The latest from our team at South by Southwest in Austin

SXSW: Andrew Bird, Live In Concert

Since Andrew Bird’s in town tonight, thought you might enjoy Stephen Thompson’s review for NPR from the show at SXSW last night. You can listen to the audio from the concert here at NPR music.

Andrew Bird‘s new 12th album, Break It Yourself, is a brooding grower, not to mention a headphone record of the highest order. On the live stage, though, it’s clear that Bird has become a cult superstar of the variety that attracts actual, real, live screaming fans. His music can be subtle and sweet, but Bird’s concerts also bring out the fervent, electric energy of his following — which, of course, helps coax out a showmanship that’s not readily apparent in Break It Yourself‘s gentle, multilayered ballads.

Classically trained and once known as a purveyor of old-time hot jazz, Bird is now the picture of indie-pop sophistication, known for employing $10 words and the clearest, most identifiable whistle in the business. (Yes, that’s him working as something of a stunt double in last year’s Muppets reboot.) Naturally, both came into play when Bird took the Stubb’s stage as the headliner of NPR Music’s SXSW showcase in Austin, Texas. Though he opened on an atmospheric note, once Bird dug into peppier songs like “Dark Matter” (from Armchair Apocrypha), he found his energy. When the Spinning Horn Speaker behind him created the illusion of Bird as some sort of horned fiddling demon-god, he proved worthy of the menacing visual.

Bird had no easy acts to follow at Stubb’s — he came on shortly after the raucous, earth-shaking up-and-comers in the Alabama Shakes, not to mention the insane rampage of Dan Deacon — but his warm, precise pop wore well anyway. Unlike most SXSW performers, who play shows by the handful during the extended weekend, this was Bird’s one shot at this year’s festival, and he appeared determined to make it count for the sweet, soaring hour he held the stage.

Set List
  • “Hole in the Ocean Floor”
  • “Danse Caribe”
  • “Dark Matter”
  • “Desperation Breeds …”
  • “Effigy”
  • “Give It Away”
  • “Eyeoneye”
  • “Near Death Experience Experience”
  • “Orpheo Looks Back”
  • “Fatal Shore”
  • “Plasticities”
  • “Tables and Chairs”
  • “Fake Palindromes”

Producers: Amy Schriefer, Robin Hilton; Video by: XI Media; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
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SXSW: Alabama Shakes Pix and Audio

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Categorized Under: Music, South by Southwest

Great pix from Dane Walters of Alabama Shakes show in Austin. Check out the show audio at NPR Music.

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SXSW: Magnificent Beard at Flatstock

Check out Matt from Magnificent Beard at Flatstock! April Kinser caught up with him at the convention center in Austin.  Remember Magnificent Beard from the story Stephen Becker did last year on Flatstock? I’ve posted the video that April and Dane Walters did last year on them below, just in case you missed it. The duo also designed member the KXT’s  Winter Membership Campaign t-shirt.

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SXSW: The Barr Brothers on KXT 91.7

Listen in at 6:30 this evening on 91.7 or online at KXT.org to hear Mark Abuzzahab’s interview with The Barr Brothers on location at House Wine in Austin!

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SXSW: My Weird Night

AUSTIN – Normally when I write about my experiences at SXSW, I do my best to write about what I’m seeing and hearing and I leave out the other stuff. Why should you care what I had for dinner or what kind of drinks they served at some party?

But I’m writing about last night because it’s really a microcosm of what a weird, exciting and, also, weird place Austin can be when the festival is in town.

After hanging out with a couple of my KXT buddies, we parted ways around 9:15 p.m. They were heading to Stubbs to try to catch the Alabama Shakes and Andrew Bird as part of NPR’s annual big music showcase. And I was heading to an event on the opposite side of town that started at 11.

With 90 minutes to kill, I did the thing that makes coming to events like this great: I pulled up the SXSW app and looked to see what was going on within a few blocks of where I was standing. As luck would have it, a movie was starting at the Paramount Theater in about five minutes. Sold.

