Monday, March 21, 2011
SXSW Recap: Video, Photos, Reviews of Emmylou Harris, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Wanda JacksonThe 2011 South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Conference, which brought more than 2,000 bands to Austin, Texas, last week, is now a thing of the past, but the stand-out performances it brought will continue to resonate for some time to come. Among the performers to make such lasting musical memories happen were three artists familiar to readers of the Nonesuch Journal: Emmylou Harris, Jessica Lea Mayfield, and Wanda Jackson. Here, and in two new photo galleries from SXSW at nonesuch.com/media, we look back at some of the highlights from their time in Austin last week.
Emmylou Harris's official SXSW showcase took place at Antone's late Thursday night and featured songs from her forthcoming album, Hard Bargain, due out on Nonesuch on April 26 and now available for pre-order in the Nonesuch Store. The New York Times music critic Jon Pareles says: "One hearing was enough to gather the songs’ grown-up, unsentimental kindness of spirit."
Earlier in the day, Harris performed a short set on the Austin Convention Center's Radio Day Stage, broadcast live on New York NPR member station WFUV and hosted by the station's music director Rita Houston. The Austin Chronicle's Jim Caligiuri says the performance "saw Emmylou Harris as her typically captivating self as she previewed two tunes from her upcoming album, Hard Bargain."
> PHOTOS: Harris made a surprise appearance at the Warner Bros. Records party at the Hotel St. Cecilia Thursday afternoon. You can see photos from the performance, and from Jessica Lea Mayfield's set earlier in the afternoon, in a gallery at nonesuch.com/media.
Harris stopped by the Driskill Hotel in Austin on Friday to give an intimate performance of "Darlin' Kate," a song about her friend the late Kate McGarrigle, off of Hard Bargain for a beautiful NPR Tiny SXSW Concert. "NPR Music—and OK, most of the country—has got a lot of love for the country songstress Emmylou Harris," says the NPR staff. You can watch the performance here:
On Saturday, Harris made her way to the IFC Crossroads House to perform a set of Hard Bargain songs that was broadcast live online and will be broadcast at a later date on the IFC cable channel.
IFC's Stacey Brook calls Hard Bargain an "album of warm, spacious, country-tinged songs," describing one song as "dreamy, ethereal, heartbreaking and splendid, delivered with the poignancy and tenderness only Harris possesses." Brook goes on to say of the singer-songwriter: "Harris sounded as heavenly as one would hope, her voice wizened, earth-grounded." Read more at ifc.com.
Preston Jones, pop music critic for Dallas-Fort Worth site dfw.com, says the album songs were "frankly, breathtaking in their beauty." He describes the IFC set as "a magical experience, one which stripped away everything but the performer and the song, and an undeniable highlight of my time in Austin this year." Read more at dfw.com.
Jessica Lea Mayfield's first official SXSW showcase came Wednesday afternoon at the Austin Convention Center's Radio Day Stage for LA radio station KCRW. Philadelphia Inquirer music critic Dan Deluca says it was "the best music I heard" that afternoon. "Dan Auerbach produced Mayfield's new album, Tell Me," Deluca explains, "and it's easy to hear what the Black Key heard in her. Mayfield writes narcotic, sad country-soaked songs that also can deliver an emotional grandiosity that reminded me of Nick Cave." Read more at philly.com.
Mayfield performed another SXSW showcase Thursday night at St. David's Historic Sanctuary. Following that set, SPIN chose her as the "Best Rising Star Poised for Cross-Over Success." At the show, Mayfield "proved she has what it takes to be your favorite new artist," writes SPIN's William Goodman, "and your mom, grandpa, little brother, and Stetson-tipping uncle's too. For her sophomore album Tell Me, produced by the cred-boosting frontman of the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach, she's tweaked tender country-rock ballads into a universally irresistible medium." Read more of SPIN's SXSW coverage at spin.com.
The Hartford Advocate's Andrew Iliff says Mayfield "scorched the interior of St. David’s black as hushed hundreds of young men spontaneously combusted while she fought with god and her, shall we say, better nature. I think we may see her again." The Austin Chronicle's Jim Caligiuri says the new album "deserves praise for its alternative vision of what a singer-songwriter album can be."
On Friday, Mayfield stopped by the Rolling Stone showcase at La Zona Rosa to perform a few songs and talk with the magazine about her time at SXSW, her new album, and working producer Dan Auerbach. You can watch the video interview at rollingstone.com, and you can watch her Rolling Stone performances of "Our Hearts Are Wrong" here, "Blue Skies Again" here, and "Somewhere in Your Heart" here.
The Los Angeles Times, in a review of Tell Me, says that Mayfield and Auerbach "both understand the appeal of wide-open spaces and timeless yet unique emotion. You can hear it in the feel of the record, which sounds beautifully analog, warm like a Muscle Shoals, Ala., studio session circa 1968." Reviewer Randall Roberts says the record makes the listener "feel that something important is happening and that, though Mayfield is only 21, her voice is eloquent enough to warrant enthusiasm not only for her present work but also for all the music to come." Read the review at latimes.com.
Wanda Jackson gave a surprise performance at South by San José party on Thursday night. "Watching Jackson one can only wish they'll have as much swagger at her age someday," reports AOL Spinner's Charley Rogulewski. "But, we'll tell you one thing, after you see this lady live, you'll leave saying you've never seen someone sing with such a big smile on their face."
Jackson helped close out the SXSW festivities with a performance at TV host Rachael Ray's Feedback at Stubb's BBQ. Ray tells the Associated Press that the event is "a mash-up of everything I love: actual friends and family, food, and great music." Reverb says that "Wanda Jackson effortlessly defended her legendary status" on Saturday. The Miami New Times says Jackson "made our insides bubble with delight."
> PHOTOS: You can see a whole gallery of photos from the show at nonesuch.com/media.
Jackson kicks off the next leg of her US tour tomorrow night with a performance at Lincoln Hall in Chicago; the Dexter Romweber Duo opens. The Chicago Reader has made the concert a Critics Choice.
"If the word 'brassy' didn't already exist," suggests the Chicago Reader's Miles Raymer, "somebody probably would've had to invent it to describe Wanda Jackson." Raymer goes on to explain: "Jack White produced her 2011 album, The Party Ain't Over (Third Man/Nonesuch), but thankfully he does little to rebrand her for the youth market. The cover of Amy Winehouse's 'You Know I'm No Good' might have seemed like a hipster-baiting stunt—but only if Jackson hadn't completely owned it." Read more at chicagoreader.com.
For information on upcoming live shows from any of these artists, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour. To pick up a copy of their albums, head to the Nonesuch Store.