SXSW Picks & Sleepers

Picks & Sleepers

Friday Picks

All showcase times subject to change. Please check

Joss Stone, Toots & the Maytals, Kris Kristofferson

6-10pm, Town Lake Stage @ Auditorium Shores
Though UK teenage soul sensation Joss Stone headlines as a new generation's Joan Osborne, and opener Kris Kristofferson promises to help you make it through the night, it's Toots Hibbert who will truly rouse the massive. His 1968 hit "Do the Reggay" gave name to the music he helped originate, and Hibbert remains the keeper of that irresistibly upbeat riddim. With a new album of re-recorded classics and guest stars, True Love, due in May, expect a cavalcade of his innumerable hits. The shores of Town Lake will be rockin'! – Jay Trachtenberg

New West

8pm-2am, La Zona Rosa
One of the most successful independent labels of the past 10 years, New West has offices in L.A. and Austin and a growing roster. Athens, Ga.-based singer-songwriter Randall Bramblett concocts a stew of Southern rock and R&B with lyrics that provide a cinematic sweep on his new, sophomore LP for the label, Thin Places. Austin's gravel-voiced singer, gifted songwriter, and vicious, sometimes tender guitarist Jon Dee Graham has nearly completed his fourth New West release. Now more a band than a legend, the Flatlanders are three Texas musical heroes and lifelong friends: Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock. Wheels of Fortune, perhaps their strongest work to date, was released earlier this year. The blue-eyed soul and rockin' blues of Delbert McClinton has made him a Texas treasure, the Grammy winner's 2-CD live album from last year hailed as his definitive live collection. The label's latest signing is Dwight Yoakam, one of the most creative artists in country music ever. Drive-by Truckers, also from Athens, may be the last great band, having just delivered to the label a follow-up to 2003's Decoration Day, which made Top 10 lists nationwide. – Jim Caligiuri

Dale Watson

8pm, Opal Divine's Freehouse
Honky-tonk to the core, Austin's Dale Watson has carved out a respected niche as true-to-life ambassador of country music, Western swing, and Bakersfield blues. Dreamland, co-produced by Ray Benson, is due this spring. – David Lynch

Patrick Park

8pm, Stubb's
Coloradoan Park knows the expanse of the West and the restlessness it inspires, though he now lives in New York. The singer-songwriter's debut, Loneliness Knows My Name (Hollywood), combines wanderlust with the edginess of urban experience to resonant effect. – Melanie Haupt

Jolie Holland

8pm, Antone's
Part Billie Holiday and part Patsy Cline, Texan Jolie Holland is an original founder of the Be Good Tanyas. April's Anti- disc Escondida is full of regretful ruminations, acoustic blues, and twangy, soulful vocals. – Darcie Stevens

Sally Timms

8pm, Cactus Cafe
Turns out that 1999's Cowboy Sally's Twilight Laments ... For Lost Buckaroos on Bloodshot was directed at all those cowpokes that fell in love with Timms' pretty Western dress, because its follow-up remains lost. Ms. Mekon, please, another tumble through the barnyard. – Raoul Hernandez

Touch & Go

8pm-2am, Exodus
One of America's most venerable indie labels continues to distribute a diverse array of sound from its Chicago home. Texas is home to Bedheaders Matt & Bubba Kadane, founders of the New Year with Saturnine bassist Mike Donofrio and Codeine drummer Chris Brokaw. The septet developed a more upbeat, downtown take on Bedhead's fragile intimacy, culminating in 2001's Newness Ends. Their follow-up, The End Is Near, is due in May. Tucson's Calexico started as a side project of Giant Sand bassist Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino, but their cinematic pastiche of Southwestern noise returns on their Convict Pool EP, featuring mariachi-fueled covers of Love's "Alone Again Or" and the Minutemen's "Corona." Former Mule guitarist/vocalist P.W. Long left Detroit and currently resides in Fort Worth, his latest effort, Remembered, is a blues-infused beer confessional from a warm, gruff voice wizened but unbowed by maturity. Hailing from Brooklyn by way of Paris, CocoRosie is sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady playing acoustic love songs simultaneously lilting and tweaked in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Maria Muldaur. Fellow Brooklynites TV on the Radio generated massive buzz with last year's Young Liars EP. The quintet's guitar, loops, and doo-wop-influenced harmonies are fleshed out compellingly on their new full-length, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes. – Greg Beets

