In than two weeks, South by Southwest and its accompanying carnival of musicians, boozy shindigs and hashtags will take over our city. Up to your eyeballs in party invites and RSVPs? Let Team 360’s handy (unofficial) party guide help you cut through the noise and figure out where you need to be. Our guide includes official and unofficial events and you can search by venue, band or day.
You can set up your search to filter for important variables like whether you need a badge or if the party includes free food and drink and RSVP links are included in our listings.
By Terry Hagerty
Special to the American-Statesman
While Bastrop certainly has some gifted homegrown musicians, a local resident who is a musician and producer prominent in Texas music wants to take Bastrop a step further — by pairing local acts with some of the state’s best known performers. Freddy Fletcher, a nephew of Willie Nelson and a founder and partner in Austin venue ACL Live and recording studio Arlyn, is kicking off a monthly music series at Viejo’s Tacos Y Tequila on Main Street on Friday, March 3.
“A show a month is our goal,” Fletcher said during an interview at Viejo’s with brothers and owners/managers Danny and Joe Oviedo III in attendance. Fletcher, a Bastrop resident, said the monthly series will bring “consistency” to the town’s live musical offerings.
The series’ nametag, Just East of Weird Live, is a snappy logo previously created by Bastrop blues guitarist Larry Wilson to capture’s the town’s eclectic environs, with a nod to Austin. The March 3 show ( 8 p.m., $10) will feature the Peterson Brothers, Bastrop’s well-known ‘blues brothers’ who play regularly at Austin’s famed Continental Club, followed by Jimmy T & the Teardrops, a seasoned band performing classic blues, R&B, soul and gospel music.
Fletcher said the monthly series “will be a chance to showcase local talent” and to “get them in front of more people than they might normally have.” Fletcher mentioned Dale Watson and Micky & the Motorcars as other well-known Texas performers who might be part of the series in the future.
“With Freddy Fletcher involved, you know the quality of it will be good,” said SiriusXM satellite radio personality Dallas Wayne, a singer-songwriter who’s also a Bastrop resident. “The marriage of touring acts with local acts will help strengthen the Bastrop music community.”
Fletcher, who worked with Guy Clark and Billy Joe Shaver and recorded B.W. Stevenson’s final album, says he was drawn to Bastrop’s storied past. “I love the history of this town,” he said, including the vintage and adjoining Kesselus and Kleinert buildings which house Viejos’ restaurant and its adjoining bar/music room.
Fletcher said the buildings “remind me of Gruene Hall,” the historic venue near New Braunfels. “Not many people know the real history of Bastrop; it’s one of the oldest communities in Texas,” he added. Now it will have a promising new live music series.
KGSR will broadcast live from the W Hotel every morning from March 15 to March 18 during the height of South by Southwest’s music run, with intimate performances by Spoon, Jimmy Eat World, Hanson, the New Pornographers and many more.
The shows run from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Admission is on a first-come, first-in basis. Proceeds from a suggested donation of $5 at the door go to Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas.
The full schedule with dates and times will be announced March 6, but here’s the current lineup of participants: Spoon, Jimmy Eat World, Hanson, New Pornographers, Valerie June, Bright Light Social Hour, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Maggie Rogers, Bob Schneider, Karen Elson, Mondo Cozmo, Walker Lukens, Lolo, Missio, Lewis Watson, Colony House, My Jerusalem, Troi Irons, Wild Reeds, Swimming With Bears, Bee Caves, Lo Moon and Morgxn.
For the last several years, Waterloo Records’ parking lot parties have been a favorite South by Southwest attraction for local music lovers who want to catch some great tunes without going full in on for a music wristband or badge. This year the iconic record store will once again host four days of parties, featuring a variety of artists including indie rock faves Spoon, early alternative music artists Robyn Hitchcock and Modern English and L.A. rock outfit Chicano Batman. Rockers Real Estate and Minus the Bear will also perform.
