Writer-at-large and Three Chord Monte radio host Joe Belock goes to Austin, Texas, every March during the South by Southwest music festival/conference and scours the city’s clubs. Here’s a summary of what he checked out in 2006.
Wednesday, March 15
* John Schooley and His One-Man Band — Austinite can give authentic “bluesmen” a lesson or three as he pounds out guitar riffs, drum beats and harmonica licks with both hands and both feet.
* Strange Boys — Dallas quartet fresh out of high school featuring a singer who could pass for a younger Jack White fronting a super-tight punk outfit.
* Healthy White Baby (above) — Danny Black‘s new project tore up the week’s first unexpected cover version, a Crazy Horse-style raveup of Maxine Nightingale‘s “Right Back Where We Started From.”
* Plimsouls — Unexpected reunion of 1980s power-posters. Sounded great, but couldn’t see them in the absolute worst venue of the festival, Exodus.
Thursday, March 16
* Richie Furay (above) — Co-founder of both Buffalo Springfield and Poco, Furay and band sounded like it was 1968, and his new material measured up against the legendary stuff. The only unbearable part was the flood of badge holders who foolishly believed rumor that Neil Young was going to play a set after Furay.
* The Latebirds — Pop outfit from Finland that sounds like a more rocking version of Summer Teeth-era Wilco.
* Translator — Another ’80s band to come out of nowhere! Excellent set of tracks from all four of the group’s Columbia albums. “Everywhere That I’m Not” earned them a rare SXSW showcase encore.
* Black Lipstick — Solid indie guitar-pop from this half-Austin, half-New York quartet. Highlight came when, after ending their set, the soundman said they could play for 15 more minutes if they wanted; they obliged and used all 15 on “Sister Ray.”
Friday, March 17
* Allen Oldies Band — Despite getting their three-hour set cut in half and inching toward respectability by actually playing on a stage, the Houston oldies lovers still drove the crowd wild at Jo’s Coffeehouse.
* The Flairz (above) — Pint-sized pre-teens from Perth, Australia, won the crowd over with their AC/DC-derived anthems, then played one by Angus Young and Co., “TNT.”
* The Woggles — Played more than an hour as the makeshift venue let them rock until nearly 2:30 a.m. Southern rock for the 21st century included many songs from their newly completed album, which they are shopping for a label, and old favorites.
* Waco Brothers — Well, at least George W. Bush is good for something — inspiring more great material from the Wacos as their set at the Yard Dog Gallery featured many of the fine songs from last year’s Freedom and Weep album.
Saturday, March 18
* South Filthy — Austin/Memphis supergroup including Jack Yarber of the Oblivians and Jeffrey Evans of 68 Comeback restored the terms roots rock and blues into good standing.
* The Len Price 3 — This British power trio mines the same three-chord territory as early Who and The Jam, with the Sex Pistols‘ fury.
Sunday, March 19
* The Ugly Beats — Local Austin garage combo just gets better and better. A planned guest spot with Cyril Jordan of the Flamin’ Groovies didn’t pan out, but it was the audience’s gain as the Uglies grooved to the Groovies’ “Slow Death” and “First Plane Home.”