By Katherine Cole
What a week it was in Austin! I didn’t keep track of all the shows I attended during SXSW 2013, but my unofficial tally is a hundred bands/singers heard between Tuesday March 12 and Sunday the 17th. Sounds like a lot, but it’s totally doable when you realize music starts when the daytime parties kick off each noon and ends with the last official showcase at 2am.
Highlights for me? St. Paul and The Broken Bones, a six piece Southern soul group from Birmingham, Alabama. Totally unknown to me before last week, the buzz started on day two when one friend texted “COME SEE THIS BAND!!!” Just like that, in all caps. Within a few hours, I’d heard from two other “tastemakers” who had fallen under their spell. How much did they like this band? Enough to toss their carefully planned afternoon schedule and follow St. Paul and The Broken Bones to their next gig. Sounds crazy, but take a look at this video and tell me you wouldn’t be tempted to do the same thing!
By the end of the week, I’d heard from a couple dozen people who’d named “St. Paul and The Broken Bones as their SXSW “find.”
The Lone Bellow was it for others. They played 13 times during SXSW according to one article I read. Another put it at 17, and these photos chronicle at least that many. No matter what the number, this Brooklyn, NY-based band was another one of the “it” groups of SXSW, and you can expect to be hearing (and seeing) a lot more about them in the future. Their CD was produced by Charlie Peacock, who did the same for the Civil Wars.
When I’m at SXSW I try to spend most of my time on “discovery,” checking out new bands and trends. But I also set aside time to catch a showcase or two featuring bands I’ve seen before and loved, or singers that falls into that “kinda like, but am not convinced, even though everyone else likes them” category. This year, I added a new category: someone I should see because “what the heck is he/she doing here?” For 2013, that honor went to former child star Charlotte Church.
You remember her … in the late ’90s Church leaped to stardom as a multi-million-selling pop-opera-singing teenager from Wales. She toured the world and was once spotted taking school exams in a room at the White House after singing for President George Bush’s inauguration. Now 27 and the mother of two young children, Charlotte Church and her five man band showcased new songs before a small, but mesmerized, audience at a rooftop club (I squeezed in to that one), and also at several private events.
I have a ton of other SXSW finds and stories to share with you. Check back later this week for one with a very happy ending!