Monthly Archives: March 2011

1st Annual Power Pop Festival Announced


April event will be curated by genre kingpin Paul
Collins; also check out free compilation album.


By Blurt Staff


The first Power Pop-A-Licious music festival
will take place on Saturday April 30th & Sunday May 1st at the legendary
rock club Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ.
Conceived and curated by power pop legend Paul Collins (cofounder of THE NERVES, THE BREAKAWAYS and THE
BEAT) the fest will bring together some of the finest young guitar-driven power
pop, garage rock and punk-pop bands from across the U.S. and Canada. Power Pop-A-Licious is a unifying
rally cry for this thriving rock-n-roll subculture, and is a means for power
pop fans of all ages to discover a wealth of talented new music acts in one
power-packed weekend. The full lineup is below.


There’s also a free  Power
16-song compilation album featuring the performers available
for download

Collins explains the concept behind the festival, “I was touring all over
the country with my Beat Army Tours, when it hit me, I gotta bring all these
great bands I’m playing with together for one crazy weekend!”

This all-ages event is ground zero for a burgeoning DIY power pop scene that’s
been fueled by the immediacy of the Internet, the devotion of its fans, and
social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Each day will feature
bands from different regions of the country, with local DJs spinning sets to
create an all-day dance party atmosphere.  Similar in approach to
“happenings” in 1960’s London,
Power Pop-A-Licious is no
mere rock n’ roll concert, it’s an event.  DJs, performance artist’s video
projections, and, of course, the spirited, high-energy live rock-n-roll
performances from all these great new bands will provide the entertainment. The
world-famous Asbury Lanes, where the two day fest will take place, is a vintage
bowling alley, bar and live music venue with a capacity of 300, and is located
in the heart of beautiful Asbury Park.


Tickets details at






BAM BAMS (Baltimore)

PEACES (Brooklyn)


BAXX SISI’S (Brooklyn)

LANDLORD (Bloomington, ID)

FUTURE VIRGINS (Chattanooga)


AMOEBAS (Grand Rapids)






BFs (Gloucester)
(Portland, ME)
THE ABOVE (Brooklyn)


GLORY FIRES (Birmingham)




Thrill Jockey Does Japan Benefit Comp


Massive 64-track
double album available for download now.


By Blurt Staff


Benefit for the Recovery in
, a compilation album with
contributions from over sixty diverse artists from around the world, has just
been released via Thrill Jockey’s Fina-Music online digital music store. 
100% of the proceeds from the sale of this compilation will go directly towards
the recovery and relief effort taking place in the wake of the March 11th
earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan and the resulting nuclear
emergency.  This massive set contains nearly five hours of music and
features tracks by a wide range of artists including Christian Fennesz, Shinji
Masuko (Boredoms/DMBQ), Prefuse 73, Tim Hecker, Tunde Adebimpe, School of Seven
Bells, Zeena Parkins, Bear In Heaven, The Ex, Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox, Oren
Ambarchi, Akron/Family, Sam Prekop, Ben Frost, Rhys Chatham, and many others.



Go to this Fina-Music link to
download the album.


As the crisis continues to unfold and the full scope of the disaster becomes
even more apparent, our sisters and brothers in Japan face many challenges: 
both the immediate needs – provisions for food, water, shelter, and healthcare
– as well as the long term recovery and rebuilding efforts in the impacted
communities.  The ripple effects of the earthquake and resulting tsunami
will be felt for years to come.  Benefit for the Recovery in Japan was created with the goal of providing immediate and tangible aid in the
relief, recovery, and rebuilding that will take place over the coming days,
months, and years. 

The people of Japan need
your help now, and your purchase of this music is one way to connect with and
provide assistance to the people in Japan working to recover from this
disaster.  100% of the proceeds from your purchase of this release will go
to the Japanese emergency response organization Civic Force – thereby helping
support real work happening on the ground by Japanese-based relief workers.

This compilation is dedicated to the victims and survivors, their families, and
the aid workers courageously struggling to deal with the aftermath of the


Benefit for the Recovery in
is curated by Antiopic’s David
Daniell and James Elliott, with invaluable assistance from Regina Greene (Front
Porch Productions), and Greg Davis.  This release is made possible by the
generosity of all of the artists involved.


About Civic Force:  Civic Force is a Japanese not-for-profit
organization that provides aid and emergency response in times of great
domestic trouble in Japan. 
Civic Force developed from experiences learned during the Niigata Earthquake of
2004, and was established to provide faster and more effective disaster relief
by cooperating closely with NGOs, the business community and government of Japan. 
For more information about Civic Force, see


Track List:

Part One:

01. Fennesz: “Fearless”
02. Helado Negro: “Cabeza Bella”
03. Stephan Mathieu: “(Excerpt from) The Floating World”
04. School of Seven Bells: “Midnight
05. Lawrence
: “Hotaru”
06. Noveller: “Darkheart”
07. Zeena Parkins: “The Letter”
08. Tom Carter (of Charalambides): “Mended”
09. Akron/Family: “Deep Kazoo”
10. The Ex: “Cold Weather Is Back”
11. Shinji Masuko (of Boredoms/DMBQ): “Botsuon”
12. Oneohtrix Point Never: “The Inside World”
13. Tokimonsta: “Sound
14. Joshua Abrams: “Jackdaws”
15. Keith Fullerton
: “Anzac #3”
16. Ben Frost: “Snæugla”
17. David Daniell: “Shiho-hiru-tama”
18. Grouper: “Cassiopeia”
19. Tape: “Mirrors”
20. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma: “Moon in a Dewdrop”

