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Posts Tagged ‘Gurf Morlix’

SXSW Preview

SXSW Film & Interactive is in full swing, and with Music just around the corner, we wanted to offer a quick preview of some of the artists we can’t wait to see.

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic ZerosThe Backyard First Look FestivalRaphael Saadiq live at Austin Music Hall, SXSW 2010 photo by Laura Lea Nalle

There are, naturally, tons of Austin artists worth seeing, and if you’re in from out of town, please take the time to see some of the awesome talent we enjoy in Austin year round!  Among our favorites are Guy Forsyth, Carolyn Wonderland, Gary Clark Jr., Sahara Smith, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, T Bird & the Breaks, Suzanna Choffel, Joe Ely, Eliza Gikyson, Lincoln Durham, Ray Bonneville, and Gurf Morlix.  Our friends over at Music Fog hold it down all weekend at Threadgills showcasing some of the best local talent, so stop by, grab some food and enjoy the show.  And of course there is an abundance of awesomeness coming in from out of town.  Some of the ones we look forward to seeing the most are Fitz & the Tantrums, Ivan & Aloysha, Raphael Saadiq, The Head & The Heart, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Lupe Fiasco, Charles Bradley & the Menahan Street Band, and Yoko Ono.  Alex Ebert, front man of the eleven piece ensemble Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, is performing under a new solo project called Alexander.  We still remember with vivid fondness seeing Ed Sharpe for the first time at 4am on the last night of SXSW two years ago.  No one outside of LA knew who they were, and clearly their flavor of musical magic proved to be infectious beyond belief.  They have blown up like wild fire, and we look forward to seeing what they do in various other arrangements and incarnations.  There are, of course, hundreds of bands we haven’t mentioned, and we look forward to randomly happening upon their showcases and being blown away.  In fact, our favorite SXSW moments are the ones that spontaneously and serendipitously happen in the midst of all the craziness.  Have fun, stay in touch, and we’ll see you around town!

Photos: Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Gary Clark Jr., Raphael Saadiq

Written and photographed by Laura Lea Nalle, all right reserved.

See Laura Lea’s galleries of SXSW 2010 highlights and SXSW 2009 highlights.

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Ray Bonneville & Gurf Morlix

We caught up with two of our favorite musicians last night, Ray Bonneville and Gurf Morlix.  Ray just got back from touring in Europe and is playing a couple of Wednesdays this month down at Flipnotics on Barton Springs Rd.  He has several different friends sitting in with him at these shows including Michael Fracasso and Sam Baker.  The fact we live in a town where you can see musicians of this caliber in such an intimate setting is one reason we love to call Austin home.  We are so hooked on Ray’s groove, we can’t get enough!  Check out these videos to see for yourself.  There are even more videos of Ray on our Vimeo channel.

Ray Bonneville w/ Gurf Morlix, Blonde of Mine from AustinLiveMusic.Org on Vimeo.

Ray Bonneville w/ Gurf Morlix, Crow John from AustinLiveMusic.Org on Vimeo.

 

SXSW 2010

We just wrapped up another year of SXSW, and wow was it a wild ride, as usual!

For the Sake of the Song: The Story of Anderson Fair, world premier, SXSW 2010, photo by Laura Lea NalleFor the Sake of the Song:  The Story of Anderson Fair premiered at the historic Paramount Theater on the opening day of SXSW music festival.  This documentary tells the story of one of Texas’ oldest and most significant live music venues, the iconic Anderson Fair in Houston, with interviews and archival footage of many of the musicians that have performed there in its forty year history. Legendary musicians like Gurf Morlix, Nancy Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Carolyn Hester, Robert Earl Keen, Lucinda Williams, Slaid Cleaves, and Townes Van Zandt have all played there and are included in the documentary.  This film contributes a significant piece of the story about the history and evolution of live music in Texas.

Probably the biggest highlight of SXSW for me was NPR’s showcase at Stubb’s opening night of the music festival.  It was hard to top this lineup, and while I experienced a feast of amazing music the rest of the week, I was still riding high on the wave created by Wednesday night at Stubb’s.

