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.

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