21. D. Charles Speer:
“Steel Infant”
22. Evan Caminiti (of Barn Owl): “Blue Veil”
23. Blackshaw, Wood, Wood & Tomlinson (James Blackshaw & Hush
Arbors): “Are You Alright? (Chump Change)”

24. Nat Baldwin (of Dirty
Projectors): “In the Hollows”

25. Chris Forsyth & Shawn
Edward Hansen
: “Dirty Pool Blues”
26. Zelienople: “Stone Faced About It”
27. Elm (Jon Porras of Barn Owl): “Diamond Dust”
28. Lobisomem: “Kusha”
29. Stabbing Eastwood (Tunde Adebimpe & Ryan Sawyer): “Thundersnow Mountain”
30. Alan Licht & Greg Malcolm: “Natasha Utting Reporting”
31. Scott Tuma: “To: Hasty”
32. Rhys Chatham: “Prayer for the People of Fukushima”

Part Two:

33. Prefuse 73: “The Only Climactic Dissonant Hums”
34. Growing: “Untitled”
35. James Plotkin (of Khanate): “Broken ’96”
36. Totem Test: “Pulse Prayer for Japan”
37. Marcus Schmickler (of Pluramon): “2.71828 Up”
38. Tim Hecker: “Hatred of Music (Double Gate Mix)”
39. Sylvain Chauveau: “Colours in Darkness”
40. Bear In Heaven: “The Days We Have”
41. Spires That In The Sunset Rise with
Michael Zerang
: “Collision Theory”
42. C. Spencer Yeh: “Solo Violin March 13th 2011”
43. Lau Nau: “Oi Kuolema”
44. Oren Ambarchi: “Merely A Portmanteau”
45. Warm Ghost: “Uncut Diamond (Dripping Pollen Mix)”
46. Bradley & Geofrey (Atlas Sound + White Rainbow): “Mr.
Stephen’s Private Service”
47. Peter’s House Music: “Half Step”
48. Leb Laze: “Da Plane Da Plane”
49. Matthewdavid: “Stop Laughing / Be Honest”
50. Sam Prekop: “Lakes
51. Simon Scott: “Of You (Before 2082)”
52. Tetuzi Akiyama/Jon Mueller/Jim Schoenecker: “Untitled”
53. Shelley Burgon: “Let It Be New”
54. Giant Sand: “Recovery Mission”
55. William Tyler: “Tears and Saints”
56. Mountains: “Still Life”
57. Ben Vida: “Quadsweep +2 (snkglazz iii)”
58. Maria Chavez: “Natural Disaster #2_2011”
59. Cleared: “Nova”
60. Neptune: “FIG IV”
61. Water Fai: “Tokitomori”
62. Parts & Labor: “Dokonimonai”
63. Jackie-O Motherfucker: “Blood of Life”

64. Greg Davis: “Sho
Sai Myo Kichijo Dharani”



MP3 + New Album from Marissa Nadler


Self-released, self-titled record gets a June 14 date.


By Blurt Staff


Boston dream-folk artist,
Marissa Nadler has announced the
upcoming release of her fifth full-length album and the first to be released on
her very own label Box of Cedar
Records. Produced by Brian
McTear, the self-titled LP is set for a June 14th release. Marissa proclaims, ‘It’s the most honest,
natural record I’ve ever written.”



Advance free download of MP3: “Baby, I
Will Leave You In The Morning”

Making music for nearly a decade and creating art for a lifetime her ethereal
songwriting remains rich with imagery and beautiful textures. “I’m no
longer hiding,” she admits. “The mystery still exists in the music as
an aesthetic tool, but the songs cut harder because of the vocal mix, with more
varied colors than my other records.”

Before moving out on her own label, Marissa released her last two
critically-acclaimed efforts, Songs III: Bird on the Water (2007) and Little Hells (2009) with Kemado
Records. The former led to two nominations for  the 2008 PLUG
awards for “best female artist of the year” and “best Americana record of the



1. In Your Lair, Bear
2. Alabaster Queen
3. The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You
4. Mr. John Lee Revisited
5. Baby, I Will Leave You In The Morning
6. Puppet Master
7. Wind Up Doll
9. Little King
10. In A Magazine
11. Daisy, Where Did You Go?



Radiohead Gets Into Newspaper Business

Who says print is
dead! Not BLURT!


By Blurt Staff


It’s called The
Universal Sigh
and it’s a tabloid-sized, 12-pge newspaper about to be given
away for free by Radiohead as part of an ongoing promotion for their new album King Of Limbs. (Thanks to Pitchfork for
the tip.) Recall that the record is already out digitally and it arrives in
physical form next week via the TBD label, then followed May 9 by a deluxe
edition which the band is cryptically calling “a newspaper edition.”


So anyway, this particular newspaper – the front page is
pictured above, while the image below is from an eBay ad (keep reading) – is described
by the band along these lines:


“A website on the internet, where details of your nearest
vendor can be found, as well as more informations and a photogallery where we
will be posting photos and the lucky owners of the gratis tabloid are invited
to post pictures of themselves and their friends reading the newspaper in
locations diverse and unusual.”


