Tag Archives: SXSW

My SXSW 2018 presentation and book signing 3.13.2018

28 Mar

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My Garth Brooks story and photos post to Elmore magazine

20 Mar

After delivering a SXSW keynote at Austin’s convention center downtown, March 17 mega country artist Garth Brooks hinted about delivering a secret show in town. Then just a bit after 10 p.m. Brooks tweeted a photo of a wagon wheel with one broken spoke with the message “let’s get started.”
Brooks showed up at the 52-year-old honky-tonk about 11 p.m. with body guards greeted by Broken Spoke proprietor James White. Afterwards the mega country star performed a whole set of greatest hits beginning with “Friends in Low Places,” along with George Jones’ “He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today,” George Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning,” and Merle Haggard’s “Fightin’ Side of Me.” Audience participation reached a fever pitch when Brooks sang Joe Nichols’ “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” as more than 500 people sang the lyrics from the Broken Spoke’s dance floor, with their smart phones raised above their heads.
Between songs, Brooks told his audience, “If I had known there were honky-tonks like this back when I started out, I never would have left.” He also said “You all have fun like this every day,” and “I haven’t done anything like this in a hundred years.” At the end of his set, Brooks told the audience “It’s never good to end the night with a down song, except this one,” and he sang “The Dance.” The crowd demanded an encore, and afterwards Brooks handed over his acoustic Takamine guitar to White as a parting gift. “I didn’t know he was gonna give me a gift too,” White said afterwards. “I will always remember the day Garth Brooks played on stage at the Broken Spoke. He was right on every song. It was so crowded I could not leave the stage, but I really did not want to. It was exciting. Completely unexpected. That’s the way he rolls!”
More than 50,000 fans are expected to attend Brooks’ outdoor concert tonight on Auditorium Shores.

Please see my story posted on Elmore magazine’s website at: http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2017/03/reviews/shows/garth-brooks-at-the-broken-spoke

To see 2 of my videos of Garth Brooks performing at the Broken Spoke please go to the KVUE local ABC affiliate website at:


Presley sings about ‘Storm and Grace’ at SXSW

16 Mar

Larger than life singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of the legendary Elvis, left her own musical mark March 14 in downtown Austin as part of SXSW at Quantum Collective’s third annual Southwest Invasion.

The event featured 32 artists, including Presley. Acts performed over two days, March 14 and 15, on the rooftop at Whole Foods world headquarters. Presley had performed just two days earlier at another all ages SXSW venue, Old School Bar and Grill, but her fans obviously couldn’t get enough of her.

Throngs of middle-aged women as well as plenty of young millennials of all genders, waited 20 minutes beyond her concert start time as band members worked out some sound issues. Fans took up nearly every square foot of space on Whole Food’s rooftop as both water other drink refreshments ran scarce in the late afternoon heat.

Diminutive in size and stature, Presley’s nearly waist-length red hair blew around her face as she performed in black satin skinny jeans and a matching long-sleeved jacket with red sequined cuffs. She played a tiny silver encrusted tambourine as she sang.

Although it was her first appearance at SXSW, it marked Presley’s last in the U.S. before she heads to Australia as part of her 36-city tour to promote the release of her latest album, “Storm and Grace.” Presley’s first album in seven years also marks a Universal Republic/XIX Recordings debut. Her guitarist and music producer husband, Michael Lockwood, performed alongside Presley with her band.

Presley sounded raw and powerful, singing from her collection of folk, country, and blues songs made popular throughout two decades and three albums released during her singing career. She performed “Storm and Grace,” “Over Me, and “Storm of Nails,” from her latest album.

Following the event, Presley allowed only two brief exclusive interviews: with CBS “Insider” anchors and with this contributing writer for Austin Fusion Magazine on the red carpet.

Presley said her new release has been an easy transition, now that her 5-year-old twins, Harper and Finley, have reached an age that they can travel easily along with her on her tour.

