It was pointed out to me that I’ve been neglecting my blog. This is not because of a lack of interest. In fact, the last few days have been crazy, hectic, rewarding, and a lot of fun.
When I quit the music business in 1993, SxSW didn’t really exist. I went to speak a few years ago on a panel in the interactive portion of the show, but I didn’t check out the music part. People tried to prepare me for what it has become, but I had no idea how massive it’s become. There are over a thousand bands playing there, and as you walk around central Austin, about half those bands seem to be on the street corners trying to flag down a taxi with guitars and drum heads under their arms.
I did three separate performances at SxSW. The first was at the Elysium, a goth/punk club that I played back in December with BT. The owner had missed that show, heard good things about it, so he requested that I play my SxSW showcase at his club. The support was Kid Beyond, a brilliant Bay Area beatboxer/singer that builds his beats by layering them in Ableton Live with the help of a bank of footswitches; then he sings cool songs over the top. My daughter Lily (aka Harper) told me about him, as she’d seen him supporting Imogen Heap at her last show in San Francisco. He did a great job warming up the crowd and by the time I came on the place was at capacity and the fire marshalls weren’t letting anyone else in. They gave me a warm reception and I tore through a 40-minute set, joined for the second half by The Jazz Mafia Horns.
The next day I had to get up early and take a cab 12 miles into Austin to do an interview with Spin. I walked into their hotel suite which looked like a bomb had gone off in it. It smelled like an old ashtray. The Spin staff looked at me like I was from another planet–my press agent set up the interview time, but I guess their schedule had gone out the window the days before. The guy that interviewed me knew zero about me, and even asked if I was playing at SxSW. I then had to kill 3 hours until my ‘day show’ in the Austin Convention Center that is the HQ for SxSW. I had to use my ‘B rig’ that I usually take to radio shows, which basically consists of my laptop, a small keyboard and a TriggerFinger for samples. We had only 10 minutes to get set up on stage in a cafeteria that seats maybe 75 people. Problem is, I’ve never really used this rig to perform several songs back to back. Nothing came up quite right, and instead of the 5 songs I’d planned to play in my 20 minute slot, I only got through three. It was pretty humiliating, and put me in foul mood.
I had a couple more interviews at the Convention Center and left to walk back to our tour bus, which was parked next to the venue for my evening gig, a street fair on 4th St. But I was completely disoriented and wandered around for 3/4 hr in the heat of the day before I finally stumbled on our bus; which was now full of Zune staff, as they were using it as a base for their day’s activities (Zune helped sponsor my tour.) I was happy to let them use it, but really all I wanted was a nap. This I just about managed to grab, on the leather bench in the back lounge.
I woke up in a much better frame of mind. I was determined that the evening show would be a smash and would wipe the slate clean from my horrible day. And sure enough, rock’n'roll came to my rescue. We had a great show in the large tent, and got the crowd rocking.
We’re now in Dallas about to go on stage. The Jazz Mafia are getting tight and tuneful. On the bus today we added a new (old) song which shows their skills off to great effect, and which we will debut at tonight’s gig.
Johnny Dekam’s girlfriend Bree gave me these neat pics from Austin for my blog!