So it’s both a physical artifact and a web portal – the
latter is located right here and it should have details on how to get a copy of
the paper, which also reportedly will be available next week, on March 29.


About that eBay item: somebody already got ahold of a copy
and put it up for auction – it netted $60. Yikes. Not sure if that’s the most
financially responsible purchase ever made….





SXSW 2011 Report 2: The Videos


This year’s South
By Southwest was another fuckin’ great one. Go here or here for even more SXSW coverage.


By Randy Harward / Photo by Scott Dudelson


A good barometer for what, among the dozens of bands you
saw at SXSW, was truly great is how much you recall after the fact. Not as soon
as you get back to your hotel and you’re drunk, or in the morning when you’re
hungover and scrambling to post the first blog. Or when you’re feeling spent
and reflective at the airport on Sunday. Usually by Wednesday only the great
and awful, and the awfully average, stick out in detail.


Actually, if you try hard enough, you can recall
everything. It’s not worth it. Reciting a litany of everything you saw cheapens
the transcendent experiences. So does complaining about the crapfests you
endured due to circumstances or hastily, often drunkenly, negotiated ‘I’ll see
this if you see that’ deals with companions. Although, in all honesty, it’s


Here’s what really floored me this year – included are some expository vid clips that probably do a better job of showing you, better than mere words can, the performers’ awesomeness.


Marques Tolliver


When a guy takes the stage and says he’s gonna play a few
songs for you, and it’s the earliest set at a day party, it’s usually not a big
deal. It’s not just an opening act, it’s something everyone can miss while they
shuffle toward a late arrival and bigger, better acts. Preceding Jon Langford
and the Skull Orchard, the Waco Brothers, Hoots and Hellmouth, Mean Creek, Lydia
Loveless and Andy Friedman, Toliver’s one-man act stole the show as the
24-year-old stunned the earlybird crowd to rapt silence with his immensely
moving voice and unusual instrumental accompaniment: xylophone, dulcimer and





The Silent Comedy


Each year, often more than once, you’ll see a band you’ve
never heard of because your first choice is full and/or anything else that
sounds good is too long a hoof. Once in a while, it’s an extremely
serendipitous event – such was the case with San Diego’s The Silent Comedy. Boasting
multiple lead vocalists and songwriters, the quintet roared through a set of
infectious, introspective barroom rock ‘n’ roll that had the crowd singing and
jumping along.







Mystery Roar


Eighties throwback bands are so ubiquitous now that
sometimes I wanna shoot them in the face. The goods ones, though, are really
good. Mystery Roar played at the Converse Boston to Austin showcase at 512
and their funky, ABC-meets-Prince tunes bounced, thumped and roared on the
upstairs patio, beckoning enough listeners to create an elbow-to-elbow
situation that even an oppressive sun and heavy humidity couldn’t melt away.









Outside the Flatstock exhibit in the Austin Convention
Center, LA stoner rock trio Sasquatch laid down a nasty, thunderous groove that
had even security guards stopping to listen and snap photos.






Bobby Rush


For sheer entertainment value, you can’t beat Bobby Rush.
Usually he’s flanked by big badonkadonkin’ background singers and a full band,
but tonight at the Hilton Garden Inn it was just him, his Strat, a harmonica
and his hard R-rated song-stories. He had the crowd eating out of his hand,
especially when he noticed a good friend in the front row.


Brother?” Rush said when he spotted Pinetop Perkins
in his wheelchair. Rush talked about how the two blues legends went back 55-60
years, and how they both love McDonalds, then dedicated a smoldering version of
“Tough Titty” to his buddy. Sadly, two days later Pinetop passed away. R.I.P.







Taddy Porter


Expecting an unknown blues singer in the early slot at the Mississippi showcase, I arrived late – only to catch the
last half of the last song by this blues-based arena rock band (a favorite
flavor of mine) from Stillwater,
OK. That was all I needed to seek
more music online, which amounts to profound regret over my tardiness.







Roky Erickson w/Billy F. Gibbons


A Roky Erickson show is always a solid bet because
anyone who can swim up from murky mental illness and rock that hard,
like he’s never lost a step, is a real rock ‘n’ roller. Add a bad motherfucker
like Billy F. Gibbons to the mix and you’re seeing something really special.
The video below shows an almost identical performance from 2008, also at
Threadgill’s for Roky’s annual Ice Cream Social, doesn’t sound so hot, but just
imagine Gibbon’s palm-muted riffing, so prominent in ZZ, propelling Roky
chestnuts like “Two-Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer),” “I Walked With a Zombie”
and “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” You might never consider it otherwise, but if ZZ
Top ever deigned to be Roky’s backing band for a tour, it’d be utter magic.







Rubber City Rebels


I walked clear from the Continental Club to Skinny’s
Ballroom – 30 minutes with a heavy backpack and bad shoes – just to see these
guys, and it was the best show of the trip. The Akron quartet, which hails from the
late-1970s heyday of punk rock and power-pop, positively owned the stage
despite what they half-jokingly complained was a crap turnout.






