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Spring Break Week: New Music

March 29, 2010

Katie and I love music; we lead worship at our church in Abilene, we sing in the shower, we both took a host of music classes in undergraduate. But we’re not really concert people; well, we haven’t made concerts part of our relationship. Part of that is the fact that our musical tastes are different; Katie likes country and folk music, where I like more alternative rock and pop music. Part of that is the fact that we live in Abilene, and the creative scene in our town in a bit underground, although we are starting to get more popular artists in our town (such as Iron and Wine). Part of it is laziness mixed with the fact that enormous social events aren’t really our cup of tea.

Craig and Laura, the people that we visited in Austin, have similar interests; they’re both creative, open-minded, somewhat outspoken people. They do happen to like the social gathering a bit more than we do. And they live in Austin, which is like the indie music capital of the south.

When we got to their house, we noticed several South by Southwest newspapers and brochures around the house. Several members of their church were playing at SXSW, and invited us to hear their friends; we gladly obliged, and were overwhelmed with the giftedness that we saw and heard Friday. This blog post is a shout-out to this creativity.

The first person that we saw was Grace Pettis; her father is Pierce Pettis, a world-renowned lyricist. Check out her song “Nine to Five Girl”. (This is actually Craig’s footage, which he put on youtube.)

Later that night, we double-dated at the Zach Scott theater to listen to one of their worship leaders, Dave Madden. Dave is an accomplished pianist and guitar player; the particular set that we saw including a grand piano and a strings section. Check out his song “Open Eyed”, and imagine Dave playing piano instead of guitar, as he is on this clip.

We quickly realized though that this wasn’t just a Dave Madden concert. The Zach Scott theater, with the help of local musician John Pointer, had gathered several local and international musicians (there were two Danish bands that played) into a benefit concert. So for three hours, we were entertained by five or six acoustic, very musically-talented performers. One of them, Molly Venter, is becoming one of my favorite new artists. I’ll explain this more in another post, but I love how her interpretation of folk music, especially the way she tells stories with vocal intonations. This is “Shaky Ground” from her newest album “Love Me Like You Mean It”.

The concert was at the Zach Scott theater, a very intimate, 150-seat auditorium with an octagonal floor. There are only four rows of seats at Zach Scott, which means everyone had really good seats; we ended up sitting right behind the strings section during Dave’s set. This theater may have be the most intimate musical venue I’ve ever been in.

There was about two hours of music, including the two performers I just mentioned, and after intermission, John Pointer got on stage. Several of the musicians mentioned that John would blow our mind; they underestimated his musical ability. John’s set consisted of a cello, several acoustic guitars, a couple of looping devices, and the grand piano on the octagonal floor. He began his set by beatboxing two or three rhythms into the microphone and setting it on loop; he then walked over to the cello and plucked out a bass part for the loop; finally, he got his guitar and played a couple of riffs and completed his loop. The rest of his set consisted of a couple of original pop numbers, another looping session, this time with whistling added, and a hilarious rendition of “No Diggity”. Oh yah, the guy has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. Check out “One by One” from his CD “Schizophonic”.

Perhaps the most refreshing thing from our spring break was getting to see these and other talented musicians at SXSW. We bought like five CDs and listened to them on our late night drive back to Abilene.

Who are some local artists that you support? I’m always looking for new, good music, and this weekend encouraged me to support more independent artists.

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