Sub Pop

8pm-2am, Blender Bar @ the Ritz
Seattle's Sub Pop, having recently celebrated their 20th anniversary, strut their stuff at SXSW yet again, the offerings plentiful and varying wildly. The psychedelic noise freak-out of San Francisco's Comets on Fire opens the night, followed by L.A. Beachwood Sparks off-shoot All Night Radio, who specialize in the dreamy postmodern psychedelia found on their debut, Spirit Stereo Frequency. The Baptist Generals are some of Denton, Texas' finest weirdos, led by lovable headcase Chris Flemmons. Last year's No Silver/No Gold was a most intriguing and disturbing release, the sonic equivalent of trotting out your crazy Uncle Bob at a company dinner. Seattle quartet the Catheters snake fierce, all-out garage rock into your sensitive places. Kinski, meanwhile, one of last year's SXSW successes, blast out experimental noise-rock from their satellite defense missile system, Airs Above Your Station. Wrapping things up are the Constantines from Toronto. Last year's alt- gem Shine a Light placed them in the crosshairs, the sights set on stardom, or at least a free pass outta the Great White North. – Melanie Haupt

Fat Wreck Chords

8pm-2am, Emo's Main
Outta San Francisco, Fat Mike's Fat Wreck Chorders no longer want anarchy; they want a change of authority. It's time to Rock Against Bush with emcee and punk legend Jello Biafra. Chicago's the Lawrence Arms ready the pit with The Greatest Story Ever Told. Next in line, Against Me! – or Billy Idol plus the Descendants plus an angry Hank III – performs As the Eternal Cowboy from Gainesville, Fla. Then the god of pissed-off slackers worldwide, comedian David Cross flings his diatribes until they stick. After the crying stops, the anger-letting of the Dillinger Four starts. Raised in St. Paul, Minn., they demonstrated what freezing temperatures do to punk rock rats on last year's Situationist Comedy. Punk as fuck with a dash of pop and a hint of the dark side, the Alkaline Trio blows in from the Windy City with last year's hit, Good Mourning. And if the pit's still throwin' 'bows, enter the saviors of punk. Some say NOFX hasn't done anything creative since 1994's Punk in Drublic, but with new disc The War on Errorism and more tried-and-true oi! classics than Sum 41 has zits, they're sure to rock the kids at the political punk rawk show. Anyone but Bush 2004. – Darcie Stevens

The HaveNots

9pm, Cedar Street Courtyard
Forget the Thrills, rejoice instead about the HaveNots, Brits who've managed to reinvent the sleeptime museum of low-end alterna-folk with their Bad Pennies debut. Hushed vocals ricochet between Sophia Marshall and Liam Dullaghan, backed by spare arrangements like molten butter. – Marc Savlov

The Grim Northern Social

9pm, B.D. Riley's
Scottish pop-punk-artsters' self-titled debut on One Little Indian confirmed what the Manchester Evening News proclaimed: Mark E. Smith's yowlings plus the mad pummeling of the Stooges result in a warped mix of "Flaming Lips meets Mercury Rev or T. Rex fronting Radiohead." The truth is in there somewhere. – Marc Savlov


9pm, Parish
Emo needs more finely etched atmospherics like those found on Seattle trio Aveo's sophomore sleeper for Barsuk, Battery. Comfort vocals, billowy beds of bass, six- and 12-string guitars, and even a glockenspiel fly in the face of tours with Death Cab for Cutie. – Raoul Hernandez

Kacy Crowley

9pm, Tambaleo
After a SXSW or four as a "next big thing," this Austin singer-songwriter now finds herself in the middle of a steady comeback. Her post-Atlantic revival infuses the swagger or her live show, with the charming smarts of last year's Jon Dee Graham-produced Moodswing. – Andy Langer

