This year will mark my second at SXSW. After getting acclimated on Wednesday by researching the schedule to find my way through all the panels, parties, and shows, I was ready to embark on my first full day of the festival. I headed to the Austin convention center to watch Bruce Springsteen perform this year's keynote.
In a few words, he nailed it… It's overwhelming. When Springsteen began his career there weren't enough records being sold to justify a record store. Everything was new. Now we are in the midst of a festival where over 50 genres are represented (he listed them all) that all stem from the same roots of rock & roll. There are so many great showcases to choose from it's hard to decide which shows you can live without. He gave no advice to those of us trying to take it all in, but he gave some simple advice to young musicians: Don't take yourself too seriously, and take things as seriously as death. Believe you are the biggest badass in this town, and believe you suck. Be able to keep two contradicting ideas alive in your mind and you will be better for it. Never stop evolving as a person and as a musician. Bruce talked us through every major music revolution that occurred during his lifetime and explained how it impacted his songwriting. It's adapting to the changing times that made Bruce timeless. Now, more than ever, artists need to embrace change.
That is why we are all here this week. Bands are seeking people to help them hone their skills and carefully watching others to pick up tips. People in this business are here learning about the best ways to go about achieving their goals. I attended several panels today covering a variety of topics that I will no doubt cover in detail with resource posts and initiatives on this website in the future. For me, it's all about strengthening Cincinnati. I've obviously got some skin in the game in my professional life, but at the end of the day a stronger music community helps us all.
When SXSW began, its purpose was to bring attention to a thriving music community. It's easy to be somewhat envious of Austin and its art culture. However, Cincinnati has a great music community. As someone posted in our message boards the other day, we just need to start to support one another. Midpoint Music Festival, Bunbury, the Music NOW festival and many others are all built to help our community grow. We need to embrace organizations like them and continue to encourage people to be creative in Cincinnati.
After a long day of panels I stopped over at Stubbs for some barbecue and to check out Milo Greene. If you have never been to Stubbs you should absolutely go. The barbecue alone is reason to check it out.. and I'm not a foodie at all. I had the opportunity to catch the Punch Brothers, Walk The Moon, and Heartless Bastards at the IFC Crossroads House (a dance club turned in to a pretty killer venue by the SXSW staff). I normally hate elbowing people all night, but the people here are generally polite and all out to have a good time. I've never been to Mardi Gras, but I've been told that it's very similar (at night). The whole town is decorated and bustling with activity. There are still many panels to sit in and many bands to check out… I better get to it.
btw.. My phone died, so I borrowed this photo from the Taft Theatre's tumblr. Check them out here.