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Shadow Shadow Shade will take its sunny-day symphonics to the ASCAP showcase (where a young and much-buzzed-about Future Future will also be appearing) tonight.
JEFF LEVEN'S SXSW DISPATCH #1
Festival Begins With Some Tragic News and a Bunch of Buzzing Baby Bands

AUSTIN, Wednesday night —With stinging regret, my first "virtual" SXSW dispatch begins with a eulogy, as sometime this afternoon after the sounding of SXSW's raucous starting gun and the initial slosh of St. Patrick's Day brews, the music world lost one of its most talented exponents, the inimitable Alex Chilton, at the age of 59 in New Orleans (see Rumor Mill). Set to play with Big Star in Austin this very weekend, Chilton and his bandmates were enjoying a critical mini-renaissance spurred by the release of last year's excellent and exhaustive Rhino box set. Like his vocal and reverent disciples Elliott Smith or Paul Westerberg, Chilton grabbed the heartstrings of his audiences with the disarming candor of his lyrics, the raw fluidity and command of his guitar work, and the depth and earnestness of his commitment and devotion to rock & roll. Songs like "Thirteen," "September Gurls" and "Thank You Friends" ring as gorgeous and true as they did when they first slid from Chilton's teen heart onto the airwaves over 30 years earlier, and the subtle breadth of his impact on American music is undeniable.

 

Chilton’s surprising departure is a numbing thing to even write about, honestly, and will no doubt reverberate through Austin's otherwise lighter festivities this week. Honestly, I don't know how exactly it could be orchestrated, but maybe the entire festival could go silent for just one moment in remembrance—perhaps at the time Big Star's set would have been. Even if that can't happen, no doubt children by the millions weep for Alex Chilton tonight…

 

Still, the music must and can and has gone on in Austin and by all accounts the music portion of the festival really woke up Tuesday night, as dazzling songwriter Joshua James wowed audiences with his performance with Jakob Dylan and Neko Case. James remains an underrated songwriter and compelling live performer. Also, Chrysalis' Jamie Cerreta pointed out another standout—this one from Tuesday night's IFC showcase—Shadow Shadow Shade.  Formerly called the Afternoons (featuring members of the late, great L.A. band Irving), Shadow Shadow Shade will also take its sunny-day symphonics to the ASCAP showcase (where a young and much-buzzed-about Future Future will also be appearing) tonight. Also, apparently Motorhead's Austin Music Hall appearance has turned into a free show, which should be a nice throttle-grinding treat for Austin locals! Middle East also seems to be getting good traffic (despite technical difficulties), and numerous people are rushing over to see the Broken Bells show at Stubbs long lines notwithstanding, while several of my friends duly attended Henry Clay People shows, the last of which was dedicated to Alex Chilton :)

   

By the way, readers looking for a Texas-level view of SXSW may also want to check out Houston writer Susan Darrow's blog at

http://www.culturemap.com/author/susan_darrow. Meanwhile, as my correspondents and I continue to play time-zone-and-tweet-hide-and-seek, my updates will continue…

 

A HOLLY, JOLLY
HITS LIST
A December to remember (12/6a)
REVENUE CHART:
MALONE IS MONEY
Yet another post about Post (12/6a)
TAYLOR LIGHTS HER "CHRISTMAS TREE"
With lots of shiny tinsel (12/6a)
THE HAPPY WARRIOR OF THE RECORD BUSINESS
What a great guy (12/6a)
GRAMMY CHEW: WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE, ANYWAY?
Those who fail to learn from the past are destined to repeat it. (12/6a)
EGGNOG!
Ours is mostly bourbon.
MISTLETOE!
Delicious in salads.
CHESTNUTS!
Ours are roasting, but it could be these slim-fit jeans.
WEED!
An entire Christmas tree made of it. Is what we want for Christmas.
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