The Honorary Title

9:40pm, Copper Tank Main
Last SXSW, Brooklyn bard Jarrod Gorbel brought an EP to make most Britt Daniel fans sit up and take down his name. He returns with his Doghouse debut, Anything Else but the Truth, an apocryphal tale of contemporary indie songcraft fulfilling that EP promise. – Raoul Hernandez

Snow Patrol

10pm, Stubb's
Snow Patrol is a pillar of the Glasgow music scene and its members are principals in the Scottish supergroup the Reindeer Section, which features members of Mogwai, Arab Strap, and Belle & Sebastian. Last year's A&M/Interscope CD Final Straw distills the band's spacey pop into a concise, emotionally charged collection that sounds like Sebadoh as produced by Dave Fridmann. – Michael Chamy

Glenn Tilbrook

10pm, Momos
Together with Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook wrote and performed a long list of genre-defining, British pop hits in Squeeze. Difford stepped back from the grind after 1998's Domino, so Tilbrook went solo, releasing The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook in 2001 on his own Quixotic London label to widespread pop-maven acclaim. – Greg Beets

The Veils

10pm, Rockstars
Sailing the same Coldplay waters of Starsailor, London quartet the Veils orchestrate their moody push 'n' pull like pros. Kiwi-informed Finn Andrews recalls a measured Rufus Wainwright pouring ash and honey into the piano, while the band's April debut on Rough Trade, The Runaway Found, is another new Brit notable. – Raoul Hernandez

Fantasy's Core

10pm, Pyramids
Hailing from Nagasaki (or, "Bomb City," as they would say), Fantasy's Core hawks high-decibel blues-punk peppered with liberal doses of slightly surreal schtick between songs. Vocalist Mao Karisu is a charismatic showman embodying the cinematic traditions of both Yakuza and slapstick comedy. – Greg Beets

The Broken Family Band

10pm, Cedar Street Courtyard
This Cambridge, Mass., quartet is the perfect complement to the local bands on this showcase, Milton Mapes and the Gourds: wry filtered through a dry British wit. The resulting Jesus Songs (Track & Field) isn't so much about the passion of the Christ as the ironic debauchery of his flock. – Melanie Haupt

Anders Parker

10pm, Bigsby's
With his Artemis/E-Squared deal yielding only 2001's Songs in a Northern Key, Varnaline's man behind the V is readying his first solo album even as the NY trio's hardball catalog has been self-reissued. On a recent tour with A-town's South San Gabriel, Parker's flesh-and-bone songwriting was as fierce as ever. – Raoul Hernandez

The Gourds

10pm, Austin Music Hall
A band so beloved that their Yahoo list fans are currently recording a tribute album to them, the Gourds embody the Austin mystique. Too quirky for the mainstream, their rootsy tunes and droll, salty lyrics are "music for the unwashed and well-read." The quintet's finest work in several years came out in 2003 as the Growin' a Beard documentary soundtrack, with Something's Brewin' in Shiner to come. – Margaret Moser

Tom Freund

10pm, 18th Floor @ Crowne Plaza
A KCRW favorite and longtime critics' darling, this Venice-based singer-songwriter and Silos alumni returns with his third solo set, Copper Moon, a collection of gorgeous melodies and compelling narratives that suggest he'll uphold his reputation for turning in magnificent SXSW performances. – Andy Langer

Rhett Miller

10pm, Cactus Cafe
For nearly 10 years, Rhett Miller has been the charismatic frontman for Dallas' Old 97's, one of the smartest, hardest-rocking bands on the pop/rock/twang scene. In 2002, Rhett released a solo album, The Instigator, which shone with a more contemporary strum and jangle. – Jim Caligiuri

Charlie Musselwhite & Charlie Sexton

11pm, Continental Club
Duos don't get more dynamic than Memphis harp king Charlie Musselwhite and Austin guitar ace Charlie Sexton. Dylan's former bandleader demonstrates similar command on Musselwhite's Real World debut, Sanctuary, featuring songs by Sexton, Townes Van Zandt, and gospel guests the Blind Boys of Alabama. – Margaret Moser