The Latebirds


Full disclosure: This Finnish power-pop bands is signed to Blurt’s parent company Second Motion Records. In fact, I wasn’t even gonna write
about these guys until I saw them just crush it at the Continental Club
for, of course, Blurt‘s showcase. They have all the live energy of the
Posies as well as the songwriting smarts of that band and love ‘em or hate ‘em
cult band Toad the Wet Sprocket.









Zac Morgan/Z-sonance


was the early opener at a day party I popped into by chance. About 10-15 early
birds were as lucky as me, because Morgan’s flashy, soulful acoustic guitar
pyro is thrilling. In fact, his dexterous two-handed tapping and percussive
embellishments are reminiscent of another unplugged shredder, Monte
Montgomery–only Morgan eschews pop songwriting in favor of chill-inducing



SXSW 2011 Report 1: The Words



In which the harried writer clears
the fog from his brain and tries to… remember. Meanwhile, feel free to jog YOUR
memory via our collection of photo galleries, which you can access starting
right here.


By Fred
Mills / Photos by Scott Dudelson


gridlock arrived early in Austin
this year.


impossible-to-pin-down as the annual South By Southwest music festival and
conference has become – reaching its 25th anniversary, it certainly
doesn’t resemble its early Americana-titling self; staunch rockers scratch
their heads over the steadily-rising presence of dance music and hip-hop (Kanye
West at 4am? Really? The dude’s a big
deal, but c’mon… he’s about as Texas as my pet cockatoo.); and all those “event
happenings” like the Rachael Ray and Perez Hilton parties, though featuring
bands, are really just amped-up trash ‘n’ tabloid gatherings for folks
desperate to say they got in – it’s
perversely satisfying that the one thing you can still count on is the annual Austin clusterfuck. And not only
downtown, too, where the SXSW human tentacles spread outward in all directions
from 6th Street, but also the outlying areas from where more than a
few weary bodies can be seen limping back to the hotel in the wee, wee hours of
the morning because there just ain’t enough cabs to go around anymore.


Just the
same, even longtime SXSW vets such as yours truly were heard expressing shock
that as early as 2pm on Wednesday afternoon, traffic within a 4-block radius of
SXSW Ground Zero (aka the Austin
Convention Center) was
already at a standstill, and nearby 6th Street itself already looked like a battle zone.
Wednesday, it seems, is the new Friday for SXSW – which is why more than a few
prescient attendees arrived on Monday, making Monday the new Wednesday, duh, thereby
overlapping with the SXSW Film and Interactive festivals and therefore
compounding the whole clusterfuck shebang… you can see where this is going.
Speaking of Interactive, one SXSW regular quipped to me, “I’ve never seen so many
tech geeks before in my life – and Austin’s
already a wired town.” My prediction: Interactive is where the buzz and the
money will be for the near future. Not that Music is spent, of course, not by a
long shot…


crew parachuted directly into this mess from all points on the map on Wednesday
– publisher and CEO (and owner of Second Motion Records) Stephen Judge wisely
arrived a day early just so he could have a chance to take a deep breath – and
proceeded to, er, do what we always do in Austin. Survive. And have some fun. Elsewhere on our website you can read
Senior Editor Randy Harward’s top picks, along with some cool video clips. Here
are some highlights I glommed onto. Guarantee:
selective memory now in operative mode.




First and
foremost: The BLURT/Second Motion
Official SXSW Showcase,
which was held Thursday night at the venerable
Continental Club. First up were Finland’s Latebirds (pictured at the top, and currently profiled in the new issue of our magazine,
copies of which were in abundance for all attendees) who absolutely killed with
their hi-nrg but deeply tuneful powerpop-tilting Americana – think a younger
version of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, particularly when frontman and
chief songwriter Markus Nordenstreng strapped on his Roger McGuinn-signature
12-string Rickenbacker (check the brooding jangler “Fearless” from the latest
album Last of the Good Ol’ Days to
hear what I mean; it will be released in the States shortly via Second Motion).
The 5-piece is naturally charismatic, but self-aware, and they clearly have a
great time together onstage and are infectious to watch. A nice bonus was the
closing tune, a piano-powered cover of the Steve Goodman classic “City of New Orleans.” Next came K’s Choice, in what was the beloved
Belgian band’s first American show since 2004, and founding member siblings
Sarah and Gert Bettens did not disappoint with their current ensemble. The
venue rapidly hit capacity for the group’s set, with obviously rabid, longtime
fans crowding down front, swooning at Sarah’s every move and inflection while
singing along with practically every song. Speaking of fans: at one point Tegan
& Sara slipped in the back door of the venue and they watched most of the
performance from the side of the stage.


