UPDATE: Could Paul McCartney play ACL Fest?

UPDATE: 4.25.17: We’re not saying Paul McCartney is playing Austin City Limits Fest.

If the former Beatle was to play Zilker Park it would be a tremendous “get” for the fest. We are not saying that is happening. But it is our duty to inform you that Sir Paul just announced a string of U.S. arena tour dates that end on October 1. The first weekend of ACL Fest kicks off on Oct. 6.

Also, the press release for the tour mentions that Macca’s Chicago show will be his “first appearance in the region “since his now-legendary 2015 Lollapalooza headline.” Lollapalooza is produced by C3 Presents, the company that also produces ACL Fest. Again, we’re not making promises, but there’s that.

Paul McCartney performs at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

UPDATE: 4.18.17: Damon Albarn and Jamie Hawlett’s cartoon rap project Gorillaz has a new album “Humanz” due out on April 28 with a star-studded list of contributors including Mavis Staples, Grace Jones, Carly Simon, De La Soul and Danny Brown. Yesterday the group announced a slew of dates for their next North American run which will include Albarn and a band of “flesh and blood musicians” alongside Hawlett’s illustrations.

There’s a break in the tour between October 5-11, which would leave the band free to play the first weekend of Austin City Limits Festival which takes place from Oct. 6-8. There is a hitch though. The tour schedule has the band in Miami on Oct. 13-15 for the III Points Festival. If they are actually playing all three days, that would mean they are out for weekend two of ACL Fest which takes place on those same dates.

It doesn’t seem likely that the band will play III Points more than one day and even if they did, it wouldn’t necessarily put them out for the fest as a whole. There is a possibility the band might be able to fly in play a set and fly out again, or the festival might swap headliners from one weekend to the next, like they did in 2015, when the Strokes closed weekend one and Florence and the Machine closed weekend two.

Another band that seems likely to make an appearance on the lineup is Foster the People. A few weeks back, the band announced a run of tour dates that take them through Texas, with May stops in El Paso, Dallas. But they skip up to Tulsa, missing our part of the state. Their tour cuts off in early August with stops at Lollapalooza in Chicago and OSHEAGA in Montreal.

ORIGINAL POST: 3.22.17: 

(Photo credit: Ashley Landis for American-Statesman)

The 2017 Austin City Limits Festival roster won’t be out til May, but with the lineup for Lollapalooza out today, we’re getting a sense of which acts are working the mega-fest circuit this year. As local production house C3 Presents produces both the massive music fest that takes over Grant Park in Chicago for four days in August and ACL Fest, the Lollapalooza lineup, gives us solid grounds to speculate which artists might make an appearance in Austin this fall.

Let’s start with the headliners. The top billed artists for Lollapalooza are Chance the Rapper, the Killers, Muse, Arcade Fire, the XX, Lorde and Blink-182. The longshots? Chance played ACL recently, in 2015. He’s also headlining Scoremore’s JMBLYA in May. Muse, a band that’s put in more than one spectacular headline set, plays the Austin360 Amphitheater in June and wraps their North American tour in September. Blink-182 plays the amphitheater tonight and there are still tickets available.

Lorde, whose fans swamped the field for a side stage set a couple years back, will almost surely return this year to become the fest’s youngest headliner. The Killers and Arcade Fire have not yet released North American tour dates for this year, but both acts seem likely to appear on the ACL lineup. The XX has a pair of Austin shows (promoted by C3) in May, but as they sold out in under five minutes, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them reappear at ACL Fest.

Other big names that might appear? Ryan Adams, who last week, canceled a South by Southwest appearance due to illness and doesn’t have an Austin date on his current tour seems like a good bet, as does rapper Big Sean, who didn’t make an appearance at SXSW, despite staging his tour kickoff in Houston on March 17. Glass Animals, who played the fest in 2015 and have a sold out Stubb’s show on the books next month, seem like a good possibility. Austin’s fave indie rock outfit Spoon, who dominated SXSW last week is also a solid bet.

A few other SXSW artists likely to return for ACL Fest? British psych-pop outfit Temples, Chicago rapper Noname, indie rock band Japanese House, Janelle Monae’s protege Jidenna, and our friend Chad’s favorite rapper Lil Yachty. Also Grulke Prize winners, Jain and the Lemon Twigs.

A few other artists we hope to see? Dreamy indie pop band London Grammar, slick dance mix master Kaytranada and Drake’s chilly R&B compadres Majid Jordan.

SXSW announces 2017 Grulke Prize winners: Lemon Twigs, Jain, Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock performs at Central Presbyterian Church during SXSW on Friday, March 17, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Another South by Southwest is in the books, and the conference has announced this year’s winners of the Grulke Prize: Lemon Twigs, Jain and Robyn Hitchcock.

The Grulke Prize was created in 2013 in honor of longtime SXSW creative director Brent Grulke after his death in 2012. It recognizes developing acts (one national, one international) “who are breaking new ground with their creativity and show the most promise in achieving their career goals. A third “Career Act” prize goes to an established performer “who appeared at SXSW to reinvent themselves or launch a new project.”

Here’s the official statement from SXSW on this year’s three winners:

The Grulke Prize winner for Developing US Act is The Lemon Twigs This Long Island duo’s 4AD debut is earning raves, but it’s their live performances that had everyone at SXSW talking. Brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario were born into a musical family and have been harmonizing since they were kids. Producer Jonathan Rado, who discovered the band, said, “As teenagers, they work like studio vets. Brian can play anything you hand him – he played all the strings and horns on the record – and Michael is the most captivating drummer I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing they can’t do.”

The Grulke Prize winner for Developing Non-U.S. Act is Jain. A captivating French singer-songwriter, Jain has already reached Platinum status with her album Zanaka. Her unique sounds draw listeners in with their dazzling international flavor and magnetic hooks. Though success has been quick in Europe, she’s been working on her music since she was a teenager moving around the world with stops in the Congo, Abu Dhabi, and Paris.

The Grulke Prize winner for Career Act is Robyn Hitchcock. As the man himself describes his new, self-titled album, which will be released next month on Yep Roc, “It’s ‘introducing Robyn Hitchcock. Think of me as a new act — I’m only 63.” Four decades as bandleader, singer, and songwriter have seen Hitchcock employing and deconstructing the standard model of two guitars, bass, drums, and harmonies to veer between sonic styles and overall approaches, from the Soft Boys’ proto-psych-punk and the Egyptians’ Dadaist pop to acoustic-built approaches.

Jurors for the Grulke Prize include music critics, industry professionals, and SXSW staff, many of whom knew and worked with Brent over the years.

Mastodon goes back to roots, debuts new music at SXSW, in warm up for ACL Live show in May

Mastodon didn’t have lasers back in the day, but the band has played rooms like Empire before. They performed Friday, March 17, during South by Southwest. Andy O’Connor/For American-Statesman

Before Friday night’s headlining performance at Empire Garage, Mastodon hadn’t played a show in almost six months, according to bassist and vocalist Troy Sanders. For a band that’s usually constantly on the road, that can feel like an eternity. While metal has seen better days at SXSW, this was a show people were excited about, and the band got to unveil some new songs from their upcoming record, “Emperor of Sand,” live.

They opened with “Sultan’s Curse,” a return to the intricate prog-metal they came up on. It was knotty but also immediate, and guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher were flexing with flair like it was second nature. “Andromeda” further went on the prog tip, a throwback for fans who crave them going nutty with instrumental flair. “Show Yourself,” on the other hand, is a more straightforward rocker, dominated by drummer Brann Dailor’s high-strung vocals. His move into singing has been one of the best things about Mastodon’s more mainstream sound, and he’s still a dexterous drummer on top of that. That was evident when he ripped the opening roll of “The Wolf is Loose” from “Blood Mountain”; if anything, all this touring has only made him a more disciplined, but also vicious player. Finding that sweet spot between tight and loose is important to them: Hinds ripped out a shreddy country lick during “Megalodon” that’s still as twangy and juicy as it’s ever been. It was a little part of what makes Mastodon a treat live: yeah, they know all of these weird time signatures, and they still manage to have some fun on top of that.

