'Mojo' Recommends

The best British music at SXSW as selected by 'Mojo' Editor-in-Chief Phil Alexander

'Mojo' Recommends
Courtesy of All McErlaine

Pete Molinari

1pm, the Mean Eyed Cat (1621 W. Fifth)

Nothing fascinates British musicians like the myth and the mystery of America. Pete Molinari is proof of that.

Born in Chatham, Kent, his journey began with the discovery of Dylan's key works as he hit his teens. Raised in a large Maltese-Italian family, Molinari escaped through music, which also gave him a strong sense of self. The path of discovery led to the America chronicled by Woody Guthrie in both his songs and his seminal 1943 autobiography, Bound for Glory. Jack Kerouac's On the Road fed his imagination and confirmed his restlessness. Having picked up a guitar, his next step involved a move to New York as Molinari headed for the mythical Greenwich Village cafes that paved the way for much of the music he loved so much. His apprenticeship there, at the likes of Cafe Wah? and the Bitter End, was hard but invigorating.

Back in Chatham, 2007, Molinari recorded Walking Off the Map, in hometown hero Billy Childish's kitchen. A spirited affair released via the Damaged Goods label, its lo-fi murk couldn't hide Molinari's uncanny knack for melody. His debut attracted a cult following, but his second album, A Virtual Landslide, marked him as one of the most distinctive voices of his generation. Produced by London's don of analog recording, Liam Watson, at his hallowed Toe Rag Studios, A Virtual Landslide sounds like nothing else that emerged in 2008, straddling the nebulous gray area between country music and rock & roll with a soupçon of 1960s classicism and the odd Dylan-ism thrown in for good measure.

"We're both fond of that Nashville sound where someone like Roy Orbison would go in and record," says Molinari of his relationship with Watson. "Liam did a real producer's job, which I didn't think existed anymore. And there's no overdubs."

Indeed, the pair's fascination with Nashville – and the records produced by the likes of Chet Atkins – led Molinari onward to Music City itself for his next recording, an EP entitled Today, Tomorrow and Forever, which featured a selection of telling cover tunes. Patsy Cline's title track sits alongside Porter Wagoner's "Satisfied Mind," followed by Roy Acuff's "Tennessee Waltz" and Jim Reeves' "Guilty," and all four tracks feature the indubitable talents of Elvis' backing vocalists, the Jordanaires.

"The Jordanaires came in, listened to the tracks, wrote down parts, gathered 'round one mic, started to sing, and my jaw dropped," recalls Molinari. "I didn't want them to leave."

Molinari's experience recording in Nashville was such that the man has recently returned there to record his third and now highly anticipated album, which is due out in the UK in June. Having played a number of showcases at South by Southwest, his Texan run ends today with a performance alongside a host of fine British talent and a number of special guests such as Dengue Fever at Mojo's Bootleg BBQ at our favourite Austin venue, the Mean Eyed Cat. To appropriate a phrase used by an American music legend, Pete Molinari don't sound like nobody.

Four More 'Mojo' Brit Picks for Saturday:

Malachai, 7:30pm, Antone's

Cate Le Bon, 9pm, Latitude 30

The Smoke Fairies, 11pm, the Ale House

Zun Zun Egui, 1am, Victorian Room at the Driskill

The 2021-2022 Austin Music Awards Music Poll is underway. Vote now for your favorite bands, venues, and music until January 31.

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