In short
succession after that: Ian Moore,
whose trio was totally “on” from the start, blasting out soul-drenched rock ‘n’
roll like their lives depended on it; David
, who veered between quirky, poetic pop and dark, dub-inflected
psychedelic jams (his overhauled version of ‘90s hit “Disco Ball World” even
featured his female keyboardist spinning a flashing-lights hula hoop to great
visual effect); Jon Langford & Skull
, laying down crazed, hilarious drunken shanties and blazing punk
rock (abetted towards the end of the set by a mandolinist) from his assorted
albums and closing with a riotous version of Langford’s 3 Johns nugget “Death
of the European”; and Scott H. Biram,
a one-man mojo dirt blooze punk rock machine, who much to the delight of the
still-packed house extended his set all the way to the 2am point. At which time
the BLURT crew wandered into the street to hail a cab back to the hotel, only
to witness a 2:30am street scene seemingly lifted from some zombie apocalypse
flick, our cabbie dodging drunken revelers while doing his best to inch along
the boulevard. See note above re: clusterfuck. Austin
was already looking like Woodstock
’94 – the only thing missing were the blazing pyres.


of course, was the three-day party at the Gingerman Pub, cosponsored by BLURT
and the good folks at Dogfish Head Music. Gallons and gallons of ale were
consumed, and many copies of the new magazine were handed out as well-wishers
and more than a few celebrities dropped by to catch the action. (Actually, it
was more than just a day party, as the sets simply kept going after the sun
went down and ran until 1am.) On Thursday we had Marques Toliver, Lydia Loveless, Eatliz, Jon
Langford & Skull Orchard
followed by the Waco Brothers (which made for a nice big Langford sandwich), Ha Ha Tonka, Hoots and Hellmouth, Kingsley
Flood, Ryan Schmidt, Cliff Hillis, Mean Creak, McAlister Drive
and Andy Friedman. The next day was a big
‘un that saw the venue fill to capacity early in the afternoon by the time the Fleshtones hit the stage. That was followed
by rousing sets from both Steve Wynn
& the Miracle 3
and The Baseball
(featuring R.E.M.’s Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck plus Wynn and
his M3 drummer Linda Pitmon – the latter two were aiming for a SXSW record of
greatest number of events played at a single SXSW and did, if memory serves, 13
shows over the course of the four days). When Mike Watt showed up for his set the line was out the Gingerman door
and stretching a full block down the street. Also on the bill for Friday: The Bell
Rays, Richard Barone, LITE, The Bluebonnets, Supercluster, Casper and the Cookies
and Flash To Bang Time. Saturday brought an
encore performance from The Latebirds (who, like many bands, were doing multiple shows during the week) and a particularly
twisted one from Eddie Spaghetti of
The Supersuckers, as well as Gram
Rabbit, Locksley, Evaline, Jimmy Gnecco, Blackbells, Colourslide, David Wax
Museum, Girls Guns and Glory, Parallax Project
The Wandas. A big ol’ BLURT thanks
to the bands for taking part in the Gingerman parties, and a special thanks to
the pub and Dogfish Head for partnering with us for the week.


And let
us not forget our buddies at Bloodshot
, who invited us along as a cosponsor of their annual SXSW Yard Dog
Party (held at, as usual, the Yard Dog gallery, also on Friday). It was a
fan-packed, beer-swilling, pie-eating bash, with a who’s-who of Bloodshot
artists getting their mojos working until early evening: Carolyn Mark, Maggie Bjorklund w/Cobirds Unite,
Lydia Loveless, Exene
Cervenka, Whitey Morgan & the 78s, Freakwater, Eddie Spaghetti, Ha Ha Tonka
and the Waco Brothers. The morning after we wandered down to South Congress to grab some
breakfast and ran into Jon Langford at the Yard Dog – he has his artwork on
display at the gallery – and found him in decidedly upbeat spirits, happy about
the response both Skull Orchard and the Wacos had been getting this year at
SXSW. “The first day, on Wednesday, just about fookin’ killed me, though,” he
noted. “Had to make it back and forth across town to three separate gigs!”




The Austin Convention Center – aka the SXSW nerve center –
wasn’t totally immune from clusterfuck syndrome this year either, as virtually
every square inch of space on the first floor seemed to be occupied by kiosks,
booths, stages, bulletin boards and, of course, foot traffic. For yours truly,
though, it’s always been the various panels and workshops upstairs that have
held the greatest appeal – it’s called a music conference, after all. And from erstwhile Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof’s remarkably enlightened
keynote address this year, in which he zeroed in on the core qualities of rock
‘n’ roll (“the rhetoric and instrument of change”) while lamenting the ubiquity
of ones and zeroes (“When I see people queuing for an iPad, I despair – it’s a
fucking piece of metal!”), all the down to a series of panel discussions about
music and the law (in particular, the one called “The Impact of Recent Big Music Cases,” which featured
entertainment industry lawyers talking about several significant lawsuits that
involved Sugarland, Eminem and Survivor), there was plenty of mental floss to
go around.