Tuesday: Valerie June at Paramount Theatre. Visiting Austin in 2013 for ACL Fest and 2014 to tape the “Austin City Limits” TV show, Tennessee singer-songwriter June left a lasting impression on local audiences. Playing a variety of instruments and traversing an equally broad landscape of styles and genres, June fully affirmed her status as a rising star of Americana music’s broad umbrella. She returns to offer a sneak preview of her new album, “The Order of Time,” due March 10. Australian indie-pop duo Oh Pep! opens the show. $20-$25. 8 p.m. 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org. — P.B.
Wednesday: Holy Wave at Mohawk outdoor. Take a heady journey through hazy melodies and guitar fuzz with Austin psych pop outfit Holy Wave as the band prepares for a monthlong jaunt through Mexico and Argentina. Fellow reverb enthusiasts Ringo Deathstarr and Pale Dian open. $12. 6 p.m. doors. 912 Red River St. mohawkaustin.com. — D.S.S.
Last year, the Amarillo-born Aaron Watson made history when his album “The Underdog” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s U.S. Country chart. He was the first solo male artist to do so with a self-released and independently distributed and promoted album.
Despite its title, “The Underdog” was Watson’s 13th studio album. He’s been a fixture in the Texas music scene ever since 2001, where his brand of songs about “faith, family and fans” has attracted a huge fanbase.
But he told me in a phone interview earlier this month that once he found out “The Underdog” debuted at the top, he knew his next album had to be even better. Today, the world will hear his follow-up, “Vaquero.”
“Probably an hour after ‘Underdog’ went No. 1, it hit me. I went, ‘Oh my goodness, if I’m gonna top this album, I’ve better get hard at work on the next one,” Watson said. “My manager was like, ‘You’re outta your mind, you can’t be thinking about the next one, the new record just came out,’ but I worked my rear off on this new one, and I gotta say, out of all my records, this one is the one I’m the most content with.”
“Vaquero,” out today, sticks to Watson’s trademark of blending trendiness with tradition. The 16-track album is the most sprawling work Watson has ever done, blending country-rock, R’n’B-tinged love ballads, backwoods stories, an epic instrumental track and traditional country twang with ease. He also gets more political than he ever has on this album, but more on that later.
“To prepare for this one, I listened to a lot of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Springsteen, Mellencamp, Tom Petty, music that still lives on. Honestly, ‘Vaquero’ was inspired by The Beatles’ ‘White Album.’ The diversity that album has, I wanted to duplicate that. I also wanted there to be those moments and moments reflective of my culture, like Tejano and Texas music.”
The album’s title comes from the original cowboy, something that the traditional Watson says has gone out of vogue with country music.
“The vaquero was the original cowboy, and you cant talk about the American cowboy without talking about the vaquero, because he taught the American cowboy everything he knows today. The cowboy is timeless, and that’s what we wanted to portray in this album, that the values of the cowboy are relevant and still valued in country music,” Watson said. “Pop country needs to stop acting like cowboys are uncool and dated.”
The title track, along with the mid-album two-piece “Mariano’s Dream” and “Clear Isabel,” paint a picture of the vast landscape those vaqueros came from. The latter two songs use Tejano music and country rock to tell the story of a Mexican lawman and his daughter headed to the Texas border to flee a drug cartel. “Mariano’s Dream,” Watson’s first recorded instrumental track, makes you feel like you’re right there in the Mexican desert ready to ride off into the Texas sunset. That leads into “Clear Isabel,” and the cinematic border-crossing narrative.
“Those were songs that I thought up while I was just driving around, thinking up songs, and I had this ‘Clear Isabel’ idea. Obviously, the saying is ‘clear AS a bell,’ but I played off of that, like what if Isabel is crossing the Rio, and the coast is clear? And so I sat down and immediately became a screenwriter, let my imagination run wild, and I took things I heard and turned it into a story.”
That moment is one of the best of the album, but Watson also has his share of love ballads on “Vaquero.” The sultry, R’n’B-tinged “Run Wild Horses” was written “as a way to write this sexy, graphic, but clean” song for his wife. “Be my Girl” is an playful examination of the ways the day-to-day aspects of marriage can brush up against a couple’s young love. “Take You Home Tonight” is his take on the old barroom pickup line, but meant within a marriage. He told me all of his love songs are written for his wife, and he’s tired of modern country’s insistence on trivializing real, lived-in love.
