Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SXSW 2013: Tuesday March 12

ETB had off until Thursday, so the next 2 days would be about hearing some great music.

Red Eyed Fly has a Tuesday SXSW kickoff party which has been an annual occurrence for the past 8+ years. A unified showcase of talent from the Red River Music District. I try to go every year as it's basically a big musical family reunion. 2 stages several bands deep.

Triniti and I cabbed it downtown rather than drive Goldie Hawn and deal with the traffic and parking. Wise choice. Madhouse already at 10:30 on a Tuesday due to road closures and crowds.

Got there in time for Burning Avalanche setting up. Bumped into my old Velvet Brick bandmate Jason Soules near the door, his new band Crimson Devils had just gotten off stage. Damn! But we'd be able to catch his other band Hyde Park Showdown later on, featuring ETB's own Rob Williamson on drums.

Burning Avalanche threw down and meant every note. They are young and hungry and have a lot to prove, and they are proving it. Always refreshing. Good buncha dudes too. 70's arena rock with stoner rock attention to groove. We caught several songs before heading to the outside stage.

Broken Teeth setting up, AC/DC-esque rock with Jason McMaster of Dangerous Toys fame on vocals. A longtime staple of Red River, and the REF kickoff. Here is a guy who was on MTV when I was in High School, now standing with a knowing smile on his face and waiting to deliver a snare drum to the stage, as good friend Dave TV and I caught up and blocked his path. Great crowd, too many friends in attendance to name them all. Caught part of their set before heading back inside for the driving rock of Hyde Park Showdown.

Good to see Rob and Eric from ETB on a night we weren't playing, heh. And always cool to see people you play with regularly onstage with other bands. You get to really watch them, really see what they do. Playing-wise as well as stage presence. Playing onstage together is so different. So yeah, getting to WATCH Rob play is always fucking awesome. And he's the kind and caliber of drummer that you WANT to watch, whether as a musician or a music fan. Hyde Park Showdown threw down, and threw down hard. 

Back outside to catch Red River veterans Honky. 3 piece Texas dirt rock. I have been seeing them and sharing bills with them for at least 12 years. And worth it every time. They have a new drummer, ex-Supagroup but can't recall his name. They killed it as they have done every single time I see them. Bassist/vocalist Jeff Pinkus before they launched into their set: "Give it up for Dangerous Teeth! No, I mean Broken Toys!"


But we had to cut out early to cross Red River Street to Headhunter's (aka Metal & Lace) to catch the tail end of our good friends Amplified Heat's set out back on the patio.

Headhunters was recently featured on and made over via the show Bar Rescue. I don't watch TV so had never heard of the show until it was already overhauling my favorite shithole. Anyway.

Went through the front portion to the back patio, a band onstage we don't recognize. I will say this, the new PA for the remodeled inside stage is pretty damn amazing. 

Out back Amplified Heat already blowing the place up with their late-60's fused LOUD Texas blues/boogie/Cream-meets-Motorhead/rock n' fuckin roll. 3 Columbian brothers playing more Marshall stacks than many 70's arena-rock bands back in the day. Carrying the torch.

I've been watching them and sharing bills with them since they were still called Blues Condition in the very early 00's. I've been playing guitar opposite Amp Heat guitarist/vocalist Jim Ortiz in Shandon Sahm's band (son of Texas Music legend Doug Sahm) since about 2004. Bassist Gian Ortiz often fills in for me if I can't make an ETB gig.


And they were on fire, good crowd on the floor and the upstairs deck. Which is where we were when Jim's rig took a shit, mid-song and right before a his guitar solo. Shit. Shit shit shit shit. Been there many times and his reaction was understandable. Try to find the problem while dealing with a growing avalanche of frustration, and try not to break more shit in the process.

Jim finally found the problem after uplugging and re-plugging in all of his pedals several times over, and over, and over. Man that sucks. Jim, your pain was felt by the many musicians in the crowd...! But they picked up the groove where they left off and plowed on once the situation was finally situated.

But he was pissed. While it showed in his body language, that anger translated into his playing as adding gasoline to an already 4 alarm blaze. He and they still sounded fucking amazing the rest of the night.

After the show we talked to them at length, catching up and assuring them they had a good show . Turns out Jim has already spent several hours earlier that day going through his rig to make sure that such a gear failure would not happen during SXSW. Man.

And then before the bar was cleared I saw an amazing thing. Well, several of them.

One was the visual trip of Headhunters employee and Red River Veteran Houston Richeson, a 6'5" shaved head punk rocker, mouthing along to the lyrics of the old school country tune now blaring through the back patio PA (weird enough as is). He saw me looking at him, held my gaze for a moment, gave me an approving nod and went back to what he was doing while singing along silently the whole time. Awesome.

As I was telling this to a delighted Triniti, he came up and told us about the two-step classes he is now teaching. Awesome enough. Then Houston gave her a demonstration of his ability, twirling her around on the back patio floor of Headhunters with mastered proficiency.

She stumbled a few times from the uneven plank floor, laughing. Houston kept her on her feet with ease. "Gotta keep your balance!"  One of the most awesome things I've seen in awhile! My Red River family knows what I'm talking about.

We said our goodbyes to the Ortiz brothers remaining friends and musical family and left to hail a cab home. You'd have needed dynamite to blast the smiles from our faces. What a great night!

(photos coming soon)

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