gentle pastiche of amusements and emotions, bookended by tips of the hat to those gone by. (Hole in the Wall, 11pm) -- Jay Hardwig

SOULED AMERICAN: You thought Chicago's Souled American had thrown in the towel? Wrong! The alt.country pioneers just laid low for a while is all. Their Checkered Past CD Notes Campfire offers up a spacey pastiche of warbling vocals, fretless bass, and molasses rhythms that either drives people nuts or invites them to wrap their brains around it. (Buffalo Club, 11pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

THE BELLRAYS: The BellRays' Let It Blast sounds like an open rehearsal, which it was; the 17-tune rock & soul-fest was documented without overdubs in their gig room. Their smooth-n-aggressive tone and temperament makes soul and urban rock harmonious. Fresh air in the stale hamper of corporate rock. (Emo's, 11pm) -- David Lynch

THE QUEERS: Conceived in the punk rock mecca of New Hampshire, the Queers have been delivering the goods since 1982. The Joe Queer-led quartet revels in Ramones-style disposable pop hooks revved up by punk attitude and volume, and are guaranteed to pull yucks from the fart-joke crowd. (Emo's Jr., 9pm) -- Greg Beets

TOM WILSON: Neither as growly nor desperate as Nick Cave or Tom Waits, Ontario's Tom Wilson shares more psychic space with twisted troubadors J.J Cale, Lee Hazlewood, or Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Slim X, his latest for Sony, is a disquieting bit of song/songwriter "Tiger Balm." (Flipnotics, 11:30pm) -- Kate X Messer

THE TEXAS TRUMPETS: Rising star Ephraim Owens joins veterans Pat Patterson (Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, Etta James), Donald "Duck" Jennings (Bobby Bland, Lou Rawls), and the estimable Martin Banks (Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Count Basie, Miles Davis) for an all-Austin, all-star blowing of horns. Now that's a collective you know will deliver. (Victory Grill, Midnight) -- Margaret Moser

COY WEST: As co-founder of the 626/Soul DJ Collective, West (along with co-conspirator Chris Specht) is the man behind some of Austin's most daring renegade raves, many of which take place on the fly and usually outside the long arm of John Law. West's real strength lies in the beautiful deep house he spins for these events -- lush, gooey beats that stick to your ribs like God's own chunky peanut butter. (Bob Popular, 11:30pm) -- Marc Savlov

STACEY EARLE: Younger sister of Steve Earle, Stacey's debut CD Simple Gearle reveals that this is not just a case of nepotism. With a natural, warm voice and songs that reveal strength and vulnerability both, she's a sure pick for bigger things. (Broken Spoke, Midnight) -- Jerry Renshaw

THE HANDSOME FAMILY: Chicago's husband-and-wife team Brett and Rennie Sparks, along with occasional third wheel Jeff Tweedy, supplement their Zolfty country with autoharp, washboard, toy keyboards, and drum machine, creating songs at once witty and forlorn that hold the rare value of a lucky thrift-store find. (Iron Cactus, Midnight) -- Kim Mellen

BACK DROP BOMB: If Japan is using the U.S. as a cultural mirror, then Back Drop Bomb are the fairest of them all. Cleverly mixing and matching elements of ska, dub, punk rawk, and more hip-hop than Peter Rabbit, this Tokyo quintet are all over the map and utterly cool. (Soho Lounge, Midnight) -- Marc Savlov

DOVER: This Madrid-based quartet is one of Spain's most popular indie-rock bands. Their sound is a Foo Fighters-styled hybrid of small venue punk and coliseum rock. Vocalist/guitarist Cristina Llanos has an impressive range that's nicely tempered by a cigarette rasp. (Red Eyed Fly, Midnight) -- Greg Beets

LONESOME BOB: Nashville's Lonesome Bob is a bear of a man. Big voice, big songs about big things like murder, suicide, and violence. His Checkered Past debut, Things Fall Apart, was a country music bear hug, big on C&W simplicity, Allison Moorer, and Bob's big ol' indelicate voice. A stand-out on an outstanding bill at last year's Checkered Past/No Depression day party at the Broken Spoke, Bob went over big. (Scholz Beer Garten, Midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

JULIANNE RICHARDS: To put it in local terms, New York's Julianne Richards sounds a lot like the pop-oriented combination of Trish Murphy, Kacy Crowly, and Abra Moore. That's enough to make her forthcoming Geffen debut, The Falcon of Manhattan, and this preview showcase, one to watch. (Buffalo Club, Midnight) -- Andy Langer

SPEEDEALER: Kevin Cronin and company may have taken the catchy "REO" moniker from the front of this band's name, but that doesn't change their ability to deliver a highly agitated take on Southern thrash in rapid-fire fashion. If nitro-burning missives like "Double Clutchin' Finger Fuckin'" are any indication, Mr. Cronin would be wise to stay far away. (Emo's Jr., Midnight) -- Greg Beets

TALL, DARK, AND LONESOME: Austin society boy Jerm Pollet, the guy who used to make Gals Panic and keep RuPaul's schedule and now collaborates with The Cruise's Timothy "Speed" Levitch, has some interesting stories to tell. With a demeanor that's half Faron Young and half Woody Allen, this is exactly what he does. Let him crash on your couch and he'll serenade you with "Hello Walls." (Ruta Maya, Midnight) -- Kim Mellen

CHRIS SPECHT: Laurel to partner Coy West's Hardy, Specht is the other half of Austin's wildly popular 626/Soul DJ Collective, spinning a funky melange of progressive house from Dallas to Houston and everywhere in between. If the gaggle of tank-topped lovelies who flock to wherever Specht deigns to lay down the blustering, bombshell beats is any indication, the mix is working. (Bob Popular, 12:45am) -- Marc Savlov

VIC VOLARE AND HIS FABULOUS VOLARE LOUNGE ORCHESTRA: All right, baby, time to put on some boss threads and swing back in time to an era when men were made and women were dames. Providing your musical accompaniment will be Minnesota's Vic Volare and his Orchestra, whose Velvet Ear CD ... Feel the Love mixes standbys ("Fever"), curiosities ("I Dream of Jeannie"), and originals ("Let's Get Into Romance") to produce music perfect for tripping the light fantastic. (Caucus Club,12:45am) -- Christopher Gray


FURSLIDE: Last year's Adventure, this NYC trio's major-label debut, hasn't take off commercially, but it has provided an excellent introduction to pop's latest dynamic frontwoman: Jennifer Turner, a thoughtful songwriter who's perhaps the best female guitar hero since Jen Trynin. Furslide's live set, a couple months in front of Lenny Kravitz and Placebo crowds, should be in rip roarin' shape by now. (Babe's, 1am) -- Andy Langer

NEW AMERICAN SHAME: The advance of New American Shame's debut advertises a March 9, 1999 release date, but the disc inside is all about 1989. Like Buckcherry, these Seattlites are unabashed Eighties cock-rock throwbacks with big guitars and bigger sing-along chorus. Do with that info what you will, but know that their loud 'n' proud live show may wind up the least appropriately titled "sleeper" at SXSW '99. (Steamboat, 1am) -- Andy Langer

BUKKA ALLEN: For years, Bukka Allen has been one of Austin's most respected organ and accordion players. Now, with a new solo project and an accompanying self-released CD, Terry's son and Ian Moore's other half is quickly earning respect as a singer-songwriter. It appears the last creative train out of Lubbock left a lot later than most people guessed. (Iron Cactus, 1am) -- Andy Langer

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