SXSW Picks and Sleepers

Saturday Picks

All showcase times subject to change. Please check official SXSW schedule.

KGSR 107.1 PRESENTS: ... one of the best bills of SXSW, led off by a pair of local shit-kickers, Reckless Kelly and Alejandro Escovedo, and rammed into sunset with a trio of reunions. Joe Jackson has reassembled 1979's stomp-time Look Sharp band for the brand-new Volume 4, which will no doubt be cranked up to at least nine to compete with Johnette Napolitano and Concrete Blonde, whose L.A. trio returns to nail in the spike of last year's Group Therapy with the raucous Live in Brazil. Before them, the Presidents of the United States of America step into the breach thanks to the continued absence of George Bush Jr. (Auditorium Shores, 4:30-8:30pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

ED HARCOURT: A wistful blend of Elton John and Rufus Wainwright, this former chef jumped ship from Capitol, which released his largely ignored stateside debut, Here Be Monsters, to Astralwerks. His new album, From Every Sphere, was produced by Tchad Blake (Low, Tom Waits) and is due out in May. (Stubb's, 8pm) -- Melanie Haupt

MARY LOU LORD: SXSW's perennial Sixth Street busker will no doubt be attracting her usual crowd for several days prior to her actual showcase, but the ever wily Salem singer-songwriter will doubtless pull out a few unique, sweet-voiced slayers for her official gig. Daniel Johnston's "Speeding Motorcycle"! (Opal Divine's, 8pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

KELLY HOGAN & SALLY TIMMS: Diva this, diva that, but when it comes to walking after midnight in the Americana of yesterday and today, these siren fillies from the Bloodshot Ranch will wreck your tractor on the reefs of their aching vocals every time. Their duet showcase should rival the Corn Sisters (Neko Case and Carolyn Mark) as the ultimate hoe-down. Er ... (Mother Egan's, 8pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

THE NEAL POLLACK INVASION: The "greatest living American writer," who recently told the Onion that he could take "anyone who has written or ghostwritten a book," Austin's Neal Pollack may or may not be dressed when his trio takes the stage with politically charged punk. (Tequila Rock, 8pm) -- Melanie Haupt

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE: Donning matching white robes, this 24-member Dallas-based symphonic pop ensemble plays slowly evolving pieces that warm listeners into a cocoon of universal love. It may sound trite, but many a cynic has come away converted. Word is V2 Records has the band in their sights. (Austin Music Hall, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

BURRITO DELUXE: As with the Yardbirds showcase, the question is, who's left? Steel legend Sneaky Pete Kleinow and his new Georgia Peach CD. It'll be worth wiggle room at the CC to see the Band's Garth Hudson sitting in for the hickory goodness of those Gram Parsons chestnuts. (Continental Club, 8pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

THE RISE: The Rise's stellar debut, Signal to Noise, on hardcore repertory Ferret Records, was actually not a play on the anthem "New Noise" by digi-punk Swedes the Refused. The Austin quartet does pick up where the Refused left off, however, crafting aggressive, electronic-tinged hardcore. Like Atari Teenage Riot with real songs. (Back Room, 8pm) -- Michael Chamy

DRAG CITY SHOWCASE: Since their founding in 1989 as an outlet for Pavement and Royal Trux, Chicago's Drag City has become headquarters for several cults in the world of independent music. Azita is the label's newest act, a one-woman show at the piano as displayed on her debut Enantiodromia. Like Royal Trux, the Suntanama play ragged blues and fuse it to indie rock. Last year's eponymous release was quite a bit more accessible than the Trux, though. Ex-Truxman/former Pussy Galore slinger Neil Michael Hagerty follows with the folky balladry found on last year's Plays That Good Old Rock and Roll, his sophomore effort for the label. (Smog)'s Bill Callahan closes out the evening with his Lou Reedlike delivery and insightful songs that flow on his 11th album, Supper. (Blender Bar, 9pm-12:45am) -- Michael Chamy

VIC CHESNUTT: Georgia native Vic Chesnutt has been inching his way toward the loftiest levels of songwriterly respect since his first recording. The plain, naked lyrics grab your attention -- threatening, menacing, like a broken bottle. Chesnutt's new Silver Lake is due out soon on New West. (Cedar Street, 9pm) -- Christopher Hess

THE MEAT PURVEYORS: Austin's Meat Purveyors took a couple of years off, then came back strong with 2002's Bloodshot release, All Relationships Are Doomed to Fail. The Purvs put their stamp on modern bluegrass with covers from Merle Haggard to the Pocket FishRmen. (Mother Egan's, 9pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

HER SPACE HOLIDAY: Marc Bianchi and his longtime partner Keely, aka Her Space Holiday, recently relocated their ambient electronica to Austin. It's been a year since their quiet masterpiece Manic Expressive. (Mercury, 9pm) -- Melanie Haupt

