SXSW 2011: G. Love, Rachael Ray, Tiny Victories, Baltimore House

Whew! The past few days have been a whirlwind here in Austin, Texas. Hi, it's Sam Sessa again, bringing you another update from the South by Southwest music festival.

I've been here since Tuesday, seeing and interviewing bands, as well as talking to industry and government folks. My main reason for going (I was sent here by WTMD and The Sun) was to find out why Austin (the "Live Music Capital of the World") has such a great music scene, and what Baltimore could do to help make ours better.

Here's the end result, a piece which runs in Sunday's paper.

After filing the piece, I headed out to catch G. Love (pictured, top), who played at one of celebrity chef Rachael Ray's parties. I shook Rachael's hand (omg!) and talked with G. Love  for a little while after the show. He's got a new, bluesy album he recorded with the Avett Brothers.

I must admit, I'm not the biggest fan of G. Love's music, but he seemed like a really nice, genuine guy. He talked about playing in Baltimore a lot when he was first coming up, and gave a shout out to longtime Baltimore favorites the Kelly Bell Band.

Then I plunged back into the wild & crazy downtown Austin scene for some more music.

I met up with Andy Rubin, owner of Cyclops books in Station North, and saw Stephaniesid, a chill indie rock band with keys, guitar, vocals, drums and a sax player. Stephanie, the lead singer, had an airy, interesting voice and a cute stage presence.

Stephaniesid was playing a showcase co-sponsored by Baltimore House, a recording studio run by a former Baltimore guy named Drew Schlegel. He's been in Austin for three years, where he plays in his band, records other bands and -- get this -- runs a snowball stand! Austinites love the egg custard and marshmallow, he said.

After waiting in line for a while to see Das Racist, I gave up and had a couple drinks at an upstairs patio bar. Austin has a ton of outdoor bars, most with live music. With the temperature creeping up into the 80s and a steady breeze blowing, it was almost perfect outside.

The last noteworthy band of the night was Tiny Victories, a surprisingly Brooklyn electro-rock duo who played drums, keys and sang. You can download their single here for free, but the album versions don't do the live show justice. Their set was up, but the crowd demanded an encore, and so they stuck around and played one more.

I'm here until tomorrow morning, when I'm catching the early plane out of Austin and heading back east. See you then!

(Photos by me)

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