“I jumped off the train and I’ve jumped right back on it,” Presley said. “I just recorded the record (‘Storm and Grace’) and then T Bone (Burnett) got interested and then things got rolling. It really wasn’t planned or timed or not timed to get back on.”

Living in the world as the only child of late rock icon and movie star, Elvis Presley, exposed every minutia of her family’s lives to the public and to the media who have held the microscope close. Personally, however, she admits that the King still lives inside his four grandchildren.

“My son and I think all of us, have his (Elvis’) sense of humor I will say,” Presley said. “All my kids are really intense, but they’re also really sweet. So it is a good mix I would say. I’m their mom and I’m proud, but they all got his (Elvis’) humor, his intensity levels and his sweetness. They got the best of all of us, I think.”

Presley talked about her song writing process and the inspirations for lyrics that have come from living life large and with her extended family. She said that her eldest daughter, 24-year-old Riley Keough, inspired the “you” mentioned in the lyrics of the song “Forgiving” on “Storm and Grace.”

The song’s lyrics suggest Presley once sought a lesson in forgiveness from her equally famous actress daughter: “I want to find in me/that I can still believe/and be forgiving/yes I want to be like you/Can you teach me how to be forgiving…”

Keough, also the daughter of Presley’s first husband, Danny Keough, once modeled for Dolce & Gabbana, appeared on the covers of Vogue magazine, and earned her acting debut in “The Runaways” (2010). That led to a slew of other jobs acting including: “The Good Doctor” (2011), “Jack and Diane” (2012) and Steven Soderberg’s “Magic Mike” (2012).

The song shares the album’s title, “Storm and Grace,” Presley wrote about her 20-year-old son, Ben Keough, who may just be the spitting image of his late grandfather.

“Storm and Grace” song lyrics reveal his maternal ancestor’s contributions to his good looks: “You are the most beautiful man/ that I have ever known/ too much to offer/ and too much held close to the bone…”

A more private member of the Presley family, Ben Keough works as a London musician who may soon release an album himself.

Another song from Presley’s current album, “Over Me,” she admits that she wrote during a different time in her life, years before she shared it with Lockwood and their two children.

“That’s correct,” she said. “I don’t normally say who I write my songs about, but I will say that is correct. Absolutely. It’s not anybody predictable though, not anybody famous. I will say that.”

Her song “Storm and Nails” has the potential to derive universal appeal from fans who may have a tendency to give too much of themselves to others. The daily sacrifices result, as Presley poetically translates, into overwhelming feelings. Through song, she identifies herself as a “nail” being driven by large metaphorical “hammers” in her life.

“There are hammers everywhere, aren’t there? There are hammers every day in our lives, some days more than others,” Presley said. “I think that I wrote that on a particular day when there were an awful lot of them.”

The lyrics begin: “it’s been a long highway/where do I get off and drive away/ I’m looking for a sign that should say/when you’ve had enough, exit this way…” 

Born in 1968, Presley lived on her father’s Graceland estate in Memphis, Tenn., until her parents divorced when she was 4 years old. Afterwards, she split her time between both of her parents’ homes, including the one she shared in L.A. with her mother, Priscilla Presley.

She married four times, first to Keough in 1988; in 1994 they divorced and she married another rock icon, Michael Jackson. They divorced two years later and in 2002 she married actor Nicolas Cage. That marriage ended in divorce only 108 days later.

Presley released her debut album in 2003, “To Whom It May Concern,” which reached No. 5 on Billboard magazine’s top 200 charts. The album went gold in 2005 and in 2007 she released a posthumous duet with her late father for the single, “In the Ghetto.” That song reached No. 1 on iTunes and No. 16 on singles’ charts for Billboard. In 2006, Lisa Marie Presley married Lockwood and the couple currently divides their time living in either of two homes located in both the US and the UK.

