Chile, Beer, Wine and Music
NM @ SXSW
There really is a lot to do around Austin during South by Southwest even if you don't shell out the cash for a wristband or a badge. There are record companies, groups of friends and entire countries wishing to promote themselves in Austin during this madhouse music industry event. Music fans without the money to get into "real" SXSW events know this and take full advantage of free, un-official parties ... Like the NM Showcase at Las Manitas [link]. Boy, did it showcase New Mexico. When I got to Las Manitas, I didn't even know there was a rock concert going on inside. I stared, confused, into the cafe style restaurant and couldn't figure out just where, exactly, they planned to put the stage. Confused and befuddled, I called Wes, our photographer, whom I knew would be at this NM Showcase taking photos. He was. And I was. I just didn't know were the music was happening, which was this showcase's major flaw.
The stage was set up out on the back patio, which is accessed through the cafe and the kitchen. I grabbed some pico de gallo and chips and took a front row seat to catch of god and science's set. New Mexico chile, New Mexico beer, New Mexico music. I started feeling guilty for being there because I was, after all, in Austin to see music not from my hometown. It was worth it to stay. One of the promoters had been handing out flyers for this showcase in front of the conference center and I had seen an ad in that aforementioned 5-pound book, so I expected people would eventually come.
They did. They took some food and drink and sat in the cafe, a whole kitchen away from the stage. The back patio only held about 50 people and there were at least 50 more in the cafe side of Las Manitas. It would have been perfect if the cafe had been open so that everyone could hear the music.
Not to dwell on the downside, the showcase really seemed a success. The place was packed by the time I had to leave to catch Albuquerque's The Gingerbread Patriots playing at Bourbon Rocks for their official SXSW showcase. The goal was to have some of New Mexico's greatest assets (music, beer and chile) enjoyed by a number of music fans and potential tourist, and that was easily accomplished.
Before heading over to The Gingerbread Patriots showcase, I did catch the musical lyricism of Joe West. West might be one of the most New Mexican of all the New Mexico acts featured at this showcase. As I sat and listened, my mind wandered to my hometown of Santa Fe; I laughed at all the inside joke he made in his lyrics, and a childhood memory of listening to Joe Hayes telling stories was rekindled. His opening song, "Jenna Cab Driver," is in my must listen category.
What to do to improve the NM Showcase at SXSW next year: Better venue. (But keep the cooks! Yum.)
Best Ad campaign on 6th street: Guy dropping "quarters" that were really ads for a music download site where a quarter gets you a song.
Worst Ad campaign on 6th street: A girl in a large van with an attached PA systems yelling at people who cut her off as she tried to convince people to drink vitamin water.
Kerby Lane Count: 1
Number of Bands Seen Up to the NM Showcase: 7