Editor’s Note: Guest writer and echo cloud photographer Joe Abbruscato co-wrote this article with Devon Christopher Adams. All photos are by Abbruscato and Adams.
While South by Southwest (SXSW), the premiere music festival held in Austin, Texas, is not until Spring Break 2013, two music showcases have begun to rock out locally. The excitement started when Sedona area band decker. approached Matty Steinkamp and Beef Vegan of morning radio show TMI on KWSS to garner help in organizing local bands to showcase at SXSW. In the first go around, TMI’s showcase was limited to 8 bands. However, after a conversation with J. Miller of Bad Lucy, Mandy Pals and Adam Cost of Splash Artisans decided to throw their metaphorical hat into the ring. With their aide, the ticket grew with nearly a dozen other bands added to the docket. By November’s end, TMI and Splash Artisans had almost twenty local acts working together on a single goal: travel to Austin, TX in mid-March and present Arizona local music to the industries and masses of music lovers, engineers, producers, and other bands.
In preparation of this undertaking, some of the bands have begun doing their own legwork to build as much momentum as possible leading up to SXSW. Doctor Bones, local pop punk dance infused dynamo, has begun planning a two week tour from Phoenix to Austin and agreed to play the Splash Artisans showcase on top of their fundraising shows previously booked. Kicking off the road to SXSW, Bones filled in for decker. on TMI’s first showcase at the Sail Inn on December 12, 2012. They are currently in talks regarding a TMI live acoustic number if schedules mesh while in Austin.
Doctor Bones has been tightening their sound with the assistance of their managing team and Mick Quinn and Anamieke Quinn, of Sidepony Music who also plays with Scattered Melodies, Treasurefruit and Sarah McAllister Duo. They’ve been meeting with their management for three months and secured weekend shows at The Rogue Bar throughout January to raise funds, as well as are booking roadshows between Phoenix and Austin. Jess Pruitt, bassist for Doctor Bones, is eager for the trip east. “I feel it [SXSW] will be extension of our relationships built here going to each others shows, each others parties and investing in each others craft.”
The Sail Inn Showcase also included Sarah Robinson and Midnight Special, The Wiley One, and Jared & the Mill, with Scattered Melodies playing a set which exclusively covered Jack White songs, including “ Old Enough” performed and recorded by The Raconteurs. Mid week, early in the season, the show started fairly slowly, with only a handful of loyal followers gathered around the stage for The Wiley One, fronted by Sam Wiley. Like Bones, Wiley has has an exhaustive 2013 planned, including music videos, a sponsorship, and 5 song remix EP. Knowing Sam, these will only be the tip of the iceberg, and more surprises are sure to surface as the year progresses. By the time Doctor Bones took the stage a few alcohol soaked hours later (this IS the Sail Inn, after all) the crowd was on their feet dancing along to Anthony Fama’s frenetic sweat soaked awesomeness.
Aside from their separate fund raising shows, KWSS and Splash Artisans are going to be co-promoting a SXSW blowout on March 8, 2013. This all encompassing showcase will feature every Arizona band heading to Austin. While this show is going to be the highlight of the month for AZ Music and surely is not to be missed, it is only going to be the first of many shows that the bands will be playing in the few weeks following. “Everyone is really jumping in for the cause. I think just looking at last year’s SXSW efforts to this year’s, it’s clear that our music scene is getting tighter and developing a stronger and stronger sense of community. That is exciting.”Almost every band performing at this showcase will be performing multiple shows on the road, and then of course will be playing everywhere and anywhere they can set up an amp and a microphone when they hit Austin. Many of these road shows will be played with local acts from wherever they find themselves, as well as fellow bands on the road. And while the official “SXSW Unofficial Showcase” is scheduled for 3/16/12 at The Lucky Lounge, these road shows are not to be missed if they hit a town by you. This caravan to Austin is much larger, much tighter, and much better prepared than even last year’s pilgrimage. According to Quinn, “Everyone is really jumping in for the cause. I think just looking at last year’s SXSW efforts to this year’s, it’s clear that our music scene is getting tighter and developing a stronger and stronger sense of community. That is exciting.” This excitement is palpable, every band member, every music venue, every local fan boy and girl with his or her camera is abuzz with talks of SXSW.
Mandy Pals of Splash Artisans remarked, “I can’t wait to go on this journey with everyone,” and plans to travel to SXSW with Sundressed. Splash Artisans also launched an Idie Go Go Campaign in December 2012 and is planning a benefit dinner to help cover travel expenses. TMI also plans to host raffles and a golf tournament, including getting sponsors, to alleviate the costs of the trip, as well. TMI has been working to get the local independent KWSS on the national map and are inviting agents, managers, promoters, publicists and other music industry personnel to the Austin showcase. While TMI is courting the music industry at large, they have managed to keep the fans central to this entire experience. In order to chose the bands going on the showcase, TMI virtually cut themselves out of the selection process: TMI did not chose the bands to go, the fans of the music did. Selection was based on fan reception of the bands, not the tastes of one single entity. This helps bring the local flavor to Austin; different people have different tastes in music, and while some of the bands individual sounds may not mesh perfectly together, it is only as this whole that they can truly represent the Arizona Music Scene. Sam Wiley, while speaking from his position in The Wiley One, surely speaks a sentiment felt and shared by all of the bands stepping forth on this journey: “We are lucky to have kick ass friends and connections in Austin and of course we are super grateful for the support from KWSS, Music Venues and Fans in AZ.”
Matty Steinkamp agrees, “it is our goal to promote AZ music that is played on TMI and that is heavily requested by our fans.” He hopes to attract more funding to make all of the bands trips more successful and encourages everyone to come to all local ramp-up showcases.
As of this writing, the Arizona bands publicly scheduled for SXSW include:
The Hourglass Cats
I AM WE
Jared & The Mill Kongos
Sara Robinson & Midnight Special
The Wiley One
If you want to support Arizona music consider joining us at one of the upcoming local shows listed on the Echo Cloud, TMI on KWSS and Splash Artisans facebook pages. Also, add your own shows or check other Arizona shows on the Echo Cloud calendar here.
Author’s Note: All information above is tentative and may change as we move closer to March 2013.