DAGASHI-KASHI: Forget pop fashions and cutesy-pie anime school girls, speed-punk rules this tantalizing Tokyo troupe. That the band appears in whiteface and kimonos for press photos asks the musical question: What if L7 were geishas? (Elysium, 9pm) -- Kate X Messer

MOSSEISLEY: In the tradition of Hanson, Tyler quintet MossEisley -- DuFree sisters Chauntelle, Stacy, and Sherri, brother Weston, and family friend Jonathan Wilson -- will have a record deal before some members are old enough to drive. Their warm, modern-rock sound recently opened all the Texas dates for their heroes Coldplay. (Stubb's, 9pm) -- Christopher Gray

IAN MCLAGAN & THE BUMP BAND: McLagan was the second of the Faces to leave England for Austin (the late Ronnie Lane was first). His Bump Band is a local supergroup with Gurf Morlix, Don Harvey, George Reiff, and Scrappy Jud Newcomb making rootsy blues-rock behind the snowy-haired keyboard player. (Continental Club, 9pm) -- Margaret Moser

CORNELL HURD BAND: Most every Thursday, Cornell Hurd leads his large band through a blazing set of extra-clever Western swing down at Jovita's on South First. Last year's Song of South Austin (Behemoth), is both hilarious and heartfelt, and the band is set to release Live at Jovita's ... Don't Quit Your Night Job this month. (Broken Spoke, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

WILL TAYLOR & STRINGS ATTACHED: Austin-based Will Taylor has led his Strings Attached ensemble in a host of local collaborations with Ian Moore, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Eliza Gilkyson, Tish Hinojosa, Toni Price, and Abra Moore. With violin, viola, bass, drums, cello, guitar, horns, and percussion, the band expands musical boundaries, here with Gilkyson, Sara Hickman, Michael Fracasso, Slaid Cleaves, Abra Moore, Guy Forsyth, Patrice Pike, and Kellye Gray. (Texas Union Theatre, 9pm) -- David Lynch

BOB SCHNEIDER: Bob Schneider's solo debut, Lonelyland, no doubt broke local sales records with his funky, singer-songwriterly pop, and one would expect his follow-up, due this summer on Universal, to do the same. (Austin Music Hall, 9pm) -- Melanie Haupt

SHANNON WRIGHT: Whether piercing through a wall of dissonance or delivering contemplative confessions over melancholy piano work, road warrior Shannon Wright has cobbled together a widespread fan base through her constant touring and four diverse albums on Quarterstick Records. (Antone's, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

ROSIE FLORES: Tex-Mex chiquita, rockabilly filly, post-punk princess, honky-tonk angel, Rosie Flores is as compelling alone as surrounded by stars. Her last CD was 2001's Speed of Sound. (Cactus Cafe, 10pm) -- Margaret Moser

DAN BERN: Not content with the best band name in rock (the Jewish Banking Conspiracy), this New York folkie makes equally irreverent and thought-provoking albums. 2001's critically lauded New American Language was followed by The Swastika EP, a collection of politically charged tunes. (Aussies, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

TIM EASTON: Originally from Ohio, but now calling Athens, Ga., home, Tim Easton is one of the handful of songwriters today with an expert's touch for detail and melody. His second New West CD, Break Your Mother's Heart, is filled with stark imagery and vivid memories. (Cedar Street, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

BAPTIST GENERALS: Denton's purveyors of country-fried indie rock order up a raw, organic sound that will punch you in the gullet, relieve you of your lunch money, then apologize for the assault. Formed in 1998 by Chris Flemmons and Steve Hill, their latest, No Silver/No Gold, is their second for Sub Pop. (Red Eyed Fly, 10pm) -- Melanie Haupt

RON SEXSMITH: Holding down arenas for Coldplay recently was one thing, ending a perfectly composed 45-minute pop smart set at Waterloo Records the next afternoon with the Clash's "Bank Robber" was an entirely different affair. As was last year's Nettwerk ratings winner Cobblestone Runway, if only because it improved on his previous Cooking Vinyl dish, Blue Boy, which was terrific. (Austin Music Hall, 10pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

THE DRAPES: Chicago's Drapes would thank you to compare them to the JSBX. Kevin McDonough's dirty guitar and Andrea Jablonski's grungy bass licks muddy up the mix gliding sloppily between chord changes while Bob Spelbring keeps up the pace at his kit. McDonough's Southern white-trash rasp adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the filthiest rockabilly-blues this side of the Mason-Dixon. (Iron Cactus, 10pm) -- Melanie Haupt

I LOVE YOU BUT I'VE CHOSEN DARKNESS: These are Austin's 24-Hour Party People, members of Paul Newman, Windsor for the Derby, and Glorium, who've united in this, the year of the post-punk revival. Their opening set for Wire last year revealed as much textural Cure and New Order pop as black-on-black Fall/Gang of Four piston rock. (Club DeVille, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