I can’t count the number of times when I’ve just walked into a movie at a festival that I had no plans on seeing and it ended up being one of the best things I see. Maybe I’m a bad judge of potential. But the documentary I saw, Searching for Sugar Man, is one of the most exhilarating I’ve seen in a while. Read More »

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SXSW: KXT Is In The House

Dane Walters and April Kinser gear up

The On The Road crew – April Kinser and Dane Walters – will be filming artists all week at House Wine in Austin during SXSW.  Here’s the schedule if you’re in the neighborhood and want to be in the audience!  Mark Abuzzahab will be conducting interviews to air on 91.7.

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SXSW: A 'Dazed and Confused' Reunion

"Alright, alright, alright..."

AUSTIN – Richard Linklater’s Bernie premieres tonight at the Paramount Theater. The film stars Jack Black as the title character in the true story of how the nicest man in Carthage, Texas, was convicted of murdering the woman he worked for. The movie is based on a Texas Monthly story written by Dallas resident Skip Hollandsworth.

Matthew McConaughey plays the district attorney who tries to put Bernie Tiede behind bars for killing Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). Only trouble is everyone in Carthage loves Bernie and they hated Marjorie. In real life, the trial had to be moved to San Augustine County so that a jury could be found that might actually convict Tiede.

Linklater and McConaughey took part in a joint interview session today at the Four Seasons (I’ll play selections of it during an upcoming episode of The Big Screen podcast. You are subscribing to that, right?). And, this being Austin, it didn’t take long for the talk to turn to Dazed and Confused – the film that brought the two together nearly 20 years ago.

Linklater said that McConaughey’s character, Wooderson, wasn’t even originally a major part of the film. Rather, he was intended to be just a guy that Linklater had written into a scene or two.

But it was Wooderson’s most famous line that got the two thinking about the potential of the character.

“If you write a character, no matter how large or small he is, and he says, ‘That’s what I love about high school girls: I get older, but they stay the same age,’ that’s the title of the book,” McConaughey gamely recalled. “When you get something that has a definitive line like that, you go, ‘Well who is THAT guy?'”

“The first thing you ever told me,” Linklater said to McConaughey, “was, ‘I’m not this guy. But I know this guy’.”

And that guy was?

“My brother as I saw him when I was 10 years old,” McConaughey said.

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Q & A with Larry "Junk Food Junkie" Groce

Dallas native Larry Groce, host of NPR’s Mountain Stage, will  return to his hometown for the first time in 25 years to perform with The Carpenter Ants at the AllGood Café in Deep Ellum this Friday, March 16. In a Q & A with the Junk Food Junkie himself, we learn why he chose to come play in Dallas after so many years as well as his experience with the hit NPR show, Mountain Stage, and its relationship with the changing music landscape.

What made you decide to do this show?

Well, the Carpenter Ants are a band with whom I have played in the past. I’m not really a member of the group, but I was some years ago before I was married and had children. I have two other full-time jobs, so playing in a band is not easy. I enjoy playing with them, though. When they made their new record, I sang on a little bit of it. And when they got the opportunity to go to SXSW, I saw the possibility of going down and visiting my family–my mother and father who still live outside of Dallas. They wanted to set up some jobs on the way to and from SXSW, and so this job came up on Friday night, which was nice. I haven’t sung in Dallas for many years, and I think it will be a fun thing. The Carpenter Ants are a fun band, and they’re great guys.

Read More »

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SXSW: Re:Generation Music Project

AUSTIN – If you’ve watched the Grammy Awards the past few years, you know that they’ve been heavy on collaboration. Last month’s featured the Beach Boys playing with Foster the People, Bonnie Rait and Alicia Keys and Deadmau5 with Foo Fighters. It’s a smart strategy, really – pair up younger and older artists, exposing one to the other’s fan base.

With Re:Generation Music Project, a documentary that is showing at SXSW, the Grammys have kicked up the collaboration another notch. For the film, five DJs – Pretty Lights, Skrillex, the Crystal Method, DJ Premiere and Mark Ronson – were asked to work with musicians outside of the world of electronic dance music. The film follows that new creative process.

