SXSW 2011, Day 1

Robert Baird reports from South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival held in Austin, Texas.

I couldn’t resist. It was a sunny Monday afternoon and after a cruise on Austin’s famous drag, (otherwise known as Guadalupe), past the old (real) Antone's club, which is now a dry cleaners, I parked the rental car and slid into a nearly deserted Hole-in-the-Wall, for a shot of Patron Silver and to soak in a little classic Austin atmosphere. While the venerable club dropped out of SXSW many years ago, (a move which cements the HITW’s coolness), there, on a Monday afternoon, was Dad Jim, a quintet led by a barefooted chick who stood on a shiny new washtub, plunking away on a single blue nylon string, a guy with dreads and a gray Confederate army kepi playing banjo and a hairy dude with rings, tats, a black cowboy hat and a Waylon attitude and growl. The local rallying cry, “Keep Austin Weird” (which actually died when Dell computers moved in) still has some meaning.

Wednesday, the official first day of SXSW even though, mind bogglingly, it now begins the Thursday before (soon it will be a two week event!), I absorbed music from a trio of Susan Cowsill, Freedy Johnson, and Jon Dee Graham (guitar pop), Jason Isbell (a bluegrassy duo show), a bunch of dancey Canadian electronic guys, a very disappointing Wax Poetics showcase where a lot of electronic acts like Chico Mann who are better on record than live, manipulated computers with no live instruments. Three “songs” and I was outta there. Lastly Jimmie Dale Gilmore who was great as always in possibly the worst venue, the Victoria Room at the Driskill Hotel. Now off to five hours of much needed rest.

sgibson389's picture

You are so right about Jimmie Dale Gilmore, have yet to see him live, but all his cd's are great!

bikepedlar1's picture

Although I've not been there in years your words ring true to my observations of Austin. I used to go every other year although not for the SXSW. I would stay at the Driskill, and walk out the door to 6th street if memory serves. I would stay out jumping from one club/restaurant/bar to another until they shut down or I did. I saw some amazing acts and people and 9 out of 10 times something that was just hilariously inexplicable. Thanks for the memories!