the bulk of the panels appeared to be relatively poorly attended, and as they
all took place roughly between noon and 6pm, the only logical culprit can be
the day parties – official SXSW events and unofficial parties alike – that
contribute to the artery-clogging of Austin and draw attendees away from the
ConCenter. That’s a real shame, too, because people deserve to find out about,
say, influential late session pianist Nicky Hopkins, whose life and times was
outlined at the “And On Piano… Nicky Hopkins” panel. Or to
get the story on legendary soul label Philadelphia International Records
straight from the horses’ mouths via a video feed hookup from Austin to Philly
where the equally legendary songwriting and producing team of Gamble & Huff spoke to panelists
and attendees (“TSOP: Celebrating
Gamble, Huff and Philadelphia International Records”
– I literally counted
only 30 heads in the entire auditorium). Or one bearing the provocative title “I’m Not Old, Your Music Does Suck” wherein a brace of self-styled curmudgeon rock critics laid out the whats and
wherefores of trying to keep track with all the musical bric-a-brac in an
overcrowded, diminishing-returns contemporary milieu (particularly fun:
old-timer Ed Ward ripping into Paste for
closing up shop and stiffing writers in the process; and potty-mouthed Paige
Maguire, who proved there’s always something sexy about a gal cursing like a
surly 14-year old schoolboy). And speaking of critics (and fun): “Critics vs. Publicists: Why Must Things Be
was a must-attend
for any of you writerly geeks and label
or independent music public relations folks who’ve ever locked horns with one
another but still forced to make nice at the end of the day. Representing the
critics: Bill Holdship of Creem/Metro
fame and Kyle Ryan of The Onion and A.V. Club. For the flacks: indie
publicists Traci Thomas and Heather West, plus industry vet (and former critic
himself) Bill Bentley, from Warner Bros. and Neil Young. Everything from the
p.r. world’s latest gulag (i.e. digital promo servicing) to some notable
roc-crit gaffes over the years (like the guy who would hang on to artists’ phone
numbers after doing interviews and subsequently call them up to chat) was
covered, and pretty much everyone in the room was seen nodding their heads and
smiling in recognition. For 2012, let’s have an encore edition of this panel,




On to a few musical highlights… don’t worry. We know that writers’
laundry lists of who they saw, where they went, who they ran into, and how
trashed they got are dead boring to everyone except the hack who scribbles it.
So here’s just a few, offered with the intention of countering the stuff way
back in the first paragraph. Gridlock or no gridlock – and make no mistake,
nighttime in Austin during SXSW really has taken on the look of an epic sequence
from Lord of the Rings or something;
it’s not for people who don’t dig crowds, that’s for sure – you can ALWAYS find
some cool stuff to take in. That’s true particularly if you stay away from the
giant “event” and celebrity-branded shows and attempt to ferret out the
lesser-knowns in the less-crowded venues. (Hint: those are the ones that don’t
have a line extending down the street and have a lot of anxious-looking
hipsters shifting nonstop from foot to foot.) Oh, and by the way: this year’s
official SXSW buzzword is shoegaze,
as it seemed that every hour or so I encountered a band – from America, from
overseas, no matter – who must have grown up on a diet of 4AD and Creation


The Hobart Bros. & L’il Sis

Wednesday afternoon, at the annual Guitartown/Conqueroo SXSW Kickoff day party
@ The Dogwood: this was a thinly-disguised Susan Cowsill, Jon Dee Graham and
Freedy Johnston, plus rhythm section, knocking out some sweet ol’ twang ‘n’
strum from their forthcoming album. Their in-between banter was the stuff of
high hokum, but squint your eyes and open your ears and it was easy to believe
they were, in fact, siblings. The musical kind.


Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires – Wednesday
afternoon, at the American Songwriters day party @ Swan Dive: acoustic guitar
and fiddle, respectively, from the duo, as they showcased a number of tracks
from Isbell’s upcoming album Here We Rest,
notably standout tracks “Alabama Pines” and “Codeine” but also a number of old
Isbell faves such as “Outfit.”


Chico Mann – Wednesday night, Wax Poetics
showcase, at Scoot Inn: the occasional vocalist for Antibalas Afrobeat
Orchestra served up computer- and effects-powered material from his recent
album Analog Drift, for an extremely
unique DJ performance falling in between hip-hop and funk/soul sets.



Khaira Arby, Wild Flag & Joy

Thursday, NPR Day Party @ The Parish: once again, as in years previous, NPR
presented one of the best musical lineups of the entire SXSW, and once again at
the upstairs steam bath known as The Parish. Malian vocalist Arby was riveting,
singing in her native language and beating a hand drum while her band swirled
assorted highlife and Afrobeat sounds behind her – it was mesmerizing, and
joyful. Wild Flag, of course, was the highly anticipated supergroup of Carrie
Brownstein, Janet Weiss, Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole. They did not disappoint,
with a set equal parts punk-fueled powerpop and distaff glam. Lots of jumping
around, and anthemic as hell; this band will be one of the most celebrated by
years-end, mark my words. And speaking of anthems, Joy Formidable (profiled in
the new issue of BLURT) had a massive sound, U2 worthy, full of shoegazey, echo-drenched
guitar frissons and charismatic vocals marked by the singer’s 1000-yard stare
and eagerness to engage the audience, who willingly followed her.



Polock & Depedro – Friday night, Sounds From Spain
showcase @ Red Eye Fly: In a room crammed equally with Latinos and Caucasians,
the former crafted a uniquely Brooklyn-esque brand of jangly indiepop, with the
only difference being the lyrics sung in Spanish. The latter (aka Jairo Zavala)
was equally compelling, nicely textured and deeply emotional, with elements of
folk, pop and traditional sounds all coalescing.


Future Clouds and Radar – Friday Night @ Easy Tiger: Despite
the indoor room’s horrible, brick-lined acoustics, this longtime Austin-based
fave of mine was “on”, with frontman Robert Harrison spieling his complex pop
tunes in uncommonly high-energy fashion.