“There’s a lot of boys singing love songs in country music these days,” he said. “I don’t care if they’re 30, they’re boys singing love songs, and the fact is I have a daughter, and when she gets older, if some dude tries to ‘take her down to the river,’ he’ll show up missing.
“I’m writing these songs for my wife, the woman who’s given birth to my four kids, and she’s been putting up with me for a long time. She deserves something that’s real, and these songs are just songs about our life. Marriage is hard. My wife and I may not be perfect for one another, but we’re persistent for each other.”
“Vaquero” also showcases more of Watson’s political views than any album of his has before. The one-two punch of “Mariano” and “Isabel” make no political stance, but “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To” acknowledges what Watson believes is the real root of the problem with America’s political climate: love.
The song starts of as a nostalgic tribute to Watson’s grandparents, but evolves into a crescendo of guitars as he laments, “No news is good news, tell me, which news really tells the truth? The death toll rises high as gas prices shot straight through the roof. Meanwhile, politicians preach while some preachers politic, when what we need is lots of love…still we criticize, we glamorize, who’s right or wrong, who’s left or right, missing out on so many beautiful colors, waging war on black and right. We’ve gotta forgive, gotta learn to live together, make the world a better place. And just maybe someone someday somewhere will look back on us and say: ‘They don’t make ’em like they used to anymore.'”
“I’ve never been political. I have my thoughts, but that’s not why people listen to my music. But it’s ridiculous how our country has gotten. People hate people because they vote for someone they don’t agree with, and I don’t get it. I tell people I’m not for the left wing or the right wing, I’m for the whole bird. But I do truly feel like we don’t treat each other like we used to, and we don’t treat each other with respect and love. Hopefully someday, after we’ve lived lives worthy of being respected, our kids and grandkids will look back and feel like I do at the end of the song, but right now, people are selfish and lazy and both sides are guilty of being harsh and cruel.
“It’s a very political song, but what is being political about is love. It’s a political song saying, we need to love each other and make the world a better place.”
“Vaquero” is available now wherever records are sold.
Micro-blogging platform Tumblr has unveiled plans for a Planned Parenthood fundraiser called “Never Going Back” during the South by Southwest Music Festival on Sunday, March 12 at the Mohawk. The party will feature music from candycore rock duo Sleigh Bells alongside Girlpool, Pvris and Hoops. The party is free and appears to be open to the public, but the RSVP confirmation email includes a message in support of Planned Parenthood, along with a donation link.
“We at Tumblr believe in Planned Parenthood,” the message reads. “We believe the accessibility of their services are vital to the health and well-being of everyone. We believe we must fight back against any regulations that threaten the financial security of this wonderful organization. We hope you can help out anyway you can.”
In addition to the party, Tumblr’s CEO David Karp, who currently serves as a board member of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, will participate in a panel discussion called “Activism, Allyship and Where We Go from Here” panel with the President of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards on March 10 at the Convention Center.
As usual, many of the bigger names playing South by Southwest are popping up just a couple of weeks before the mammoth event takes over Austin in mid-March. Yesterday we noted that pop MMMBoppers Hanson will be here, as will indie favorites Neko Case and M. Ward. And among the new adds on SXSW’s weekly Friday list of additions are the Avett Brothers, Weezer, Joey Bada$$, Sylvan Esso and Robert Glasper.
The Avetts’ appearance will be in conjunction with the premiere of “May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers,” a documentary that’s premiering as part of the SXSW Film Festival. No word yet on when and where the Avett Brothers’ performance will be.
Also getting a world premiere at SXSW is “Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live … and More,” a concert film about the many all-star tribute performances to the legendary Memphis band that have been presented in recent years. Another tribute show will happen during SXSW, with organizer Chris Stamey, Big Star drummer Jody Stephens, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Robyn Hitchcock, Austin’s Tosca Strings and others taking part in a performance set for 10:30 p.m. on Friday, March 17, at Central Presbyterian Church.
