best of sxsw 2014, sights & sounds

Here are the bands I enjoyed the most for SXSW 2014:

Panama

Lindsey Stirling 

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Kishi Bashi

MSMR

Moon Taxi

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Bleachers

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Phantogram

So that should get you started on some good music.  I also want to give Honorable Mentions to The Dolls, Haerts, Simian Ghost, The Mowgli’s and Boy & Bear. Most Improved since last time I saw them live goes to: Charli XCX. Most of these shows I owe to Palladia and Pandora; wonderful music selections this year. Other pictures I took can be found on my Instagram.

Happy Listening!! Much Love!!

the return of sxjd

As the winds of SX blow music into full swing, today is a good time to give a little report on my adventures so far. Another way to consider it is, three days down, three to go; even though the next three are supposed to be bigger! For now pictures have been posted on my Instagram & Twitter but I will come back and add some of the better ones here, later on.

On Monday, I started my SXSW with a long line at the Spotify House. Last year, the house was at Cenoté, my favorite Austin coffee shop but this year they moved closer to the action, into a building (and backyard) on 6th street. About 30 minutes into my wait, and 10 minutes away from walking away altogether, some friends of mine sent me a text from @sxspotify that allowed me to skip the line. Inside, free drinks and great music from: Holy Child – Jetta – Phantogram.

After Spotify, my friend Chris and I headed to Scoot Inn for the Applauze party. Check out their app, a way to follow events and even RSVP. This was a party I was looking forward to because MS MR was one the headliner. My phone was near death and I asked a guy near me (who I noticed still rocked the ancient 4s like me; Apple, feel free to send me a 5s) if I could borrow a charger. He said sure, but instead of reaching in a pocket or a nearby backpack, he walked backstage and reached into his luggage. “Oh! You’re playing later?” “Ya, we were supposed to play now but due to noise ordinances we’ve been moved to later and inside.” This is important because I was sitting inside, in between sets of course, charging my phone when I asked a guy with a laptop to update me on the schedule. Apparently, he was in charge; he returned with a freshly printed schedule that he had just finished typing on said laptop. When I saw him later I asked if he’d seen Rich, because I had his phone charger. This seemed like a good time to ask if I could get some guys in that were stuck in the VIP line. Not a problem at all for him. By dropping his name to another staff member I also scored drink tickets for my friends and me. The line-up at Scoot Inn: Charli XCX – Robert Delong – MSMR – RAC (DJ set) – the kind and talented Rich Aucoin.

Tuesday, I started my day with yet another line to pick up my Hype Hotel wristband. That I will need it is yet to be seen. I stopped by the Empire Control Room and caught Stag. After this I ran over to the Spotify House as home base. My text worked again but then noticed others with the text were turned away. Meaning I may not make it back to Spotify this year. After regrouping at a friend’s apartment we all walked to Cedar Street Courtyard for Dyn’s party. Here I became a philanthropist VIP – making sure non vips were having a good time and not spending a ton of money – if anything the bartenders received more of a tip 🙂  Though we were there for the headlining Deertick, we also caught these shows: Tan Vampires – Baskery – STRNGRS – The Felice Brothers – J Roddy Walston & the Business.

Wednesday was to be a day of music rather than party, self-implemented after over zealously VIP-ing it on Tuesday night. Pandora Discovery Den was where I began, another wristband pick-up and most definitely my favorite stage set-up yet. It is held at Gatsby, across 6th from Easy Tiger and right alongside Waller Creek. I caught just one show there this time around: Haerts (yes, that’s how it is spelled:)

I went back to the Empire Control Room because of Tuesday’s success in finding Stag. The lawn party was in full bloom outdoors, drawing a little more of a crowd than the day prior. Indoors, once again, was Simian Ghost.

After spending a bit at Empire I stopped in Parkside to treat my body to better food and drinks. While enjoying some oysters, I was personally able tell this to the man behind the Pandora Den’s vision, Tommy Page. I look forward to visiting the Den again later this week.

My final stop for the night was the Palladia party at Cedar Door. A small stage with big sound hosted a number of talented musicians and voices: Bravesoul – Johnnyswim – Sam SmithPhantogram (again, I know, so worth it) – Aloe Blacc & the Grand Scheme – Bleachers. I was most looking forward to Phantogram, as I knew them, but was very curious to see what the others would have to offer. I was not disappointed; contrarily even, quite impressed with Bleachers as this was their first show ever. Look for more from them in the near future.

Finally, those involved in last night’s tragic accident near the Mohawk are in my thoughts & prayers. I hope that everyone can manage to have a fun and safe rest of the week. Much Love!

never look back, never give up (a year end review)

Today’s title comes from the band Haim’s song, Falling.  Haim is just one of the bands that I fell in love with this past year. Others include Air Review, Lord Huron, Chvrches, Poolside, Phantogram, The Joy Formidable and St. Lucia.  Phosphorescent’s Song for Zula takes my song of the year, at the least.

White Lies, Local Natives, The National and Arcade Fire gave us new albums. I was able to catch a Mumford & Sons‘ show with my brother Joe and two of my cousins, Mary Elizabeth and Annie.

My year began with a snowboarding trip with my brother Joe. He is a skier but gave boarding a go. It was a good, yet cold adventure. At the end of the month and in contrast, I took Lindsey to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for her 30th birthday. We enjoyed the warm weather and beach views from the pool plus its fruity and sugary drinks. The few days we were there reminded us that we could take a vacation and simply relax versus go – go – go.

Three other trips that Lindsey and I took, and I have already blogged about include, Vancouver, Chicago and Charlotte.  Vancouver, in May, to visit the fabulous city and I ran the marathon. The Chicago trip was to visit some old friends and celebrate the 4th of July. Charlotte was to visit her family and explore what the city has to offer; we took a second trip there for Christmas.

Two of my favorite places to eat in Houston grew this past year. Good Dog, formally a food truck, opened its brick and mortar in the heart of the Heights; walking distance from Lindsey’s. Liberty Kitchen, still a favorite in the Heights, opened a second location that has a gorgeous interior and a Japanese influenced menu. My final word regarding food and drink in 2013 would be the introduction of the Untappd app. It allows me to find, track and rate the many craft beers I get to experience.

Finally, some life experiences of note. Two of my brothers graduated from college. One of which, Robert, has been living in Houston for all of 2013, meaning I was able to see him more. Some of my most memorable dining and concert experiences included that young lad. Running is a major part of my life. This year I ran fewer marathons and less mileage overall but found joy in coaching running. I helped a few friends run their best races, whether it was a 10k, half marathon or marathon. Coaching two soccer teams, I was reminded the happiness that can be found in coaching soccer, the fun to be had while learning. To top them all, last Saturday my niece, Mary Elizabeth, said “Wuv you!” for the first time, it was to me, her uncle John.

I look forward to the adventures, meaning and moments that 2014 will bring!