At this time in her life, Presley appears finally comfortable in her own skin. She has become the woman, singer-songwriter, mother, and wife that destiny always meant for her to become. The song off the album, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” sounds like a mantra more than a proclamation.

The song’s lyrics ring self-evident: “I’m a bit transgressive and suppressive as well/you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…”

Presley said that her husband has contributed to her personal and very public metamorphosis. His wife’s images dominate Lockwood’s official website.

“Oh Michael has grounded me. He’s been very inspirational,” Presley said. “He’s the boss of the band when we’re working, absolutely. But actually we’re a team. I wouldn’t say that anyone is the boss really. He knows what he’s doing and I sort of know what I’m doing sometimes. When I don’t, he sort of helps me back in the right direction.”

Though they did not write any of the songs on her album together, the two have collaborated during intimate showcase concerts like the one on Whole Foods’ rooftop recently. Lockwood wore a tall black top hat, black pants and a jacket with an Ace of Clubs emblem and played four of his favorite Gretch guitars.

“We just haven’t written together, but he was really behind my collaborating with Richard Hawley and Ed Harcourt. He was kind of championing me from behind, you know?” she said.

Hawley, a former member of the band, Pulp, provides some bluesy harmony vocals on the album and blends well with Lisa Marie Presley’s husky voice. Harcourt helped to write “Weary,” one of the songs for “Storm and Grace.” Sacha Skarbek, whose credits include working with Adele, James Blunt and Lana Del Rey, also collaborated on the album.

Next in her tour, Presley heads for Hornsby, Australia, where she performs March 19-April 3 before embarking for Tokyo, Japan. She returns to the U.S. for a Midwest tour April 29 before heading to the East Coast through June 14 through 22, followed by a few short appearances in Canada to end the month.

She also supports two charities: Presley Place and Presley Charitable Foundation. She also works closely with the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, self-described as a mental health “watchdog” organization that fights against crimes against psychiatric patients. She also supports the Dream Factory, created by Avril Mills, former fundraiser and manager for Haven House Children’s Hospice.


Published by Austin Fusion magazine at: http://austinfusionmagazine.com/2014/03/16/lisa-marie-presley-plays-quantum-collectives-southwest-invasion

Neil Young preaches Pono to masses at SXSW

16 Mar

NeilYoungcroppedSpeaking like a new age guru promoting an other-worldly experience from listening to quality music-infused sound, legendary singer-songwriter Neil Young preached mostly to millennials at the Austin Convention Center March 11.

Kicking off the music portion of SXSW, Young spoke to a full house in the grand ballroom while his gargantuan image projected onto two white screens two stories tall. The hour-long presentation came off as a giant Pono commercial, but the audience didn’t seem to mind.

Lamenting the creation of the MP3, Young cursed its invention as the apocalypse of the music industry. He provided an oral history about the music recording business and its electronic distribution beginning with vinyl LPs, followed by cassettes, then CDs and MP3s, ending with the dawn of the Pono, a device expected to retail for $399 each in October.

Preorder offers at $300 each began March 11 on Kickstarter. Twenty-four hours later, Kickstarter reached Young’s goal of nearly $1 million in pledges to PonoMusic. He said the device will revolutionize the listener’s music sound experience.

Young said his interests in changing the way that music is distributed to the public began 10 years ago when the music industry began dying.

“All of those musicians and all of those services that used to support musicians and all of the recording studios, they started to die. Everything started to die. It was the most amazing thing – this vibrant, creative kind of whole culture started to go away and it was because of the MP3 and the cheapening of the quality to a point that it was practically unrecognizable,” Young said.

“And the price also went down and then record companies control of what they could do with the records went away. They could no longer decide how to market the records because they made some very stupid deals. They made some very dumb deals with some very smart people.”

He noticed that the value of music albums decreased as more people purchased single songs.

“As a guy who had been making records for many years, even at that point, I was pissed off about that because I love making records,” he said. “That’s what I do. I love every song on the record, I love every note on every song on every record.”