It’s possible that M. Ward will be part of that event too. Case, meanwhile, will supplement her own show by performing with Canadian indie-pop tour de force New Pornographers. Other notable additions on the list released today include 2014 SXSW Grulke Award winners Future Islands, rising Americana star Valerie June, New Jersey indie-rockers Real Estate, D.C. DJ collective Thievery Corporation and influential hip-hop assemblage Wu-Tang Clan.
Among the top local acts newly added are A Giant Dog, Octopus Project and Bad Lovers. Here’s the full list of 137 artists added this week:
24HRS (Atlanta GA)
A$AP Twelvyy (New York NY)
Active Bird Community (Brooklyn NY)
A Giant Dog (Austin TX)
All in the Golden Afternoon (Austin TX)
Arkansas Dave (Austin TX)
Avett Brothers (Concord NC)
AV the Great (Denton TX)
B1 (Austin TX)
Joey Bada$$ (Brooklyn NY)
Bad Lovers (Austin TX)
Baggage Boys (Austin TX)
Baya (Kolsås NORWAY)
Bearson (Oslo NORWAY)
Big Star’s Third (Memphis TN)
Blackway (Baldwin NY)
Blang (Orange County CA)
Blank Range (Nashville TN)
Bleached (Los Angeles CA)
Blind Owls (Corpus Christi TX)
Benjamin Booker (Virginia Beach VA)
Boyfriend (New Orleans LA)
Miss C Brown (Birmingham UK-ENGLAND)
Julie Byrne (New York NY)
Call of the Void (Boulder CO)
Casper Skulls (Toronto CANADA)
Casper Tielrooij b2b Orpheu The Wizard (Amsterdam NETHERLANDS)
The 43rd season of “Austin City Limits” is beginning to heat up. The long-running music television show has just announced three more tapings taking place this spring at ACL Live: country superstar Miranda Lambert on April 19, indie heavyweights The Head and the Heart on May 22, and platinum-selling singer-songwriter Norah Jones on June 11.
It’s the third time on the show for Lambert, who previously appeared in 206 and 2011. She released “The Weight of These Wings,” her sixth major-label studio album, in November. The taping coincides with her previously announced April 20 appearance at ACL Live for the annual Mack, Jack & McConaughey fundraiser.
The Head and the Heart first appeared on “Austin City Limits” five years ago, when they were breaking through to national audiences with their self-titled debut album for Sub Pop Records. Last year’s “Signs of Light” found them jumping to Warner Bros. They’ll tape “ACL” between appearances at Coachella in California and the Sasquatch Festival near Seattle, where the band is partly based. No word yet on whether they’ll return this year to ACL Fest, where they were among the highlights of both weekends in 2014.
Norah Jones, raised in the Metroplex before becoming a star in New York City, first played “Austin City Limits” in 2002 shortly after the release of her debut album “Come Away With Me,” which went on to win eight Grammys and sell more than 25 million copies worldwide. She opened the show’s 33rd season with an hourlong episode in 2007 and appeared again five years later. Her fourth taping comes the night before an already-sold-out show at Stubb’s as part of a tour for her new album “Day Breaks.” Jones was just here last weekend as part of a Neil Young tribute show at the Paramount.
As always, details about the lottery drawing for free tickets will be announced about a week before each taping on the show’s website and through its social media accounts.
Country chart-toppers Florida Georgia Line are known for mixing elements of rap music into their songs, and they’ll take it a step further on their upcoming tour, with hip-hop star Nelly added to the bill for a summer stretch of shows that opens here on June 2 with a concert at the Austin360 Amphitheater.
The two acts have worked together before, scoring a hit with a remix of Florida Georgia Line’s 2012 debut single “Cruise.” Opening the show is country upstart Chris Lane. Tickets, $32.50-$89.50, go on sale next Friday, March 3, at 10 a.m. via ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000.