Lanterns On The Lake
Friday Night,
Bella Union/Zeitgeist showcase @ Central Presbyterian Church: Shoegaze alert! Billing
themselves as “cinematic indie” is pretty apt; the British 5-piece crafted
synapse-tingling sounds from the ground up, building from a hushed drone into a
grandly crashing, Mogwai-esque roar via guitars and strings. The reverberation
off the church sanctuary walls seemed to have an otherworldly presence all its




Wye Oak – Friday Night, Merge showcase @
The Parish: How the hell can two people make such a huge sound? Jenn Wasner is
a force of nature unto herself, but what was gorgeous pop on album became a
soul-shearing set of psychedelia in concert.


Vidulgi OoyoO – Saturday afternoon, Seoulsonic
showcase @ Easy Tiger patio: The leather-jacketed Korean band (the name translates
as “Pigeon’s Milk”) was part a collective of Seoul-based indie rock combos. And
man, oh man, did their stuff rock: any band who can simultaneously AND
effectively channel Spacemen 3, Loop, My Blood Valentine, the MC5 and the
Velvet Underground deserves consideration beyond mere “shoegaze” labeling. Their
whammy-bar powered jet-engine roar, rife in dynamics and boasting some sweet
three-guitar harnessing of feedback, hit me like the proverbial lightning bolt
and I found myself being sucked closer and closer to the stage just so I could
feel the sonic gale blow through me. Absolutely thrilling, and quite possibly
the best surprise I’ve had in 10 years of attending SXSW.


Laura Stevenson & the Cans – Saturday night, Bridge City
Industries @ Barbarella: With her Cat Power bangs and pixieish voice, the Brooklyn singer-songwriter stands a good chance of being
the next buzz-babe when her album on Don Giovanni arrives next month. She was
backed by a bevy of bearded boys, which set up all manner of cliches in the
mind (one of them also wielded the hipster instrument of choice, a trumpet),
but in her sweet, affecting, indiepop-cum-folk-cum-shoegaze resides a sound that
is pure and soulful.


Pujol – Saturday night, Panache showcase @
Mohawk Patio: Nashville
cat with some degree of Jack White-approved fame (he issued a single on White’s
Third Man label), Pujol was equal parts Southern swampy twang and sloppy,
revved-up garage punk. Good for clearing out the ears and making the feet





Bobby Rush – Saturday night,  True South showcase @18th Floor Hilton
Garden: Wow. Richard
Pryor reincarnated as a guitar-wielding bluesman. Songs about friggin’ your
woman and missin’ your woman, with equal emphasis, all done with a minimalist
twang and a low-down dirty ‘tude. The Louisiana-born, Mississippi-based
songwriter specializes in swampy folk-funk, but that description can’t possibly
prepare one for the actual live show by this raunchy raconteur. Memo to
parents: if you are thinking of exposing your child to the blues, better start
elsewhere. Everybody else: let’s rock!


Dennis Coffey – Saturday night @ Beauty Bar/Palm
Door: Looking Lonnie Mack-worthy dapper in a sleek suit and fedora, the
Motown-era guitarist/producer and all-around Detroit legend tore through a set
that was equal parts funk/soul and psych-tinged hard rock – in fact, at times
you could hear the simultaneous strains of such Motor City sonic iconography as
MC5, Edwin Starr and the Temptations. Cool as ice and never breaking a sweat,
he simply let rip with the riffs while his band brewed up some funky chaos in
his wake. Quite a teaser for his upcoming, self-titled album on the Strut


Dom Mariani 3 & The Cynics – Saturday night, Get Hip Records
showcase @ Easy Tiger patio: Australian legend Mariani brought his other band,
The Stems, over to the States for the Get Hip showcase a couple of years ago,
but this time it was his trio, and a fine trawl through the powerpop maven’s
back catalog ensued, including tracks by DM3, Stems and the Someloves. Oh – and
two Big Star songs in tribute to the late Alex Chilton, delivered so spot-on
that some attendees were seen with tears streaming down their faces. Garage/pop
kings The Cynics closed the evening out with a slew of tracks from their
forthcoming album, and it’s safe to say that the boys from Pittsburgh aren’t missing a beat these days
despite three decades in the biz. When you’ve got no less a living legend than
Fleshtones frontman Peter Zaremba dancing arm in arm with a line of punters
right down front at your gig, you’ve got some serious bragging rights. Who
needs to stay up until 4am worrying about trying to find a silly Kanye West
afterhours party when you can close out SXSW in high style with the Cynics?


howdy. See you next March.







SXSW 2011 Photos 4: 3/18

Friday, March 18: Fourth in a series of image galleries by the BLURT photography crew, from the 2011 South By Southwest music festival, that took place March 16- 19 in Austin. (Pt. 1 is here; Pt. 2 is here; Pt. 3 is here.)

All photos by Scott Dudelson

(above) The Kills @ Spin Party

Adanowsky @ SESEC Day Stage

American Music Club @ Merge Showcase

Wye Oak @ Merge Showcase

Midlake & John Grant @ Central Presbyterian Church

Buddy & Holly Conlin @ Hotel Cafe Showcase

Porcelain Raft @ Under the Radar Party

Off’s Keith Morris @ Spin Party

Beach Fossils @ Billboard Showcase

Designer Drugs @ Spin Party

Gentleman Jesse & His Men @ The Mohawk

G. Love @ Hotel Cafe Showcase

JBM @ Central Presbyterian Church

Jesse Malin @ Cheers Bar

OMD @ Spin Party

Smith Westerns @ Spin Party

Ted Leo @ The Mohawk

Black Angels @ SXSW Day Stage

The Vaccines @ Spin Party

Tristen @ The Mohawk


SXSW 2011 Photos 5: 3/19

Saturday, March 19: Fifth in a series of image galleries by the BLURT photography crew, from the 2011 South By Southwest music festival, that took place March 16-19 in Austin. (Pt. 1 is here; Pt. 2 is here; Pt. 3 is here; Pt. 4 is here.)

