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SXSW 2018: Thursday night at Luck Reunion (part 2) and back to downtown Austin – 15th March 2018

 
By on Tuesday, 24th April 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

If you haven’t read part 1 of my Luck Reunion recap, you can find it back here.

After a busy afternoon of fine music, the sun started to set over Willie Nelson‘s Luck Ranch, and I made my way to the World Headquarters stage, where a full docket of fine music was scheduled for the evening. The crowd had already begun to gather in anticipation of the later acts, and they were enthusiastic in their support of Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real. Lukas Nelson, for those not in the know, is Willie Nelson’s son, but he and his surf-tinged country rock band have a dedicated following in their own right. His fans were especially delighted when he was joined on stage by a pair of special guests, Margo Price and Kurt Vile.

LN and MP

Price made only a brief cameo after her surprise performance in the Luck Chapel earlier in the day, but Vile’s appearance segued into his own solo set, which received a surprisingly muted response from the Nelson family diehards in the crowd. Vile played songs from his own 2015 LP ‘b’lieve i’m goin down’ with assistance from the Promise of the Real, as well as a particularly moving solo cover of Bob Dylan‘s ‘Roll on John’.

Kurt Vile

There was a rather long interlude after Vile’s set, and dusk fittingly turned to dark before Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats took the stage. Rateliff has become quite the showman with the success of his two most recent albums, the 2015 breakthrough self-titled LP and brand new release ‘Tearing at the Seams’, and he didn’t disappoint the eager fans at Luck. He and his band tore through tracks from both albums, joined near the end by members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (who also played earlier in the day) for a blistering finale leading into the evening’s main event.

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That highly anticipated main event was, of course, a performance by the man himself, Willie Nelson. Nelson was joined on stage by a cast of family and friends, including son Lukas, for a set chock full of well-worn but well-loved tunes, including ‘Whiskey River’, ‘Beer for My Horses’ (which always made me laugh when I was a little girl) and ‘Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys’.

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Fans in the audience were clearly primed to hear all the Willie Nelson classics they knew and loved, and Nelson didn’t disappoint. The strains of his final singalong were ringing in my ears as I made my way through the crowd to head back downtown, and I couldn’t resist a final look at the gathering as I departed. Lest we forget, among all the great old tunes of Willie Nelson’s storied past, the 84-year-old songwriter has a brand new album coming out on the 27th of April, called ‘Last Man Standing.’ Have a listen to its title track through here.

Luck Reunion finale
Photo courtesy of James Joiner capturing the atmosphere of fellowship perfectly

Though internet access at the Luck Ranch had been spotty throughout the day, I was able to call an Uber to get back into Austin to catch two more shows downtown before calling it a night. I was thankful for my SXXpress pass when I arrived at the already crowded Mohawk to see British ex-pat Bishop Briggs, who has taken the alt-rock scene by storm since I last saw her in Phoenix in 2016. Her debut album ‘Church of Scars’, featuring hit tracks ‘White Flag’ and ‘River’, has just been released as this article goes to press.

Bishop Briggs inernal

My final stop on this truly incredible day was at the Palm Door on Sixth, where diehard English troubadour Frank Turner was on stage for a solo set. Turner is a regular fixture at SXSW, and his fans turned up in droves for this showcase hoping to hear their favourite tunes. Turner obliged them to a degree, but quickly shifted focus to songs from his forthcoming album ‘Be More Kind’, including the recently released and pointedly political single ‘Make America Great Again’. Check out its charming promo video, filmed in Austin during SXSW, right through here.

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Seeing Turner’s relentless energy and enthusiasm for his new songs was a particular highlight of SXSW for me, even after the amazing songwriting I’d been privy to all day long at the Luck Reunion. Thursday at SXSW 2018 was a remarkable day indeed, and one I won’t soon forget. Many hearty thanks to the Luck Reunion organisers, as well as to all the artists featured here.

