SXSW 2008: Friday and Saturday Music Wrap-Up

Brady Vercher | March 17th, 2008

Burleson Heights Unplugged at Ventana del Soul

Friday’s venue hopping kicked off just after lunch at Cafe Ventana, a little cafe/coffee shop tucked into the Ventana del Soul Cultural Center. It’s located away from the bustling activities of SXSW in downtown Austin, and as it turned out, just about everyone in attendance was either an employee or a performer, so we were pretty much treated to private acoustic show from some fine musicians and songwriters. Eline Emme from the indie rock band Someday Merry started the show and was followed by Wink Keziah, who introduced himself as a honky-tonker.

Wink Keziah is a large barrel-chested fellow, hailing from Charlotte, NC, he looks the part of a honky-tonker. Clad in denim, he delivered a few choice tunes that were a bit rough around the edges. He received a favorable review in the soon to be defunct magazine No Depression and as he told one particularly timid woman he cornered after a few beers the next night, “My shit ain’t the best, but it’s what I do.” Keep on truckin’ dude.
MySpace | Website

The relaxed atmosphere didn’t require the performers to dress up and I thought the next performer was just the sound man, but Hickory Vaught sauntered up to the microphone and pulled out a mandolin and picked around a little before finally revealing he actually had a voice to make me take notice and gave a rousing a cappella performance. I bumped into him later that night and told him that I thought he had certain expressive quality to his voice that highlighted the ache in some of the bluegrass tunes he sang and he explained it simply, “Well, it hurts sometimes.” If he’s able to capture the expressiveness of his voice on record when he gets around to putting an album out, I have a feeling it’s going to be some good stuff.

Lars and Mark from Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash

Mark Stuart and his talented compatriot, Lars Albrecht, from the local band, Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, put on a performance that showcased the awesome guitar skills of the expressionless Albrecht as well as some of their new material. Inbetween songs, Stuart offered up friendly banter, excitedly announcing that he’d be a part of Porter Wagoner’s fishing tournament later this year, stating, “Everything I do in life leads me to fishing and eating.” Stuart also lives near Cafe Ventana and said, “I like to come here and eat when I get in a fight with my girlfriend and get kicked out.” They didn’t play it, but The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash have a killer rendition of “The Long Black Veil.” It’s a little heavy on the bass, but good nonetheless. Check it out on their MySpace profile.
MySpace | Website

I made the same mistake again, figuring the next performer was just helping out the previous sound man, but Tyrone Cotton strolled up the the microphone just as unassumingly as Hickory and proceeded to sing the blues. I haven’t listened to the blues too much, so I can’t comment on the quality, but it sounded damn good to me.
MySpace | Website

Americana Roots/Galleywinter Showcase

Unfortunately, we had to miss Rosie Flores’ performance to make it to the Americana Roots/Galleywinter showcase back at Waterloo Icehouse. A New Orleans, LA based Americana band, Les Poissons Rouges, opened the showcase and while they were a talented group of musicians, it was hard to find anything original to identify them.

Modern Day Drifters, a new band fronted by Joe Churchill and the soulful vocals of Kristen Kelly, followed and brought a large entourage with them down the I-35 trail from Waco, TX. Their lack of experience was evident, but they showed some promise and it’ll be interesting to give their new album a listen.
MySpace | Website

The ever-entertaining Drew Kennedy nearly scared a couple of elderly folks off when he told everyone that he was going to sing his brand of hardcore Christian rap. Fortunately, the husband convinced his wife it was a joke and they eventually commented on how good he was. Kennedy went on to keep the crowd entertained with his refreshingly unique style and humorous stories about piƱata massacres.
MySpace | Website

Austin Music Hall

Darkness had descended by the time we meandered a few blocks away to the Austin Music Hall in time to catch the last couple of songs from Shelby Lynne and just in time for Junior Brown to get started.

Junior Brown is one of those guys who’s fame doesn’t align with his talents, but him and his custom made GuitSteel put on a delightful performance, with his wife joining him on stage and performing a duet at one point during the show.
MySpace | Website

Saturday at The Mean-Eyed Cat

Lucas Hudgins & The First Cousins

We wound up at the defiant, hole in the wall, honky tonk, The Mean-Eyed Cat, on Saturday to catch the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash again in a full set with Mark Stuart proclaiming that heaven must be a lot like the setting that night. Following the Bastard Sons, we finally got to catch a local act that we wrote about awhile ago called Lucas Hudgins and The First Cousins. They covered some Hank Thompson and the obligatory Cash cover since we were in the house of Cash, as well as some new songs and originals like “Honky Tonk Illusion.” Anyone interested in traditional country music would do well to check ‘em out and talk ‘em up all they can. These guys are worth the press.

  1. Kelly
    March 17, 2008 at 8:47 am

    So, uh, hanging out with me, my woman and baby isnt major enough to merit any mention in your weekend recap? What about the “twangfest” bands that failed to include any “twang” in their sound whatsoever??? Luckily, Sarah Borges brought plenty of twang to make up for the twang deficiencies of the bands y’all were lucky enough to catch…. Did I say “twang” enough???

  2. Brody Vercher
    March 17, 2008 at 9:06 am

    The bands we did catch at Twangfest were indeed seriously lacking in the twang department, it must have been the “meteorological settings,” too bad we bounced before Sarah Borges played.

    Good thing you didn’t come out to Mean Eyed Cat, either. The atmosphere has been diminished with all the construction going on and there was a lame private party in attendance for BSoJC. The music was top notch, though, and watching Lars Albrecht on the guitar is pretty surreal.

    By the way, my girlfriend wants your baby even though he slobbered all over her :P

  3. Kelly
    March 17, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Yeah, he slobbers a ton when he’s around the ladies, like father like son…

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