'Wit, Wisdom & Whiskey' by Luke Morley

Welcome everybody to the bit of the site where myself and Mr. B get to rabbit on and on about whatever nonsense happens to be drifting through our conscious (or unconscious) mind at that particular time. It might be funny, sad, peculiar, obscure or just plain stupid but it WILL be us ! As I have the honour of being first to bare my innermost thoughts to the virtual voyeurs amongst you, I’d like to tell you about my recent adventures in Texas….Austin, Texas to be exact. Every year in March the Great and the Good (and the bloody average) from all over the Music Industry globe descend on this fairly quiet and laid back city for a jolly old knees up called South By South West.

It purports to be a conference but basically it’s an opportunity for bands to come and play and hopefully get noticed, and record company employees, managers, agents, lawyers et al to shoot the breeze, make contacts and get royally wankered !!!! Think of the Cannes Film Festival wearing a cowboy hat and you’ll get the picture.

My main reason for attending was I haven’t spent much time in the USA recently and whenever that is the case I always feel like I’m a bit out of touch with what’s going on. Whether we like it or not, it is the country that has the greatest influence on the rest of us, be that for better or for worse.Over the four days about 300 bands/artists get to perform in and around the plentiful supply of local venues and bars. Of course what this means is you can’t possibly take in everything that’s going on; it just wouldn’t be physically possible. I was being guided by a publisher friend of mine who had been to SXSW before and therefore knew the ropes. We convened in the bar of the Four Seasons hotel around 6pm every day and tried to pick up a vibe or an educated opinion on who was worth going to see that evening or where the best free grub and beer was. Obviously some of the gigs were ‘cooler’ to be seen at than others but in my ignorance I just tended to follow my nose up and down 6th Street where a good percentage of the venues were.I saw some terrific bands (Kinky from Mexico, The Revs from Ireland, Big Bang from Norway and The Webb Brothers from Chicago) and some who were plain fucking dreadful (no names here but a few of them were British I’m afraid). The thing that disturbed me more than anything was the wealth of talent around. Living here in the UK I’ve got used to the charts being so full of total excrement that every time I saw a great band I was shocked and energized all at the same time and that worried me for several reasons. As a musician/songwriter you can’t afford to shut yourself off from new and exciting things that are going on and the truth is that in the UK we are prevented by the arbiters of taste (UK record labels, media and press) from hearing about any of this stuff. All we ever get fed is characterless inoffensive boy bands manufactured by some bullshitting svengali type or even worse Pop Star where it’s rammed down our throats from ALL angles for months on end. The only thing these people are proving is that it’s possible to create celebrity by careful manipulation of the media but let’s face it talent and celebrity are not the same thing. Don’t get me wrong I’m not against something that gets young kids into listening to or buying music but there should be room for other genres as well.I suppose what I’m getting at here is that I had to go to Austin to find out that there are still young people all over the world making great, exciting and original music. That is something to be very happy about. The sad thing is none of the bands I saw that excited me (with one exception) were British and I suspect the reason for that is that kids growing up in this country never get to hear quality music that inspires them to pick up a guitar in the first place and that’s not only sad, it’s WRONG !!!!

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