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Friday, March 26, 2010

Pt. 2 Review of SxSW Festival Austin: The Music

Showcases, Shows and Sets: Performances Persist No Matter What
As for the musical performances themselves, some were the expected solid sets that helped sustain brand power—in industry speak, that is—while others lived up burgeoning hype while more still petered away like balloons less their loads of viral marketing bluster. By Saturday night, it was clear that the entire event had taken its toll on all participants. Instead of embodying the growing energy of the biggest five-day music biz festival, artists, press, and local hosts were on their last legs—and in some cases at their wits ends.

Over the last three years I received several recommendations to check out the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African American trio from Durham, NC. After finally seeing them Wednesday, I was ashamed it had taken me so long. Three poly-instrumentalists playing styles of traditional African American music on banjos, fiddles, dobros and bones (yes, you’ve heard of playing spoons; now check out bones) and even reviving the dances that go with them: they were absolutely fantastic. Their vocal and string styles were unlike any I’ve ever heard (and I’ve listened to a good chunk of the Library of Congress/Rounder Records recordings by Alan Lomax). On some songs they seemed to be able to make traditional African American folk music as cool as contemporary R&B. For example their cover of “Hit ‘Em Up Style” was brilliant. Continue

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Formerly "Parisnormale: Paris Rocks"