Sunday, April 3, 2011


I've been sick since I got back from Austin. Feeling better today but some lingering effects, like the cough that won't die.

I ran into someone who saw me speak at iMedia. He was still sick from Austin. Then that night (last Thursday), I read about the number of people who had come back from Austin and gotten sick in the last few days, on the way home or shortly after returning.

Turns out that this has happened before and it has been nicknamed SXSARS. You can (google) look it up as the man says. All my symptoms have been consistent with the info on the postings. I'm not sick very much and I don't remember a time when a cold put me down for almost two weeks. I guess it is nice to know that I am not alone.

Hence the delay in this final post.

Most poignent moment: Emmylou Harris singing her new song about Gram Parsons called "The Road" to be released on a new album later this month. Emmylou, you brought tears to my eyes.

Two of the best new unkown (to me at least) finds: one of the first and one of the last: Bright Light, Bright Light, a solid techno rocker from from Wales with an early Peter Gabriel sound and Emily Elbert, a perky folkie/country/pop singer who rocks out really well.

Others that I will be looking forward to hearing again: Robert Earl Keen (early and often), Darden Smith, Josh Ritter, The Wronglers and Withered Hand. That said, there was NO bad music there. Just a lot of choices. The other thing I will do next time is much more homework on my schedule. The choices are overwhelming and while I did not parachute in (see Homeless CEO's post below), a more organized approach is needed. The app was great for this and I'll use it even more. Not that random at SXSW is a bad thing at all. There are acts like Emily Elbert and Withered Hand that I would have never found if not for Random. So a balance is good.

Would I do this again? In a heartbeat. I'd heavy up on the vitamin regime and take a large amount of Purell with me though.

Sigining off on this blog for now. Follow me on Dave's Here (personal) or Dave's Sphere (professional) and subscribe to the Mediasmith Anvil while you are at it. My Google profile lists all my various online activities you can follow.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

These Aren't the Droids You Are Looking For

As I write this it is Saturday morning, Day 14. It's been a challenge to get into some venues. But there are plenty of places to hear incredible music. And the experience of the new music vastly overweighs the disappointment of not seeing all of the headliners I would have liked.
That said, Thursday was very special. I went to the Radio Day Stage where WFUV, the NYC NPR affiliate was broadcasting live. Made it in time for the Emmylou Harris segment. Talk about my personal sweet spot! Emmylou looked great as always, wearing a dark western straw. In the interview before the first song, she talked about having wanted to do an album that was largely her own compositions. This album comes out 4/26. The first song, called The Road, was about Gram Parsons, what she learned from him and wondering what might have been. She talked before the song about her appreciation for the talent that he was and opined that she would not be where she is today without him. The song brought tears to my eyes. She sang it from the heart and anybody who knows me knows that my appreciation for Gram and what Emmylou took on is unbounded. Yesterday, at a panel called the Adult Rock Music Meeting, they played new songs and voted on them. They gave voting cards to the audience too. When I heard the produced version of "The Road" as one of the entries, I did not wait for the vote but held up my "10" card to some amusement on the stage.
I was going to move on after Emmylou but Josh Ritter came on. I have heard some of his music and even downloaded a bunch to my Napster player (yes, I still use that) but never heard him live. He is a delight. Not to be missed if you can hear him live. A permanent smile on his face, he's a good picker and has a good way with his music. Great lyrics too. He threw in a rockabilly version of Henry Mancini's "Moon River" which made me fall out of my chair. Made the reference to "my huckleberry friend" sound uniquely like his own. I have to revisit this song for my own sets.
Next on Thursday, on to The Ghost Room, where HBO presented a Treme afternoon, celebrating the rich musical heritage of New Orleans. New season of Treme starts next month. Playing were the Pine Leaf Boys, Henry Butler, Big Chief Monk Boudreax and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. My friend Tom Kurz met up with others from NOLA and we rocked into the afternoon and evening. One of the things we have discovered is that even the platinum badge does not get you into everything. There are additional tickets, private lists etc. Thus, the use of everything including attempting our best Jedi Mind Tricks to get in. Tom Kurz is a master at this. On Wednesday, he was inside and I was stuck in a long line for the British Music Embassy, being told I was not on the list. I texted Tom. He went over to the door man, said that's Dave Smith, CEO of Mediasmith and he needs to be in here. The door man pointed at me and ushered me in! He has no idea who I was, but it sounded impressive the way Tom said it.
On Friday, as I mentioned, I went to a panel judging new releases. I did this as my
old friend Norm Winer was on the panel. Some of you may remember Norm as the Program Director and morning DJ at KSAN in the late 70's and early 80's. He's now Program Director of WXRT in Chicago. Norm and I had some good times together and it had been far too long since we'd seen each other. Both of us pledged to stay in touch. Great to see you Norm.
The Texas Guitar Show is going on as a sidebar show to SXSW (there are many). Was great to drool over some of the older and newer guitars, including some 50 year old Gibson
D-45's, which I lust after.
After lunch, Tom K. and I wandered up 6th Street. We happened
onto Emily Elbert, backed by Eric Robertson and the Boston Boys. All graduates of Berklee School of Music. Emily is a folkie with a lot of soul. Eric is an electric mandolin player with a lead guitar attitude and capability. They are two separate acts but they clearly love playing together too. Must see again.
Many more acts seen yesterday but concentrating on writing about those who stand out and who I want to see again. Lots more happening still here, even though it is winding down.
Looking forward to another day and evening of great music.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Too much?