All photos by Scott Dudelson

(above) Rachael Ray @ Rachael Ray Party

AWOL Nation @ Stubbs

Billy Gibbons @ Rachael Ray Party

Bob Schneider @ Rachael Ray Party

Bobby Rush @ 18th Floor Hilton Garden


Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket) @ St. David’s Church

Charlie Mars @ Rachael Ray Party

Doug Pinnick (King’s X) @ Stubbs

Eli Paperboy Reed @ Rachael Ray Party

Fitz & the Tantrums @ Rachael Ray Party

Free Sol @ Rachael Ray Party

Jeff Ament, Mike Mcready of Pearl Jam @ Stubbs

Panic at the Disco @ Stubbs

Pete & the Pirates @SESEC Day Stage

Rural Alberta Advantage @Central Presbyterian Church

Sharon Van Etten @Central Presbyterian Church

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives @ St. David’s Church

Sumner Erickson @ WBR & Attal Recordings Party

Tapes N Tapes @ Rachael Ray Party

The Cringe @ Rachael Ray Party

The Futures @ Rachael Ray Party

Royal Bangs @ Rachael Ray Party

Toro Y Moi @Austin Convention Center

Wanda Jackson @ Rachael Ray Party

Zac Morgan @WBR@Attal Recordings Party

Pinetop Perkins R.I.P. 1913-2011


Oldest GRAMMY Winner with Best Traditional
Blues Album Award (for last year’s acclaimed
Joined at the Hip album) passes away at the
age of 97.


Legendary bluesman and master piano player Pinetop Perkins
died on Monday, March 21 at his home in Austin,
TX. Perkins was one of the true
originals. At age 97, he was one of the last blues musicians who could
legitimately claim direct roots in the Delta blues of the 1930s – a period that
spawned such giants as Robert Johnson, Honeyboy Edwards and other titans of the
of the deep South who laid the foundation for the blues as we know them today.


Born Willie Perkins in Belzoni,
Mississippi, in July 1913,
Perkins had compiled a resume that spanned nearly eighty years – as a guitarist
and a pianist, then moving over to exclusively piano. One of the obvious
highlights was his stint with Muddy Waters band for more than a decade. From
1969 through the early ‘80s, Perkins was an integral part of Muddy’s powerhouse
combo that dominated the urbanized, electrified post-World War II blues scene.
It was during these years that he forged an enduring friendship and prolific
creative bond with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, then the drummer in Muddy’s band.


The most recent chapter in this longstanding alliance was Joined
at the Hip
, a collaborative project shared by Perkins and Smith that was
released last June on Telarc/Concord. The album is a mix of material written by
Smith, along with a few chestnuts from the annals of Delta and Chicago blues. In February. Perkins broke the
record of oldest Grammy winner when he snagged the GRAMMY® for best traditional
blues album for Joined at the Hip.


“We are truly saddened by Pinetop’s passing,” says Mark
Wexler, of Concord.
“This is a great loss for the music community. Pinetop was such a major
influence on today’s generation of blues musicians, and he remains an
inspiration to so many young players. All of us at the Concord Music Group are
grateful for his musical contributions.”


His manager, Patricia Morgan, said funeral arrangements were
pending in Austin and a graveside service would
be held near Clarksdale, MS, where he wanted to be buried.


The Pinetop Perkins Foundation is a tax exempt non-profit
organization. Its mission is to provide encouragement and support for youth and
young people at the beginning of their musical career; and help provide care
and safety for elderly musicians at the twilight of their career.


Donations can be made by check or through PayPal:


[Photo Credit: Carl Lender, via Wikimedia Commons





SXSW 2011 Photos 3: 3/17

Thursday, March 17: Third in a series of image galleries by the BLURT photography crew, from the 2011 South By Southwest music festival, that took place March 16-19 in Austin. (Pt. 1 is here; Pt. 2 is here.)

All photos by Scott Dudelson

(above) Charles Bradley @ Stubbs

Alexander Ebert (of Edward Sharpe & Magnetic Zeros) @ Rachael Ray House

Belle Brigade @ SXSW Radio Day Stage

Better Left Unsaid @ Emos

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. @ Paste Party

Dave Alvin @ Bug Publishing Party

Depedro @ Spanish Party

Emmylou Harris @ SXSW Radio Day Stage

Erland & the Carnival @ SESEC Day Stage

Foster The People @ Stubbs

Glasser @ Pitchfork Showcase

John Popper @ Bug Publishing Party

Josh Ritter @ SXSW Radio Day Stage

Khaira Arby @ NPR Showcase

Noah and the Whale @ Stubbs


Parlotones @ Gypsy

Ron Sexsmith @ Creekside Hilton

Violins @ I Heart Comix Showcase

Wild Flag @ NPR Showcase

Wooden Birds @ Red Eye Fly