 

SXSW 2018: Thursday at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion (Part 1) – 15th March 2018

 
By on Friday, 20th April 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

On the Thursday of SXSW, I had the unique opportunity to attend the celebrated Luck Reunion, hosted at the Luck, Texas ranch of legendary country songwriter Willie Nelson. The Luck Reunion’s stated mission is “to cultivate the new while showing honor to influence”, among “musicians, artisans, and chefs, who like the outlaws and outliers before them, follow their dreams without compromise.” The event is staged at Nelson’s home and working ranch, which is about a 45-minute drive from downtown Austin, and which presents a very different atmosphere from the hectic SXSW schedule of conferences and showcases.

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Once arrived at the Luck Ranch, I didn’t have much time to get acquainted with the surroundings before the full day of music was set to begin. I took a quick peek into the tiny Luck Chapel to catch a couple of songs from Nashville songwriter Lilly Hiatt, whose quirky combination of folky Americana and grungy rock sounds can be heard on her recent third album ‘Trinity Lane’.

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Next, I headed outside to the Revival Stage, which was hosting a “song swap”, including a pair of songwriters I was keen to hear, Arizona native singer Courtney Marie Andrews and soulful Nashville songwriter Sam Lewis, who were joined onstage by fellow songwriters Caleb Caudle and Kevin Kinney (of Drivin’ N Cryin’). I’m not sure if the song swap was intended to be more interactive among the performers, but in practice, the four artists simply took turns singing their own songs, rather than actually swapping. That said, I was especially excited to hear songs from Andrews’ excellent recent album ‘May Your Kindness Remain’, and Lewis’ upcoming LP ‘Loversity’. All four singers made a strong impression of the quality of songwriting on display at Luck.

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Immediately following on the same stage, Buck Meek (also known to TGTF readers as part of Big Thief) played a set of his solo tunes, including one, ‘Sam Bridges’, that I vaguely recognized from a Big Thief show back in 2015. I was able to catch Meek after his set for a quick chat about that song as well as the new ones on his forthcoming self-titled solo LP. Stay tuned to TGTF for that interview, which will post in the coming days.

Sam Lewis internal

After chatting with Meek, I had an appointment for another interview, this one with the aforementioned Sam Lewis. Outside the Luck Chapel, he and I took seats on an old wooden swingset, which was both novel and remarkably sturdy. (Thanks to Sarah for the photo above.) Lewis was outgoing and easy to talk to, and we chatted extensively about his upcoming LP ‘Loversity’, which is due out on the 4th of May. Be sure to check back with us for the forthcoming full interview, where he expands on the album’s unusual title as a theme for the songs it contains.

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My next stop was at the Back to the Source Stage for Austin native songwriter David Ramirez. I’d spied Ramirez and his bandmates earlier, walking around the Luck Ranch and enjoying the beautiful day ahead of their set. The informal atmosphere seemed very much to Ramirez’ liking, and he played a gorgeous show for the occasion, finding a pitch-perfect blend of old songs and new ones alike. He and his band were in top form here, showcasing themselves collectively under the newly minted moniker David Ramirez and the Hard Luck.

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I had noticed in passing that the Luck Chapel had a constant queue outside it throughout the afternoon. With a capacity of only 50 people, the intimate stage was in high demand all day long, but never more so than for British singer/songwriter Jade Bird. Disappointed that I wasn’t able to get inside to see her performance, I went around to the side of the building and spectated through an open window. The collection of punters standing outside with me were as delighted with Bird’s performance as the lucky ones who’d gotten in, and she quickly gained a reputation as “one to watch” for the remainder of SXSW. I was fortunate to hear Jade Bird sing again the following morning; keep an eye on TGTF for my Friday recap.

