A few weeks ago we loaded up the van and headed down to SXSW for a few shows and a special performance at Willie Nelsons ranch where we got to open for Willie himself. This year marked our 10th trip down to SXSW!
I have a love hate relationship with SXSW. It has been instrumental in the success of Green River Ordinance. I admit it can be a blast, but it can also be a GIANT pain in the butt.
If you're saying to yourself, what is SXSW? It stands for South By South West and it is a big music festival that happens every spring in Austin, Texas. But it's not your normal music festival. If you're thinking a few big stages in a field, this is not that. SXSW is when the entire city of Austin turns into one big concert. Every store, every restaurant, and every bar becomes a temporary music venue and there are hundreds of bands from all over the world playing form sunup to sundown. Artists and music lovers descend on the music capital (and actual capital) of Texas for 5 days of insane hipster music explosion. Music execs, radio programmers, magazine editors, publicists, label heads, and booking agents are all also thrown into the mix, as they all come down to scout the latest and greatest new bands.
That sounds really cool, right? If you are a music fan it's amazing. And if you are a band looking to be discovered it is the spot. But it is also a ton of work for the artists. Most bands will play anywhere from 3-8 shows during the course of the week, and it ain't easy. Traffic is insane, parking is nonexistent. Parking with a trailer is even harder. You can't drive up to most venues, as 6th street is closed to vehicles, so you wind up hauling your gear by foot for blocks. You normally have 15-20 minutes to set your gear up, and quite often your sound guy is drunk or high. Plus it normally rains at least one day. On top of it all we bands generally wind up playing 2-3 shows in one day. It's madness. Pure music madness.
But it can also be a beautiful thing through the madness. SXSW is where Green River Ordinance first played in front of record labels and it was instrumental in getting us signed to Capitol Records. It was where we got some of our first big breaks and we have had some great memories there. Each year I find myself saying, "We are too old for this....we are never doing it again," but we wind up doing it again and again. It's too much fun to say no to and too important to let go of.
Green River Ordinance has played SXSW for almost 10 years now, but I think 2016 was my favorite year to play it as of yet. We had some really great shows, made some great memories and had a genuinely fun time. We played out at Willie Nelson's Ranch and got to open for Willie Himself. We took part in the Fort Worth Music Showcase down on 6th street as well. We spent the next day hanging out at Willie's ranch again for the Luck Reunion showcase. And then we had two great back to back sold out shows on Saturday. And to make it even better Melissa was able to join me. It's always fun having my lady by my side. All in all the pain was worth the gain!