“As South by Southwest has grown, it has helped elevate Austin’s reputation worldwide as not only a music destination but also a home for technology and innovation.” – The New York Times
After a long weekend of keynote speeches, learning sessions, networking, and so much music, it was good to be back home in Dallas. Here’s a top 5 of my favorite things from my 10th SXSW experience, but my first time doing it all by myself.
Old friends and new
Got to meet up with long-time friend Matt Sonzala at a Day Party on the East Side the day I arrived. Anyone who knows hip hop in Austin or Houston (or really, anywhere in Texas) is likely within a 7 degree or less connection with Matt. Not only is he an incredible music writer, radio host and has an awesome podcast, but he’s also worked in all aspects of the music industry including booking, managing tours, and even consulting on film projects. Got to meet his lovely wife and friends including Pamela Andino, Creative Producer at Rukaz Kultura. A little shop talk, our love of Houston, and a Jay-Z sighting kicked off a great day one! Reconnecting with old friends and making new ones – that’s how you do it.
Tech talk at an outdoor stage
The convention center is the hub of SXSW, so it’s no wonder I ended up at the Registrants Lounge to check out TEKE::TEKE. This Canadian psych-rock band has a distinct Japanese rock and surf rock vibe, and it went well with a great afternoon and a cold Shiner. Talked to the founder and CEO of Smashcut, Daniel Blackman. Daniel and I had an interesting conversation about how smart, digital solutions have played such a huge role in keeping us connected throughout the isolation of the pandemic. We both agreed digital solutions are here to stay (luckily, for us!). Smashcut is a next-generation learning platform built for real-time, media-based education.
E-ticketing and innovation
For those who support the music and event industry, the incredible rate of innovation for ticketing solutions is mind-boggling. Got to listen to a fascinating talk about an e-ticketing solution called NeonOx. NeonOx provides a way to integrate the benefits of blockchain with event tickets. The result? NFT tickets or non-fungible tokens, are digital objects that are stored on a blockchain and can be bought and sold. All of us here at Pink Jacket have worked with numerous e-ticketing providers, including our partner of choice Prekindle, but learning about new ways of doing business helps us all stay abreast of what’s happening in our industry.
Support Dallas musicians
It had only been the Saturday prior to heading out to Austin that I got to see one of my favorite Dallas musicians, Joshua Ray Walker. Outside at the beautiful San Jose hotel, you couldn’t have asked for a more lovely day. He and his band just appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon a few weeks before the show I caught in Deep Ellum at Three Links. If you haven’t seen him live yet, go get tickets to The Kessler, June 18.
And one of my most anticipated showcases was at Mohawk for Bella Union’s 25th Anniversary – Midlake out of Denton. For the Sake of Bethel Woods is the fifth album from Midlake and their first since Antiphon in 2013. Seeing this band back together and performing was a highlight of the weekend.
Nothing says Texas like mixing up your country with rock n roll! Headed to South Congress for some day parties on Saturday. The famous Continental Club featured guitar master, Jesse Dayton. I have probably seen him perform a dozen times, and it just never gets old. Truly, a Texas treasure who’s played with Waylon, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson. Then, headed to Lucy’s Fried Chicken for a revival performance of The Continental Drifters. Haven’t seen them perform in probably 20 years, and it was an incredible performance. Here’s hoping they have many more dates on the books.
The British Music Embassy Day Party at Cedar Street Courtyard is always a good bet, and I heard two bands that are new favorites – Me Rex and Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. Me Rex was just a single singer-songwriter, but his lyrics and music were surprisingly moving. Then, Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard played their fifth and final showcase. This hard-rocking band from Cardiff was like Southern Rock meets Rolling Stones. Even though they were exhausted from a long weekend of performances, they had the whole crowd on their feet.