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SXSW: No rest for the wicked

Posted by James Reed  March 17, 2012 01:28 PM

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I woke up today, had a sit-down breakfast for the first time in nearly a week, and vowed not to have a crazy day. Then I looked at the SXSW schedule and realized that's not an option. It's never an option here, actually.

On what's unofficially the music festival's last night, Austin is ramping up for one final hurrah. I've barely recovered from last night, a long evening of bands that transported me to 1970s Ethiopia (Boston's own Debo Band), the back roads of dusky Americana (Field Report), the neo-soul of the '90s (THEESatisfaction, above), and the future of global hip-hop (Spoek Mathambo).

I've learned it's especially nice -- restorative, even -- to call it a night with a low-key performance in a cozy listening room. Last night that happened to be Scott Matthew (below), a New York singer-songwriter who carries the weight of the world in his transcendent voice. Shivers went up the spine as he closed his set with a stark rendition of "Smile," the standard written by Charlie Chaplin.


On today's agenda, and since it's St. Patrick's Day and I'm homesick for Boston, I'm supporting the hometown crowd. DigBoston has an official day party that features a solid lineup of Boston's finest, including the Wandas and Bad Rabbits. One street over, Ryan Spaulding of Ryan's Smashing Life has teamed up with his bud Adam Duritz from the Counting Crows for a 19-band blowout they've branded the Outlaw Roadshow. Some New England acts are on the bill (Boston's Casey Desmond, Providence's Brown Bird), but it's also flush with big names like Heartless Bastards. It's probably my last chance to see JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound.

And if the SXSW gods are good to me, I'll slip into a theater at 4 p.m. for a screening of "Big Easy Express," Emmett Malloy's new film that chronicles the community and camaraderie of bands like Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and Old Crow Medicine Show. Why will it be so packed? Because members of those bands will be on hand for a performance after the screening. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, get all my updates on Twitter: @GlobeJamesReed.

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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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Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at

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