I'm a believer in the line " if you build it they shall come" in this case it's more appropriate to say, "if you play it they shall come". This line holds true for the madness that is SXSW down here in Austin Texas. After dealing with all technical busy work, like flying, hotel, credentials, I was ready to hear some good music. I headed over to the Gram Parsons Foundation launch event and was greeted with a set from Jenny O. Her vocals are hauntingly beautiful and I couldn't get over the fact that this girl could sing. Easily I could see her falling into the class of beautiful girls, with great vocals, that write pretty songs on an acoustic guitar. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that, in fact at times often exactly what is needed, this girl rocked, hard. The southern rock influence that was apparent in each song was aided by a pick up band from Fort Worth Texas. I could not have asked for a better welcoming set in true Texas country southern rock fashion.
Shurman, an Austin native band, drew a crowd of local supporters that welcomed several songs off their newest album Inspiration. Joking with the fans that this was a first of ten shows at SXSW and they were already hung-over was not evident in their performance. These guys impressed with not only with solid guitar work, but also with a kick butt jacket on the lead singer.
The emcee stated it best when describing the next band, Biltzen Trapper's ability to play all different types of music and for this afternoons set they would focus on country. While their set was in true talented form nothing jumped out at me as a show stopping song, but they played a solid enjoyable set. Their name and reputation alone helped increase the crowds’ size, which aided in bring in the donations and understanding of what the foundation actually does.
Gram Parsons daughter took the stage to inform the crowd the focus of the foundation, which is to help show people that intoxication and dependency of all varieties is not a necessity for the rock and roll lifestyle. They do so by reaching out to youths as well as working with musicians who may already suffer from a dependency to get back into a sober living situation.
The afternoon continued with set from Great Lake Swimmers, that definitely mellowed the overall mood, which was a nice change up from the more upbeat tunes from earlier. With each song the rain clouds gradually drifted by hoping to pass without disturbing the afternoon festivities.
Poor Moon was to take the stage next and I was curious to see the overall feel of the band as it contains members of Fleet Foxes, which tend to lean towards the orchestral beautiful gradual build of intricate layers. I think it's often hard to mess up a band when combining a bunch of talented musicians and Poor Moon only reaffirmed that thought. The difference between the two bands is quite noticeable, mainly in the way that Poor Moon does in fact have layers built upon itself there is an undeniable psych rock sounds that is incorporated with the more recognizable vocals. This is so far today's band to catch if they are near you. With their debut release coming in April I see the popularity rising as quickly as the word spreads.
Amy Cook followed and showed her great comfort on stage and familiarity of South Austin, as she appeared to be a "hometown" favorite.
Cory Chisel with a member of Alberta Cross
I ended my time at the event with an amazing performance by Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons. I am no stranger to this band but this was hands down the best I have ever heard Cory's vocals. The whole band sounded spot on. They enjoyed many guests on stage including lead singer of Alberta Cross, the last band of the day, sadly I had to leave in order to catch the rest of my evening acts.
All Photos (c) Daniela Montelongo