Austin’s massive, sprawling music conference/showcase/festival SXSW isn’t what it used to be when it started back in the 1980s, when it was considered a career-making shmoozefest for up-and-coming bands and aspiring music industry types. It’s become too big, with four separate festivals (interactive, film, music, comedy) running from Fri 3/9-Sun 3/18.
But still every year thousands of bands (literally!) from all over the world make their way to Austin, either to perform on one of the official showcases if selected from submissions or to find an alternative slot on one of the scores of unofficial showcases that pop up all over town — and can anyone even tell the difference anymore?
And some Cleveland artists are still making the trek. Most of those selected for official showcases fall in the DJ/hip hip category, including DJ Ryan Wolf, a 107.9 on-air mixed and clothing line entrepreneur who is also the official DJ of the Cleveland Browns — but maybe he left that off his resume to get accepted!
Youngstown DJ Chop Banks, rapper Q Money and Akron Christian rapper Swoope also landed official slots. Shetler Jones will be more familiar to area rockers, if not the name, then the faces. It’s a collaboration of well-known local folk rocker Nate Jones, known for his blues- and soul-inflected music that draws from classic singer-songwriters such as Paul Simon and James Taylor, with Jessica Shetler, lead vocalist for Cleveland band Top Hat Black. In fact you can catch the duo perform Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes” here.
Dozens of record labels are present unofficial showcases, among them 12XU, home of Cleveland punk-inspired rockers Obnox, fronted by Lamont “Bim” Thomas. The prolific Obnox, who have earned considerable national attention, have played in Austin during the festival several times before. This time, they’ll play a Friday evening showcase at Beerland Texas — but don’t call it a “showcase”! 12XU posted, “Showcases suck and I’m not presenting one. Call me pedantic if you want but this is a goddamn party for friends and fellow lovers of the good stuff, not a product launch for some pseudo-disruption fest crap.”
Also playing an unofficial showcase is beefy hard rock guitar-and-drums duo MOSSOM, who are one of 44 bands (selected from over 3000 submissions) playing Austin’s four-day Texas Indie Fest, which runs at the same time as SXSW. They’ll play Friday night at the Red Shed Tavern, doing shows along the way in Indianapolis and Little Rock.