PAUL NEWMAN: Austin's favorite sons of loud and angular instrumental rock music were sorely missed when they scattered. Think along the lines of Don Caballero, but with more patience and a different degree of precision. Rumor has it there's a new album in the works, but in lieu of that, check out their 2000 retrospective on My Pal God records. (Club DeVille, 11pm) -- Christopher Hess

JIM LAUDERDALE: Despite the pure and beautiful country ballads Jim Lauderdale writes, the Nashville resident is one of the premier purveyors of traditional bluegrass. The award-winning singer-songwriter released two albums last year, one a Grammy winner with the estimable Ralph Stanley. (Continental Club, 11pm) -- Margaret Moser

THEE SHAMS: Next to Skyline Chili, Thee Shams are the best thing to come out of Cincinnati since the Big Red Machine. The Stonesy, blues-based ribaldry of axe/vox Zach Gabbard and the Keith Moon-inspired percussive theatrics of drummer Keith Fox should be in full force on Thee Shams' long-awaited sophomore effort, You Want It, scheduled for a spring release on Telstar. (Iron Cactus, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

DAMIEN JURADO: Damien Jurado went loco on his fourth Sub Pop album, I Break Chairs, busting out a brand of rock that hearkens back to Uncle Tupelo and Hüsker Dü with his earnest, blood-sweat-and-tears tenor. Stay tuned to see which Jurado shows up to the conference. (Buffalo Billiards, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

GAVIN DEGRAW: Before offering him the star-making slot at his annual Grammy party, Clive Davis told Time this 26-year-old Catskills native is "a lot like Billy Joel or Elton John, but with the soul of maybe a Joe Jackson." The buzz on his J Records debut is building faster than you can say Norah Jones. (Lounge, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

KELLER WILLIAMS: It's dangerous to liken this Virginian to Dave Matthews, but Williams brings whimsy and playfulness to his neo-bluegrass albums, while showcasing technical expertise and an uncanny talent for mimicking instruments while he sings. His seventh, Dance, dropped in February. (Austin Music Hall, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

JON DEE GRAHAM: It's been a year since Austin's Tom Waits released his highly acclaimed Hooray for the Moon. When he's not playing with Stephen Bruton and other beloved local singer-songwriters at the Saxon Pub as the Resentments, he enjoys a long-standing Wednesday-night tenure at the Continental Club. (Cedar Street, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

CHIP TAYLOR AND CARRIE RODRIGUEZ: This unlikely duo's 2002 release, Let's Leave This Town, highlights Taylor's veteran songwriter status and fiddler Rodriguez's youthful appeal with irresistible results. Their song "Sweet Tequila Blues" is the most rousing AAA Austin anthem since "London Homesick Blues," but then Taylor wrote "Wild Thing" didn't he? (Cactus Cafe, 11pm) -- Margaret Moser

FANTASY'S CORE: This Nagasaki quintet's motto is "Eccentricity and Chaos and Eros and Humor!" which is exactly what Fantasy's Core dishes out. Their energetic melding of punk, blues, and metal is unbearably loud, and vocalist Mao Karisu and his instrument-bearing sidekicks are like a Japanese version of the Marx Brothers between songs. (Elysium, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

NEBULA: SoCal denizens Nebula mine the riffologies of Sabbath and Blue Cheer, mix it with an unhealthy dose of psychedelia and space rock, pour a thick layer of feedback over the mixture, and bake, bake, bake. Their last Sub Pop release, Charged, is a big slab of pure THC nastiness. (Emo's Main, 11pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

FIVE HORSE JOHNSON: Don't let the buzz-sawing thump 'n' grind of Toledo's Five Horse Johnson fool ya. It's actually Camaro-sized horseflies strafing the quartet's second and third releases on Detroit's Small Stone Records, 1999's angry Fat Black Pussycat and 2001's snakebit The No. 6 Dance, waking the tenderloin. If the sting doesn't kill you, the quarter horse kick will. (Room 710, 11pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

RYE COALITION: The overwhelming choice for the coveted "Holy shit, who are these guys?" award from SXSW 02, this Jersey fivepiece is at the intersection of AC/DC and Motörhead. Their new Jersey Girls is as solid a slab of metal as ever slithered out of Jersey. (Mercury, 11pm) -- Christopher Hess

ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO: The former guitarist for Testament and Trans-Siberian Orchestra plays heavy metal classics by Kiss, Black Sabbath, and Aerosmith in his jazz trio. Last year's Goodbye to Romance: Standards for a New Generation was an unexpected knockout. (Elephant Room, 11:30pm) -- Jay Trachtenberg

