I’ve got a simple rule of thumb: don’t miss a solo Buddy Miller show. Miller’s work with artists ranging from Robert Plant to Solomon Burke to Patty Griffin overshadows his own recordings with his wife Julie. It’s a shame, really, as Buddy and Julie are simply brilliant. Whether playing country, blues or a potent mix of the two, the Millers perform with an authenticity that defies description. And yes, that is Joel Guzman on accordion. More please.
Alejandro Escovedo’s Sunday night show is a true endurance test. It isn’t so much the show itself but a Sunday night time slot that concludes five days of, well, musical mayhem. Michael Monroe, the former leader singer of Hanoi Rocks, would have none of it. Backed by a crack band that include Sami Yaffi and Steve Conti of the NY Dolls, Monroe whipped the room into a frenzy. No corner of the stage, and the bar for that matter, was left untouched as Monroe bounded about the room. It was better than a triple shot of espresso.
Pug celebrated his recently released full-length debut with a SXSW marathon, playing somewhere between 10 and 15 sets over four days. Armed with just his acoustic guitar Pug no doubt captivated at each performance with his exceptional songs. At one set I caught he unplugged and stepped in front of the mic to sing “Bury Me Far From My Uniform” to a rapt crowd. If you look closely in the video below, you’ll see a brief cameo by yours truly.
Street Sweeper Social Club
This ain’t your typical Twangville fare. Tom Morello, late of Rage Against the Machine, joined up with Oakland rapper Boots Riley for what they describe as “revolutionary party jams.” Sounds about right. Morello’s trademark guitar bravado with Riley’s politically charged vocals anchor the band’s high energy anthems. So good, I saw them twice.
The Right Ons
I’ve written about these guys before and try not to miss the chance to see the Spaniards on a rare US visit. Their live shows are fantastic, dripping with a sweaty rock and roll groove.
The Riverboat Gamblers
I’d never seen Austin’s Riverboat Gamblers before but had heard the stories. Well, I’ve seen the band now and know that the stories are true. Their albums are equal parts hard rock and punk with some mighty fine melodies, but their live show takes it to another level. The band careened around the stage with abandon, climbing up speaker stacks and into the venue’s rafters. And the music was mighty fine, too.
Canada’s Doucet is perhaps best known for his guitar prowess but his songs can more than stand their own ground. I’m partial to “The Comandante” with its mix of roots rock and Tejano horns.
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About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.