There are so many options. Right now, debating between Treme and Emmylou Harris. And these are daytime options.
I must have seen seven full sets yesterday. There is so much to do that even keeping up with the blog is difficult. So follow me on Foursquare and Facebook where most of my posts are going. Twitter gets some too. Trying to have all of them linked of course.
Tom Kurz and I paired up yesterday to see a lot of music. Best of day, the first at the British Music Embassy, Bright Lights Bright Lights. Watch for these guys. Techno Peter Gabriel sounding. Great lead singer. And full sophisticated production. Other best, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and the Wronglers, including financier and Mostly Strictly Bluegrass patron Warren Hellman. They were the last group we saw yesterday. Great bookends, very different. Got to shake hands with both Jimme and Warren afterwards. This place is that intimate. I love it.
Honorable mention goes to Withered Hand, a solo Scottish folk rock/alt country entry. Great humorous lyrics. Also saw Bombay Bicycle Club and many others.
Any day with live music is a good day. But seven acts. this is above and beyond. Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Band Snacking, Data and Web3

My friend V. Shah says that what we have in common is the ability to talk about Rock and Roll (he would say REM, specifically) and digital media metrics in the same conversation. V, you should have been in Austin yesterday.
The day started out slow, after my workout and email, etc. got over the the SXSW Interactive Trade Show mid day. Hooked up with Greg Kidd of 3TAPS. I'm doing some advisory work for them. They are taking the stream from a lot of eCommerce and other "exchanges" and providing them in a more organized manner. One of the things they are doing is rolling up similar sources to provide a single goto source for getting information on things like jobs, real estate, etc. In the meantime, they have successfully harnessed the Craigslist stream with craiggers, where you can search all info within Craig's List. Quite slick.
One of the things I was talking with Greg Kidd was the looming copyright issue with real time data. Ever think about who owns the information that you tweet? Twitter says they do. Even if it is your idea. And strangely, if it is retweeted or forwarded to Quora or Facebook, they apparently say that Quora or Facebook do not have the rights, that Twitter maintains the copyright. This is a looming battle over public domain vs. copyright.
The trade show had a lot of previews of groups that are playing around town. Posted some pics on my Facebook page, but saw parts of sets from Star and Micey at the Memphis booth, Henry the Invisible, Threads of Scarlett at the Barbados booth, and a rockin' group called Far West in one of the bars walking back. Today starts the full on music in most every bar and venue in town.
Reid Hoffman founder of LinkedIn talked about data. He opined that Web3 is going to be built on the data we have gotten from all of the Web 2.0 apps. And that we should not let the government get between us and data as government is not naturally aligned with business and business goals. Two of his aphorisms were "never ambush your users" and "not all data is equal". I will post later about his 10 tips for those who want to innovate.
Out into the day to find some music.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Days 8 and 9: Taking it easy #SXSW