Some of the pairings work beautifully from the jump. Ronson immediately bonds with members of the Dap Kings, Trombone Shorty, Erykah Badu, Mos Def and drummer “Zigaboo” Modeliste of the Meters to cook up a New Orleans jazz tune. DJ Premiere – given maybe the toughest task – creates a hip-hop track using classical music samples  with the help of the Berklee College of Music. And Skrillex’s just happy to be in the same room approach to working with the surviving members of the Doors carries the day.

Not everyone had it so easy. Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland of the Crystal Method bump heads on occasion with Martha Reeves in trying to compose a song about her home town of Detroit. And whoever paired Pretty Lights (aka Derek Smith) with Ralph Stanley in Nashville has a wicked sense of humor.

The basic rule of thumb is that conflict creates drama. But the film’s director, Amir Bar-Lev, says that in making his movie he found an exception to the rule. 

“The moments when it’s going well, I find it just as entertaining as when it’s awkward,” he said during a post-screening Q&A Tuesday night.

And he’s right. Watching the Ronson/New Orleans track coalesce as layers are added to it is thrilling. And Skrillex’s pure joy in seeing John Densmore bang out his beat on a hand drum will put a smile on your face.

Bar-Lev demured when asked by yours truly which track was his favorite. But luckily, you can decide for yourself. They’re all available at regenerationmusicproject.com.

And you can now watch the film on Hulu.

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SXSW: In the Blogosphere, Moms Rule Over Dads

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Categorized Under: South by Southwest

Women dominate online writing about parenting. So-called mommy blogs get millions of hits per month. But dads are trying to carve out their space online. How the dads can boost their popularity – and how the moms can bring in more bucks – was a hot topic at South by Southwest Interactive:

  • KERA Radio story:
  • Online version:

A group of about 70 bloggers has gathered in a hotel in Austin for a panel discussion called “Not Your Mommy’s Blog: The Evolution of Dad Blogs.” They’re trying to figure out how dads can be a bigger part of the parenting conversation online.

But a few hours later, another group of bloggers met a few blocks away for a panel called “Monetizing Mommy” – strategies mom bloggers could use to lure more lucrative sponsorship deals to their websites.

The difference in the panels says it all: Moms rake it in while dads pick up the scraps.

Danielle Wiley owns a management agency for bloggers that helps them get sponsorship deals and television appearances. Wiley represents about 50 bloggers. Only one is a man.

“I think there’s still this assumption that moms are the ones doing all the purchasing,” she says. “That’s what the studies are saying.”

But some of the discrepancy also comes from how men and women use the Internet.

Jason Avant manages a site called dadcentric.com, which he started in 2005.

“We know that women in general spend a lot more time online in terms of content. Women do spend a lot of time looking for stuff to read online,” he says. “I think dads and men in general use the Internet as more of a tool to find out stuff – where is this, how does this work – things like that.”

Avant manages a team of 11 writers. He says his site makes money, and in a good month, he can receive up to 50,000 page views.

Compare that to the top mom blog in Wiley’s stable. Tipjunkie.com gets 6 million hits per month.

Catherine Connors writes herbadmother.com. Her blog gets several hundred thousand hits per month, and last year Connors made well into six figures from sponsorship deals with companies like GM and Intel.

“You get a mom blogger taking a GM car on a cross-country road trip, that changes the narrative around GM,” she says. “It’s not just about what kind of motor it has or how fast it goes or even how fuel-efficient it is. It’s about can this stand up to your kids.”

Connors says for dads to succeed, they need to speak more specifically to other men.

“I think the more dads embrace themselves as a community … and bring more men into that conversation, and expand what they write about and talk about so that it’s more facing into other areas of men’s lives, I think they can really develop quite a big community and talk about parenting in a different way.”

Jason Avant, the dad blogger, is trying just that. One of his writers is a soldier stationed in Afghanistan. He’s writing about the experience of being away from his kids for a year.

At one point, the dad panel shifted to a discussion of other areas that attract men and how they could be tapped to lure readers. Men’s love for competition and sports was quickly mentioned, and that led to an idea from AJ Jacobs. He writes about fatherhood for Esquire magazine.

“What about a fantasy child care league?” Jacobs asked. “I don’t know how it would work. Put together the perfect team of kids or the perfect team of fathers. Maybe that will be my next project?”

The decision of where to draft your own kid should provide plenty to write about.

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