Powell St. John

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Powell St. John

The Hideout, Friday, March 16

Hard as it may be to imagine now, there was a time when being "weird" wasn't an attribute in Austin. Songwriter Powell St. John emerged from the same embattled mid-Sixties enclave that birthed Janis Joplin and Roky Erickson. He contributed six songs to the 13th Floor Elevators, and his influence on Erickson's songwriting is undeniable. Dressed in an Oat Willie's T-shirt and a skull-covered headscarf, St. John's appearance oozes the aura of loyal opposition even today. Friday's set confirmed this notion with a mix of the political, the psychedelic, and the prurient. The former was best represented by "On My Way to Houston," which deftly lampooned preacher-in-the-whorehouse hypocrisies that define Lone Star political life. St. John's acoustic version of Elevators favorite "Kingdom of Heaven" highlighted the song's hallucinatory swirl of religious imagery, while the playful double entendre of "Piccolo" paid tribute to an unrequited love from the high school marching band. St. John's seat-of-pants approach was unconventional by SXSW standards, but sometimes earnest wit is enough to carry the day.

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