SXSW Day 1: Oh, What a Night


No longer am I an Austin Music Awards virgin. Wednesday evening saw me plunking my bony
butt down in a masochist's dream of a chair and soaking in the glorious scene that forms part of
Austin's live music body & soul.

How Austin are the Austin Music Awards? What other award ceremony has an award
winner (Waterloo Records for best record store - in your face, Borders!) celebrating its 21st win
by buying every 21-year-old in the place a beer?

What other award show has a winner (KGSR, for best radio station) handing over a check for
$220,000 to help musicians get health care?

What other award show has music you actually want to hear, can hear, enjoy hearing and know
for a fact isn't being lip-synched?

What other award show has as many people milling around chatting as there are sitting down listening to the music?

What other award show has Margaret Moser addressing the crowd in a gorgeous evening dress and tennis shoes?

What other award show has winners making BRIEF acceptance speeches?

What other award show lets you really get mellow from second-hand joint smoke wafting by?

What other award show squeezes in the awards between sets, rather than the other way around? Heck, we really didn't even need the awards bit.

And what other award show has EVER turned out to be so, well, enjoyable?

What an evening. Shame I had to leave right after the Hole in the Wall Gang's set.

But before I left, myself and the thousands of other folks were blown away by Ruthie Foster, as her stupendous voice
drop-kicked us with "Hole in My Pocket" and "Death Came a Knockin'."

We were soothed by the lustrous melodies of Chip Taylor and Kelly Rodriguez and "Sweet Tequila blues" and "Let's Leave This Town."

We were pumped up by the Hole in the Wall Gang and their screed of special guests,
including Fastball, Beaver Nelson, Larry Seaman, Jane Bond, Barbara K.

We were on our feet for the unofficial Hole in the Wall anthem, "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights"
and the reaction to Fastball's specially written song was priceless.

"Everything changes and rearranges, but I don't let it get me down," they sang. "Cos this is still our town."
Not only is it a song bemoaning the passing of Liberty Lunch, the Hole in the Wall and Austin's live music scene,
but it's a battle cry to keep fighting for the things that make Austin unique.  A cry the audience seemed to take to heart.

Can't wait until next year's.

Michael Corcoran
Austin American Statesman
March 14, 2003

...It was all about hometown pride, from Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez' "Sweet Tequila Blues" with its chorus about missing this town to the all-"star" Hole in the Wall Gang revue to the improbably ecstatic redneck finale of "London Homesick Blues."  During the Hole segment,  Fastball performed a new song about all the things that aren't here anymore, like Mad Dog and Beans, where members of Scratch Acid and the Reivers flipped burgers and filled pitchers and sometimes "forgot" to charge you.  But the song wasn't just about what we've lost, but about what remains, however it may be hidden at times.  "This is still our town," sang Miles Zuniga, who ditched Austin for Nashville a year ago, but soon realized his mistake and is now back.  Later at Opal Divine's, one of Austin music's great failures Two Hoots and a Holler were doing a Roky Erickson song, "Starry Eyes" and it just all came back:  Why we live here.  Why it would be hard to live anywhere else.  Rick Broussard's guitar playing has always been instinctive, as if to suggest there's no separation between the mind and the fingers.

And on this happy night the air felt especially receptive.  At the end of the set they did the Clash's "Career Opportunities," as much a comment on their own unrealized potential as an homage to the late Joe Strummer, and Broussard hammered the stage with his guitar until it broke in half.   Stunning.  Amazing.  Today, Two Hoots and a Holler are back at their jobs, welding, delivering, watching - whatever they do.

Sometimes that's all you get -- 40 minutes in a tent on a Wednesday night.  Sometimes it feels like the world's passing you by, that there's always a better party than the one you're at.  But on Wednesday it felt as good to live in Austin, Texas as it must've felt to smash a guitar.

"This is still our town" - an anthem is born!

Miles Zuniga
Recorded March 11, 2003 KLBJ-FM Local Licks Live at Austin School of Music
Download MP3

I remember this town before Liberty Lunch closed down
Milkshakes at Mad Dog and Beans
Watch the college girls walkin down 24th street
Drinkin' beer at Les Amis, now there's a Starbucks sittin' where it used to be
Oh no, feels like everything's changing now

Never worried about nothin' back then
Never had to sit in no traffic jam
Shootin' pool at the Hole in the Wall
Sunday night Rock and Roll Free For All
Hangin' out in that parking lot
You could spark up a joint and we never got caught, you know
it feels like everything's changing now

Everything's changing and rearranging, but I don't let it get me down
Cause this is still our town, this is still our town

I saw a bumper sticker said "Keep Austin weird"
And everybody's saying the end is near
I need a drink, I need a smoke
I need to take my baby dancing at the Broken Spoke
Cause this is still our town, this still our town, you know
It feels like everything's changing

Everything's changing and rearranging, but I don't let it get me down
Cause this is still our town, this is still our town,
Cause this is still our town

Austin Chronicle
March 21, 3002
A Reminder of What We Had


"The Hole in the Wall Gang" performance at the Chronicle Music Awards served
as an excellent reminder of what "smart growth" has taken away from
community real estate values. I seem to remember a time when there was a
rock and roll free-for-all. Great job, Mr. Minor, lovely show.


Todd Alan Smith

back to superego news