Hop Along internal

From there, it was a quick few steps back to the Revival Stage, where I saw a pair of rather unusual acts, Hop Along and Ezra Furman. Hop Along were unfamiliar to me, but I took an instant liking to lead singer Frances Quinlan’s voice. Their new album ‘Bark Your Head Off, Dog’ is an odd but appealing collection of songs painted with a broad sonic palette, out now via Saddle Creek. I was slightly more familiar with Ezra Furman, and the Luck Reunion seemed at first glance an odd choice of venue for his brand of angsty rock. However, if the event’s focus was indeed on “outlaws” of songwriting, Furman was in the right place, despite the oddity of seeing him perform in typically-female attire against the backdrop of a functional stable and horse pen. His recent fourth solo album ‘Transangelic Exodus’ is a brilliant and bizarre display of lyrical storytelling, out now on Bella Union.

Ezra Furman

By this point, I needed a break before hitting the World Headquarters Stage for evening sets by Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, Kurt Vile, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, and of course, Willie Nelson and Family. Drinks at the Luck Reunion were complimentary and freely flowing at various locations throughout the day, but I took this time out to avail myself of the food choices provided by a selection of local vendors. There was no shortage of delicious options, and if you appreciate a deftly-designed culinary experience alongside your carefully-curated music, then the Luck Reunion would certainly be your cup of tea. Stay tuned to TGTF for my Thursday evening recap, which will include more from the Luck Reunion as well as two late night shows back in downtown Austin.

 

Preview: Glastonbury 2010

 
By on Friday, 23rd April 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Surely I don’t need to explain to you what Glastonbury is – it’s simply LEGENDARY. Even as an American (though, admittedly, an Anglophile), every year I drool over the lineup, despair at not being able to attend and then scour the internet for pictures and videos when it’s over. Each summer, the enormous site at Worthy Farm (about a mile and a half in diameter) turns into a mini-city for the  largest greenfield festival in the world. Since the first Glasto was held 40 years ago in 1970, the festival has come to be known for its truly amazing lineup, and this year is no different.

One of the perks of being the biggest festival around is that you can get the biggest artists around. This year, the Pyramid Stage will be graced by some of the most recognizable names in music. On Friday night, Irish rockers U2 are headlining, with support from Dizzee Rascal, Vampire Weekend, Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, and Corinne Bailey Rae. Saturday night sees headliner MUSE share the stage with the likes of Scissor Sisters, Shakira and Jackson Browne. And on the final night, legend Stevie Wonder tops the bill, closing out the festival after performances from Paloma Faith, Norah Jones, Jack Johnson and guitar legend Slash.

But it’s not only the main stage that’s worth visiting. Punters will get quite a workout running between that and the other 12 stages, of which the Other Stage, the John Peel Stage and the Park Stage look the most promising. Over the course of the weekend, the Other Stage lineup reads like the index page of NME: The Flaming Lips, Florence and the Machine, La Roux, Hot Chip, Phoenix, the Courteeners, the Cribs, Kate Nash, Editors, Two Door Cinema Club, LCD Soundsystem, MGMT, We Are Scientists, Temper Trap, the Hold Steady and more.

Originally called the “New Bands Tent,” the John Peel Stage features a mix of old and new favourites. Friday night sees Groove Armada share the stage with the likes of Mumford & Sons, Ellie Goulding and Bombay Bicycle Club. Saturday night is jam-packed with bands we’ve featured here on TGTF, like the xx, Foals, Marina and the Diamonds, Delphic, Wild Beasts and Field Music. And Sunday night remains epic with sets by Ash, Julian Casablancas and the Drums.

All the way across the site, the Park Stage will play host to buzz bands like the xx, Broken Bells, the Big Pink, Midlake, Laura Marling, Stornoway, Beach House, Frankie & the Heartstrings and Dirty Projectors, ending with a headlining set by Australian electronic duo Empire of the Sun on Sunday night. And at the risk of making your heads explode by listing even more bands, at the other stages festival-goers will be treated to performances by Mos Def, Phenomenal Handclap Band, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Turin Brakes, Imelda May, DJ Fatboy Slim, Crystal Castles, Good Shoes, Fanfarlo and Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip.

If you’re not already overwhelmed by the sheer massiveness of the festival, then you can click here to view the complete lineup. But if you don’t already have tickets for the sold out spectacular, then be warned, it will turn you green with envy.

