A view of downtown Austin.
photo: Mike Levine
If you're a musician, South by Southwest (SXSW)–which takes place annually in Austin, Texas–offers an irresistible combination of activities: interviews with music luminaries, informative panel discussions and mentoring sessions, a tradeshow with exhibits from indie-music resource companies, and lots (and I mean lots) of great performances.
This year's show featured big names such as Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, and Erykah Badu (all three spoke at the conference and performed at the music festival), as well Billy Idol, a reunited New York Dolls, Rodney Crowell, Hot Hot Heat, Calexico, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and hundreds of other artists, both major-label and indie. Although rock was the predominant musical style, many other genres, including country, folk, and hip-hop were well represented.
One aspect of the musical experience that doesn't get much emphasis at SXSW is that of gear–until this year, that is. The Musician's Hotel was a "gear-immersion" event that took place in conjunction with the main show, and was located in the Hilton hotel across the street from the Austin Convention Center (SXSW's headquarters). Organized by Electronic Musician, Mix, and Remix; the event featured exhibits, sponsorship, or participation by such companies as Guitar Center, Shure, Mackie, Apple, Alesis, Akai, Digidesign, Numark, M-Audio, Native Instruments, Submersible Music, Discmakers, Broadjam, the Musician's Atlas, and the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences.
One of the highlights of the Musician's Hotel was a series of Q&A discussions hosted by editors from the magazines and featuring such notables as Bob Ludwig, Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies, Rami from the Wallflowers, Ronnie Montrose, Dwight Twilley, and more. CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THE Q&A SESSIONS.
Musician's Hotel was open for business from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the first three days of SXSW, giving showgoers a place to check out cutting-edge gear and to talk to the gear manufacturers one on one during the "down time" between the day's events at the convention center and the nightly performances. The exhibits featured gear for sale, demos of new gear, and plenty of giveaways. CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS FROM THE MUSICIANS HOTEL.