This week’s music news really began late last Friday when the largest music event in the United States, Austin’s annual South by Southwest conference announced it was cancelling this year’s edition, set to take the capital city over from March 13-22.
Many popular unofficial SXSW-adjacent events, including South by San Jose, in the Hotel San Jose parking lot on South Congress, have also been cancelled, but there’s plenty of musical fun to be had should you make the trek south for a pared-down SXSW experience. Among my favorite events still scheduled at the time of this writing include the Luck Reunion on Thursday, March 19, Hard Country at the Scholz Garten on Saturday March 21, and Lucy’s Fried Chicken Revival, Wednesday, March 18 through Sunday, March 22.
One of the absolute greatest day party experiences at SXSW has been the annual Bloodshot Records party. After many years of inhabiting the back courtyard of the yard Dog art gallery on South Congress, the record label’s festivities were to be held this year at the Austin Beer Garden Brewery. Understandably, that show was cancelled, which means one of North Texas’ best bands, Tex-mex cowpunk favorites the Vandoliers, have an empty slot on their SXSW show schedule.
We reached out to Vandoliers leader Joshua Fleming on Thursday about the Coronavirus-related developments and how his band has been affected by them. Fleming told us the group was still set to perform a few shows during SXSW week in Austin, but that was before Bloodshot Records cancelled its Beer Garden party.
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At that point on Thursday, according to Fleming, the Coronavirus threat hadn’t seemed to change much for the in-demand band. “As far as our touring schedule goes, we are still being requested to perform every day and new dates are being added,” he says before adding “I don’t know if this could all change in an instant, or if we will be affected at all.
With dream gigs including a St. Patrick’s Day festival with Irish punk titans Flogging Molly in Los Angeles and a European tour on the horizon, Fleming’s understandably apprehensive as he’s left to simply hope for the best. “I think that is the toughest thing about this whole situation,” he says. “The uncertainty.”
For Dallas-based rockers American Werewolf Academy, the official SXSW cancellation meant the only Austin gig on its docket was now gone. Texas Monthly had picked AWA as one of “must-see Texas acts” to catch this year. Aside from that official nighttime showcase appearance, the band hadn’t stacked up any additional, unofficial concerts as many bands will do. With some local dates here and there, the Aaron Thedford-led crew is focused on a bigger goal beyond anything SXSW-related.
“We are gonna hole up,” Thedford says. “And write and finish up the remainder of a new record. This will not involve buying tons of toilet paper and living in a cave.”
Speaking of festival changes, it’s not all gloom and doom. The annual Texas Music Revolution in Plano put on by radio station 95.3 KHYI nabbed Kentucky roots-rock outlaw Chris Knight to fill in the spot left vacant by songwriting legend Radney Foster, who had to drop out after suffering injuries during a fall while fly fishing recently. The two-day festival takes place in Plano’s Oak Pointe Amphitheatre Park on March 21 and 22.
Update: Plano’s Texas Music Revolution has been rescheduled for Aug. 1.