The audience responded with rousing applause.

“The albums’ music meant something to me. They’re a family of songs and they were telling a story about how I was feeling and they weren’t just filler,” Young said.


He taught the audience a little history about producers Jack Nitzsche and Phil Spector and their use of The Gold Star Echo Chambers at Gold Star Records in Hollywood during the music industry’s early years of recording reverb on albums.

“I went in there with Buffalo Springfield in 1966 and we made our first record. We had producers who didn’t know what they were doing making their first record too, so it was kind of a disaster. But I do remember hearing the echo and going ‘my God, it’s magic.’ It really is. You’re just puttin’ your voice in there and suddenly it’s like in heaven or something,” Young said.

“So when the Echo went away, it wasn’t just like ‘oh, Echo’s gone.’ That was like a world-class disaster – it was huge for people who cared about music sound. And then because all of that happened, Gold Star (Recording) closed its doors and sold the studio. It was the end of an era.”

Soon the quality of music began to decline and record company executives found cheaper ways to distribute their products, Young said. Five percent became the new low standard rate of fidelity for distributed sound, as the digital age issued in great advances in recorded video.

Young referred to unemployment in the record industry as the “collateral damage of the MP3.”

A few years ago, some record companies produced vinyl records once again to fill a surge in interest, creating a popular niche in the music business, he said. Record companies released vinyl records made from digital recordings filtered at a fidelity rate of 44.1 kHz per sample, sufficient for FM broadcasts.

“They were seeding masters on vinyl because vinyl, they thought, was a cult thing. It wasn’t because of the sound that they were putting it out; they were putting it out because it sold. So they put it out and that vinyl was sort of a sham, some of it,” Young said.

“A lot of times you were just buying a collectable kind of fashion statement with the cover and it was cool. That was nice. At least something was happening.”

Young appealed to teenagers in the audience and to people in their early 20s who have uber hearing.

“Children today, young people growing up have their bodies that are wide awake and they’re sensitive and they can hear. They get something that just lets them recognize it; they can identify the name of the song and learn the melody from listening to this. But inside their soul, they’re just not getting what we got. There’s just nothing there for them,” Young said.

“The human body is so sensitive. It’s a beautiful thing. You know, whatever you believe about where things come from, the human body is unbelievable. It’s so sensitive and you know, when you give it something, it loves it. Good food? It grows; it’s nourished. And when you give it good input, it loves it. And when you give it great art, it feels good. And we all are like that.”

He said as music lovers became deprived of the pure sound of original recordings, the artists adapted by producing some “clever, tricky” recordings. Young music lovers, however, don’t have to settle — thanks to Pono.

“Pono is whatever the artist decided to do or the artist/producer decided to do. All of the formats – 44 (kHz,) 48 (kHz,) 88.2 (kHz) 96 (kHz,) 176 (kHz,) and 192 (kHz) are all played back on Pono just like the artist made them. The artist makes the decision,” Young said.

Young records at 192 kHz and he remasters his earlier analog recordings at 192 kHz so that he may enjoy a higher quality of sound when listening to his music played back on a Pono. He likens the feeling he experiences from listening to music played on a Pono to water, metaphorically.

“My body’s getting washed. I’m getting hit with something great. I’m not getting a bunch of ice cubes thrown at me – it’s water ok? It’s happening. It’s a cool mist. I’m getting it, every part of my body is getting hit with this thing. My soul is feeling it. I’m doing what I used to do; I’m listening, feeling, and I’m experiencing it. I’m living. So that’s why I record at 192 and that’s why I transfer everything I did in analog to 192. So that I could have 192 and bring it to you, eventually,” Young said.

“What Pono will do will bring you the reality and let you understand what the artists have done in the studio.”

Published on Austin Fusion Magazine at: http://austinfusionmagazine.com/2014/03/13/neil-young-promotes-pono-at-sxsw/

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