I AM THE WORLD TRADE CENTER: What began as a nerd-ball moniker prior to that fateful day turned into a defiant memorial the moment Dan Geller and Amy Dykes refused to change their name. Appropriately, their sophomore Kindercore CD, last year's The Tight Connection, was one of 2002's lost gems. The cover of "Call Me" is overt Blondie, but the NYC duo's laptop pop also recalls Debbie Harry and company on blithely melancholy boppers like "Big Star." (Tequila Rock, midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

LI'L CAP'N TRAVIS: Few possess the inner fortitude to resist the charms of Austin's Li'l Cap'n Travis. They are plentiful, from the fivepiece's sublime steel-guitar reveries and McMurtryesque tales of South Plains ennui to window-rattling meditations on Trans Ams and tube tops. Their second CD, Lonesome and Losin', was a local favorite last year. (Continental Club, midnight) -- Christopher Gray

SUPERGRASS: Guitarist/singer Gaz Coombes, bassist Mickey Quinn, and drummer Danny Goffey burst onto the British charts in the mid-Nineties with their take on the contagious power pop of the Kinks/Buzzcocks axiom. 2002's underrecognized Life on Other Planets delved into T. Rex glam with playful aplomb. (Stubb's, midnight) -- Greg Beets

APPLES IN STEREO: This venerable Denver group's 2002 release, The Velocity of Sound (SpinART), is the band's most ambitious pop blast, but it's not nearly as cool as "Signal in the Sky," their contribution to Heroes and Villains: Music Inspired by the Powerpuff Girls. (La Zona Rosa, midnight) -- Melanie Haupt

QUASI: With über-duo Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss, also known as Quasi, the obligatory discussion of their "other bands" (he of Elliott Smith's and she of Sleater-Kinney) distracts some from one of the most intriguing and brainy indie rock bands to amble out of the Pacific Northwest. Last year's The Sword of God saw them raise the bar on oddball interludes. (Antone's, midnight) -- Christopher Hess

ABRA MOORE: After leaving Clive Davis' J Records over differing marketing ideas for her delightfully glossy No Fear album, the Austin singer-songwriter has been busy shopping a slightly retooled version. She's also broken a two-year live hiatus with a string of impressive shows that introduced a new live band with a surprising leader -- Dynamite Hack frontman Mark Morris. (Mercury, midnight) -- Andy Langer

JON RAUHOUSE: After years of journeyman duty on pedal steel for Bloodshot, the label saw fit to release Rauhouse's Steel Guitar Air Show, a delightfully weird and swoony take on chestnuts like "Perfidia" and "The Lonely Bull," as well as a handful of equally strange, transcendent originals. (Mother Egan's, midnight) -- Jerry Renshaw

THE CRACK PIPES: Led by the Right Rev. Ray Pride on vocals and harp, Austin's Crack Pipes spew rusted-out garage-skronk with the refreshing ferocity of an exploding can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. The Crack Pipes' following was widened exponentially with the release of 2001's Every Night Saturday Night. (Beerland, midnight) -- Greg Beets

MUDHONEY: Last year's acid-tinged Since We've Become Translucent wasn't the shot to the jugular needed by the great gods of Seattle garage-grunge, but put them in a club, and they still rock like a burning sickness. (Emo's Main, 12:15am) -- Michael Chamy

PINBACK: Rob Crow (Heavy Vegetables), Zach Smith, and Tom Zinser (both of Three Mile Pilot) make chugging, soaring music, guitar and drums synthesizing into expansive yet spare instrumentation, coupled with biting lyrics that speak out when the quiet spots are done talking. The San Diego trio's follow-up to last year's brilliant Blue Screen Life is due on Touch & Go later this year. (Antone's, 1am) -- Melanie Haupt

DANNY BARNES: Founding member of seminal punk-grass outfit the Bad Livers, Danny Barnes is a musical journeyman. The former Austinite now calls Seattle home, but still draws inspiration from the godheads of bluegrass and folk traditions. Terminus put out Things I Done Wrong in 2001. (Opal Divine's, 1am ) -- David Lynch

EDWIN MCCAIN: Most folks probably know this South Carolinian from his big radio hits of a few years back, "I'll Be" and "Solitude," but there's more here than meets the ear. His latest album, The Austin Sessions, is a collection of old and new songs in a stripped-down setting. Perfect timing for SXSW. (Mercury, 1am) -- Melanie Haupt

THE LOCUST: This perpetually hemorrhaging San Diego quartet buzzes with all the horror of a discombobulated cockroach. Their, uh, "songs" rarely pass the 60-second mark, and hearing Justin Pearson's mutant shrieks, you'd swear he was bitten by a radioactive locust. Live, this digitally throbbing unit is reportedly frightening beyond compare. (Emo's Annex, 1:15am) -- Michael Chamy

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