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Austin Chronicle: Hayes Carll on his SXSW Experience

My SXSW

By Hayes Carll, Fri., March 18, 2011

7am: The boys all gather by the van to head down to the Four Seasons for a KGSR performance. The sun hasn’t risen, and neither has the drummer, so we wait in the car listening to the radio. I contemplate drafting a “no predawn shows” clause in my rider and then decide against it. When we arrive the hotel is packed with more than 500 early risers, many of them hitting the lobby bar. Daylight saving time has thrown everything out of whack.

8am: I start off the set with a song about a three-way because, well, what else do you play in a hotel lobby this early in the morning? The crowd seems well-oiled, and I figure maybe some lucky indie rocker will benefit.

9am: Head downstairs to do an interview with a Philadelphia paper. I regret once again that I forgot to create a more interesting backstory for myself. “I’m from the suburbs, have no felonies or major addictions, and I really like Ray Wylie Hubbard, etc.” Boooring.

11:30am: Off to a quick show for the people at GSD&M. Children were evacuated by the second song. I didn’t read the part about it being an all-ages show, and by the time I notice the strollers, it’s too late. Everyone is nice, and I get to look at some great Daniel Johnston artwork in the lobby.

3pm: Head to the Swan Dive for the Billy Reid/K-Swiss/American Songwriter party. I walk in the door, and someone gives me free shoes! Hell yes! I’ve never really gotten musician perks before, but things are looking up. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s an open bar for the performers. I generally don’t start drinking before 6pm, but … everyone else seems to be drunk, so why not?

4:30pm: We take the stage. I have five fans, and they’re all exceptionally bad dancers. Their enthusiasm inspires me though, and I drink more whiskey.

6pm: My band has all left to go play shows with other lead singers. They’ve kept their career options open, and it annoys me. I don’t feel good. I’ve had no food since my morning bagel, and I feel hungover before the sun has set. Lots of people talk to me, but I’m not sure I trust any of them to help me escape. I wander onto Sixth Street in search of food. Like a tourist at Mardi Gras, I’m steered into a bar where all the waitresses wear bikinis. It’s called Bikini’s. I’m uncomfortably aware that I’m in the coolest city in the world during the biggest event of the year where most every musical hero I’ve ever had is within a mile radius, and I’m at a knockoff Hooters. How did I get here?

6:30pm: Bar manager is a fan and comps the meal. I feel better about Bikini’s. Now if I could just line up an 8am show here.


Tonight’s Hayes Carll Lost Highway SXSW showcase: 9pm, ACL Live at the Moody Theater

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