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Posts Tagged ‘Suzanna Choffel’

SXSW 2011

Raphael SaadiqCharles Bradley & the Menahan Street BandCharles Bradley & the Menahan Street BandGhost of the Saber Tooth TigerYoko Ono

Yoko Ono Plastic Ono BandCharles Bradley & the Menahan Street Band

TV on the RadioThe Strokes

Full review coming soon…

See Laura Lea’s full gallery of SXSW 2011 here.

Photos by Laura Lea Nalle, all rights reserved.

 

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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ZZ Top at the new Backyard

ZZ Top live at The Backyard, Austin TX, April 2010

ZZ Top live at The Backyard, Austin TX, April 2010ZZ Top live at The Backyard, Austin TX, April 2010ZZ Top live at The Backyard, Austin TX, April 2010

The iconic Texas blues rock trio, ZZ Top, rock out the very first show at Austin’s new Backyard.

The Backyard, intersection of Stevie Ray and Willie Way

We are so glad The Backyard is back!  This iconic outdoor venue is the stuff of legends.  Now about a quarter mile from the original location, the new Backyard sits on 38 acres of beautiful hill country adjacent to Bee Cave Park.  While we didn’t see any 400 year old live oak trees for which the old location was so well known, we also didn’t see any oppressive strip malls encroaching on the pristine hill country landscape.  The new location is much more open, too, with views of the surrounding land and open to the big Texas sky.  The stage is placed in a natural amphitheater location, giving good views from just about anywhere you care to throw your picnic blanket.  The sound and lighting is fantastic, as you’d expect, and there’s a great lineup this season including the First Look Festival this coming weekend with tons of local favorites (like Carolyn Wonderland, Gary Clark Jr., Suzanna Choffel, Dan Dyer, and many more), the Gipsy Kings, Willie Nelson’s annual 4th of July Picnic, and Sheryl Crow (we hear Doyle Bramhall II, one of our all time favorites and co-producer of her upcoming album, will be on tour with her).

We are looking forward to many sunny afternoons and breezy nights under the stars listening to great music at The Backyard.  See you there!

You can see Laura Lea’s full gallery of ZZ Top photos here.

Photos 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