Time for the latest instalment in my recent series of posts “Things that happened weeks ago“.

Having declared Friday SXSW’s unofficial “Stalk a band” day I headed off to a Holiday Inn to get those vital “loading gear into the taxi” shots.
The poor souls kind enough to let me be their shadow for the day were Alice Russell, producer/guitarist TM Juke and band.  Long before Bernard Butler gave Duffy an ipod with something called “Soul music” on, Alice has been at the forefront of UK Soul. The latest album “Pot Of Gold” is her fourth, and she’s popped up many a time on this blog, guest starring with The Bamboo’s, Mr Scruff, Quantic and of course TM Juke himself (check out the sublime “My World Is Empty” below).

Alice Russell – Website / Myspace / Youtube
TM Juke Myspace / The Park Myspace / Jack Baker Trio

BUY: Alice Russell – “Pot of Gold” / TM Juke – “Boto & The Second Liners”

TM Juke – My World Is Empty Without You (feat. Alice Russell)” (MP3)

The first gig of the day took us – with a few detours – deep into residential Austin, and what appeared to be a house not a venue.  Only the letters dangling above the door spelling out “Space Cave” confirmed we had the right place.
The path down the side of the house took us through to the back garden and back to the summer of love. Tee-pees, blokes in dungarees, hippy chicks, and a bubbling mud bath were not what what I’d expected to be filming. I have to say my first thoughts were somewhere between the Manson’s/weird cults and the place descending into a full on orgy later in the evening – the more mundane reality was they were nothing but friendly and welcoming. TM Juke disappointingly declined an invitation to sample the mud bath!

interview1

Due to the financial constraints placed on modern bands by the evils of MP3 blogs giving away tracks for nowt, only three members of Alice’s band travel when they play the States.  TM Juke, Alice, and Mikey the violinist (who almost broke Space Camp’s homemade stage) are augmented by San Fransisco rhythm section The Park.
With all the rushing about I’d failed to grab any breakfast, so by the time the band met up with a crowd of musician friends for lunch at 4pm I was running on empty. On the plus side, CD’s were as plentiful as the food, with The Park in particular kindly giving me a fantastic retro cassette shaped USB drive full of new tracks and mixes (available from their myspace). See below for just two tracks from the USB release – one from side project Happy Mayfield and the other a slice of latin goodness from ace compilation “Makossa Classics Vol. 1“.

Willie Colón – La Murga” (MP3)
Happy Mayfield – Very Right Now” (MP3)
BUY the USB cassette compilation

I was also sat next to the charming, softly spoken rapper “Da Evangillest” who gave me a copy of his “Quit Ya Day Job” mixtape, and the “Keelay & Zaire” CD, on which he also features. Both made the long flight back to the UK much more bearable, so many thanks!

Keelay & Zaire Myspace / Da Evangillest Myspace
Keelay & Zaire – “Addicts for Real (Feat. Tunji)” (MP3)
Da Evangillest – “My Allegiance” (MP3)

The previous day I’d been trying to setup a story about the not that secret Metallica gig taking place at Stubbs. Despite calls to Activision, Best Buy and a trip to interview a very happy Metallica devotee called Chris (who won a Guitar Hero competition to get to the gig) I totally failed to speak to Metallica themselves. I did however manage to get into the gig and have to admit a new found respect for the band – they were quite simply amazing. Standing right to the side of the stage I was able to get their full power (and go slightly deaf) as well as get some great shots (although the story didn’t really hold up in the end). The only sad thing was I had to leave long before the end to catch Ms. Russell’s final gig of the day.

With a dozen or so acts playing the Ale House stage times were shall we say fluid but at least it gave me a chance to actually see a couple of bands.  First up an act apparently discovered by Keifer Sutherland, Rocco Deluca & The Burdan. His “Mercy” album is out in the UK about now, and is one of my favourites of the year so far.
Its even better live, stripped of Danial Lanois’s clever but glossy production its a rawer more White Stripes style sound, and Rocco makes wonderful use of his Dobro slide guitar (One of them was featured on a famous Dire Straits album cover, but dont let that put you off).
Fans of Led Zepplin, Pearl Jam or The White Stripes will find much to love in Deluca, while his use of the Dobra gives him a unique sound despite the influences.  As he worked up a storming blues noise with his homemade wine bottle guitar slides I was left wanting to hear a full headline set.

Following Rocco was Chris Pierce who brought an element of Gospel to his blues, an unaccompanied Al Green style roar announcing the start of many of his songs. I’ve not had a chance to buy his album yet but on the basis of this show i will do.

Rocco Deluca & The Burdan
Myspace / Website (lovely background music) / Merch

Rocco Deluca – Bright Lights (Losing Control)” (MP3)

Chris Pierce Myspace / Website
Chris Pierce – Change Yourself” (MP3)

A triumphant final hurrah from Alice featured a hastily arranged guest appearance by a visiting horn section who added some extra umph to whip the audience up as much as is possible in an abbreviated six song set. The band must have been shattered but true to how they’d been all day they gathered together to film a cheesy walk off into the crowd shot to end my little “day in the life” piece.
All that was left was for me to wander the streets for another 2 hours trying to get one of Austin’s hard to find cabs. Just as I was considering whether I could sleep on a tripod case, one finally pulled up at 4am!

And finally….
I was due to have a day off on the Monday but an advert for the State Rodeo with the tagline “Preserving Western Heritage” was too much to resist. So Monday evening was spent interviewing Cowboys and watching pig racing, kids hanging onto sheep, steers tied up in seconds, and of course the incredible sight of a rodeo rider somehow hanging onto a thrashing horse. Most entertaining!