Legendary Shack Shakers

11pm, Antone's
The Shack Shakers' superhuman stage antics and berserk take on country music and Southern life in general are nearly unmatched. Their Bloodshot release Cockadoodledon't is a pale representation of their Stooges doing tweaked-out country punk live pounding. – Jerry Renshaw

Flogging Molly

11pm, Emo's Annex
There hasn't been a better marriage of punk and Irish folk since the Pogues. A Warped Tour favorite, Flogging Molly wallops Irish classics as played by six Californians hellbent on accordian, tin whistle, and mandolin. Those with an aversion to mosh pits need not apply. – Darcie Stevens


11pm, Elysium
Blurt are underheralded late-Seventies, minimalist, post-punk pioneers from London. Saxophonist/vocalist Ted Milton's whacked-out, skronking, Dadaist musical visions border on performance art and recall the wild rants of Captain Beefheart. Just released is The Fish Needs a Bike: The Best of Blurt. – Jay Trachtenberg

Gary Jules

11pm, Texas Union Theatre
Yep, he's the man behind the heartbreaking rendering of Tears for Fears' "Mad World." Its slow burn from the Donnie Darko credits to the top of the UK charts has built excitement Stateside for the re-release of the L.A. songwriter's second LP, Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets. Sometimes nice guys do finish first. – Andy Langer

Knife in the Water

11pm, Cedar Street Courtyard
Recently signed to Aspyr, a local video-game company-gone-record label, the moody Austin pop quintet had its first two LPs, Plays One Sound and Others and Red River, reissued alongside the release of their third album, Cut the Cord. Aaron Blount & Co. are masters of letting mood dictate the music. – Melanie Haupt

South San Gabriel

11pm, Bigsby's
Prolific Will Johnson never gets a rest. The Centro-matic frontman recently released two albums: C-m's Love You Just the Same (Misra) and South San Gabriel's Welcome, Convalescence (Undertow). The flip side of Centro-matic's rock coin, South San Gabriel is sleepy, reflective, marked by Johnson's sexy-scratchy voice and melancholy pedal steel. – Melanie Haupt

Harvey Sid Fisher

11pm, Club DeVille
It wouldn't be SXSW without Harvey Sid Fisher, the L.A. actor, model, and undisputed king of astrology songs. Fisher's public-access video of the latter is cult legend, but he continues to pen fun, wide-resonating ditties about everything from the battle of the sexes to the benefits of quitting smoking. – Greg Beets

Curt Kirkwood

11pm, Cactus Cafe
It's getting around that time for master Meat Puppet to twist up a solo album. After an Austin incarnation of his trailblazing cowpunk band and a glancing blow with Krist Novoselic in Eyes Adrift, Curtwood's gnarled acoustic gigs at the Cactus attest to the time for soloing being (to quote 28 Days Later) extremely fucking nigh. – Raoul Hernandez

Andrew Bird

11pm, Hole in the Wall
Chicago's Andrew Bird began violin lessons at age 4, studied music at Northwestern University, and after playing with the Squirrel Nut Zippers, formed the rootsy Bowl of Fire and signed with Rykodisc. His latest, Weather Systems, marks a move to Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe imprint and is no less accomplished. – David Lynch

Angela McCluskey

11pm, Tambaleo
This Scottish chanteuse and former Wild Colonial's magnificent voice is only half the story. Her solo debut, Manhattan Records' The Things We Do, is full of equally distinctive songs. Seeing her now promises bragging rights later. – Andy Langer


11pm, Austin Music Hall
While the BoDeans and their reedy roots-rock has flown under the radar the past few years, Kurt Neumann and Sammy Llanas have toured sporadically, mostly near their Wisconsin base. The first BoDeans disc in seven years is currently being mixed and mastered. – Jim Caligiuri

Hamell on Trial

Midnight, Hole in the Wall
Acoustic guitar-wielding one-man punk band. An in-your-face attitude, scathing wit, and razor-sharp cultural insights play out in his Lenny Bruce-meets-the-Ramones persona, amply demonstrated on last fall's Righteous Babe release, Tough Love. – Jay Trachtenberg

