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PingWi-Fi — Dinosaur Rockin Among Newest Music at SXSW

March 20th, 2010 · Tags:Arts · Cities

This week PingWi-Fi traveled to Austin, Texas for the SXSW festival. I am the guy NOT dressed in black – LOL. If you have not attended, it is a two-week assault on the senses, with everything in the worlds of film, interactive and music. Interactive is over … I am focused primarily on the music now.

Last night I saw three of the bands at the British Embassy showcase … hmmm … It was 10 bucks, but I think I would have paid $12 if they had thrown in earplugs. Quite frankly, some of the music was a joke. (The crowd was perhaps too polite or lame to know.)

The best music of the night rose to the level of average — at least The Smith Westerns were fun to watch. But every band was high-decibel in a small joint. I made earplugs of napkins and rocked on. (Interesting to note that the door people at the embassy were concerned that a journalist wanted to bring in a camera. Yes … I am sure these bands don’t want any publicity from their visit to SXSW … LOL.)

Anyway … You see it all at SXSW … but the thing that surprises me most is the legends you may see walking through the exhibit hall … totally unrecognized by most of the “music heads.”

It happens everywhere. I saw Seal walking through the aisles of the Consumer Electronics Show, unnoticed, a few years ago in Vegas. Last year, I stopped and talked with Jimmie Dale Gilmore of The Flatlanders at SXSW. No one knew who he was … although some said, “oh yeah” when I reminded them of his role as “Smokey” in “The Big Lebowski.”

This morning at SXSW, I positioned myself at a table near the front door of the exhibit hall at SXSW and in walked a rock ‘n’ roll dinosaur … and no one even batted an eye. Well he is not a dinosaur … but has cut enough great recordings to be legend worthy … but he just doesn’t look the part, with his shoulder-length wizard-white hair and his thick, tear-drop lens glasses. It was J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr … a cult favorite band featured at one time or another in any music mag that matters.

Did I just let “sleeping dinosaurs lie” so to speak? Ha! No way. I pushed up to the front of the line at the cappuccino stand beside him and asked for an interview. Man … I felt bad. He croaked out that he was too groggy from a night at SXSW. Understandable. So I let the man have his caffeine in peace.

The point … man … if you pay attention there are some really important people just passing through and mingling with the little guys … even the bloggers.

Most importantly, I met another big dude yesterday … a big B.A.D. dude – Don Letts, the director of the film “Strummerville.” I say B.A.D. dude, because in addition to “Strummerville,” Letts shot all The Clash music videos and later went on to play in the band Big Audio Dynamite, or B.A.D. with Mick Jones after The Clash broke up.

I sat down with Letts to discuss on camera the Strummerville film and foundation, and of course to trade Clash war stories. More video will be posted later. For now, I will post this clip about the origins of music sampling.

The SXSW screening was the premiere of “Strummerville,” but this isn’t Letts’ first visit to Texas. In the early 80s he said he was crawling around on the ground, in the Austin dirt, blowing on the behind of an armadillo to make the critter perform for The Clash MTV video classic “Rock The Cashbah.”

That was back before SXSW, around the time that any Austin dinosaur can tell you that Armadillo World Headquarters was ground zero for the Texas music scene … a time when Stubb was a tall Black man, running a smoky little barbecue joint in Lubbock, Texas. Stubb introduced me to several blues giants, and best of all he fed me free barbecue in Lubbock when I was a starving journalist in college.

But .. Sadly, I also “spotted Stubb” too. Today, his name is used on an Austin restaurant andmusic venue, but it is also all over packaging for sauces and spices — seen at a cafĂ© in the lobby of the SXSW exhibit hall …

More SXSW and more Strummerville to come ..

Know what I sayin?