One of my favorite songs is Jackson Browne's Take It Easy. I love his line "don't let the sound of your own wheels make you crazy". One of the easiest things to do. One of the things I wanted to accomplish in my time off is just that, take some time off, take it easy. (Now I know a lot of you know the song as an Eagles song and that Glen Frey was co-author...Jackson, gave Glen co-authorship as he came up with the line "It's a girl my lord in a flat bed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me" which was probably worth co-authorship).
So one of the things I have been doing is slow down a little. On Sunday, Karen and I finally ventured out late morning. We had of course lost an hour and we were out late the night before. We ended up at La Condesa for brunch. Great little crab appetizer (everything here seems to have a tex mex flavor to it). And we both had the chicken tacos. Soft tacos, with the tortillas freshly made. mmmmmmmm good. Highly recommended. Good margaritas too.
We wanted to get some walking in, so we walked across the river towards Allen's, the world famous boot (and hat) place. I immediately found a very nice western straw that Karen liked a lot. Then found a western felt that was just right. Shipping two more hats home!
Walked down to Guero's. Always love to eat there but the timing was not right, so of course we stopped off for a margarita and some chips and salsa. Cab back to the hotel for a nap, then out for the evening.
Went to the FastCompany party at Moonshine's. Like many parties here, loud and crowded. But we stayed for a while, then made our up to the Stephen F Austin Hotel, where the upstairs bar, the Stephen F is generally not crowded. Dinner at the bar. Our good friend Chris Redlitz happened by. Always nice to see him.
Karen left early Monday (again with limo to airport provided by again Steve Sarner).
I wandered over to the SXSW Conference and Trade Show. Saw Barry Diller keynote. BTW-if you want to follow me in real time, I am mediadls (same as my IM addresses) on Twitter and Foursquare. After Diller, I met up with Tom Finerty again and we walked the trade show floor. Really a mish mash. Would be helpful if they grouped similar booths together, but then they might not have the flow. Some interesting stuff though. I could see that my son Dale, a budding Sound Engineer would get a lot out of this.
Dinner last night was at Wink, a fairly high end experience. Tom Bedecarre (AKQA) and his nephew, Bruce Carlisle (Conference Hound), Greg Stern (BSSP) and Daniel Stein (EVB) all joined in. Most of us had the tasting menu which was very good. Highly recommended. Reservations a must.
Taking it easy has been doing things at my own pace, getting in some reading, some writing, some walking around town and connecting with friends. This is a great town. If they only had an ocean, I could live here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 7 Recap. What a day.

