Twangfest Day Party, Under the Sun, Friday, March 16

Live Shots: South by Southwest 2001

Twangfest Day Party

Under the Sun, Friday, March 16

Twangfest is a relatively small, yet growing, music festival that happens every June in St. Louis. It's an outgrowth of the listserv "Postcard 2," an Internet music discussion list that's devoted to alternative country and all its flavors, yet ranges wide enough to include banter on the pros and cons of Eminem and informed debates surrounding Ken Burns' Jazz. They sponsored this showcase of four Austin-based bands, Karen Poston & the Crystal Pistols, Jim Stringer & the AM Band, Roger Wallace, and Wayne Hancock, during SXSW 2001 to generate more interest in their festival and to announce the performers that will appear at this year's Twangfest. Poston and band were the early birds, kicking things off with a showcase of her sturdy songwriting and crisp, clear vocals. Particularly inspired was a song she introduced as "I'm Going to the Little Longhorn (And You Can Go to Hell)." Yet even when they covered Chuck Berry's "C'est la Vie," they kept it decidedly country. Stringer is perhaps the most underrated guitarist in town -- he regularly performs with Roger Wallace and Ted Roddy -- and his Austin Music band came off like the showmen they are. Stringer has assembled some of the top country music players in Austin, including the young and gifted piano player T. Jarrod Bonta and guitarist Boomer Norman. Their set was an excellent display of honky-tonk played with a heap of style and just the right amount of humor. For his part, Roger Wallace possesses one of the best country voices around. His short but spirited set drew heavily from his just released second CD, That Kind of Lonely, a fabulous collection of hard-core country and swing. For some reason, Wayne Hancock refuses to perform at an official SXSW showcase, so this was his only performance of the weekend and it was a delightful display of his subdued yet intensely rhythmic hillbilly music. By this time, the crowd in the backyard of Under the Sun had grown to overflow, and they delighted in Hancock's spunky charm. He performed a delightful version of Hank Williams' "Walking the Dog" and closed the afternoon with the starkly beautiful "Thunderstorms & Neon Signs," a moment as perfect as the weather had been for an excellent afternoon of country music, Austin (and Twangfest) style.

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