SXSW 1998: Who Needs Sleep?
Austin, Texas

These are from the daily e-mails I sent out during SXSW 1998

 
WEDNESDAY

The SXSW music festival has officially begun!! Wednesday is the Austin Music Awards. Got there at 6:50 p.m. so we (Jackie, Mary and I) could be assured of seats. Malachi, an electric gospel group opened (they were okay, but the only Christian music that really moves me, being a non-Christian from Kentucky and all, is unplugged country gospel music). The first winner up was Abra Moore, fresh from her newfound fame on MTV, and she played a few songs as well (my spellchecker on my computer wants to change her name to Abracadabra).

THE SHOW STOPPER: The Derailers. Gads, they are just the best thing to walk on a stage in years. We gave 'em a standing ovation. They were THE BEST. They closed with their own version of "Rasperry Beret."

Also featured were:

Not performing but looking fabulous was Toni Price, in a short, skimpy prom dress and well-groomed boofant(sp?) wig. And Tish Hinahosa (sp?), who also looked fabulous.

And now, it's time for celebrity watch. Presenting at this year's awards were, among others:

We kept waiting for Matthew McCoughnehey (sp?), but he never showed.... He's been (and probably still is) in town with Richard Linkleter and Ethan Hawke, promoting "The Newton Boys" (the soundtrack is better than the movie, rumor so has it). Sandra Bullock has never been far from his side.

And that is your SXSW report for Wednesday. Whether you wanted it or not.

 
THURSDAY

Suddenly, there's not enough hours in the day!! Help!!

After working a couple of hours and then walking around Town Lake, it was already time to head off for the evening of shows. I'd been debating between two different showcases and changing my mind for the past two days about which to see. I finally settled on the Checkered Past Record Showcase at Scholtz Beer Garten. Highlights of the evening:

At midnight we headed off to the Broken Spoke and caught most of Don Walser and some very good two-steppers. Added bonus was running into the members of the Meat Purveyors, there to enjoy the fun. And it was indoors and toasty.

I was home and in bed by 1:30 a.m., which in SXSW terms means I turned in early.

And now, I'm off to the grocery to get the ingredients to make my famous potato salad for the barbeque tomorrow. Don't ask me what I'm going to see tonight, because I DON'T KNOW!!!

 
FRIDAY

I wore my University of Kentucky Wildcats hoop earrings in honor of the game I would be missing -- I was with my team in spirit....

The SXSW part of the day started at Yard Dog (folk art gallery) on Congress Avenue for the Bloodshot Records Party. This year, Yard Dog put out plenty of $15 matchbox shrines -- they sold out completely last year. I almost bought one to the Carter Family, but changed my mind at the last minute and went with Carl Perkins. Jackie bought two -- one to the very young Dolly Parton and Porter Wagner, the other to Jerry Lee Lewis being fed peas by his child bride. Ain't that America....

We'd already missed three bands (Moonshine Willy, Calexico with Howe Gelb and Lisa Germano and Neko Case) by the time we arrived, but we were there for a set by the Sadies, The Grievous Angels, Split Lip Rayfield ("a bluegrass mutation of Scroat Belly") -- all were all AWESOME. My CDs-to-purchase list continues to grow exponentially.

Beer was free, and we drank a lot of it, to no noticeable effect, which led us to surmise that this was some kind of low-alcohol beer.

In the crowd was former Bloodshot label artists the Old 97s, sans the lead singer. We chatted it up with various folks from the P2 list, and professional colleagues of mine who are probably horrified to see the "other side" of me (that's you two, Sarah and Kristen)... One P2 person asked me, "Don't you do publicity for these bands or something?" I should have said yes, but....

We decided to skip the next round of performers and join up with the P2 people who'd left an hour before for Guerro's down the street. It was a hopping place -- I've never seen it like that. We were at a "lively" table, to say the least. That's what a few margaritas will do. I loaned John Langford of the Waco Brothers a piece of paper to write out their song list (they had been trying it on sugar packets), even though he dissed me because I wasn't wearing a SXSW badge. Got a few pictures of him kissing several men -- what is up with this straight-men-kissing-each-other-full-on-the-mouth-trend that seems to permeate SXSW this year? Must be a musician thing.

Then Tommy and Beth came in and I introduced them to everyone, and then the guys from Sonic Youth came in and introduced themselves. Then we all went back to Yard Dog for sets by Alejandro Escavedo, the fabulous Meat Purveyors (upon their taking the stage, my friend Jackie realized we had been socializing with yet another band) and an absolutely incredible set by the Waco Brothers. One of the best SXSW experiences ever. If all the free shows are like this, I may not buy a wristband next year.... finally got to see the famous Beatle Bob, who became an intregal part of the Waco Brothers performance.

