Utne Reader Heads for South by Southwest

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Utne Reader had so much fun at South by Southwest last year that we’re going again. This time out, we’re sponsoring two wildly different concert bills and blogging daily from the mega-music conference in Austin, Texas.

Both our events take place on Thursday, March 19. The Official SXSW College Party, presented by Utne Reader and Team Clermont, begins at noon at the Flamingo Cantina with a roster of up-and-coming indie rockers: Loney Dear (5 p.m.), Mirah (4:10), Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (3:20), Modern Skirts (2:30), Slaraffenland (1:40), Telekinesis (12:50), Ruby Isle (noon), and Rafter (DJing between sets). I’m most keyed about the Scandinavian folk-pop of Loney Dear and the lo-fi musings of Telekinesis, but I’m keen to see all of these promising acts. I’ll be wearing my western-style shirt in ironic hipster style at this event, which goes until 6 p.m.

At 8 p.m., after a break just long enough for a takeout burrito and a Mexican Coke, we kick off a completely different sort of affair over at Antone’s–a roots-rock bill called Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm, featuring the Texas Tornados, Shawn Sahm, Augie Meyers, Flaco Jimenez and the West Side Horns, Jimmy Vaughan, Dave Alvin, Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles, and the Gourds, along with Justin Townes Earle, Carrie Rodriguez, Raul Malo, and Band of Heathens. I’ll still be wearing my western shirt, but I’ll ditch the irony for a long, tall cold one and a bunch of twangy guitar solos.

Sponsored by Utne Reader and the Americana Music Association, the show is curated by Vanguard Records, which is just about to release a Sahm tribute album also called Keep Your Soul. If you don’t know who Sahm was, well, he was a character akin to Gram Parsons in that he mixed rock and roll with country music–but threw in some R&B and Tex-Mex, too–and scored a few pop hits along with a cultish following. The sheer talent lineup of this show and the attendant album (which includes Los Lobos, Alejandro Escovedo, Charlie Sexton and many others) is a testament to Sahm’s long-lived legacy.

One musician who was supposed to be on the Antone’s bill is instead recuperating at home from open-heart surgery: Buddy Miller. One of country music’s finest songwriters and a sideman/guitarist to Emmylou Harris and many other rootsy artists, Miller had a heart attack last month. His prognosis for a full recovery is excellent, Jed Hilly of the Americana Music Association tells me, and several tour-bus operators vied for the honor of taking Miller home from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he had surgery. We’ll miss Buddy at Antone’s, but we’re cheered to hear that he’s sticking around.

Follow my blogging from South by Southwest at www.utne.com/arts.

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