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SXSW 2009: And it begins

Posted by James Reed  March 18, 2009 01:26 AM

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Hey, folks. Live from sunny Austin, Texas, this is James Reed reporting from the South by Southwest music festival. Well, actually, it hasn't started yet (it runs March 18-22), but you'd never guess that from looks of the city so far.

Already 6th Street -- the stretch of bars, restaurants, and clubs that's the epicenter of activity this week as 1,800 bands descend on Austin -- is abuzz with revelers checking out music as much as one another. From all the green attire and shamrock hats, I couldn't tell if tonight's merriment was in honor of St. Patrick or just an excuse to get the party started early. I suspect both. And, of course, it didn't hurt that it was nothing but blue skies and 80-degree weather here today. (Funny how Boston and its March snowstorms make you forget how great the warmth of the sun truly feels.)

Even before I touched down in Austin, it was already resembling a rock festival on my connecting flight from Houston. I was 80 percent sure Ryan Adams was two rows behind me, but then I realized Ryan Adams probably wouldn't be sitting in coach and asking the flight attendant for a Diet Coke. Everyone on my flight, in fact, could have been at a casting call for the next member of the Strokes -- that is, lots of skinny dudes in skinny jeans, wearing tattered cowboy hats and boots they probably bought anywhere but in Texas.

I was lucky enough to sit next to a charming fellow named Ernest, who was also rocking a fedora (hey, when in Rome...). Ernest is an audio engineer and musician who works with Natalia Lafourcade, an exceptional singer-songwriter from Mexico City whom I'm checking out either tomorrow or Thursday night. Lafourcade, who's as feisty as her quirky alt-rock suggests, told me she and her band are in town for their first SXSW appearance, bolstered by a new single, "Azul," that's climbing the pop charts in Mexico. Take a listen here.

So in between figuring out the bands I hope to catch tomorrow -- I already have 15 on my list, a good five too many -- I used tonight to get a feel for the city. And by that, I mean this:

With or without that cupcake, stay tuned for more updates on the big buzz out of Austin. Bleary-eyed at 3 in the morning, I'll be happily reporting for duty.

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1 comments so far...
  1. I love Austin, my favorite city just behind Boston!! I'll be following this blog religiously all week!

    Posted by msd813 March 18, 09 09:47 AM

About Sound Effects

The latest news, commentary, and reviews on music in Boston and beyond.


Sarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

James Reed is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

Jonathan Perry is the Globe's Scene & Heard columnist, covering local music.

Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.

Julian Benbow is a staff writer at the Boston Globe, covering sports and music.

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