SXSW 2009

After a rowdy evening watching the Felice Brothers over at Habana, I met up with Joe Pug for a Lone Star before heading to a late night loft party on Brazos where he was invited to perform a short acoustic set.‚  It turned out to be the perfect ending to a long day at SXSW.

There were only 20 people there, including longtime Joe Pug supporter and blogger at Songs:Illinois, Craig Bonnell.‚  Sometime last year, Craig hosted a house show and invited Joe to perform and shortly after I started to hear a lot of talk about Joe Pug around Chicago.

Joe wowed the relaxed audience, playing three or four tunes including “Hymn 35” from his fantastic EP Nation of Heat.‚  My apologies for the poor video quality, the lights were dim and color video got a bit too grainy.

Video: Joe Pug – Hymn 35 (Live at SxSW 2009)


Matt Ellis

Matt Ellis is an Australian indie folk singer/songwriter that now resides in Venice, CA. How did I hear about him? No, not from an email submission, publicist or record label. After seeing J. Tillman at Red Eyed Fly, I stepped away from the stage to an outdoor area to drink a refreshing PBR in the sun with Drinking Buddy and friends and we ended up chatting it up with this guy with an Australian accent.

We didn’t know Matt was a musician, but after discussing Tillman’s set, the reasons he left Australia for California and how I wish I had an Australian accent, we discovered that he was a singer-songwriter that happens to share our same taste in music. He passed me a CD sampler, called me “mate” and here we are today.

He’s self-producing his 4th album called Births, Deaths and Marriages which was mixed by Craig Schumacher (Calexico, Neko Case). More about the album:

After recently traveling through the South – including the musically rich Mississippi Delta region, the new album is unequivocally influenced by private moments Ellis had on the road. In it you hear the grit of the old juke joints, the lulling quiet of the desert and the effect the slide has on the soul. Ellis’ sincere, plainspoken lyrics have a foot in the fervent sound of old Bruce Springsteen and Waylon Jennings but fuses a pop sensibility ideal for radio play.

Here are two tracks, including one exclusive mp3:

Matt Ellis – Heart Of Mine

Exclusive: Matt Ellis – Births, Deaths and Marriages


We’ve been showing lots of love for The Deep Dark Woods this year, due mostly to their stellar release Winter Hours. We had the chance to see them live twice at SXSW 2009, once at our party and once at an all acoustic show at Threadgill’s. This video of the show just surfaced recently.

Video: The Deep Dark Woods – Glory Hallelujah (Live at SXSW 2009)


Playboy Bunnies

Playboy hosted their 10th Annual Late Night Party at SXSW 2009 at an old Safeway supermarket, headlined by Janes Addiction and attended by the trendiest crowd you’ll find at SxSW. While I normally enjoy walking around Austin to see indie bands in a t-shirt with wet armpits, the Playboy party was a refreshing change of pace. And not just because of the free bar.

Shirk and I strolled in to a half empty party and started into the complimentary cocktails. We’d seen opening act Kenan Bell the night before at our party, where he was shockingly good and became the talk of the night. He had taken command of the room and left people breathless. I’m the first to admit I’m not a hip-hop guy, but Kenan has the ability to transcend genres – it helps that he’s backed by a full band. Bell was one of the biggest buzz acts of SxSW and definitely someone to keep your eyes on in 2009. I’m sure his appearance at this party will open a few doors for him.


Image: Kenan Bell at SXSW

After Kenan’s set, we randomly bumped into Erika Wennerstrom, lead singer from the band Heartless Bastards, in the crowd. Not bad company to keep while you’re waiting for one of the greatest rock bands of our time, Jane’s Addiction. We talked at length with Erika who, like every band we met at SxSW, was incredibly friendly and also much tinier than I’d imagined. It may seem weird, but like meeting Justin Townes Earle,‚  I was a little star struck. Then Jane’s came on stage and all hell broke loose.

Well, not really. The crowd was too cool to get out of control, but fists were pumping, I spilled some drink down my shirt and I think a little squirt of pee came out. I like Jane’s Addiction.

Jane's Addiction at Playboy Party

Image: Jane's Addiction at Playboy Party

Surprise! Dave Navarro was topless.

All kidding aside, Navarro impressed, but I think most Jane’s Addiction fans agree that the real power of the band lies in the rhythm section. Perkins and Avery are back with the band and, although the photographers set up shop on the Hollywood side of the stage (Navarro), the band opened by showcasing the bassline on “Three Days.” It served as a well deserved “Welcome back.”

Over half of the set was comprised of tracks from Nothing Shocking with the rest filled in by Ritual de lo Habitual. Highlights for me were “Mountain Song” and “Ocean Size,” but the real joy came in seeing the bright stage lights, favorite songs perfectly executed and a true rock band working the stage to deliver exactly what the crowd was craving. Raw emotion, classic songs and an upcoming reunion tour for the ages.

Although the party was free, I’d happily pay to see Jane’s Addiction again…if only they weren’t touring with Nine Inch Nails.

Video (courtesy of ultra8201)

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Woody’s Top 3’s of SXSW 2009 [performances, venues, breakouts, more]

March 29, 2009

Well folks, four sunny days, countless venues, numerous Lone Stars and about 40 some odd bands. Here is my long-winded report. Top 3 Performances 1. Dead Confederate – Home Slice Pizza (Thurs): The Athens crew continue to impress at every turn and this set did nothing to disappoint. Mixing a Sonic Youth cover in with […]

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Punched in the face and 5 observations from a SXSW first-timer

March 28, 2009

The following is an essay from HearYa reader, friend, single guy and Tom Cruise body-double, Via Chicago. This was his first trip to SXSW. The photos are mine – Oz. I’m sitting in a cab in Austin, about to head back to the hotel after spending a long day and night at HearYa’s Stimulus Package […]

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Did I mention that Playmates were at our SXSW Party? Here are the pics.

March 27, 2009

I’m not going to lie. When the Playmates showed up to our party, it was a good feeling even for us married guys. I attended the Playboy “Rockin The Rabbit” party the following night and assumed (wrongly) that I’d bump into them, so I felt obligated to chat it up with them for a good […]

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HearYa SXSW 2009 Party Pics [Stimulus Package]

March 25, 2009

We’ve got a few more posts about SXSW 2009, but it’s always a whirlwind and fun to share the experience. It was also our first time co-hosting a party in which we helped build the lineup. It was an incredible 15 hours with 17 bands, lots of drinking and a line out the door for […]

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Port O’Brien – A Bird Flies By, SXSW 2009

March 25, 2009

Port O’Brien isn’t for everyone. I’ve come to understand that as I’ve talked to others and read blogs that don’t quite understand the band’s appeal. POB’s sound struck me right away when I discovered their debut album, The Wind and The Swell, and they won me over on their sophomore release, All We Could Do […]

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Alberta Cross – ATX, SXSW 2009

March 24, 2009

Our Alberta Cross live session has a nice comment from a reader named Dan saying that he and a friend were introduced to Alberta Cross via HearYa about 18 months ago. Unlike me, Dan has had the luxury of seeing them live a few times in NYC. I ended up catching Alberta Cross twice at […]

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