SXSW moves at such a frenetic clip that when you're finally able to catch your breath and collect your thoughts, it's almost over. That moment finally arrived for Aftermath at rockabilly troublemaker and Sirius/XM Outlaw Country DJ Mojo Nixon's annual "Mojo's Mayhem" throwdown at the Continental Club earlier this afternoon - although it's one of SXSW's longest-running day parties, this was actually the first time we'd ever been.
Clad in cutoff denim shorts, Mojo was not dressed for the weather. At one point, Aftermath was outside smoking when Nixon came out the Continental's back door and announced "It's fuckin' freezing!" Inside, that wasn't a problem; the Continental was packed when we got there and even more packed when we left, one-in/one-out at the door.
It was a toss-up what was more entertaining - watching Mojo and Allen Hill, whose Allen Oldies Band kicked off the Mayhem with their traditional pancake-breakfast set a couple of hours before we got there, hold court in the club's back bar, or the three acts we caught onstage. To call those two gregarious might be putting too fine a point on it. Between the two of them, they could teach even the most hardened SXSW veteran a lesson or two about schmoozing and glad-handing. (As always, it was good to see temporary AOB member David Beebe, who reported his Marfa bar Padre's is doing land-office business in the small West Texas art-colony town.)
We'll go ahead and give the music the nod, though. Ireland's The Mighty Stef alternated between heavy blues and lively Celtic rock, announcing in one song "I'm scared of a lot of things, but I'm not scared of death." (From the looks of him, Stef has put enough miles on him that he probably isn't.) Mojo's San Diego buddy Steve Poltz didn't let the broken hand he sustained in an accident on the way to Austin dampen his abundant energy, playing a set of jovial folk-rock that included an autobiographical narrative about his love of baseball - the native Canadian even played the radio call of Joe Carter's 1993 World Series-winning home run for the Toronto Blue Jays on his iPhone, and premiered a funny song he wrote about his recent vehicular mishap, reading the lyrics off the same device.
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The third and final act we stuck around to see, most of it just outside the Continental's front door, was brand-new Houston/Austin roots-rockers the Stone River Boys, who alternated between the quick-tempo roadhouse rock of Mike Barfield's "Bluebonnet Blue" and crack blue-eyed soul with Dave Gonzalez on lead vocals. Mayhem comes in all shapes and sizes at SXSW, and despite the cramped conditions, this particular band - laid-back, good-natured and a little risqué (Mojo introduced Poltz as "the man who put his tool in Jewel") - was exactly what we needed.