The 23rd annual South by Southwest Music and Media Conference starts next week in Austin, Texas, kicked off by the presentation of the Austin Music Awards on Wednesday, March 18th. Folk musicians are in the minority at this conference, but the ones who come, come from all over. Some of the participants are The Deep Dark Woods (Ryan Boldt, Burke Barlow, Chris Mason and Lucas Goetz), a folk rock group from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; the Lost Bayou Ramblers (Andre Michot, Louis Michot, Chris Courville, Cavan Carruth and Alan LaFleur), a Cajun roots group from Lafayette, Louisiana; The Low Anthem (Ben Knox Miller, Jeff Prystowsky and Jocie Adams), a folk/rock/blues ensemble from Providence, Rhode Island and Charlie Mars, a folk singer from Oxford, Mississippi whose music reminds me just a tad of Jeff Buckley’s.
Then there’s Moriarty, a family group (Rosemary, Arthur, Zim, Thomas and Charles Moriarty) based in Montreuil, France. One look at the instrument list and you know this one’s a little different even among folk groups. Mixed in with the usual suspects are a thumb piano (okay, a little world music), “scotch-tape trumpet” (what?) and “drilling machines” (not your usual sound effects). Their Sonicbids page describes them this way: “The music of Moriarty floats between folk, country, blues and cabaret set somewhere around Dallas in the 1930′s, the Russian Taïga and Paris.” They should be right at home in Austin!
Sharing in the playfulness is Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, an indie folk group from Albany, New York. Their list contains such items as coffee mugs, “squeaky glass pot top” and “avant garde steel chair.” Band members are Alex Muro, Tim Koch, Dan Pardee, Donna Baird, Eric Krans, Adam Muro, Louis Apicello, Jen O’Connor and Adam Zurbruegg.
Folk country band One Hundred Dollars (Ian Russell, Simone Fornow, Paul Mortimer, Stew Crookes, Jonathan Adjemian and Dave Clarke) hails from Toronto, while folk rock group Telegraph Canyon (Chuck Brown, Chris Johnson, Austin Green, Tamara Cauble, Andrew Skates and Erik Wolfe) will be coming from Fort Worth, Texas after a slight detour to play the NX35 music event in Denton.
Two Dollar Bash, a group currently based in Berlin whose members are originally from Scotland and France, performed at last month’s Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis, Tennessee. Their mixture of country, folk and blues shows a bit of Celtic and European influence and every now and then contains a dash of swing music, rock or bluegrass. Members are Tony Rose, Matt de Harp, Mark Mulholland and Joe Armstrong. More country folk blues music will be provided by Gordie Tentrees, a 2008 North American Folk Alliance Showcase winner from Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, accompanied by Ken Hermanson and Matt King.
The Travelin’ McCourys represent bluegrass music that is not only performed in traditional style, but is a family tradition. Ronnie McCoury and Rob McCoury are sons of Del McCoury; Jason Carter and Alan Bartram round out the group. A couple of nice surprises are the bluegrass group Abalone Dots, from Vastervik, Sweden, composed of Rebecka Hjukstrom, Louise Holmer, Elin Mork and Sophia Hogman, and the Americana band Song Island Revue based in Arhus, Denmark, with members Kevin Welch, Poul Krebs, Claudia Scott, Henning Kvitnes, Louis Meyers, Troels Skjærbæk and Frank Marstokk coming variously from Denmark, Norway and the U.S.