It was 8 by the time I got home to feed the dogs and let them know they still had a mother. Then it was off to the Austin Music Hall for Nick Lowe, who played a good-but-brief 30 minute set (include "Cruel to be Kind"). The Hall cleared out after he was done and was being refilled with Frat boys for the Jerry Jeff Walker set. We decided to flee and head for Liberty Lunch for the Damnations (I'd sworn I was not going to go see Austin bands during SXSW, but I just couldn't resist). After their set, I decided to call it an early night, and left Jackie to enjoy The Gourds, The Old 97s and Kelly Willis. Still waiting for that report of how it went....

And that's the news from Austin. Only one more day of SXSW to go for me, since Kentucky whooped up on UCLA (insert loud supportive screaming here) and I will be watching the game against Duke tomorrow instead of going to Gruene Hall for Bill Kirchen. I hope he's not offended....

 
SATURDAY

Okay, this should be the last mass, inpersonal email I send out to you all...

Saturday is always the most intense day of SXSW, because it goes on and on for so very, very long....

Mary and I headed out for a P2 member's brunch at her home at 10 a.m. (yikes -- I looked pretty scary). I met Bill Kirchen in the parking lot -- he was heading off to an early morning gig. I told him all the typical "Oh, you were so great when I saw you in whatever club and I just love yer music and yadda", and I appreciated his kindess in the face of my early-morning post-Yard-Dog-party ramblings.

Inside, we met several band members and record business people who's names I did not know -- I was actually most interested in talking about dogs with several other dog owners. What was really scary was, when someone said, "So, how do you know Erica? (party hostess)" and I said, "From Postcard2" several people leaned forward and said, "Hey, I'm on P2 also!" Mary said she's decided that P2 is more than a list, more than an online community -- we are a cult. I'm working on literature to hand out as soon as I send this e-mail...

Then it was off to the other side of town, to help with the Postcard 2 barbeque setup. I'd sounded like Scarlett O'Hara all week talking about this danged event. We arrived to find Cherilyn, party hostess and bass player for the Meat Purveyors, wandering aimlessly around her yard wondering where her ass was (her words, not mine). I made signs to direct people to important places (party, beer, food, etc.) and played with her new dog, Sausage (you'd have to see him). Jackie arrived, having slept in because she stayed out MUCH longer than me the night before (hmmm) and graciously accepted the responsibility of putting together Cherilyn's new vacuum cleaner.

Okay, I'm getting too detailed here, but, hey, I'm really tired, and I've still got that damn basketball game ahead of me today (GO KENTUCKY!!!).

People finally started arriving just after 1. I did a head count at 2:30 and counted 118 people. 150 attended altogether, I would guess. Entertainment was the fabulous One Riot One Ranger, who'd I'd seen first Thursday night at Shlotz Beer Garten, but I guess I was just too damn cold to get in a good listen. I'd also given the lead singer, Mark Wyatt (cult member) directions to the party the day before at Yard Dog, so I was glad that the two margarita's that day hadn't interferred with my communications abilities. Members of the nearby Baptist Church (not nearly as cool a cult as us) came over to tell us to move our cars out of their parking lot or burn in hell, so One Riot One Ranger interruped their set to move their own vehicles and then returned to do a gospel number for "the fucking Baptists. God Bless."

Met two delightful young P2 ladies from St. Louis (also cult members), Dottie and Heidi... and they kinda looked like a Dottie and a Heidi. But they were sweet and just happy to be there, and I convinced them not to move to the San Francisco Bay Area, with my tales of extremely high cost of living ($1.40 gas brought gasps I thought could only be uttered for a Wes Craven movie). Also spoke again with John Langford, who did NOT diss me this time -- he had bruises on his forehead from banging his head into the microphone stand at Yard Dog. Knocked some sense in to him perhaps.... saw various other band members in the crowd, but, well, I've dropped too many names already...

At 3:30, I gave the feather-boa-ed Cherilyn my regrets at having to leave and headed for the Broken Spoke for the Checkered Past Records/No Depression Magazine party. It was packed because it was free beer, I guess. Arrived just as Lonesome Bob was finishing. Next up -- Tommy Womack! (thank you SXSW karma police). It was a good set and the crowd was enthusiastic. He ended with, ofcourse, "Skinny and Small." Both of Tommy's latest projects -- his new CD and his baby -- arrive in June.

Squeezed in an hour at home to feed and exercise the dogs (they are fed up with this SXSW-you-are-never-here stuff), then sped off to the Texas Student Union Ballroom for an AMAZING showcase. Last year, I went to a show there at there were, like, 3 people. This year, there were easily 2,000 or more. The singer/songwriter lineup was:

Jackie saw Kelly Willis in the back of the ballroom. Just thought I'd throw that in.

And ran into the SAME P2 cult members at EVERY SHOW. The Internet permeates my life. I'm sick. I need help.

Never did see Janeane Garofalo, but as Jackie and I said goodbye at Threadgill's today, we did see Kurt Loeder walking through the parking lot with a group and getting into a rented min-van. And that's enough MTV for me.

And now, Waterloo Records is a sea of empty CD bins, my house is a wreck, and I have a whole damn Kentucky/Duke basketball game before I can sleep.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled, non-SXSW e-mails.

 


For more information about SXSW, visit http://www.sxsw.com


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