Usually our Dispatches From The Road come from Atlanta artists advancing a homecoming date. And while Grammy nominee Janelle Monae is due back on a local stage soon — April 3 at the Rialto — we asked her and Daddy A Go Go to do something a little different, a little special, just for the Atlanta Music Scene: A postcard from their appearances at SXSW, the Austin music festival that just wrapped this weekend.
“My experience at SXSW was ethereal and otherworldly. Androids, cypocalites, cyborgs, and humans from all over showed up and held hands during our sets. SXSW was even bold enough to put crazy me on the cover of their official magazine SXSWorld. We played 7 shows and tried out new tunes! I am very grateful and honored to have such out of sight and dynamite supporters that helped glide me each time I surfed the crowd! The Wondaland Arts Society and I made it a point to spray paint Imagination Inspires Nations all over Austin, TX! I hope many lives were changed and our presence never fades from their hearts.”
And now, Daddy A Go Go’s John Boydston:
We performed at Auditorium Shores in Austin, a great outdoor venue. This was a SXSW event – but unlike most band showcases this is billed as a family-friendly event and free to the public. This is something SXSW does every year and I’m told it’s a big thank-you to the people of Austin for letting them take over their city for a week every year. Our show was a hit, in terms of having a big crowd and us doing our job and even stepping it up a bit. When those stars align for a band its all good after that.
We played on Saturday afternoon – and were lucky to be sandwiched in between some crowd-pleasing family-friendly acts; Astrograss (from Brooklyn) and local favorite Joe McDermott played before us, and we were followed by popular PBS stars The Biscuit Brothers, all wearing overalls and gingham shirts.
I got a little nervous when I realized everyone else on the bill was folk-acoustic oriented or flat out hootenany-style country. We were the only rock and rollers. Very scary. But the second we started I remembered, hey this Austin, Texas. We had a 30-minute set, and squeezed in 8 Daddy A Go Go originals, and ended with a couple of old-school covers, “Slow Down” and Eddie Cochran’s “Come On, Everybody.”
My band is my two sons, Jake (17) on bass, Max (14) on guitars, and longtime family friend Jonathan Paz (17) on drums. We had practiced a lot but hadn’t played live in a year so a gig like this was trial by fire, but these kids are great players and everyone hit their marks and then some. The only thing these kids were worried about was me forgetting lyrics, which has been known to happen. But once the music starts and the crowd gets into it, I knew we were swimming not sinking.
This was our 3rd big crowd performance in Austin in 2 years, having played both SXSW and the Austin City Limits Festival in 2007. We like this city and who wouldn’t? Our sound was also augmented greatly by a backup singer I’d never met until Thursday. Lisa Clark is her name, and she’s a jazz singer by trade in Austin. A mutual friend hooked us up, she learned our songs, we went over them once before the show, and and man was she good and fun to sing with.
Some highlights from our SXSW experience not counting our gig:
The Meat Puppets, Gomez, Andrew Bird, and Ben Harper at Stubb’s on Thursday night. Amazing stuff in one setting. Somehow this backyard dirt floor BBQ joint has become one of the premier showcase venues over the years. My band members, minus dad, went back to Stubbs and managed to get in for a “surprise” 90-minute set from Metallica on Friday night. I opted for some sleep instead. A panel on Friday featuring Little Steven was great. He spoke of the sorry state of the music business these days. He pointed to many problems but he put the biggest blame on what he described as “The Music Sucks.” Later that day I caught one of his labels showcasings at Antone’s, and none of those bands there sucked, so at least he’s out trying to practice what he preaches.
And this happened: Daddy A Go Go drummer Jonathan Paz got up onstage and jammed with Atlanta’s own B.o.B Saturday night the Austin City Music Hall. My son Jake and Jonathan were backstage watching the show apparently, when B.o.B’s drummer had to make a restroom visit. Jonathan, being a drummer, just happened to have his drumsticks with him, and volunteered. B.o.B said bring it and away they went. This could only happen here.
SXSW may not be known as a quote unquote family experience, but for us – its works. You can stay out of harm’s way and have an incredible time. It’s like a rock and roll Disneyworld, if properly managed. And personally, I’ve learned that you’re never too old to rock, but getting sleep is good too.