SXSW 2013 Music

18 Mar

Oh yeah, it’s a music festival too! To be honest, I had such a great time attending the conference part of SXSW that the live shows were lower on my list this year. Going to the panels was an 8 – 6 job, and commuting from San Marcos added some extra time this year. It was all awesome, but I tried to be cognizant of my energy levels. A lot of awesome shows at SXSW happen at midnight. I did not go to those. I am utterly satisfied with what I did see, though. Here you go:

Since Chad was in town from Washington, D.C., we of course had to take in a couple of the best singer-songwriters in town (I’m biased but I’m right). Elizabeth Wills played at NeWorlDeli and it was the perfect way to wind down after the first day’s panels.

Elizabeth Wills at NeWorlDeli

Next up on the Must See list was SusanG! with Billy Masters in Frederickburg. We drove through a crazy rainstorm but it was worth it because SG never disappoints and Billy is one of the best guitarists in this town. This state. This planet.

Susan Gibson and Billy Masters

was the new band I really wanted to see, so I headed down to the Vevo TV Control Room (aka The Ghost Room when it’s not SXSW and taken over by a brand name) on Wednesday. There was a line around the block but I realized people with badges could just walk right in…that was one of the many moments I yelled a big “THANK YOU CARI!” because Cari is my badge angel.


I became a fan after stumbling on their kind of 80’s pop songwriter EP a few weeks ago. What I didn’t expect was for the three sisters to walk onstage and rip our faces off with awesomeness and ferocity. The EP is great but it does not even hint at the energy of a live show. All three girls are great instrumentalists, too. I was right up front and got some great photos.


I didn’t catch an Amanda Palmer show but she did play one tune during her panel, which was awesome. It was about a ukulele. She played it on the ukulele.

Amanda Palmer

Charlie Faye
did a great set with Noelle Hampton and Andre Moran backing her up. Charlie has a new album coming out soon and based on the new songs she played…it’s a winner!

Charlie Faye with Andre and Noelle

Natalie Maines
played the ACL Moody Theater to promote her upcoming solo record and she nailed it. Ben Harper produced it and luckily he came along to Austin to play with her. Natalie has that same powerful voice that cuts right through, but the sound is way more rock than anything the Dixie Chicks have done. The highlight was the last song when Lloyd Maines came out and he and Ben engaged in a pedal steel / lapsteel duel that just left me standing there with my mouth hanging open. (I know it’s not a competition but if it maybe was a competition, Lloyd destroyed everything on the stage and lit it on fire with his pedal steel, hands down).

Natalie Maines and Lloyd Maines

I rounded it out with The Belle Sounds, a band featuring Noelle Hampton, Andre Moran, and my pal Emily Shirley. It was their first gig and they nailed it. Their record comes out in April…I’ll post more about that later.

The Belle Sounds
All in all, a great time. I did not run into Price or Justin Timberlake in the street but that’s ok. Maybe next year.

(Note: Pretty sure Prince doesn’t walk the streets anywhere, but for sure not at SXSW because everyone would recognize him because I bet he always wears purple).

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