J Mascis

Midnight, Cactus Cafe
Dinosaur Jr. mastermind J Mascis remains the only guy who can solo endlessly and get the indie kids into it (sorry, Doug Martsch). Judging by the intimate venue, Mascis plans to reprise 1996's acoustic Martin + Me solo album. Fret not, the Dino classics will be heard. – Michael Chamy

Alexi Murdoch

Midnight, Texas Union Theatre
With no label and one four-song EP to his credit, this folksy troubadour has earned substantial AAA radio play the ol' fashioned way – on the strength of the music. While there's a sparseness to this Scot-gone-Californian's arrangements that invites immediate Nick Drake comparisons, a triumphant debut at last year's Austin City Limits Music Fest proved these simple, passionate songs stand tall in huge crowds. – Andy Langer

Trish Murphy

Midnight, 18th Floor @ Crowne Plaza
After a therapeutic 18-month sabbatical, Austin's Trish Murphy came back with her best album yet, last year's rootsy, emotionally raw Girls Get in Free. Her rollicking cover of Lyle Lovett's "Cowboy Man" is a gas, but better still are Murphy's own "Crying as Fast as I Can" and "Love Never Dies (It Just Gives Up)." – Christopher Gray

Carmen Consoli

Midnight, Lounge
Poised in both stature and potential, Sicilian crooner and accomplished guitarist Carmen Consoli is already a platinum seller overseas. It's not going to take much to nudge this versatile diva over to our side of the pond and over the Norah Jones, Sade, or even Polly Jean Harvey edge. We said "versatile." – Kate X Messer

Control Machete

Midnight, Aussie's
SXSW 03 trophied Molotov, the year before it was Colombia's Los Aterciopelados. This year, Mexico City veteran bomb squad Control Machete import their end-of-the-Mayan-calendar street dread. Last fall's Uno, Dos: Bandera hip-hopped the duo's junkyard chic, esse. – Raoul Hernandez

Katastrophy Wife

Midnight, Caucus
In Zorba the Greek, Alan Bates asks Anthony Quinn, "Are you married?" to which Zorba answers, "Am I not a man? And is not a man stupid? Wife, children, house, everything. The full catastrophe!" Babes in Toyland's shrieking violet Kat Bjelland has a different take: Kat as trophy wife, and/or Katastrophy Wife. – Kate X Messer

Whirlwind Heat

Midnight, Maggie Mae's
Jack White may have signed this Grand Rapids band to his Third Man V2 offshoot, but Whirlwind Heat is none of that Seventies-rock garbage. Last year's White-produced Do Rabbits Wonder? is filled with weird, spastic outbursts of fuzz-bass, twittering squeals, and quirky singer Dave Swanson's unique entreaties. – Michael Chamy

The Trashcan Sinatras

Midnight, Fox & Hound
Guitarist John Douglas has said his greatest moment was "shaking hands with Willie Nelson in a Leeds hotel," but we think it's likely on their new Weightlifting disc due this spring. In their 14-year career, frontman Frank Reader and company have managed comparisons to Aztec Camera, the Smiths, and Orange Juice, but their melodic and pure pop for the people is simply timeless and lovely. – Marc Savlov

The Polyphonic Spree

12:45am, Stubb's
Who can't help but succumb to the feel-good vibes of a 25-piece choral symphonic pop band, brainchild of ex-Tripping Daisy huggy-bear Tim DeLaughter? The bandleader is way excited about the group's "epic" second album, Together We're Heavy (Hollywood), due in May. – Melanie Haupt

Living Legends

12:45am, Vibe
The former East Bay rap collective now calls L.A. home, but the gritty desire behind their music has hardly gone Hollywood. While Mystik Journeymen, Sunspot Jonz, and Luckyiam.PSC churn out inspiring releases, it's Murs who's grabbing the attention of late, especially his collaboration with 9th Wonder. – Robert Gabriel

Milton Mapes

1am, Cedar Street Courtyard
This local quintet released the widely lauded Westernaire last fall on Austin's Aspyr alongside a re-release of their debut EP, The State Line. This Crazy Horse, named after founder Greg Vanderpool's grandfather, specializes in a snorting blend of yearning and ass-kicking. – Melanie Haupt


