As Austin, Texas, prepares to be overrun by musicians from around the world for this year’s South by Southwest, Joe Belock makes life a little simpler by offering his Top 10 acts to check out during SXSW.
1. Man or Astroman? — March 18 at Club DeVille.
Reunion ready for liftoff! These sci-fi obsessed space nuts (whose Earthly base is Auburn, Ala.) reactivate their rocket-fueled surf rock for the first time in a decade. Expect space suits, weird films, sound clips and stage props to accompany your flight.
2. Mouse and the Traps — March 20 at the Continental Club.
One of the more unexpected reunions of the year — SXSW or anywhere in the world. These garage legends from Tyler, Texas, are best known (or only known, if at all!) for their 1965 Bob Dylan-inspired snarler “A Public Execution,” which appeared on the original Nuggets double album. “Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice,” an even crazier tune, made it onto Rhino’s four-CD version of Nuggets in 1998.
3. New Wine (a.k.a. Moby Grape) — March 20 at Dirty Dog Bar.
Another old band, but these star-crossed ’60s San Francisco legends are worth checking out. Original members Jerry Miller, Bob Mosley, Don Stevenson and Peter Lewis are joined by Omar Spence, the son of the late, great Grape Skip Spence. In 2009, the band released The Place and the Time, a rocking comp of demos, outtakes and alternate takes.
4. Sweet Apple — March 18 at Habana Calle 6.
Here’s a new band, albeit one made up of familiar faces and voices: J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. is the drummer, like he is in the band Witch. Add in another Witch member and two members of Cleveland glam-punkers Cobra Verde and you have a new supergroup for 2010!
5. The Golden Boys — March 20 at Encore Patio.
Get in on the ground floor with these soon-to-be Austin legends before it’s too late. To call them punk or garage is not enough — psychedelicized Tom Waits-influenced numbers, country-rock and numerous other styles blend in to make The Golden Boys a must-see/hear at SXSW.
6. Brimstone Howl — March 18 at Jaime’s.
These young howlers hail from Omaha, Neb., with a punk-blues blast worthy of a missile silo. Their debut was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys; the next was helmed by Detroit soundmaster Jim Diamond. See what all the fuss should be about!
7. Harlan T. Bobo — March 18 at Barbarella.
It’s hard to pin down this mysterious Memphis, Tenn., singer/songwriter, but Leonard Cohen is a good starting point — and not just because he named his second album I’m Your Man. His new album, Sucker, will be released in April.
8. Greg Ashley Band — March 18 at Jaime’s.
Modern psychedelic master Greg Ashley shows off his new band to the SXSW audience. Expect to hear tunes from his former bands the Mirrors and the Gris Gris, plus material from his solo albums and some new stuff.
9. Parry Gripp — March 20 at Cedar Door.
As the singer/songwriter for the punk pop band Nerf Herder, Gripp penned his share of novelty numbers, and the fact that SXSW lists his genre as comedy suggests he is continuing in that vein. Gripp’s solo career started with an album of fake jingles in 2005, For Those About to Shop, We Salute You. He has since graduated to real jingles, most notably the Beatles-inspired sandwich tunes for the WaWa chain that match anyone’s best material (check www.hoagiefest.com).
10. Sons of Hercules — March 20 at Jaime’s.
These San Antonio garage-rock mainstays hardly tour, so if you are coming to SXSW from out of town, this is your chance to see them! Bass player Casino El Camino also cooks up a mean burger at his self-titled establishment on Austin’s Sixth Street.
— Joe Belock is the host of Three Chord Monte, which airs from noon to 3 p.m. ET Tuesdays on WFMU-FM.
Golden Boys photo by James Rippey
Brimstone Howl photo by Patrick Boissel