For eleven days, Austin houses the largest series of film, interactive, and music festivals known as SXSW – the other 354 days of the year the city lends itself to metropolitan life and the busy highways basked in Texan sunsets that go along with it. The web of stages and venues weave their way through the city, making it impossible to not get caught up in the magic of the music. While the festival announced their initial 2015 line-up all the way back in October, they are constantly adding bigger and better performers to the list. The SXSW showcases exude the ability to obtain any and all artists from across the country who deserve the right to be, well, showcased.
Number Five: Bridget Kelly. While the date for her showcase is still to be determined, Bridget Kelly is an American singer/songwriter from New York City that you don’t want to miss. Her powerful voice underscores soulful lyrics about the trials and tribulations we can be faced with in life. Kelly’s album, All or Nothing was released in 2014 and showcases the true essence of classic R&B with a modern twist.
Number Four: Ray Reed. Changing the pace completely, let’s talk about Ray Reed. For some reason beyond my comprehension, he is hidden amongst the Blues performance showcases, but Reed exhibits soul in a different light. Another Texas native, Reed spits his verses about the struggles he faced growing up in D-town and the way those hardships shaped him. With a rhyme scheme that’s “on fleek” and a conviction that makes you stop and listen, this up and coming rapper is sure to make his audience listen. After hearing one of Reed’s tracks, you feel as though you’ve walked three minutes in his shoes, while his music makes you realize it’s not the destination, but the journey that holds the key. His ambition is hard to deny and his showcase will be hard to miss.
Number Three: Green River Ordinance. “It Ain’t Love” is the single that made waves for Green River Ordinance and their country roots. Playing their showcase in their original stomping grounds of Texas, GRO is sure to be the only band of their genre rocking skinny ties, skinny jeans, and suit jackets. With a physical style clearly influenced by the UK and the singer/songwriters they produce, the group contradicts their appearance with every harmony and strum of the banjo. Successfully merging American rock chords, and country music storylines with alternative song structures, there is no box that GRO fits into. They simply make really good music and seem like really good people. Showing support at their showcase seems almost inevitable.
Number Two: James Bay. Traveling to across the Atlantic with his guitar and James Morrison-like vocals is James Bay, a young singer/songwriter from England. One day while scrolling through my suggested videos on YouTube I came across an acoustic session of “Let it Go” and my life was changed. In the video (released in 2014) Bay begins by cutting through the melodic guitar chords with vulnerable sentiment. In almost a whisper, he somehow captivates the listener, like he’s asking a question without speaking. The chorus is enough to bring tears to your eyes, with simplistic lyrics that mean as much as the memories it evokes. He is the kind of artist that grabs your attention with one song, and never lets go with every song that precedes the first. You can forget about making it anywhere else during the time of this budding musician’s showcase.
Number One: Hailey Tuck. With blue eyes that would make Frank Sinatra stop in his tracks, jazz artist, Hailey Tuck will take you back to the 1920’s in an instance. Bringing jazz as back to its basic roots as possible, Tuck is sure to act the part as well. Sporting a flapper bob-cut, red lipstick, and doll-like eye makeup, she is a blast from the past that may just be the necessary medicine for music today. Her cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice” is what really made me think twice (no pun intended) about this Austin artist. While you may feel as though you passed through a time warp once you see her perform live, Hailey Tuck is transforming music to what it used to be. Don’t be afraid to let the bass line and scatting take you somewhere else – for a little while that is. When the trance is over you’ll still be one of the lucky thousands making your way through the talent SXSW has to offer.
FDRMX Eyes: Fight Like Apes will also be performing at SXSW. Check out their music video for “Tie Me Up In Jackets” below.