The matter with Edmonds is what's the matter with Rob Brunner of Entertainment Weekly when he writes, "In an unexpected twist . . . SXSW was mostly about the music." Nonsense. SXSW has always been about the music, first and foremost. And the newer the music, the better.
Except for that Creem mosh, SXSW 2001 certainly wasn't about the panels. In fact, economic downturns and P2P uncertainties cast a pall over them. Creem panelist and Sound & Vision music critic Billy Altman said it best when, hearing that $40 million idea, he said, "Until that question, this is the only panel I've been to in the last two days that didn't mention money."
Still, S&V readers may be interested to know that Sting's manager, Miles Copeland, had this to say about Napster: "Metallica - three cheers for those guys. They had the balls to actually speak up. When you see people like Courtney Love saying, 'It's okay to steal, these artists are too rich' - the Russians tried taking money from the rich. Look what happened to their society." And Cracker's David Lowery had this to say about multichannel music: "Somebody told me his wife wouldn't even let him put two speakers in the living room - she'll be damned if she's gonna let him put five or six in there." To which producer/ engineer Dave McNair added, "I don't think the labels are gonna spend the money to remix the back catalog." To which I could add, "Ever hear of a little 'label' called the Warner Music Group?" But that's another story . . .
The story here, as always, is music. So, let's check in with Ray Davies again to see which bands he checked out. How, for example, could he resist the Deathray Davies (from Dallas; deathraydavies.com)? "Well, I better not turn up," he said, "because they might take their name literally. . . . But we'll be there." And although I didn't spot him, he must have been in a corner somewhere, digging the band's energetic take on the British Invasion that, back in the last century, his own band helped launch. The Davies' current album is The Return of the Drunk Ventriloquist (released by Idol), and live at SXSW, leader John Dufilho and his mates bashed and popped like pumped-up Attractions.
I did spot Ray at the gig by Swag (Nashville; swagweb.com), and no wonder: here again was a brilliant homage to '60s Brits. But instead of a band of unknowns, here were Ken Coomer of Wilco, Robert Reynolds of the Mavericks, Jerry Dale McFadden of Sixpence None the Richer, and solo artist Doug Powell (with Warren Pash substituting for Cheap Trick's Tom Petersson). Together, they sounded nice and full, with even the close harmonies and acoustic ballads of Catch-all (Yep Roc) coming across vividly in the packed Continental Club.
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