SXSW Day 02
"So, you'd think, by now, musicians would all have figured out technology!"
Here I am, in Austin, supposed to show my face on the festival ground and I spend the entire day in my room, on the computer, struggling to find the easiest way to make available online, for free, my latest album. Let me tell you! It is not simple. Again, I am rushing into action foolishly and I stumble along.
I haven't left the house yet and it's the end of the afternoon. I'm still in T-shirt and sweats.
I'm actually liking this. A couple of weeks ago, an online magazine, Spinner, asked me what my Festival survival strategy was. I replied, "Disappearing. A lot." I like being by myself. I am a recluse of sorts. So, there I am, spending my day trying to connect to ya'll online by sharing this album I'm crazy about.
I hear birds in the yard and a couple of cats slouching around the house. Must leave house! Now!
The street is quiet. I notice the quicksilver shadow of a squirrel on the ground. It is running along the electric wire above me, keeping pace. I have shooed myself outside with a mission: hunt for blank cds and a charger for my phone. To connect! This neighborhood is too cute! A Lost Pet sign on a pole, for peacocks! Quaint neighborhood! Around the corner, two kids note my "Sonic Boom Records" T-shirt and entrap me in a conversation that revolves around whether I'm famous or not and if they can have an autograph. I merge into stock answers. "My mom thinks I'm famous" and other patented rock-starish phrases. I'm playing the role. Only my mother knows I'm not famous since she has to shell out for metro tickets every time I visit her in Paris. The kids also love my hat. "A hat like that tells you all about a person", they say! and want to play an air-song, me singing and them on pretend-guitar! This is beginning to feel like Austin on SXSW clock!
Already 32 downloads of my free album an hour after I put out the word! This is fun, if I don't multiple that number by 10, as in ten dollars times... Well, love is not in the numbers. I think back to "Fools Rush In". I can't get that book out of my mind. I left it off just before the live-feed satellite connection between Sarajevo under siege and the U2 concert in Bologna. What is music for, if not connecting?
Walking north for an hour from the house to the festival felt weird enough that I got reminded that Austin is, after all, an American city. Is America under siege somehow? Sarajevo was a city under siege in the Balkans, a downtown no one walked either. Only there, people ran for fear of the snippers. What is a Texan city afraid of? Imaginary snippers?
When I got downtown, two worlds were colliding: the green and the black, St. Patrick and St. Williamsburg, like two melodies jumping one over the other. The first concert I try to attend has me bouncing back in pain from the venue onto the sidewalk. Why, oh why does this type of music have to be played so loud? Bad music does not good music become if you crank up the volume! There, outside the Amsterdam Café, I resolve, I make it my mission to be the quietest band of the festival, soundperson be dammed!
I wander. Sidewalk buskers fiddle at the curious and the cheap. I pass time by walking around, before the 1:00am show of my favorite musical giant, Howe Gelb, who has invited a band of Spanish guitar-gunning gypsies to tag on his live shows. No surprise there. Howe and his gypsies play tag to each other on stage. It is magical. I am beaming, with a grin on the face, a hop in the walk, a tambourining heart. Later on, we hang on to that loving cup on the sidewalk outside the venue, the gypsies picking up their instruments again, a hometown neighbor stopping by on his bike, as if this was normal, as if this corner of a street was home. And it is, for a few minutes and no one wants to walk anywhere and we all dance.