12 Breakthrough Austin Bands at SXSW Music

Palo Duro

Singer-wongwriter Michael Winningham on the story behind his genre-fusion debut, Ryou Cannon


Photo by David Brendan Hall

12 Breakthrough Austin Bands at SXSW Music

"At night, we were drinking whiskey and just listening to Texas in the evenings," remembers multi-instrumentalist Michael Winningham, formerly with alt-folk-rockers Gold Beach, of his latest outfit's origins. "It felt right that the name be surrounded by some Texas-based element, and 'Palo Duro' is a really special place to me."

Named for a canyon system of the Caprock Escarpment, located in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo, Winningham's new iteration arrives vividly dense and interminably winding. His profoundly heart-churning debut for Danger Mouse's 30th Century label, Ryou Cannon, bends drum machine kicks, lush acoustics, and unique genre fusion over trenchant pangs of romance. It's a collection informed by "'Sound and Vision' David Bowie and also William Onyeabor."

This beautifully produced album almost didn't happen, and wouldn't have had the making of the second Gold Beach album been on schedule. Set to work with Grammy Award-winning Midas touch John Congleton, the production became fraught with "false starts," especially once the producer's work with St. Vincent and David Byrne picked up significant steam. Work shifted to another studio expert, but "obstacle after obstacle kept on appearing," and so the motions of impending breakup fell into place.

Ryou Cannon bends drum machine kicks, lush acoustics, and unique genre fusion over trenchant pangs of romance.

Winningham, a 38-year-old Houston area native and Texas graduate, uses death-knell phrasing ("I was evolving as a songwriter") in the coffin-closing of Gold Beach.

"By the time I hooked up with [producer] Sam Cohen, it was a different project. It had morphed into something else," he admits.

Beyond SXSW commitments, Palo Duro will continue with Winningham shooting videos and building upon Ryou Cannon.

"One bit of feedback I always get – and I read this a lot in some of the reviews – was [the album] is very chameleon-like and there's a wide range of songs. I get that," he notes. "For the next record, I would like to pinpoint some of the things that were really exciting, and just dig in from within those strengths."


Palo Duro

SXSW showcase: Wed. 14, Friends, 10pm

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 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  

READ MORE
Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
A smaller SXSW Music week still satisfies

Kevin Curtin, March 23, 2018

SXSW Music Review: Keith Urban
Live Shot: Keith Urban
Country superstar’s “Wasted Time”

Doug Freeman, March 17, 2018

More by Kahron Spearman
Tomar Williams Hones Four Decades of Soul
Tomar Williams Hones Four Decades of Soul
Breakout of his family band, the performer seizes on his pop, soul, R&B, and hip-hop successes and failures in Tomar & the FCs

Nov. 16, 2018

I Am a Filipino and This Is How We Cook
I Am a Filipino and This Is How We Cook

Oct. 26, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

SXSW Music 2018, Palo Duro, Michael Winningham, Ryou Cannon, Gold Beach, Sam Cohen

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

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