Mar 142012

Jean-Paul Villere

Whether you realize it or not, there’s an annual gathering in Austin, Texas, this week called South by Southwest, abbreviated SXSW for all those in the know.  Like all successful annual gatherings I’m sure it started out small, maybe in someone’s garage, maybe in a cow pasture; afterall, it is Austin.  Its primary purpose remains to promote new musical talent and revisit some icons of various genres as well.  Over the years SXSW has morphed from just music to music and movies to for the last little while, well, music, movies, and media, the latter a no brainer given the IT juggernaught the city is.  All in all, a perfect amalgamation for the Texas capital known as “The Live Music Capital of the World” that has spawned cinematic wonderment from big screen director darlings Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, and even Mike Judge.  So what if anything does SXSW have to do with New Orleans?  In my estimation, two, and now even three, things really:

(1) Park The Van Records.  The label, the logo, the iPhone app.  While today New Orleans may not be synonymous with outstanding new rock, likely future musician historians will beg to differ.  Park the Van (or PTV) has tirelessly produced some of the more notable new music in an ever changing industry and done it largely in our own backyard putting own showcases year after year, playing venues of all dimension and even getting placement in JazzFest last year.  But also – – –

(2) Tour schedules.  All those acts clamoring to play for the hungry ears of SXSW travel there, and many by way of the Crescent City.  Some hit us on the way there, and some hit us after SXSW has ended.  Regardless of when, we invariably get some amazing acts on our local stages, acts that when they play Austin you’d maybe never have a chance of seeing due to said crowd clamor, and acts that because of SXSW New Orleans might not have been able to host.

(3) Foburg.  New Orleans’ incarnation of what SXSW must’ve been like in its infancy.  Just a few years old now, it brought a great line-up this year, surely many of which their next stop like so many others will be Austin, clearly capturing at least some of half of point (2).

Recently I asked PTV Label Manager Chris Watson his take on SXSW, and this is what he had to offer:

“SXSW is both rock n’ roll spring break for musicians and those who work for them, and an amazing opportunity to reach the music industry. It requires lot of work to make the experience something more than a party. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people think of SXSW as more of a lifestyle than a career opportunity, but that doesn’t mean that real business isn’t happening, it’s just obscured by a sea of Lone StarThere are lots of great New Orleans artists headed this year. Personally I’ll be pretty wrapped up with our own artists*, but I’m going to try and catch sets by Juvenile, Ganglians, Diamond Rugs, Waters, Django Django, and Boy.”

By the time you read this you will have likely already missed, among others, shows by Screaming Females, White Rabbits, and Spanish Prisoners in New Orleans on their way to Austin.  But!  You can still catch Fun., Youth Lagoon, and Each Other.  Not to mention Xray Eyeballs, Country Mice, and Tea Leaf Green too. Not to mention the stable of PTV artists who play in New Orleans year round.  So you see, by not attending SXSW and living in New Orleans, you’re really not missing out on much apart from crazy crowds, oodles of traffic, and a possible introduction to the Austin Police Department.  So get out and support our local venues and artists!

Having lived in Austin in the late 90s as the dot com bubble grew to bust, I left just when Bush and Gore were duking out just who had been elected, but frankly I never attended a SXSW show, if only because they were always so damned packed and competitive.  Not for me clearly, but for the masses, an absolute sustainable if not annually frenetic few days warming up to Spring that as Chris put it might just be a lifestyle.  Perhaps even akin to the JazzFest attendees whose mouths must be watering right about now.  Patience, dear masses, patience, our annual mega musical celebration is but a few short weeks away.

*PTV @ SXSW 2012:
Wed. 3/14 @ Frank (1am) – 407 Colorado St.
Thu.  3/15 @ Baby Blue Studios (6pm) – 1522 East 12th St.
Fri.   3/16 @ The Continental (2:55pm) – 1315 South Congress
Fri.   3/16 @ Cheers (4:15pm) – 416 E. 6th St.
Wed. 3/14 @ Lovejoy’s (1:50 pm) – 604 Neches St.
Wed  3/14 @ Peckerhead’s on 6th (5 pm) – 402 E. 6th St.
Wed. 3/14 @ Casa Chapala (9:20 pm) – 101 San Jacinto Blvd.
Thu. 3/15 @ Brew Exchange (1:30 pm) – 706 W 6th St.
Thu. 3/15 @ Aussie’s Bar (4:45 pm) – 306 Barton Springs Rd.
Sat.  3/17 @ Swan Dive (7:00 pm) – 651 Red River St.
Thu. 3/15 @ Baby Blue Studios (5:15pm) – 1522 East 12th St.Fri. 3/16  @ Budares Venezuelan Arepas (8:30pm) – 75 Rainey St.
Sat. 3/17 @ House of Commons (10:45pm) – 2610 Rio Grande St.

Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and the Du Mois gallery on Freret Street and father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at, he also writes an occasional real-estate blog at and shares his family’s adventures via pedicab on Facebook and Twitter.

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