On 3/16/17, Blurred Culture got a special invite from our friend Jamie Kent to spend the day on a pair of riverboat cruise showcases on Lady Bird Lake. We support all of our friends, and gladly accepted an invite. In a slight departure from the rest of our SXSW coverage, because there was so much music showcased on both cruises, each cruise will have a general overview with links to separate pages hosting artist photo galleries and video clips that were were able to capture. The evening cruise review, photos and video clips can be accessed by CLICKING HERE. To access photo galleries (and video clips when available), click on the photo of the artist.
After a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon cruise with Jamie and his friends, I re-boarded the Capital Cruise boat to see what the evening installment of music had in store. Again, the line to get onto the riverboat showcase was so long that it was bound to leave more than a handful of people disappointed. Those were able to get in line early, however, would be treated to a raucous 3 hours of musical delight.
Kicking things off right was the husband and wife duo of Adrian + Meredith. With Adrian on the acoustic guitar and Meredith on the violin, the duo played spirited roots music that made you want to shuffle your feet to their rhythms. It’s a different kind of Americana than I am familiar with. It’s a mixture of folk, gypsy, country … maybe a little punk? … even a little Swiss folk? [At one point, Meredith prefaced a song (if I can remember it all correctly) by saying that it was her grandma’s tradition to dance and toss sausage around to the style of music they were about to play. She offered up a plastic sausage link (click the photo above to go to the photo gallery so you can see what I’m talking about), and the only country that I can think of that does that is Switzerland].
It’s hard to classify, but it’s easy to enjoy, and during their 30 minute set, they set the bar high for the kind of energy and good times that would have to follow. Even though the plastic sausage … poor, poor sausage… was lost to Lady Bird Lake, at least it got dance with everybody in the crowd before it’s untimely flight off the boat.
As I ran down to the lower deck, Luke Cunningham had already started his acoustic set. As the crowd gathered at the bar pouring free beer and wine, he sang original country and folk compositions from his repertoire. As it was only a 15 minute minute set, I could only get a glimpse of what he was all about, but I did write in my notes two words to summarize his performance: “good lyrics”. In doing some research, I found that he’s set up shop in Nashville writing with a lot of musicians. This doesn’t surprise.
Jamie Kent’s played the same setlist as the one from the afternoon cruise. The following is what I wrote about that:
For someone who organized and hosted both of the riverboat excursions, one could have anticipated that Jamie would have slotted himself for one of the “headline” spots on either cruise. But having some time with him, I kinda knew that that wouldn’t be the case. He’s the kind of fella who likes to let his friend shine, so he put his set right in the middle of the festivities. No worries though, cause Jamie’s performance speaks for itself. He’s a born showman who knows how to work an audience; and with killer songs to play, it really doesn’t need to be said that he fully entertained the crowd during his 30 minutes.
From the prior post about the afternoon cruise:
Other than Jamie, there was only one other artist to perform on both showcases: Nick D’Virgilio. Known more for his drumming skills (he was one of of two drummer chosen to replace Phil Collins in Genesis on the Calling All Station album and has done session work with Tears for Fears), Nick used his 2 fifteen minutes sets to flex his musical chops playing toned down acoustics melodies. A far departure from his progressive rock credentials, but perfectly suited [for a lower deck performance]
With most of the musical offerings on both the afternoon and evening cruises leaning towards Americana, I was pleasantly surprised with the indie-electronic/pop sounds of ELEL. With six members in their band, I was surprised that they were all able to find a nook on the deck to play on, but when they were all set up, they performed an inspired and spirited set.
Their music is solid. With lush layers of sonics coming from the speakers, I found it hard not to stop taking photographs from time to time just to fall into their groove. They’ve also got this real friendly aura about them. It’s hard to explain- maybe it’s because they all seemed to be having fun with each other performing- but their performance was almost like a communal ritual that was inviting everyone to celebrate with them.
Their debut album, “Geode”, is scheduled to be release later this month. I’m definitely going to check it out.
The final acoustic act on the lower deck was Spazz Cardigan. His acoustic performance, which is very different sonically than his studio recordings, was highly entertaining. His tenor voice was crisp and when he sang his “Happy Little Pills” acoustic, it gave me a little bit of a Jason Mraz “Live At Java Joe’s” vibe.
The act that headlined the evening showcase was one of my faves: The Weeks.
I remember seeing them play a small L.A. club years ago, and I was blown away by not only their music, but also by how much fun everyone has on stage. Since that first time I caught them live, I’ve tried to catch them whenever they’re in town. Getting to catch them at SXSW? On a riverboat? Hell, yes.
DISCLAIMER: I’m a fan. I’ve been a fan. I spent $75 on their PledgeMusic campaign to get an autographed Test Pressing of their latest album. Yup, I’m a little biased.
These “Mississippi longhairs” rocked that riverboat cruise proper. Their energy and charisma was kinetic and as the boat anchored itself to the dock, when the music was supposed to stop, fans urged the band to keep on playing, and they happily obliged. They basically rocked that boat to shore and kept on rocking it until the crew told them to stop.
The Weeks newest album, “Easy”, was released on April 7, 2017. I highly recommend you pick up a copy.
Each of the artists donated tracks to a compilation album to give away to each others fans and support each other as independent artists. If you’d like to get a FREE copy of the “Riverboat SXSW Mix” compilation album CLICK HERE RIGHT NOW.