Saturday was a great day. We started out for a walk mid morning. Stopped at the Driskill Hotel. This is where LBJ had a suite that he watched every one of his elections from (he never lost an election!) and then came down to the ballroom to celebrate. This hotel was built in 1885 and is one of the greatest examples of the old time western architecture across Austin (there are many more). We had a margarita at the bar to celebrate.
As we left the hotel, Karen spotted a hat store, called Hatbox across the street. If you know me, you know that this is my kind of place. I found a hat, Karen found a hat, then she found a hat for me, then when we went to pay, I found another hat. Shipped two and wore two straws out the door. Karen asked me what I was going to do now, when we went to Allen's on Sunday. I said we'd deal with that then. ;-)
We did a leisurely stroll to Lambert's, reputed to be on of the best BarBQ spots in town. And it was. BTW-When I had dinner with Tim McClure and others on Wednesday night, Tim encouraged that we try the Mac and Cheese all over town. Don't tell my Dr.
Lambert's is like a lot of places which serves Mac and Cheese as a side, so I could at least try it, right? I had the Achiote and Lime Rubbed Natural Chicken with Mac and Cheese and jicama and carrot slaw as sides. Karen did a Caeser salad with chicken. First time ever that the chicken was rubbed BarbQ. We started with a rock shrimp tomato soup. All great.
Our friend Tom Finerty of YourGardenShow, the social gardening site, is up for a community site award at SXSW. He had an exhibit at Whole Foods. Not just any Whole Foods, but the Mother Ship. This place is Texas sized! The beer aisle is in a giant cooler with automatic doors at both ends. You gotta love a walk through refrigerated beer aisle. And this place makes Marina Safeway on a Wednesday night (pick up night) look like amateur night. Lots of fine looking people. And the selection at this store is mind blowing. In all aspects.
Across the street is Waterloo Records and I always believe in supporting record stores, an endangered species. Lana McGilvray of Datran told us that she and her husband DJ Stout would be there to visit with their friend Darden Smith who was debuting his new book. Darden is another giant in Texas music and he played some selections from his recent album, Marathon. The book is unique, it is wonderfully designed and art directed by DJ Stout of Pentagram, a top rate and famous Designer (Texas Monthly, etc.) and contains wonderful photographs by Kate Breakey. It's kind of unique in music marketing in the world of downloads. With downloads, we don't get the album art and the lyrics any more. So Darden produced a book that filled that void. We also were to hear Darden last night. More about that below.
Went back to Whole Foods as we just had to buy something there. We have a kitchen in our suite at the Omni, so be bought breakfast stuff and some beer (had to celebrate the beer aisle/cooler) and some wine.
Headed back to the Omni, then out to a party for where Lana and DJ were also attending. Lana has been instrumental in guiding a number of us through the food and night life aspects of Dallas.
On the campus at University of Texas, there is a small venue, well under 100 seats with a bar called the Cactus Cafe. Not a bad seat in the house and very intimate.$15 tickets. I can't remember when I paid so little for a first rate artist. Darden Smith did two sets, featuring Marathon in the first set and some of his older music in the second. Michael Ramos (keyboards, harmonies and accordion), Roscoe Beck (bass) and JJ Johnson (drums, percussion and harmonies) provided a very high level band experience. Wonderful introduction to this artist. We'll see him again when he tours the bay area. Recommended.
Any day with live music is one of the special days.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The winner so far.....Foursquare

SXSW is known for the apps that have become hits by starting out here. Most notably, Twitter and Foursquare. Of all the apps vying for attention at SXSW, the winner so far is...Foursquare. They are working very hard to prevent a newbie app like Yobanga from taking their crown. First of all they upgraded to V 3.0 on Wednesday. This includes a commerce effort with Amex. Register your Amex card and you get $5 off the tab when you check in at a place and then use your Amex card. Pretty slick.
They also have a promo in combination with Pepsi Max, who has taken over a vacant lot a block from the Convention Center. And they have a party later today. But most of all the application has a lot of cool features including those friends who are nearby, a significantly updated interface and an explore button where you can find lots of things. A little early to try to margarita button but I might later on.
Karen finally arrived yesterday, after thinking her bag was lost (driver was clueless and steered her to the wrong baggage place), then the driver dropped her at the Hilton rather than the OMNI. But she got here eventually.
We went to the comScore party on the roof of Fogo De Chao which was very nice. Then on to SIX Lounge for an Internet Oldtimer's Group meetup, then on to the AllThingsD party at Momo's. Mossberg was not there. Not his kind of party. Kind of an indoor/Outdoor hip-hop barbeque scene. Did not stay very long. Headed back to the hotel and called it an early night. There are parties everywhere. Many are private but some are open. But one thing in common, they are all jammed. Some overly so. A recurring theme seems to be asking if there are too many people and whether SXSW is overly crowded. Time will tell.
This is Day 7 of my trip and Day 2 of the Internet conference. Looking forward to the trade show on Monday, interacting with some of the companies in the booths, but for today, it's walking around town, checking in on a few events that I'll recount tomorrow.