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Rita's Report from SXSW 2014

Rita's SXSW highlights so far include some unusual suspects.

It's all about music discovery here at SXSW, and we've seen it by the score so far. From the Irish teenage band The Strypes to music god St. Vincent, the quality and style is high in Austin.

Another highlight for me so far: Birmingham, Alabama newcomers St. Paul and the Broken Bones. This horn-fueled 6-piece is led by an engaging, soulful frontman who knows how to sing and how to work a crowd. Fellow Alabaman John Paul White from The Civil Wars has the band signed to his indie label, and was at the show showing his support. St Paul and the Broken Bones will be in NYC at Bowery Ballroom on 3/26. You should go.

Just across the river from downtown Austin, up South Congress, is the hip and groovy Hotel San Jose. We're set up there in a leafy courtyard to host a bunch of artists for acoustic, single-song tapings.

Ireland's Hozier is a rising star who is stateside for the first time. Backed by cajon and cello, his elegiac "Take Me To Church" sounded great in the courtyard, through occasionally squawks from the grackles overhead. [video performance]

Also from Ireland, The Strypes mine timeless territory on their performance of the classic "You Can't Judge A Book by the Cover." These guys are only 17 and 18 years old, but they are bringin' heavy classic style with their look and heavy great promise with their sound. [video performance]

Another highlight for me was catching Spanish Gold at the South By San Jose stage. This supergroup of sorts (pictured above) is making their first run of shows at SXSW, and I grabbed them when they got off stage to join us in the courtyard for one of their rootsy songs, "Day Drinkin'." [video performance]

While the FUV crew edited these sessions, I dashed downtown to the convention center to be a panelist at the annual Music Meeting.  Radio programmers, DJ's, industry reps, and artists listen to and rate brand new songs. It's a fun and revealing look at upcoming releases. We heard new songs and gave generally high marks to upcoming releases from Jenny Lewis, Tori Amos, Tune-Yards, and one of my new favorites, Phox (pronounced fox).

Join us on the air today starting at 12 noon for our annual Public Radio Rocks SXSW showcase with performances by Damon Albarn, Phantogram, Jeremy Messersmith, The Hold Steady, Lucius and Temples!


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Funding for WFUV's ongoing coverage of live concerts and festivals comes from The Agnes Varis Trust, supporting affordable access to the arts, education and healthcare.