Monday, April 6, 2009

SXSW 2009 - “Thousands of Bands, Two Earholes!”

For those of you who have never been to the South by South West Music Festival in Austin, Texas. You need to know a few rules in advance:

#1- Bring earplugs
#2- Don’t plan on sleeping
#3-Wear comfortable foot wear
#4- Practice your drinking skills beforehand to build up your tolerance to various kinds of alcohol. I suggest maybe attending a couple of Frat Parties or Irish Funerals as basic training.

This was my 4th year in a row and 7th time all together attending SXSW, so I was partially prepared for the onslaught of music coming from all directions and crevices, including bathrooms, elevators, grocery stores and dirt lots. Luckily D’Addario, The Musebox, Swing House and The Roxy Theater had hijacked a venue, that became our home base for great performances all week! D’Addario Artists such as Justin Townes Earle, Del Castillo, Madi Diaz, War Tapes and Mandi Perkins all played inspired sets over the 4 days. All of this chaos took place while Hugh, Mike & Brian (The D’Addario Brass) manned a table on the patio, conveniently located between the bar and BBQ.

On Friday, the day of our official D’Addario Day Party, guitar players & drummers both amateur and pro lined up around the patio while the D’Addario crew handed out samples of our new products as well as giving advice and demonstrations about various items like our EXL electric strings, EJ & EXP acoustic strings, Dual Action Capos, Custom Pro Cables and Onyx drum heads. Drinks were served courtesy of Barefoot Wine and Dos Equis while the free hot dogs were all devoured within just a few hours. Austin’s own Collings Guitars held a raffle for a free guitar and had a few on hand to try out. Collings giveaway winner, Lori Allen (pictured below), is thrilled with her new guitar. "It's not just the strings you strap across your guitar, it's what guitar you strap across your strings...D'Addario Strings & Collings Guitars!!! A PERFECT combination at SXSW 2009!!!"

Artists from all over the world come to SXSW but one of the highlights of the week was a local band named, Del Castillo. They've got a frontman with a powerful voice and commanding presence, with enough big hooks to have a Rock Radio Smash. What makes them even more interesting is the twin guitar Flamenco stylings of brothers Rick and Mark Del Castillo. The speedy but tasteful harmony and dueling leads incited cheers from the packed house as the rhythm section kept the crowd dancing.

Other highlights of the week were new discoveries of emerging artists like solo vocalist/guitar player Lindsay Ell from Canada, Chelsea Davis (powerhouse drummer) for indie vets The Start, and vibey acoustic sets from Angie Mattson and Diane Birch. The grand finale was Saturday night. By 9:30pm, the room was well beyond capacity in anticipation of a very special performance by U.K. heroes, Echo and The Bunnymen. The Tender Box and The High Dials set the tone for the evening, opening with quality danceable indie pop as the sweltering crowd happily waited till way past midnight for the Brit pop pioneers. No one left disappointed as Echo and The B Men played a 90 plus minute set of classics like “Lips Like Sugar” and “Killing Moon” as well as a few new catchy numbers. If you wonder where Liam Gallagher of Oasis got his swagger and patter just look to Echo’s leader Ian McCulloch. I was even more impressed by the great guitar work and tone of his longtime mate Will Sergeant.

Even after catching 15 plus bands a day at our D’Addario home base I still found a few hours (note rule #2 above) to check out other shows like The New York Dolls and The Hold Steady at Rachel Rae’s shindig. I wandered into J Mascis and his blistering wah wah attack with Dinosaur Jr. while walking a couple miles (rule #3) to a abandoned super market at 2am to check out the secret show by Jane’s Addiction, featuring Planet Waves artist, Dave Navarro. I had always been impressed by drummer Stephen Perkins but now some 20 years later since I first saw Jane’s in a small San Francisco club, I was absolutely floored by what a monster he really is. Look for the reunited band to tour with Nine Inch Nails this summer.

All in all it was fun times and good music helped by our excellent sound courtesy of Dynacord, Soundcraft, Shure, Marshall, Korg,Ultimate Stands and Vox and of course cables by Planet Waves, Drum Heads by Evans and Strings by D’Addario. Now I must sleep, Coachella is 2 weeks away..
--Phil Jaurigui, D'Addario Artist Relations

*Photos courtesy of Lisa Melton

1 comment:

  1. Are you guys aware of the problem with Chromatic Pedal Tuner?

    Check it out:

    I love your cables, but this tuner is a disaster noise wise: