Chuck’s Thoughts from SXSW Music


This is a sensory overload,  As we walk the streets of Austin, Texas the sound of a cool R&B band gives way to walking rhythms of an Americana artist to the screaming guitars of a rock band.  Five square miles of  SXSW music pervades the air. This is really cool.  And to top it off, today is a perfect Austin day, 80 degrees, cool breeze and not one cloud.

Let me set the stage.  The centerpiece of SXSW are the 1800 official showcases that go from 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. in more than fifty downtown Austin clubs.  But the showcases are only a small part of the festival.  Companies, economic development agencies, radio stations all hold private parties to promote their brands and their bands.  Most of the shows are free and many of them are open to the public.  Dylan, our intern, has his SXSW days booked from noon to 4:00 a.m. everyday and he will not spend a dime.  The cool think about the parties are that they host major acts such as M.Ward and Passion Pit.

We started the day at the Past Magazine party to see Anathallo.  While waiting in line to get in, we met Josh. He is a social marketing representative for the Dow Federal Employee Credit Union.  His job over the next few days is to see as much as he can see of SXSW without spending any money. He will then blog about the experience, sort of like I am doing now. You see, many of these parties not only put on free live shows but they also provide food and drinks.  At the Paste party they were giving away tasty Fuze drinks ( I had sparkling clementine).

Christian music artist Anathallo hit the stage at 12:30 and took us through 45 minutes of swirling driving alternative artistry.  We were outside and it reminded me of Cornerstone.   They combined basic rock instrumentation with multiple keyboards, bells, marching band bass drums, wood blocks, pots, trombones and trumpets.  They mix these instruments in a way that clarifies the songs while keeping us enthralled.  Their percussionist is a show unto himself.  We are lining up an interview with them for later this week and we are going to see them again tonight.

We then went to the trade show to meet people and gather goodies.  It is funny.  When we tell people what we do, they immediately think we cover the middle of the road, watered down adult contemporary music that is associated with Christian music.  As we explain to them that Christian music is not a genre or a style but a set of foundational beliefs from which artists of all genres make music, they begin to get excited.

One person we met was Jennifer Eitel Young, one of the founders of, an online stage for performers to build fan bases.  As we discussed we discovered that Jennifer was a Christian music artist and, even though she not longer records, she continues to perform at women’s conferences around the country.

I finished the day at the Canada music party where they had six bands on an outdoor stage and served BBQ.  Let’s see good music outside under the trees with Texas BBQ.  It was even better than it sounds.

As soon as I finish this post, I am headed to interview Dignan and then watch their show before I hit The Elms, Anathallo again and Seabird.  We will give you the lowdown before we go to sleep tonight so check your email before you head to work tomorrow.

To see the full schedule of Christian music on tap today check out Ian’s article on the SXSW Schedule for Wednesday.

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