HIGHLIGHTS: Some of our team’s favorite moments from SXSW 2017

One of SXSW’s main features, for better or for worse, is putting big artists in rooms far too small for them. This forced intimacy can make for some great Instagram moments and bar talk for some, and frustrating lines for many more. Mastodon came up playing rooms far smaller than Empire, so this felt like a natural return to form for them. They built their reputation not just on merging prog with metal, but by packing rooms where even if you weren’t in the front, you could still make out all their tattoos. They thrive off bodies moving in close contact with each othe. and while they didn’t have lasers when they played the old Emo’s on Red River a decade ago, this show was like the old days in spirit. They went all the way back to their debut, “Remission,” to close the set with “Mother Puncher,” and hearing that crunch felt as new as it did in 2002. Most of the crowd seemed like newcomers who probably didn’t check that album when it first came out — Mastodon’s energy made equals of everyone, as long as you were able to get in.

Couldn’t make it out during SXSW? Mastodon will be back May 20th at ACL Live with Eagles of Death Metal and Russian Circles.

Hanson remembers the SXSW softball game, brisket, and the Alamo

“This is what happens when you try to sing a song you basically haven’t sung in 23 years.”

The three brothers of Hanson have convened for a Saturday afternoon video shoot at Krieg Softball Complex, where a pivotal moment in their career took place in 1994. Isaac, Taylor and Zac — then 13, 11 and 8, respectively — came out to South by Southwest’s annual softball game and barbecue closing party, where they sang a cappella and were heard by an attorney who soon became their manager.

That manager, Christopher Sabec, helped get them a deal with Mercury Records, which three years later released the album that contained the career-making single “MMMBop.” More than two decades later, the brothers still make records and tour. They remain based in their hometown of Tulsa, Okla., and proudly headlined an all-Tulsa showcase during SXSW among other appearances at the festival.

Hanson (from left: Zac, Taylor and Isaac) at Krieg Softball Complex in Austin during SXSW on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

At the softball field with our video crew, they revisited one of the tunes they sang for industry types that fateful day. They also shared their memories of the event. Here are a few conversational outtakes from the video interview.

Taylor: “We were on a mission to get people to hear us.”

Isaac: “Amongst other things, Taylor, you were trying to make sure that you got signed before you were a teenager.” (Laughter)

Taylor: “We’d seen the Jackson 5 and watched their story, and I thought, gosh, I want to be signed earlier than Michael Jackson was signed.”

Isaac: “I have very vivid memories of singing to people at those little benches over at the front of the Four Seasons.”

Taylor: “This day [the softball game] was kind of the last-ditch effort. And it was hot. It was really hot. The smell of barbecue was in the air, and there’s the row of porta-potties over here, there’s a sweaty baseball game over there. … There weren’t many performers at the baseball diamond, because no one was really welcome to perform at the baseball diamond.”

Zac: “Christopher Sabec followed us back to Tulsa and didn’t leave for two weeks… just trying to get his head around what this was, this band that he’d discovered.”

Isaac: “It was definitely significant. It’s a little bit funny because I think in a lot of ways, we probably walked away from it feeling a little bit like, ‘Well, we didn’t get signed [to a record deal].’”

Taylor: “We did go to the Alamo afterward. ‘That South by Southwest thing was cool, but I got a knife at the Alamo!’” (Laughter)

Isaac: “We were really really ambitious. And I think that that kind of comes with being young. … There was definitely a degree to which I think we probably actually walked way from it feeling a little bit more like we’d failed than we’d won.”

Zac: “We discovered that expectations are not usually the reality — that we were going to have to work harder and harder to keep doing what we wanted to do. That’s a lesson we’ve learned over and over again, every year that we continue to be a band. And even that first manager, with all that excitement, we were turned down by everybody.”

Taylor: “We spent two years getting turned down by everyone.”

Zac: “Thirteen different labels. So it gave you this sensation that every opportunity is one you have to take. And most of them maybe won’t come true as what you thought they would be. But you’ll get little things from each time you put yourself out that way.”

Taylor: “Another interesting part about the baseball diamond story is how it fits in to the things that don’t necessarily look at face value like they’re going to be an important moment, and then historically you realize they were. It’s a good lesson, I think, for artists. … You have to have in your mind where you’re going, and not be overly swayed up or down by what you thought was supposed to happen today. Because you don’t know if that sweaty baseball diamond performance is going to turn into something that is really critical.”

Isaac: “One of the other things I think is really really important to talk about, with regard to the baseball diamond story, is the fact that I had never had proper Texas brisket in my life. And there was free barbecue at the baseball diamond. And I’m like, ‘OK, this is amazing, and I want this, for the rest of my life.’”

Zac: “So what he’s saying is, our first experience at South by Southwest, what we remember is: brisket, and the Alamo.” (Laughter)

5 Women Who Rocked SXSW 2017

Liniker Barros performs with the band Liniker e os Caramelows at SXSW 2017. Photo by Reshma Kirpalani/American-Statesman

South by Southwest 2017 has been full of inspiring moments and amazing musical discoveries. I kept finding myself at showcases led by strong, talented women. Here’s a few who caught my eye.

Luna Lee (South Korea): She may be small, but she’s fierce. Not only is the Seoul-based musician a rock star, but Lee has revolutionized the way a traditional Korean gayageum is played. She’s invented techniques to play rock and blues on the zither-like string instrument. And when her government pulled funding for her to attend SXSW, Lee’s fans brought her here anyway.

ILe (Puerto Rico): You may recognize her as the feminine voice of Calle 13, who for nearly a decade toured with her brothers Rene Pérez Joglar aka Residente and Eduardo Cabra aka Visitante. But it’s time to get to know Ileana Cabra’s own music as a solo artist. Cabra pours everything into her moving, theatrical performances that are a nod to yesteryear.

La Dame Blanche (Cuba): Yaite Ramos Rodriguez oozes swag. The hip-hop artist struts on stage wearing a cape and smoking a cigar. She spits rhymes and then turns around and starts playing the flute. She’s uber talented and her live performances can’t be missed.

Luz Elena Mendoza (Portland): In the middle of the madness that can be SXSW, Mendoza, frontwoman for the folk band Y La Bamba, offered an authenticity that pierced through all of the festival noise.

Liniker e os Caramelows (Brazil): It was her first time performing in the U.S., but hopefully not the last. We want to hear more from Liniker Barros, frontwoman for the popular Brazilian soul/funk band. As a black, transgender singer, she brings an important perspective to music and on stage her charisma and magnetic performances make her an artist to watch.

Garth Brooks serenades SXSW, and all his fans sing along


Out there in the middle of the crowd, you couldn’t help but get swept up in it: A giant mob of Garth Brooks fans packed into the South by Southwest Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake, singing along at the top of their lungs to every single song.

Garth Brooks performs at Vic Mathias Shores at South by Southwest on Saturday March 18, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“We know ’em all, Garth. We know ’em all,” the guy next to me assured Brooks from around 50 yards back, after Brooks shouted out “No way!” when the crowd nailed the first line of his 1989 smash “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” “On a scale of 1 to 10,” Brooks graded, “I’m going to give y’all an 11.”

PHOTOS: Garth Brooks plays free show at Auditorium Shores

Acknowledging that he hadn’t played in Austin for 25 years and promising to be back soon (ACL Fest, anyone?), Brooks clearly sated the appetite of a still-massive fan base that waited out his dozen-odd years of withdrawal from touring and making records. Coming to SXSW for a keynote conversation on Friday (plus a surprise solo appearance at the Broken Spoke that night), Brooks wrapped up a whirlwind visit with this free concert announced at the last minute.

Austin didn’t get the 30-song marathon show that Brooks has been playing in some arenas on his recent tour, in part because of the noise curfew for Auditorium Shores. Starting at 8:20 p.m. — 20 minutes late, apparently to accommodate long lines that filtered onto Auditorium Shores from the Palmer Events Center entry point — and ending at 9:50 p.m., Brooks played 14 songs plus a five-song encore.

MORE PHOTOS: Garth Brooks surprise show at Broken Spoke during SXSW

The set list included two Billy Joel tunes (a full-band “Shameless” plus a solo “Piano Man” to start the encore), as well as a nod to Texas with George Strait’s classic “Amarillo By Morning.” What Brooks didn’t do was connect to the late-afternoon news of Chuck Berry’s death by pulling out “Johnny B. Goode” (like Hanson and Juliet Tango and the Waco Brothers and likely others were doing as the sun went down on SXSW sets around town).

That failure to respond musically to the loss of a major cultural touchstone reveals the down side of Brooks’ mega-professional production. Pretty much everything ran like a well-oiled machine, from superb sound quality to a carefully planned venue setup (with the help of SXSW) to a high-energy stage show epitomized by Brooks’ trademark headset microphone. And his dozen-strong band, which included Austin’s own Stephanie Davis, clearly is one of the best in the business.

But musicians that good no doubt could lay down a Chuck Berry tune at the drop of a hat. The performance, joyful and audience-pleasing as it was, appeared choreographed to the point of not accommodating the spontaneous moment that could have been magical.

RELATED: Austin musicians reflect on their memories with Chuck Berry

Local opener Sunny Sweeney — who, much to his credit, Brooks praised sincerely at the end of his show — kindly found a way to honor Berry. Fellow Austin songwriter Chris Wall’s ballad “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight,” which Sweeney recorded on her new album, mentions Berry in its final chorus, and she played a sterling version of it. By the time Sweeney finished her well-received set, the modest crowd that had lounged on blankets for much of the day began swelling with later arrivals and pressing toward the stage, seeking prime spots for Brooks.

Pop-soul singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins also had a strong showing before Sweeney, following the SXSW downside of her less-than-ideal 1 a.m. Wednesday showcase with the jackpot score of a slot on the Brooks bill. Artists who played earlier in the day were Holly Macve, Shannon McNally, Cale Tyson and Colter Wall.

Garth Brooks set list:
1. Rodeo
2. Two of a Kind, Working on a Full House
3. The River
4. Two Pina Coladas
5. Papa Loved Mama
6. Ain’t Goin’ Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)
7. Unanswered Prayers
8. If Tomorrow Never Comes
9. That Summer
10. The Thunder Rolls
11. Shameless
12. Callin’ Baton Rouge
13. Friends in Low Places
14. The Dance
15. Piano Man
16. Amarillo By Morning
17. Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)
18. Longneck Bottle
19, Standing Outside the Fire

Weezer, Smash Mouth, Hanson: SXSW 2017 was heavy on the nostalgia

With one look at the bands that ruled this year’s South by Southwest lineup, it’s hard not to ask: What year is it, anyway?

Some of the biggest names of this year’s SXSW include the likes of Weezer, Jimmy Eat World and Hanson and no, it’s not 1999.

Why so heavy on the late-1990s/early-aughts groups? Well, I’m just spitballing here, but there’s the fact that a large portion of SXSW music attendees are in their 20s and 30s, nostalgia-ridden for our adolescence, wanting to use the parts of our brains that for some reason know every single word to Smash Mouth’s “All Star” (and yes, even Smash Mouth played a showcase during SXSW).

It also could be because of the wave of ’90s nostalgia that’s, frankly, been a little overwhelming lately. It shows through in fashion (chokers, slip-on Vans, high-waisted jeans), on television (“Rugrats” and “Full House” are on Netflix, and of course, the latter got a reboot on the streaming platform) and of course, you’ve seen all those “only ’90s kids will recognize this” memes.

Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, right, and Brian Bell perform at Brazos Hall during the South by Southwest Music Festival on Friday, March 17, 2017, in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP)

Regardless of why they showed up, some of the great hip hop artists of the (late) 20th century gave the people what they wanted at this year’s fest: There was Snoop Dogg, fresh off the heels of a Donald Trump controversy (though he didn’t comment on it during the show) and Lil Wayne, who played all the hits at Stubb’s on Thursday. Then there was the granddaddy of them all: The Swisha House reunion at Vulcan Gas Company, featuring (who?) Mike Jones, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, DJ Michael “5000” Watts and more on Thursday. When I walked by, the doors had already been open for three hours and the line was still wrapped around the block.

Then there’s Third Eye Blind, whose first album came out — ready to feel old? — 20 years ago this April. The band played two gigs Thursday for SXSW and even met with local music students, and they’re working on a new record, if that’s the sort of thing you’re interested in. Even pop-rockers and Mmmboppers Hanson, who got their big break during the festival back in 1994, were ubiquitous this SXSW, playing radio morning shows to free day parties and everything in between.