That night, one of the biggest revelations for me was The Walkmen.  I was not very familiar with their music before I saw them live, and inspired by their show, I went home and purchased a bunch of their music which has been in heavy rotation here at the world headquarters of AustinLiveMusic.org ever since.  The Walkmen do not disappoint, in fact, chances are they will totally blow you away with their melancholy melodies, substantive lyrics, and soaring vocals.  I particularly love how frontman Hamilton Leithauser steps back from the mic and gives his band plenty of room to flesh out the amazing instrumental parts of their songs.

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings live at Stubb's, SXSW 2010 photo by Laura Lea NalleSharon Jones & the Dap Kings live at Stubb's, SXSW 2010 photo by Laura Lea Nalle

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings followed with an epic performance.  I’ve seen them three times now, and each performance is a unique experience to behold.  Sharon Jones is a spectacular vocalist and performer, her dance moves evoke the spirit of James Brown, and the Dap Kings bring the funky soulshine like few others.  Led by Bosco Mann, this group is unbelievably tight, they can – and often do – turn on a dime while leaving plenty of space for Jones to do her thing.  They dance the fine line between sophisticated complexity and simple elegance, and they do it with loads of style.

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings are the most well known group off the Daptone Records label which is co-owned by Dap King bandleader Bosco Mann and tenor saxophonist Neal Sugarman.  Every single album released on Daptone is well worth your time – and if you are a vinyl enthusiast and funky soul lover as much as I am, I highly recommend getting every Daptone LP and 45 you can get your hands on!!  Seriously!  I am particularly fond of the releases by Sugarman Three, Poets of Rhythm, and Naomi Shelton.  I also have to give a shout out to Dap Kings guitarist Binky Griptite who produces the Ghetto Funk Power Hour radio show which is included in some of the Sharon Jones deluxe cd packages.   He is smart, hilarious, and brings the deep funk back with impeccable class and style.  Check it out!

James Mercer and Dangermouse of Broken Bells live at Stubb's, SXSW 2010 photo by Laura Lea NalleBritt Daniel of Spoon live at Stubb's, SXSW 2010 photo by Laura Lea Nalle

Next up was Broken Bells, the recent collaboration between The Shins’ James Mercer and Danger Mouse.  I was anticipating this show more than any other.  Their first single, The High Road, has been in regular rotation on KUT, my favorite local radio station, for what seems like months, and I went out and bought the LP as soon as it came out the week before SXSW.  I wondered if the atmosphere of the studio recording could be captured in a live performance.  There is a lot going on instrumentally and vocally, and the seven piece live band certainly delivered.  The complexity of the aural landscape that Mercer and Danger Mouse create comes through brilliantly in the live performance.  The band performed their entire debut album, set to a moody, dark video projection that created a totally engrossing experience of the music.

Austin’s own Spoon headlined the opening night’s showcase.  To be honest, I didn’t stay for much of their show.  I took a few photos (I’m glad I stuck around to do so, one of them was chosen for the cover of SXSWorld magazine!) and then headed off to an after hours party some of my favorite rockstar friends were throwing.  Regardless, Spoon is riding high in the wake of their seventh and most recent release, Transference, which debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200.  Austin is proud to call them our own.

Jakob Dylan live at the Day Stage Cafe, SXSW 2010, photo by Laura Lea NalleCourtyard Hounds live at the Day Stage Cafe, SXSW 2010, photo by Laura Lea NalleDiane Birch live at the Day Stage Cafe, SXSW 2010, photo by Laura Lea NalleThe BoDeans live at Auditorium Shores, SXSW 2010, photo by Laura Lea Nalle

