An annual tradition since 2013, South by Southwest’s Grulke Prize honors the event’s late creative director, Brent Grulke, and is awarded to three acts each year. The 2018 winners are Starcrawler, Jade Bird and Todd Rundgren, SXSW announced Monday afternoon.
Starcrawler, from Los Angeles, won the Developing U.S. Act award. The band played the music festival’s opening party on Tuesday at the Main, then followed with two more official showcases and numerous daytime events (including a packed Friday afternoon show at Waterloo Records). Fronted by Arrow de Wilde, daughter of noted music photographer Autumn de Wilde, the group released its debut album in January on Rough Trade Records.
Jade Bird, from London, won the Developing Non-U.S. Act award. Bird also played three official showcases; we caught the second one on Wednesday night at the British Music Embassy, which had a line down the block to see her. (A short clip from her set is in the video above.) She impressed again the next day in Willie Nelson’s tiny chapel at the Luck Reunion. Across the whole week, she played a dozen shows, which must be close to a SXSW record. She’s 20, her debut EP came out last summer, and she’s going somewhere fast.
Todd Rundgren needs no introduction, but now he has a Grulke Prize for Career Act. A 1 a.m. slot on Thursday night seemed rather late for a guy who’ll turn 70 this summer, but Rundgren was up to the challenge. “he worked his way through a nearly hour-long set packed with the genre-jumping gymnastics to be expected from a creative chameleon who so firmly refuses to be boxed in,” Austin360 contributor Eric Pulsifer wrote in his review of the show. Rundgren, whose latest album, “White Knight,” came out last year on Cleopatra Records, also took part in a SXSW panel discussion about the creative process on Thursday afternoon.
Who selects the winners? “Jurors for the Grulke Prize include music critics, industry professionals, and SXSW staff, many of whom knew and worked with Brent over the years,” according to the press statement announcing the winners. (Full disclosure: I am one of the voters.)