We asked at SXSW: Why are you seeing Hanson in 2017?

While I’ve got you, let’s talk about the former emo kids. “Emo nights” have been wildly successful across the country, including in Austin. Barbarella, the dance club on Red River, has taken to hosting monthly “Jimmy Eat Wednesday” theme nights, where it plays songs by Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance, Brand New and yes, Jimmy Eat World, the first Wednesday of every month. The emo nostalgia was real at SXSW this year, too — even though there were just a few of those old-school players on the lineup, it’s hard to ignore bands like Diet Cig and PWR BTTM, direct descendants of the musical styles that so many of us associate with fumbled first kisses and first beers, slamming doors on our parents, laying in bed eyeing patterns in popcorn ceilings or late-night drives in our first cars.

RELATED: Garth Brooks, hip-hop stars and sunny skies close out SXSW 2017

All of this is to say SXSW was huge for us reformed emo kids. Hardcore emo legends At The Drive In surprised the crowd at the Mohawk Wednesday night, complete with stage-divers and a mosh pit. The same night, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead left fans with ears ringing after a short, loud set in the wee hours. Also on Wednesday night, Jimmy Eat World led a crowd of emo- and pop punk-lovers in singing it back to the good ol’ days (sorry for getting that scream-yelling part of “Sweetness” stuck in your head. But actually I’m not sorry).

After Weezer’s set at Brazos Hall on Friday, music writer Eric Pulsifer called The Blue Album “a foundational pillar for my budding teenage musical persona” (I’m more of a Pinkerton gal myself). It was, amazingly, the band’s first appearance at the festival, but even after all this time, it’s hard not to feel like a teenager again when you hear the opening riff of “Pork and Beans” or sway along to “Island In The Sun” or oooh-wee-oooh along with “Buddy Holly.”

The nostalgia continues beyond the 10-day span of SXSW, too: Blink-182 is playing the Circuit of the Americas the Wednesday after the fest, and Mitski, who put out last year’s most heart-wrenching record (if “Your Best American Girl” doesn’t bring you to your knees, you’re made of stone) is headed to the Mohawk in April. Frequently described as an “alternative” artist (whatever that means), if Mitski’s not modern-day emo then we can just declare the genre dead. Come on: “I’m not happy or sad, just up or down / And always bad” — that line could have been screamed on any Brand New record in the early 2000s.

SXSW: You’ve never seen anything like Anna Meredith

There’s more than a fair share of lo-fi surf-rock bands, left-field rappers and indie electronic acts at SXSW 2017, but there’s nothing I’ve seen quite like Anna Meredith.

Anna Meredith. (Photo credit: Eric Pulsifer)

The British composer played Saturday night at 8 p.m. at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30. Live she played keys, laptop, bells and clarinet alongside a band of musicians playing tuba, cello, drums and guitar. Occasionally they all sing in unified accapella harmonies like some sort of hippie indie collective that lives in a bus. It’s a weird and wholly unique sound — a collage of disparate elements that magically come together, like complex geometric patterns that can (seemingly impossibly) be tiled.

The group, dressed in black and gold attire, played a strange brew of maximalist progressive pop that sounds like Battles, Jonny Greenwood and Belle and Sebastian formed a supergroup to score a fever dream. Weirdly enough the resulting songs were something that got the packed Latitude 30 crowd dancing.

Meredith opened with “Nautilis,” with a pounding simple, semi-chromatic climb of “Jaws” tense and triumphant stabs of synth and bumbling tuba blots. Other songs in the set mixed trance electronic loops and the soft swell of strings with thundering, dueling off-tempo drums and math rock guitar.

Sorting through the influences and elements of Meredith’s tunes is part of the fun. Combining elements of metal, techno, 8-bit videogame chiptune, jazz drumming, and pop in songs with time signatures that would require a mathematics degree to count, Anna Meredith is one to watch for those who embrace music that is truly outside the ordinary.

Rachael Ray’s Feedback party rings in 10 years with Weezer, De La Soul

How cool is that? Rachael Ray celebrated the 10th year of her popular Feedback party at Stubb’s on Saturday afternoon with a packed house and a slate of bands that included Weezer and De La Soul and even an appearance from “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier.

“It heated up a little bit,” Rachael Ray said from the stage before introducing Grenier, who was there in part to advocate for strawlessocean.org, which aims to keep plastics out of the ocean. “I don’t care. I think we all look pretty sexy sweaty. It’s my pleasure to be up here with musicians I love and respect.”

Weezer performs at Rachael Ray’s 10th annual Feedback party at South by Southwest on March 18, 2017. Suzanne Cordeiro/for American-Statesman

What started as a small party hosted by the Food Network star has become one of the quintessential SXSW party experiences and has featured acts including Jenny Lewis, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Delta Spirit and Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts.

In addition to Weezer and De La Soul, this year’s lineup included Margo Price, The Drums, the Districts, Benjamin Booker, Bob Schneider, The Cringe, Caitlyn Smith and orchestral performances by Teddy Abrams and the Artisan String Quartet. Hamilton Leithauser filled in for Action Bronson, who had a last-minute cancellation.

Adrian Grenier introduces De La Soul at Rachael Ray’s 10th annual Feedback party at South by Southwest on March 18, 2017. Suzanne Cordeiro/for American-Statesman


The theme for this year’s food was queso, and guests were treated to a variety of items, including tater tots, corn and hot dogs, slathered in the Austin staple. Delish!

Rachael Ray hosted a queso-slathered fiesta at Stubb’s on Saturday, March 18. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

Guests also enjoyed alcoholic beverages including free Lone Star and Modelo beers.

While Ray is in Austin, which she has long deemed one of her favorite cities, she’s keeping busy, spending time at her new SoCo pop-up boutique, Moxie, and visiting favorite restaurants including Grizzeldas, Wu Chow, Emmer & Rye and Ramen Tatsu-Ya.


Thanks, Rach, for another fun party! Hope to see you in town again soon!

SXSW 2017: Graham Williams stresses importance of small venues during Saturday panel

Discussing the high rate of turnover in the small music venue segment of the Austin ecosystem Saturday, local promoter Graham Williams made a startling observation; that the Continental Club is perhaps the only small full-time music space from the first South By Southwest still in operation. Also more recently, there are perhaps only a handful of music-first spaces from the 2007 festival still in operation.


The point of those thoughts – offered during Williams’ participation on the “Saving Small Venues & The Independent Music Scene” panel – was that in Austin and other music cities across the country small clubs have a way of sprouting up and filling the demand for music fans and artists.

“The title of the article that comes out every two months is that the music scene is going away, and it has changed but it feels like places pop up too,” said Williams, founder of Margin Walker Presents and co-owner of The Sidewinder club. “It’s frustrating running a club and it is hard, and we need to work more with the city. But if you’re strong and passionate about it you’ll find a way to work it out.”

Williams was joined on the panel by promoters and club owners in New York and San Francisco, other markets where surging real estate markets have a tendency to price out incubator clubs after only a few years of operation. Just as East Austin has become home to more clubs in recent years, small venues in New York have moved out of Manhattan and deeper into Brooklyn each year, while Oakland has become the release valve for venues and artists priced out of San Francisco.

“Williamsburg started as a place where artists were living in the venues they operated out of, then all the waterfront got redeveloped and we had to figure out how to stay around,” said a former owner of the Glasslands Gallery venue in New York City. “When you do events you have to take responsibility for what it is you’re doing, and realize that when the attention gets bigger it becomes a business and that is something you have to protect.”

Much of the discussion revolved around industry issues such as the inability to generate digital content revenue at the small venue level, and the effects of radius clauses for emerging acts playing festivals, which are thus barred from playing competing clubs in a market.

While the city of Austin has taken initial steps to improve the fortunes of artists facing higher costs of living and stagnant music revenue, Williams said more needs to be done from a regulation and permitting standpoint so venue owners know what is expected of them to operate in compliance with local laws.

“The thing that keeps coming up is, how can we work with code and permitting because we have headache after headache from getting different rulings a year apart from people telling us what they see as dangerous that we have to spend money to fix,” Williams said, “We’ve almost had cases where weren’t able to talk to (building) to get a permit to fix something code enforcement said was wrong, and we could get shut down because two departments couldn’t talk to each other.”