I saw a lot of other great shows the next few days, including the Thursday night showcase at La Zona Rosa with John Hiatt, The 88, Ray Davies, and Roky Erickson with Ockerville River.  Friday, I was pleased to see Diane Birch again at the Day Stage Café.   I loved her sound and presence the first time I saw her at Stubb’s back in August of last year, and her performance at the Day Stage reaffirmed my very positive initial impressions.  She opened for a sweet lineup that included Citizen Cope, Courtyard Hounds (the recent formulation of Dixie Chicks members Martie Maguire and Emily Robison), and Jakob Dylan.  All of these performances were great in their own right.  Jakob Dylan’s songwriting ability has become particularly impressive, and his band is top notch and even included Neko Case on backing vocals.  I then made it on over to Auditorium Shores to check out the BoDeans.  Austin’s own Bukka Allen plays keys and accordion with them, and they definitely put on a hell of a show.

Raphael Saadiq live at Austin Music Hall, SXSW 2010 photo by Laura Lea NalleLater that night, I saw another festival highlight, a showcase at the Austin Music Hall that included Austin’s Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Raphael Saadiq, Smoky Robinson, and Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings.  Raphael Saadiq is one amazing performer who stands out even amongst the tremendous talents with whom he shared the bill.  On a somewhat tangential note, I’m very happy to report that there is still plenty of orange and yellow confetti from the Flaming Lips show that is stuck in the rafters at the Austin Music Hall.  Every so often, a big booming bass sound will dislodge a few pieces and come floating down into the unsuspecting crowd.  The magic from that show continues to live on…

As always, there is a plethora of high quality unofficial SXSW shows.  Among the best this year was Music Fog’s multi-day showcase at Threadgill’s.  Among my new favorites who performed there are two young musicians and songwriters that ought to be on your radar, Sahara Smith and David Beck.  Sahara’s debut album, produced by T. Bone Burnett, will be released in August.  In the meantime, she and her band (Jake Owen on guitar, Will Sexton on bass and guitar, and Mike Meadows on drums and percussion) are building their fan base while opening for the likes of Los Lonely Boys and Mason Jennings.  David Beck’s debut album, Grand Island, is due for release in the next couple of weeks.  You can see him weekly here in Austin at his Wednesday night residency at the Saxon Pub.  Music Fog also featured a bunch of our longtime local favorites like Guy Forsyth, Carrie Rodriguez, Gurf Morlix, Ray Bonneville, Joe Ely, Asylum Street Spankers, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and a slew of others.  Be sure and keep up with the fine folks over at Music Fog, you can bet that if they’re in on it, it’s got to be good!

I also had a great time at Leeann Atherton’s Full Moon Barn Dance, what better way to come down from ten sleep deprived days of SXSW than with this long standing South Austin tradition.  The lineup included one of my favorite Austin-based musicians, Ray Bonneville (with Mike Meadows on percussion).  Ray’s groove is earthy, often uplifting, sometimes dark, and always takes me on a journey that I don’t want to end.  Be sure and check out our video footage of Ray and Mike from that show, I know you’ll be hooked on his groove as much as we are!

Ray Bonneville w/ Mike Meadows, Who’s that Talkin to Me from AustinLiveMusic.Org on Vimeo.

Last year, we caught up with Mike Meadows at the Austin artist showcase at Momo’s where he was performing with his band, porterdavis.  SXSW 2009 marked the official launch of his Black Swan drum, and things have really taken off for him in what seems like no time at all.  In addition to the Black Swan drum, he and co-inventor Eric Holland have created a number of innovative designs for other percussion instruments like a cajon with replaceable strings, a variable shaker that you can easily change the sound of by replacing the stuff inside, and a stomp box that can also be mounted on a stand and played with hands and drumsticks.  Everything these guys dream up is innovative, versatile, elegant, and impeccably handcrafted by Eric Holland.  You can find Mike playing the Black Swan with porterdavis, Ray Bonneville, Sahara Smith, and occasionally with the BoDeans when they do acoustic shows.  Mike is most definitely one of Austin’s very bright rising stars, and we at AustinLiveMusic.org are looking forward to sitting down with him later in April to talk about everything he’s up to.  Stay tuned for our interview with Mike Meadows and other very special guests in the coming weeks and months.Simon Wallace, Dan Barrett, and Mike Meadows of porterdavis, March 2010, Austin Texas, photo by Laura Lea Nalle

See more of Laura Lea’s SXSW 2010 photos here.

