soundtracking with Robert Szkolnicki: Send your ears to South by Southwest

March 11, 2012

Montreal band Plants and Animals photographed in Winnipeg in March 2009 by Robert Szkolnicki. All rights reserved by creator.

How does the thought of seeing 2000 musical acts grab ya? The good news is that you can do this all in one city – Austin, Texas. The bad news is you have less than one week before it is over – March 13-18.

The Wilderness of Manitoba. Photographed in Winnipeg, August 2010 by Robert Szkolnicki. All rights reserved by creator.

March means it’s music madness month and thanks to SXSW (South by Southwest) you have the opportunity to see and hear more music than you can handle.

Great Lake Swimmers photographed in Winnipeg in August 2009 by Robert Szkolnicki. All rights reserved by creator.

No, I am not going. One year maybe, however I am always interested in the reports from the field. NPR does a good job and I will keep an eye on their coverage again.

The SXSW website has a directory of the musicians and artists that are performing. Each listing contains a short bio and a music track to get your attention.

Patrick Watson photographed at the Winnipeg Folk Festival 2009 by Robert Szkolnicki. All rights reserved by creator.

As I scanned the artist lists, I hardly recognized any names. When I do see the name of a band that I recognize, I am excited because I hope they do well. So break a leg: Great Lake Swimmers, Chic Gamine, Leif Vollebekk, The Wilderness of Manitoba, Delhi 2 Dublin, Plants and Animals, Patrick Watson.

One of the best things about music festivals (and music in general) is making discoveries. Something that you had never heard before and have embraced.

If you had not yet heard Andrew Bird or The Magnetic Fields, then now is your chance. You can also checkout Grimes, who is getting all sorts of blog buzz early in 2012.

Below are my SXSW music finds with links to their bio (excerpts of which are below) and a music track. These are artists that I had never heard of before and that I would check out at the festival. (Editor’s note: After this writing, NPR came out with its own SXSW picks, which cadged a pick from Robert’s list.)

Cheyenne Marie Mize
“Using only a dense array of percussion, the rustic opener “Wishing Well” nods to both classic R&B flavors and adventurous modern pop…”

The Devil Whale
“Like a book bound by melody, harmony, and honesty, they unfold before you. Paragraphs become verses and chapters become choruses, leaving room for interpretation and relation…”

Finn Riggins
“Dynamic, quirky and highly energetic indie rock trio Finn Riggins has made a name for itself around the West and the greater US as road warriors from the oft-overlooked state of Idaho over the last several years…”

“The angular, intricate, and intelligent compositions of Hospitality signal a sophisticated new pop voice…”

Jonathan Wilson
“… Warm, supple melodies etched in layers of stringed instruments and willowy organ motifs accompany his earnest, North Carolinian drawl as he tells tales of humane values lost and found…”

Mirel Wagner
“… It’s a minimalist record, in the best sense: stoicly picked, almost trance-inducing acoustic guitar, a voice you wouldn’t expect to hear from a 23 year old, and songs that mostly avoid classical folk song structure…”

“Sumsun is Judson Rogers, a dance producer based out of West Palm Beach, Florida…”

Van Hunt
“Grammy Award-winning artist, Van Hunt, just released his fourth studio album, What Were You Hoping For?, which has been described as ‘[A] spare but dizzyingly vibrant meld of day-glo psychedelic soul laced with glammed-up riffs and the acerbic energy of punk.’…”

Vetusta Morla
“Vetusta Morla is a Spanish rock band formed in the late 90s, with the aim of going beyond the stereotypes of that genre. They work adding sounds and rhythms that come from outside the rock tradition, but keeping the core, not falling into world music…”

White Ninja
“An evening of psychedelic funkyness, mexicans turning electronic sounds into digital soul, and vice versa, as you dance…”

Wild Child
“Wild Child, indie-folk pop band from Austin, Texas, began as an acoustic duo consisting of Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins singing ukulele love songs written and shared over red wine and old photographs…”

Robert Szkolnicki
The Redeye Complex


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