South By Due East Is Still Here, Still Free
Rocks Off would like to apologize to the people behind South By Due East for not mentioning this event in our digital pages more often. It's just that SXDE, as we've taken to calling it, manages to pull together a not-so-quiet four days of live, largely local music at Dan Electro's Guitar Bar in the Heights with a minimum of social-media saturation and other ungainly fanfare. Also, it's completely free and if you go, you'll probably be able to see yourself on TV at some point.
SXDE starts at 5 p.m. tonight, and is the brainchild of Guy Schwartz, leader of Houston groove-rock institutions the New Jack Hippies, and his crew of Roger Tausz, Mikey Farber, Aaron Trumm, Andrew Robicheaux and a number of volunteers. The event actually began when one of our predecessors here, John Nova Lomax, wrote an article remarking that Houston's delegation to SXSW that year consisted of exactly one country singer; Schwartz, MArlo Blue and Mark Martin, his colleagues at Internet radio station/performance space earthwire.net, decided Houston could do them one better.
"MArlo and Mark decided that they would do a showcase of Houston artists in Austin as well, and we'd do a showcase in Houston here," says Schwartz. "Marlo and a couple of DJs went to Austin to host the thing in the hall, and I stayed back here to host the thing at Earthwire. As a last-minute thought, MArlo rented a camera and said, 'Take some video of the bands so I can see what happened in Houston.'"
That experiment lasted just that one year in Austin, but Schwartz did come away with a 20-minute short film full of Houston artists, which gave him an idea for the future. Twelve years later, SXDE has become an annual tradition, one of the most eclectic lineups of under-the-radar talent you're likely to find anywhere. (Kind of like SXSW used to be, come to think of it.) Some of the names on the flyer up top that we'd especially recommend are Annika Chambers, Aaron Loesch (ex-Jug o' Lightnin'), Eric Demmer & the Sax Dawgs, Trudy Lynn & Steve Krase, Project Armageddon, D.R.U.M., Cassette Tape, Funky Mustard and The Caw, to name but a few.
After moving to Super Happy Fun Land the next year, SXDE moved over to Dan Electro's, where it has remained. One thing that also remains is that Schwartz's crew continues to record every SXDE performance to be aired later on their public-access cable show, South By Due East Television. After this one weekend in March, Schwartz says he'll spend the balance of the next year editing all the footage to get it ready for air.
He adds that eventually like to turn their operation into a nonprofit local-music multimedia-archive, if he can find a reliable source of funding. For now Schwartz says he expects Dan Electro's to fill up several times over throughout the four-day weekend, and the cameras will be rolling the whole time.
South by Due East Television airs 10 p.m. Friday nights on Comcast channel 17, TV Max 95, Sudden Link 99, AT&T U-Verse 99, Phonoscope 75, Kingwood Cable 95 and online at hmstv.org and youtube.com/siriushippies. A sample episode of their "Guerilla Marketing Experiment" is below.
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