Watch video footage from some of the shows discussed in this review here.

Written and photographed by Laura Lea Nalle, all rights reserved.

 

SXSW 2009 in Review

Austin, Texas, March 23, 2009

SXSW 2009 just wrapped up, and wow what a ride!  One of the highlights at SXSW for me this year was the Stubb’s showcase on Thursday night.  On the line up was 3oh!3, Gomez, Andrew Bird, and Ben Harper.  I had never seen any of them perform live, but I have been a big admirer of Bird and Harper for many, many years now.Andrew Bird live at Stubb's SXSW 2009 photo by Laura Lea Nalle

Andrew Bird’s stage setup is beautiful.  He has several very large phonographs and one dual phonograph that spins like a Lesley speaker.  Bird switches instruments numerous times throughout his performance, from violin to guitar to glockenspiel to his signature whistling, and he is backed by Jeremy Ylvisaker on guitar, Mike Lewis on bass and saxophone, and Martin Dosh on drums and keyboard.

Ben Harper live at Stubb's, SXSW 2009 photo by Laura Lea NalleBen Harper live at Stubb's, SXSW 2009 photo by Laura Lea Nalle

Next up is Ben Harper and the Relentless 7.  The R7 have a much harder edge and marks a departure (in a way that appears as a very natural evolution) from Harper’s previous collaborations. The group consists of Ben Harper on slide guitar and vocals, Jason Mozersky on lead guitar, Jesse Ingalls on bass and keys, and Jordan Richardson on drums.  They bring a raw and explosive energy to the stage, and Harper oozes with soul and passion.  They perform almost entirely new material from their soon to be released CD, White Lies for Dark Times.  The performance is intoxicating.

Arc Angels, Laura Lea NalleThe Arc Angels are now officially re-united!   Their re-launch just happened with a series of appearances at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas.  They’re set to release a live DVD and CD sometime later this year which is rumored to include recordings of a couple of new, unreleased songs.

If y’all don’t know the story by now, let’s catch y’all up real quick.  The Arc Angels formed in Austin, Texas in the early 1990’s in the aftermath of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s untimely death.  The original members include Vaughn’s rhythm section, Double Trouble, which is Chris Layton on drums and Tommy Shannon on bass, and Doyle Bramhall 2 and Charlie Sexton on vocals and guitar.  These guys released one badass blues rock record in 1992 and then broke up for various reasons, namely creative differences and Doyle’s admitted heroin addiction.  Since the initial breakup, Doyle and Charlie have both put out critically acclaimed solo records and also collaborated with some of the best musicians on the planet.  Doyle has played extensively with Eric Clapton and Roger Waters, and Charlie went on to play with Bob Dylan.  Doyle has been called by some as the heir of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s throne, and he exhibits what is arguably one of the most unique sounds and styles of any living guitar player.  Part of this is because Doyle plays left-handed with his strings upside down, but mostly this is due to Doyle’s unmatched sensibility and natural brilliance on the guitar.  He sounds like no one else, and hearing him play could very well induce your next spiritual breakthrough.

Doyle Bramhall II, photo by Laura Lea NalleCharlie Sexton with the Arc Angels live at Auditorium Shores, SXSW 2009 photo by Laura Lea NalleThe Arc Angels have played a handful of reunion shows over the last few years, and fans often travel  far distances to see one of these rare performances.  With rumors of an official reunion, the guys made it official with the announcement in March that they will be opening for Eric Clapton on a number of dates in the UK.  They have also been at work writing some new material, debuting a new song at their SXSW showcase on Auditorium Shores.  Doyle has been quoted as saying there’s “an undeniable chemistry” when they get together.  Being in the audience at their shows, one thing is apparent, their fan base is growing exponentially.  You can look around and see the diehard fans who knew them in the 1990’s, and you can see younger fans that discovered them through other means, namely their solo records, their various collaborations with other musicians, or the documentary Before the Music Dies which prominently features Doyle.  These guys have a very bright future ahead, both collectively and individually, and I, for one, can’t wait to see how the years apart will inform their music now that they’re officially back together again.