Glastonbury 2010 is completely SOLD OUT. It will be held from Wednesday, 23rd June to Sunday, 27th June 2010 at Worthy Farm, Pilton.

 

A Very Musical Christmas #2: More Music Books

 
By on Thursday, 13th November 2008 at 9:37 pm
 

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a really hard time this Christmas finding books within budget for my friends and family… Following on from our previous post about musical gifts, those lovely people at Virgin Books have been in touch to offer you 35% off their range of music books and free postage and packing this Christmas – what more could you ask for?

To get the 35% off AND free P&P simply enter the code VIRGINXMAS into the coupon box at the end of the checkout.

Have a browse around on the links below, and maybe and buy something – they’re actually cheaper than Amazon at the moment on a fair few books, and there really is something for everyone, from your Dad (Meatloaf perhaps?) to your Gran (BB King?) via your older cousin who you always knew was a tad strange (David Bowie!)

(Please note: I don’t get any comission from these book sales, nor am I affiliated in any way with Virgin Books – I just thought you might be interested in some Christmas ideas!)

Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies How to Make it in the Music Business How to Make Music in Your Bedroom
Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called “Pixies”
RRP: £7.99
Offer price: : £5.99 Inc. P&P
How to Make it in the Music Business

RRP: £8.99
Offer price: : £6.74 Inc. P&P
How to Make Music in Your Bedroom

RRP: £7.99
Offer price: : £5.99 Inc. P&P
Music: The Business - The Essential Guide to the Law and the Deals Hallelujah!: The Extraordinary Story of Shaun Ryder and "Happy Mondays" Strange Fascination: David Bowie - The Definitive Story
Music: The Business
RRP: £25
Offer price: : £18.75 Inc. P&P
Hallelujah!: The Extraordinary Story of Shaun Ryder and “Happy Mondays”

RRP: £8.99
Offer price: : £6.74 Inc. P&P
Strange Fascination: David Bowie
RRP: £12.99
Offer price: : £9.74 Inc. P&P
The B. B. King Treasures "Cream": How Eric Clapton Took the World by Storm The Virgin Book of British Hit Singles
The B. B. King Treasures
RRP: £30
Offer price: : £22.50 Inc. P&P
“Cream”: How Eric Clapton Took the World by Storm

RRP: £9.99
Offer price: : £7.49 Inc. P&P
The Virgin Book of British Hit Singles

RRP: £20
Offer price: : £15 Inc. P&P
Billy Bragg: Still Suitable for Miners The Lost Beach Boy: The True Story of David Marks, One of the Founding Members of the "Beach Boys" Willie Nelson: The Outlaw
Billy Bragg: Still Suitable for Miners
RRP: £9.99
Offer price: : £7.49 Inc. P&P
The Lost Beach Boy: The True Story of David Marks, One of the Founding Members of the “Beach Boys”
RRP: £17.99
Offer price: : £13.49 Inc. P&P
Willie Nelson: The Outlaw
RRP: £9.99
Offer price: : £7.49 Inc. P&P
To Hell and Back: An Autobiography Anyway Anyhow Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of the "Who" 1958-1978 Cash: A Tribute to Johnny Cash
To Hell and Back: An Autobiography
RRP: £9.99
Offer price: : £7.49 Inc. P&P
Anyway Anyhow Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of the “Who” 1958-1978

RRP: £9.99
Offer price: : £7.49 Inc. P&P
Cash: A Tribute to Johnny Cash
RRP: £8.99
Offer price: : £6.74 Inc. P&P
Liverpool - Wondrous Place: From the Cavern to the Capital of Culture Changeling: The Autobiography of Mike Oldfield  
Liverpool – Wondrous Place: From the Cavern to the Capital of Culture
RRP: £9.99
Offer price: : £7.49 Inc. P&P
Changeling: The Autobiography of Mike Oldfield
RRP: £8.99
Offer price: : £6.74 Inc. P&P
 
 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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