1am, Aussie's
Moby ain't the only one who knows how to ace a sample. L.A.'s Sergio & Francisco Gomez rap over jeweled snippets of trad regional bandas like Los Tigres del Norte and melon sugar from the king: Juan Gabriel. Hip-hop's all about the fixin's, and these former Juvenile Stylees, most recently with Proyecto Akwid, whip up high-end delicacy. – Raoul Hernandez

Davíd Garza

1am, Tambaleo
This supernaturally charismatic and amazingly consistent singer-songwriter recently celebrated his escape from L.A. with a month's worth of free shows at the Cactus Cafe. Now he's readying a 5-CD box with a high enough brilliance-to-bloat ratio to suggest Atlantic's loss might just wind up somebody else' windfall. – Andy Langer

Corey Harris

1am, Hole in the Wall
Corey Harris is the real deal, y'all. Using postgraduate work in Cameroon as a foundation, the blues guitarist and singer went to Mali to work with master musician Ali Farka Toure for the very fresh Mississippi to Mali (Rounder). Harris was recently featured on Martin Scorsese's Blues series. – David Lynch

Fatal Flying Guilloteens

1am, Jackalope
Houston is not anyone's idea of a garage-rock mecca, but it is whenever natives Fatal Flying Guilloteens are on. Infamous in Texas for their live antics, the foursome recruited Austin lo-fi majordomo Tim Kerr to produce 2003's Get Knifed (Estrus), a hotfooted collision of Stooge-like scuzz and Zappa-esque freak-outs. – Christopher Gray

The Flametrick Subs

1am, Club DeVille
Arguably Texas' best psychobilly band, the Flametrick Subs have been calling the naughty kids to midnight church in Austin for years now. Combining black leather, surf twang, horror film, and a damn good time, the Subs' Something in Japanese (Kranzke) was almost as lovely as the backing of Satan's Cheerleaders. – David Lynch

The Applicators

1am, Fox & Hound
The Applicators' alluring stage presence doesn't hurt these local gals' cause, but it's sneering, hook-heavy tunes like "Puke on You" that keep folks coming back for more. Their 2001 debut, What's Your Excuse (Cornerstone RAS), was produced by Circle Jerk Greg Hetson and featured credible covers of Sleater-Kinney and the Dead Milkmen. – Greg Beets

This Microwave World

1am, Lava Lounge Patio
This Microwave World is at the vanguard of Austin's percolating post-punk scene. Besides hosting Sunday-night nexus Disco Hospital, the quintet's 2003 EP, Total Information Awareness, is a black-clad riot of impossibly catchy synths, relentless electro-bass, and sharp, politically charged lyrics. – Christopher Gray

The Crimea

1am, B.D. Riley's
At its best, the Crimea's compelling full-length debut, Tragedy Rocks, consolidates all three Kinks eras – Sixties, Seventies, Eighties – in a slick, '00 lathering of wit and whimsy. No mystery why John Peel is their champion. – Raoul Hernandez

Friends of Dean Martinez

1am, Lounge
Formed a decade ago as an offshoot of Tucson's Giant Sand, this all-instrumental trio, highlighted by Austinite Bill Elm's haunting steel guitar, evokes an eerie, Southwestern gothic soundscape found on their upcoming Random Harvest (Narnack). – Jay Trachtenberg

Singapore Sling

1am, Copper Tank North
The steely glint of cobalt guitars on Singapore Sling's self-titled Stinky Records debut last year sounded like the Icelandic quartet was playing instruments sculpted out of ice. The Raveonettes weren't the only ones strip-mining the drone off early American rockabilly with chilling efficiency. – Raoul Hernandez

Papa Roach

1am, Back Room
Unfairly struck by nü-metal backlash, 2002's lovehatetragedy was such the right album at such the wrong time it may as well have been titled deadonarrival. Now they're fresh out of the studio with another smart all-metal, rap-free album they've just road-tested with a short run of their old SoCal shows. – Andy Langer

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle