Archive for the SXSW Category

Video Du Jour: Blue Sky Riders

Posted in Rock Moment, SXSW with tags , , , , on April 4, 2013 by 30daysout

Another one from SXSW: Blue Sky Riders, a country rock trio led by Gary Burr, Georgia Middleman and Kenny Loggins. Yes, that Kenny Loggins. They played at the 2013 Southwest Invasion on the roof of Whole Foods Market. Thanks to IROCKE for allowing us to use the video.

Blue Sky Riders official web site

More videos at IROCKE

Video Du Jour: Rick Springfield

Posted in Rock Moment, SXSW with tags , on April 3, 2013 by 30daysout

We’re taking a little time off from the blog so we can get caught up in our day jobs. We will drop by occasionally in the next week or so with some good stuff.

Today let’s go back to SXSW, with an acoustic performance by rocker Rick Springfield. He played at the 2013 Southwest Invasion at SXSW on the roof of Whole Foods Market, presented by Quantum Collective, Amazon MP3, and IROCKE.

Rick Springfield official web site

More videos at IROCKE

 

Video Du Jour: The Mavericks

Posted in Rock Moment, SXSW with tags , , , on March 27, 2013 by 30daysout
Mavericks Waterloo

The Mavericks, partyin’ in the parking lot at Waterloo Records.

More stuff from SXSW: The Mavericks, a country rock band fronted by Raul Malo, have a new album out – In Time is their first studio work in about a decade. It’s heavy on the melodic, danceable stuff for which they are best known.

We caught their free set during SXSW at Waterloo Records. They played acoustic, and they quickly turned the record store parking lot into a party zone. Here’s “Back In My Arms Again,” from the new album.  Thanks to headonfire1105 for loan of the video.

The Mavericks official web site

30 Days Out Interview: Oisin Leech of The Lost Brothers

Posted in Interview, SXSW with tags , , , , on March 24, 2013 by 30daysout
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Mark McCausland, left, and Oisin Leech of The Lost Brothers.

Among all the new friends we made at South by Southwest (SXSW) this year, we really like The Lost Brothers. The “Losties” are a duo from Ireland who sing in close harmony, reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel or the Everly Brothers.

Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech met in an dusty old Liverpool library in 2007. Comparing influences, they discovered they both played in various bands and had traveled to Liverpool to take their music to the next level. The pair shared a love of music and influences as diverse as the Carter Family to Sam Cooke, Mississippi John Hurt to Dion and the Belmonts, Phil Spector to the Louvin Brothers, the Impressions to Van Morrison. The pair were regular faces on the Liverpool music scene and when together, people began to call them The Lost Brothers.

Leech and McCausland left the bands they were in at the time and flew to Portland, Oregon, where they hooked up with producer Mike Coykendall (M Ward, Bright Eyes), and recorded in his attic their debut album Trails of the Lonely.

Their folk-tinged music has great atmosphere, particularly on their third album The Passing Of The Lost-Brothers-000165-560x374Night, thanks in no small part to singer/songwriter Brendan Benson, who produced it in Nashville. The songs are sometimes sad, sometimes eerie and moody, from the opener “Not Now Warden,” about a man in prison whose love has moved on, to the sensational “Widow Maker,” a story of a hanging.

Appropriately, The Lost Brothers were invited to perform at the Tribute to Levon Helm that was one of the big closing shows during this year’s SXSW. Oisin Leech of the Losties saw one of our photos and contacted us to ask if we had any shots of him and his partner performing with Steve Earle and others in the climactic song “The Weight.” We did indeed have a few pictures, and in the exchange we had the chance to ask Oisin a few questions.

30 Days Out: I seem to recall you guys have been at SXSW before, but how was this one for you? What did you think? What was the weirdest experience? What was the best experience for you?

Oisin Leech: Yes, we have been to SXSW before but 2013 was our favorite year so far. Mark and I loved it. It’s the first time we have an album out in the United States on Readymade Records and so it was good timing to come to play Austin this year with the new album just out. This is our third album.

Hearing Dave Grohl speak about his favorite punk bands and about his early days with Nirvana was really something. Nirvana was the reason I started a punk band, the Vermin, when I was 14 and Grohl is one of my heroes. The Vermin didn’t gig. We just rehearsed and read Nirvana biographies.

The weirdest experience? It was weird, but weird in a good way, to sing “The Weight” with Amy Helm, Steve Earle and the Midnight Ramble band at Auditorium Shores at the tribute show for the late, great Levon Helm. It was weird to sing in front of that many people – good fun though. I’m not complaining! The Midnight Ramble Band are a wonderful band and it was a big thrill for Mark and I to jump up for a verse.

The best SXSW experience was seeing Charlie Sexton play guitar at Threadgills as part of Will Sexton and Brady Blades’ SXSW Big Bang. It was great fun to be part of Will and Brady’s gig. Steve Poltz, John Murry and Charlie Faye also played. I am a big 7635175Bob Dylan fan and to hear Charlie Sexton play in a small venue was like watching lightning. Charlie plays in Dylan’s band.

30 Days Out: Do you approach audiences differently in the U.S. than you would in the U.K.? Is there a different sensibility, or expectation on the audience’s part – and yours?

Leech: Well, it’s funny because I think a lot of folk melodies and lyrics came across the ocean from Ireland to North America over the centuries. And obviously North America sent rock and roll back. I hear it in a county song by Gordon Lightfoot or even in a Bob Dylan song like “Restless Farewell.”

The Lost Brothers’ music is so inspired by American music – Sam Cooke, Chuck Berry, Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt – maybe sometime an American audience at a Lost Brothers gig are hearing their own music through the voices of two Irish guys. We try to bring our own thing to the table. It’s an ongoing musical exchange. I always love the reception we get in the States and maybe they are hearing older traditions being sung back to them. We never, ever underestimate the audience wherever we play because usually they know a lot more than the singer. A show is what happens between the song and the listener and therein lies the magic of a good or bad gig.

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Mark McCausland, left, and Oisin Leech (center) sing “The Weight” with Steve Earle and The Midnight Ramble Band at SXSW 2013.

The Everly Brothers sing a song called “Rose Connolly” which was a traditional song in Kentucky but “Rose Connolly” was a traditional song from Scotland and Northern Ireland a long time before it was ever sung in Kentucky. It traveled across the ocean! So it’s an ongoing musical conversation over hundreds of years. Maybe that’s why we feel at home when we play in the U.S. because we’re just a small part of something much bigger that’s been ongoing for a long time.

When we did the U.S. tour with Glen Hansard we could really feel the warmth back from the audience each night from Boston right across to San Francisco over the three weeks. When we play in Ireland and in the U.K. it’s a more edgy experience. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a different atmosphere – maybe you need both worlds, I think you do.

30 Days Out: I love the story about your trip to Portland in the early days of the duo. What do you think of that city’s vibe? Does it have any similarities to Ireland/U.K.?

Leech: Portland is where Mark and I first recorded so we will always have a soft spot in our hearts for Portland – the city of the Rose. We lived there at the White Eagle Hotel and often go back. On our first album Trails of the Lonely we worked with two great producers in Portland, Mike Coykendall and Adam Selzer. We spent many hours in Powell’s book store looking for original copies of John Fante books. Portland has its own unique vibe, unlike anywhere I have ever been. Also our dear friend and musician extraordinaire Paul Brainard lives there. Always great to see Paul.

YouTube: “Under The Turquoise Sky”

30 Days Out: Listening to you live, you certainly live up to all those comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel.  But I hear influences that go back a little farther, and wider … Can you talk about your influences?

Leech: Mark and I were lucky in that we grew up around music. Mark’s family were the traveling Moore family band from Omagh. They played my granny’s dance hall in the 1950s long before we were ever born. My mum sings at church each week. My sister Saramai is a great singer and my dad plays violin. Music is everywhere in Ireland. It’s in the water.

My first love was punk rock – English bands like Alternative TV and the UK Subs, Irish punk bands like Striknien DC. Then I got into Nirvana and started to read about Kurt’s love of Leadbelly which opened up a door to Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters and folk and country. Folk is just like punk. It’s an open form of expression with (few) rules. I connected with it immediately. I used to go on Wednesday nights to a Dublin club called the Cobblestone and sit at the very front listening to singers like Sonny Condell and Ger Wolfe.

When people say Mark and I sound like Simon and Garfunkel it’s a big compliment but we never planned that at all. It was just chance. We are big Everly Brothers fans more so. The Everlys raised the game for everyone.

Mark loves Merle Travis and Sam Cooke. We’re both big Chuck Berry fans … Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Johnson, The Louvin Brothers, The Delmore Brothers, Jackson C. Frank, Van Morrison and Them, The Band and Levon Helm is a huge inspiration. We love the Beatles and lived in Liverpool for many years. Then there are bands from closer to home like Sweeneys Men, Planxty with legends like Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny and Christy Moore. I also love Patrick Street with Andy Irvine. Music that grabs the heart strings or gets the heart and soul racing.

There’s a singer from Sheffield, England, called Richard Hawley. He is as good as it gets for me. We made our second album So Long John Fante with some of Richard’s band and producer Colin Elliot.

YouTube: “Until The Morning” (filmed in Austin during SXSW)

30 Days Out: Love “Widow Maker,” especially the video. Can you talk a little about working with Brendan Benson, and what he brought to the table when you worked together?

Leech: It was a big thrill to work with Brendan. He gave us great confidence in our lyrics and in our playing. He taught us how hard you have to work. We made the album in five days and I don’t remember taking any breaks day or night. Then Brendan mixed the album in two days. He is such a great singer and writer himself so it was inspiring to be making a record with him and we had so many laughs during the week. He is a gentleman, a friend, and we love him dearly like a brother. Not only did he make the album with us but he released it on his own label Readymade Records in the U.S. In the U.K. it’s on Lojinx Records.

30 Days Out: What’s coming up for you guys?

Leech: We have 18 new songs demo’d and we have a very clear idea of how we want the next album to sound.We just wrote two new songs in Woodstock which we are very excited about. We just did the Midnight Ramble at The Levon Helm Studios and it was a very inspiring experience. We will do the summer festivals, in June we tour with Billy Bragg and next week we fly to London because Graham Nash has asked us to perform at the opening of his new photo exhibition “Graham Nash – Life on the Road.”  Mark and I have no idea how Graham heard of The Lost Brothers but it doesn’t matter I suppose, we’re thrilled that he asked us and we are looking forward to playing and seeing the photos!

The Lost Brothers official web site

YouTube: “Widow Maker”

Video Du Jour: Iggy & the Stooges

Posted in Rock Moment, SXSW with tags , , , on March 22, 2013 by 30daysout

We learned a lot of things at this recent SXSW music event: you spend more time walking from venue to venue and standing in line, than you do actually hearing music. If there is a huge, famous act playing during SXSW, you probably won’t get in to see them – unless you have connections. But actually, we knew both of those years ago. It doesn’t deter one’s fun at SXSW, at the very least.

And the other thing we learned: as soon as Iggy Pop leaves the stage after a show, he gets into a car to go away. And he doesn’t even bother to put on a shirt! We caught his exit from the Mohawk club after Iggy and the Stooges’ SXSW show. Here’s a new song from that show, “Burn.”

Thanks to freddycannonII for loan of the video.

Video Du Jour: Vampire Weekend

Posted in new, SXSW with tags , on March 21, 2013 by 30daysout

It’s going to take a few days (weeks?) to flush this year’s SXSW out of our systems, so please bear with us. On the plus side, much of that involves us sharing new music we heard at the event.

One of the official events was a Day Stage where invited acts could perform short sets for conference attendees. One of the acts playing was Vampire Weekend, which hasn’t appeared in public for about a year. They performed a five-song set that included a new tune, ‘Unbelievers,” from the new album Modern Vampires of the City, due May 7.

Bonus: “A-Punk”

Vampire Weekend official web site

SXSW Day Four: Feelin’ About Half Past Dead

Posted in SXSW with tags , , , , , on March 17, 2013 by 30daysout
The Weight 2

Steve Earle performs “The Weight” with Amy Helm (left) and Eleanor Whitmore, and The Midnight Ramble Band.

The final official night of all the South by Southwest (SXSW) lunacy in Austin sparkled with stars that seemingly tumbled in from nowhere. All at once, and roughly about the same time, the city erupted in performances by Justin Timberlake, Prince, the Smashing Pumpkins, A Tribe Called Quest, Vampire Weekend and John Fogerty.

The music part of this festival is so varied and broad, one can pick and choose the acts one wants to see and assemble them like a buffet meal. Throughout this year’s SXSW we have tried to focus on a certain type of musical proficiency and style, a dedication to craft, and we assembled our feast accordingly, downscaling our choices away from the superstars and flash-in-the-pans. (Full disclosure: we couldn’t get in to the biggest shows, and a few of the others were way too late for our old bones.)

So it was no question that we had to close out our South By experience Saturday night by attending a big show at the city’s scenic Auditorium Shores, where The Midnight Ramble Band and a number of guest performers paid tribute to the late, very great Levon Helm.

Leagues

Leagues, from Nashville.

Much has been made of Levon Helm’s contribution to American music since his passing last year. He was the drummer and frequent lead singer on many of The Band’s classic tunes, written by Robbie Robertson and performed beautifully by the entire ensemble when it existed in the late 1960s-early 1970s.

Helm stood for a rough authenticity in the music. Not only was he a brilliant player, but he liked to surround himself with similarly skilled individuals. So we have The Midnight Ramble Band, named after his monthly musical revival meetings held at his barn/recording studio near Woodstock, N.Y., and which plays the music that Levon helped make famous.

Led by Helm’s daughter Amy, The Midnight Ramble Band stomped the show alive with “The Shape I’m In.” After that opening guest performers would wander on and off the stage, sometimes after a bit of delay while somebody located them backstage. It was a loose affair, patterned after the Midnight Rambles, one supposes, where a tight pre-planned set list is not a priority.

Steve Earle said “I love my job,” and played his song “The Mountain” which Levon covered on his Grammy-winning Dirt Farmer album. Then he strapped on a mandolin to lead the players through a rousing “Rag Mama Rag.”

And so it would go with other guest performers – Ivan Neville, J.J. Grey, members of Spirit Family Reunion, Carolyn Wonderland, The Lost Brothers and Cody and Luther from the North Mississippi All Stars. They all reunited onstage at the end, to perform “The Weight” to send their regards for everyone. At song’s finish, Earle stepped up and pointed to the sky. “See you when we get there, maestro,” he said.

On the way out, volunteers held up signs and big bottles were positioned for donations. Keep It Goin’, as it said on the signs, is an initiative to continue Levon’s legacy and create a musical landmark at his barn in Woodstock.

Throughout the day in Austin, one didn’t need a barn or studio for music. It seemed to be everywhere, coming from any place. Bands played atop buses, both moving and parked. Clubs improvised stages to pack in audiences, and venues with stages indoors erected other stages outdoors to accommodate more performers.

We saw the Seattle folk-pop band Ivan and Alyosha behind the big Sixth Street venue at Stages. A big tent kept many spectators out of the sun, and the beer was flowing freely. Singer Tim Wilson urged spectators to also see the Nashville band Leagues, which was on the indoor stage.

OK, so we did – Leagues is led by Thad Cockrell, whose mesmerizing voice has helped make this band one of the most talked-about at this year’s SXSW. Cockrell danced freely during his performance and invited audience members to do the same. “It’s music to make you feel good,” he said, and spun merrily away.

The Zombies 2

The Zombies: from left, Rod Argent, Jim Rodford and Colin Blunstone.

One interesting place to see a performance was Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop, which hosted a few days of live broadcasts by Seattle radio station KEXP. We caught a short set for the radio by the venerable Zombies, the 1960s British invasion-era unit led by singer Colin Blunstone and keyboardist (and main songwriter) Rod Argent.

They performed a handful of their classics, including “Tell Her No,” “Care of Cell 44,” “Time of the Season” and of course “She’s Not There.” Argent even pulled out a moldy oldie from his band Argent, “Hold Your Head Up.” Argent explained, “Many people thought I wrote this song but it was actually Chris White (also in Argent and the original bassist for The Zombies). And the title was originally, ‘Hold Your Head Up Woman.’ Lot of people don’t know that.”

It was nice to see Jim Rodford on bass with The Zombies – he was also in Argent and wound up as the bass player for The Kinks in that band’s later years. His presence lent a nice touch to the craft and veteran musicianship of the group, sounding great and playing their hearts out even for a 30-minute radio broadcast.

So we wrapped up our SXSW with a note of optimism and hope for the future. Thousands of performers practice and sweat to make it here each year to perform for small or non-existent crowds with the thought that their voices and their music may be heard. You gotta be good to even get a shot at SXSW, and bands do break out every year to greater fame and fortune (for example: the Alabama Shakes, class of 2012). Keep trying, next year may be your time.

And so we wrap it for this year, our feet blistered and our necks sunburned, but with music still in our heads. Our tired bones tell us we’re too old for this, but our hearts insist on knowing “are we gonna come back next year?”

Thanks for reading, thanks to Popdose for putting up with us over there, and come on down to Austin next year. We’d love to see you. And we’ll buy you a free beer.

Check out our SXSW photos on Flickr

SXSW Day Three: I’ve Done Everything For You

Posted in SXSW, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by 30daysout
Rick Springfield web

Rick Springfield, lookin’ good at age 63.

Friday is usually the craziest day of the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas. By this time, any rational plan or schedule has gone out the window as one gets caught up in the hurricane of music, madness and sweaty humanity.

We had the noblest of intentions to serve you, dear reader, on Day Three by volunteering for sea duty aboard the U.S.S. Lone Star Riverboat, a party that was to be regaled by the metal band Goatwhore. But alas, as we approached the dock along Austin’s tranquil Lady Bird Lake (actually an easygoing reservoir of the usually fast-rushing Colorado River), we saw that about 500 other intrepid souls had the same idea.

The crowd’s color of choice for t-shirts, body ink and Death Metal was black – for the next few hours these would be our people. But a deck hand for the Boatwhore cruise, apparently looking for curvy cruise mates, strolled to our part of the line and told us: “There is no way you’re getting on the boat. About 18,000 people signed up for this, and it holds only 90 people.”

Blue Sky Riders

The photogenic Blue Sky Riders, from left: Loggins, Middleman and Burr.

And so our ship sailed, with us still standing on dry land. Passengers and crew sailed off into the Texas night, dancing under the stars to the roar of Goatwhore. We hope and pray they made it safely back to shore.

The day was not without its pleasures, and surprises. Atop the sunny and breezy patio of the big Whole Foods Market flagship, people nibbled on vegan tacos and sipped coconut water while listening to a decidedly mellow lineup of musicians. Then, a last-minute addition: Rick Springfield.

Lookin’ good at age 63, Springfield busted out of an L.A. jail last week and performed with Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players at a big show on Thursday evening. He apparently wanted to play a little more, so this short set would be solo acoustic.

The crowd’s color of choice for t-shirts, girlfriends and recyclable totes was pastel – and for the next 20 minutes this would be 1981 all over again. Springfield flailed energetically on his guitar and invited the crowd to sing along on “I’ve Done Everything For You” and “Love Somebody.”

He even played one from his new album Songs For The End of the World, a bit of anxiety called “I Hate Myself,” which of course he also turned into another singalong.

And then, “Jessie’s Girl.” How can you resist? SING ALONG! “Lovin’ him with that body/I just know it!

At this point you may be wondering: Why would someone like Rick Springfield appear at SXSW, which is designed to showcase and break out new artists (and suck up to superstars)? Well, SXSW is also a good vehicle for established artists to play and get their new projects in front of audiences and hopefully, get their careers back on the rails again. With that short acoustic blast on Thursday, Springfield may not have propelled himself back to the top of the charts but he got his name on the minds of a few hundred people (and in front of you, dear reader).

Right up next was another act, Blue Sky Riders. A Nashville trio playing smooth country pop, the band consists of husband-wife Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman, both country hitmakers. The third voice belongs to Kenny Loggins, who divorced from Jim Messina in the 1970s to become King of the 1980s Soundtracks.

The Mavericks 4

Raul Malo, center, rouses The Mavericks on the outdoor Waterloo Records stage.

BSR sailed into “I’m A Rider (Finally Home),” the parenthetical title track from their debut album. Uptempo tunes like “Just Say Yes” and “You’re Not The Boss Of Me” went down well with Middleman’s ballad “Little Victories.” The voices blended seamlessly, making a musical meld slick enough to slide painlessly into country and adult contemporary playlists. The breeze wafted BSR’s delicacies like dandelion florets, away from the Whole Foods patio and across busy Lamar Street where yet another resurrection was about to take place.

The Mavericks, also a slick country rock outfit, played Waterloo Records’ outdoor stage behind the new In Time, their first studio album in a decade. The band played acoustically, accompanied by mariachi horns, two accordions and the soaring tenor of front man Raul Malo. The Tex-Mex menu included “Back In Your Arms Again,” “Dance In The Moonlight” and “Come Unto Me,” all from the new work.

There were a lot of people standing in the afternoon sun, so Malo kept the party going with an extended run-through of the band’s biggest hit, “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down.” Malo thanked everyone for coming out, and said it was cool to be playing at a real, live record store. “Help ‘em out, because they’re really hurting,” he said of record stores in general. “Frankly, I’m tired of buying all my music at Walmart.”

St Paul and the Broken Bones 2

Paul Janeway, right, fronts St. Paul and the Broken Bones’ soul revue.

We did see some worthy new talent: St. Paul and the Broken Bones, a white-boy soul/R&B unit from Birmingham, Alabama, fronted by Paul Janeway. Screaming and shouting the soul like James Brown was his babysitter, Janeway ripped through a set of Southern R&B that went down well with the morning’s first tacos. His closing punch of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, then a selection from the songbook of Tom Waits, was mighty fine.

Today (Saturday) is the final official day of SXSW, and the day when all of the week’s rumors come to roost. This we know – Justin Timberlake is playing someplace tonight, as are the Smashing Pumpkins and John Fogerty. Vampire Weekend shows off its new material this afternoon at the Austin Convention Center, a whole bunch of hip-hoppers are here and the 1,200-person-capacity La Zona Rosa club hosts an artist currently known as Prince. Hoo boy.

Check out SXSW 2013 photos on our Flickr page

SXSW Video

Posted in SXSW on March 15, 2013 by 30daysout

George put together some video from our musical adventures at SXSW. Check it out!

SXSW Day Two: America(na)’s Favorite Indie Record Label

Posted in SXSW with tags , , , , , , on March 15, 2013 by 30daysout
Richard Thompson 3

Richard Thompson played songs from his new album.

Gotta tell you – the weather’s great here in Austin, Texas. Thursday was a bright, sunny spring day that topped out at about 80 degrees. And it was too nice outside to stay cooped up at all the official events of South by Southwest (SXSW) so we played a little hooky.

We did our official bit by attending Dave Grohl’s keynote address but the sunshine streaming through the glass at the Austin Convention Center was just too alluring. So we split, and stumbled upon something really great.

It was an outdoor party by the New West Records label at Threadgills, a restaurant built on the site of the old Armadillo World Headquarters and run by some of the same people. New West showed off some old and new members of its artists’ roster.

Austin Lucas

Austin Lucas is the one with the guitar.

New West has been in business since 1997, when founder Cameron Strang signed Billy Joe Shaver, Delbert McClinton and the great Austin musician Stephen Bruton. In the years since its inception, New West has found a place in the hearts of lovers of roots music, as it has signed legends like Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, John Hiatt, the Old 97s, Ian Hunter, Dwight Yoakam and many more.

Strang has since left, and partner George Fontaine Sr. is now the label’s president. We didn’t catch up with Fontaine Sr., but we managed to corner George Fontaine Jr., who also works at New West and runs Normaltown Records, an affiliated label.

“We want to bring people quality music and quality artists,” said George Jr. “We had been known for signing more heritage artists, but in recent years we have signed some new artists and hopefully build them up to be the next generation of Steve Earles and John Hiatts.”

Some of those new names performed at the party. Austin Lucas showed off his folk/bluegrass lineage with some fine tales of sin and hellfire, and history and death. We got off to the steel guitar-and-twang of Daniel Romano, a Normaltown artist who has a Gram Parsons vibe and the straightest looking band this side of Merle Haggard’s Strangers.

John Hiatt greeted everyone with a short solo set, kicking off with “Thing Called Love,” which Bonnie Raitt turned into a thing called a hit back in 1989. He got around to a new tune from an album he’s working on, which he promised would be out around the beginning of next year.

New West has had great success with the “roots” artists but Fontaine Jr. said the label’s on the lookout for artists that will expand the range past a strictly Americana category. “We have really broad tastes. We have a number of different people that make up the A&R team and everyone likes different stuff,” he said. “What we’re doing now is seeking artists who write their own songs and have that unexplainable, intangible quality to them.”

John Hiatt

John Hiatt, relaxed and acoustic.

One of those artists is Ronnie Fauss, a Dallas-based singer. He was playing an in-store set at Houston’s Cactus Music that Fontaine Sr. attended. “I was doing a cover of a Slobberbone (a North Texas band who was on New West) song and (Fontaine) came up after the show and told me how much he liked it and how he signed them and worked as their A&R guy,” said Fauss. “We got to talking and hit it off immediately. A year later I signed and a year after that my record (I Am The Man You Know I’m Not) came out.”

Max Gomez is another new artist on New West. “Two years ago I went to SXSW on a whim and played a little dive called the Chuggin’ Monkey. I played my whole set to 20 people who were there and during my last song in walked a guy named Gary Briggs. About six months later we’re talking about making records and it’s a dream come true and I couldn’t be happier about how I got to make it,” said Gomez.

Steve Earle is the pattern, and his new album The Low Highway (out April 16) has Fontaine Jr. excited, as does the recent signing of Austin singer/songwriter Patty Griffin. Will New West also sign Griffin’s new husband and “driver” (guy named Robert Plant)? “Ah, that would be nice,” Fontaine said.

New West has a Plant associate – Buddy Miller, who co-produced and played on the ex-Zep’s last studio album Band of Joy. Miller, a great singer and songwriter and a shockingly good guitarist, is promoting the new album Buddy and Jim, a collaboration with veteran Nashville singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale.

The Buddy and Jim band easily stole the show at the New West party, mixing some rousing originals with well-chosen covers including “Down South In New Orleans” (Johnnie and Jack) and the rockabilly stomper “The Wobble” (by Jimmy McCrackin). The originals rocked, too: “I Lost My Job of Loving You” and especially “Vampire Girl” featured some sizzling guitar from Miller.

Lauderdale Miller 1

Jim Lauderdale, left, and Buddy Miller.

More great guitar work came next, from one of the greatest guitarists ever. Richard Thompson, who many people feel could be second greatest British rock guitar player, played tunes from his new Electric. And electric they were – from the Celtic stomp of “Sally B” to the rocking “Good Things Happen To Bad People,” to the just great tunes “Salford Sunday” and “Stoney Ground.”

Austin is just the place for this all to happen for New West. The label has a very successful series, “Live in Austin TX,” which features performances from the venerable TV series “Austin City Limits.” Although the time for introducing new performances has run out, New West is reissuing some of the old performances on vinyl and as CD/DVD combo packs.

Easily the most successful release New West has issued is kind of odd: it’s only the second movie soundtrack offered by the label, and it doesn’t feature too many artists on New West. It’s the Crazy Heart soundtrack, issued in 2010 and sent into the stratosphere by the Oscar-winning song “The Weary Kind” by Ryan Bingham.

“When we agreed to put it out it had been shopped to every major label. No one even knew if the movie would see the light of day,” said George Fontaine Jr. “Then Fox Searchlight bought the movie and the offer came across Cameron Strang’s desk to do the soundtrack and he jumped on it.

“Buddy Miller was involved in some of the producing. The late Stephen Bruton, who was a friend of Cameron’s, was sort of the musical inspiration and wrote some songs himself and coached Jeff Bridges throughout the movie. So it sort of made sense that it came to us. An Oscar also helps.”

Check out our SXSW 2013 photos on our Flickr photo page

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