A couple of lesser known but equally significant highlights were Fool’s Gold and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, both large groups from Los Angeles.  Fool’s Gold is a nine-piece multi-cultural afropop-inspired ensemble whose lyrics are all in Hebrew.  The group consists of Luke Top on bass and lead vocals, Lewis Pesacov, Matt Popieluch (aka Big Search) and Jimmy Vincent on guitar, Garret Ray on drums, Orpheo McCord and Salvador Placencia on percussion, Amir Kenan on keyboard, and Mark Noseworthy on saxophone.  When the group is playing in their hometown, they have an even larger ensemble with various other musicians and dancers.  One thing is for certain, this music makes you feel good, from the inside out.  If you’re not dancing to this music, something is wrong with you.  These guys don’t even have CDs or t-shirts to sell their fans (some fans have made their own Fool’s Gold t’s), and yet they’ve quickly acquired a rapidly growing following in LA, and I anticipate their fan base to grow with every show they play elsewhere.  Their music exudes super good mojo, and the feeling is blissfully infectious.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, SXSW 2009, Laura Lea NalleEdward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes live at SXSW 2009 photo by Laura Lea Nalle

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros are probably most accurately described as a transcendental-spaghetti-western-hippie-gospel-rock band.  They are an eleven-piece ensemble with horns, werlitzer, percussion, accordian, guitar, and more.  The lead singer has an uncanny resemblence to Jesus and comands the stage with a punk rock yogi energy.  I finally caught them on the final night of SXSW.  It was 3am by the time they were set up and soundchecked, but Ed Sharpe and company quickly and effortlessly gets the packed afterhours crowd dancing with complete, ecstatic abandon.

Dan Dyer and Suzanna Choffel live at Momo's, SXSW 2009 photo by Laura Lea NallePatrice Pike live at Momo's, SXSW 2009, photo by Laura Lea NalleMike Meadows, Black Swan drum, Laura Lea Nalle

And then there’s always a long list of local Austin musicians that are worth discussing.  It’s working out to be a big year for Austin favorites like Suzanna Choffel, Dan Dyer, and Patrice Pike who have all been touring regularly and growing their already enthusiastic and devoted fan base all over the country.

One of the most notable up and coming local groups is porterdavis, a blues and roots trio who draw on a wide range of influences.  Porterdavis is comprised of Dan Barrett on guitar and lead vocals, Mike Meadows on percussion and vocals, and Simon Wallace on harmonica and vocals.  They racked up a few individual and group awards at the Austin Music Awards this year.  This trio leaves nothing to be desired, their sound is full and engaging, and they take an interesting spin on what we normally think of as blues and roots music by adding a strong undercurrent of African rhythms and gospel harmonies.  These guys have also constructed some of the best arrangements I’ve heard of classics by Robert Johnson, Townes van Zandt, and Muddy Waters.  Part of what makes their music so compelling is Meadows’ very unique playing style and rhythmic sensibility coupled with a surprising combination of noisemaking accoutrements from all over the world.  This SXSW marks the official release of his own creation, the Black Swan drum, which is an innovative contemporary design and configuration of a traditional African gombe.  The Black Swan drum is already gaining a lot of attention from some of the most in-demand drummers and percussionists around the country, and if you get the chance, ask Mike to give you a tour – it is a piece of art in and of itself.  Porterdavis is definitely worth going out of your way to see live in action, and I’m certain we can continue to expect big things from these guys in the future.  Keep an eye out because porterdavis will be releasing a much anticipated new CD (produced by Gurf Morlix) later this year.

See Laura Lea’s full gallery of SXSW 2009 photos here.

written and photographed by Laura Lea Nalle, all rights reserved