In recent years, local musicians have worked hard to raise the city’s profile as an increasingly diverse musical community. This year’s SXSW in Austin will shine a spotlight on dozens of San Antonio acts performing in a variety of official and unofficial showcases, ranging from hip-hop to heavy metal.
“Growing up in Texas, SXSW is something that every artist wants to be a part of,” Blake, a 19-year-old rising local talent who just signed with Atlantic Records, tells CultureMap. “This is my first time being selected as an official SXSW artist. Excited to put on for San Antonio and all of Texas.”
The one-name hip-hop musician will finally realize that dream on March 14 during an 11:10 pm set at Ironwood Hall.
While Blake takes to the SX stage for the first time, singer-songwriter/record producer Lisa Morales will be returning to SXSW to play the Continental Club at 10 pm on March 13. This showcase will include Lucy Spraggan, The Dunwells, Fort Never, Hunter Sharpe, and The Wild Now.
Lisa Morales and sister Roberta performed together as Sisters Morales for 20-plus years, including many stops at SXSW. They parted ways following the death of their mother in 2009, but reunited a few years ago, working together while still forging solo careers.
Last year was Lisa's first solo performance at SXSW. “I still enjoy being able to be around so many artists, so much creativity all at once,” Lisa says. “There’s a vibe that pulsates throughout the city at that time. Running into a lot of musician friends all over town that you don’t normally see is such a blast.” In fact, during the 2017 festival, a run-in with David Garza led to a collaboration on her tune, “Strong Enough.”
Memories in Broken Glass, a five-piece metal band, will be part of the “Don't Mosh With Texas" showcase at 8 pm on March 17 at the Dirty Dog. The showcase includes bands Fire from the Gods, American Sin, Death of a Dream, Dayne Alexander, Lethal Injektion, and The Bvtcher.
Memories in Broken Glass’ debut full length album, Enigma Infinite, is now out on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon Music. This is the third year Memories will be in a SXSW official showcase.
Members of the band, who originally hail from Alice, Texas, say they are particularly excited to be in this showcase. “To be part of such a great festival is always an honor and privilege. Giving us a chance to network with artists, industry experts and executives from all over the world to further expand our career knowledge,” the band says.
Kara Nichole Robinson, or Kara Nichole, is a gospel and contemporary Christian singer-songwriter and life coach who will be performing at SXSW for a second time. She will be part of the Inside Gospel LIVE showcase the night of March 16 at George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, performing at 6:55 pm. The showcase will include The Fam, Candy West, Shy Speaks, Kayla Freeman, Ethan Kent, Tyro the Epic, and Mr. Frankie Wilson.
“It's an honor to have been selected for the second time for SXSW,” says Kara Nichole. “I am so excited and I'm asking that everyone who loves contemporary Christian music to come out and vibe with me.”
Experimental jazz fusion band 16 the Olympus embraces influences of R&B, hip-hop, and psychedelic rock. Their first year at SXSW will kick off with an 8 pm set on March 17 at The Elephant Room. They will start an eclectic jazz showcase that includes Vanilla Summit, Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few, Ori Dagan, and ChihiroYamazaki+Route14.
The band expressed their excitement in a statement saying, “We are all tremendously thrilled to give our vibes to the people of SXSW. We consider it a gift from the universe and an opportunity to connect with people from all around the globe.”
Singer-songwriter Harvey McLaughlin recently released his first solo album, Tabloid News, which harkens back to the sounds of musicians such as Warren Zevon, Tom Waits, and Randy Newman, with touches of New Orleans R&B, Chicano soul, and roots rock.
McLaughlin has participated in SXSW the last few years. This year, he plays at 9 pm on March 17 at the Driskill Hotel in a showcase that includes Jaimee Harris, Chuck Auerbach, The Grahams, and Chris Stamey.
“The festival is always interesting, a chance to get into it and mix it up with bands and acts from all over the world,” he says. “This year should be great.”
Henry Brun and the Latin Playerz will play The Elephant Room on March 16 at 8 pm. The showcase there will include Pedro Menendez Fusion Ensemble, Sushi, La Orquesta Vulgar, and Silibrina.
Brun and his ensemble have been playing Latin jazz together for nearly 30 years. He sees his band’s inclusion in this year’s fest as a vote of confidence, and an acknowledgement of the commitment that he and his bandmates have to entertaining all types of audiences — not just Latin jazz fans.
“Many would think participation in SXSW is limited to up-and-coming bands. I beg to differ," he says. "The process is thorough and very selective, choosing the best that music has to offer."
These Alamo City musical acts taking on Austin in mid-March are just the tip of the iceberg. Other local musicians scheduled for official SXSW showcases are Deer Vibes, King Pelican, Dre’L.O.C., Purpose, Keedren Boston, KP Tha Profit, Creepside, and Worldwide. There are also numerous unofficial shows featuring San Antonians throughout the festival.
It's this diverse range of music that has catapulted San Antonio's music scene to state-wide prominence. In February, the Texas Music Office (TMO) recently designated San Antonio as a “Music Friendly Community.” It’s the fourth Texas city to garner this designation, along with Austin, Fort Worth and Denton.
“This new designation connects San Antonio with an information sharing network of other Texas communities that are focused on the music economy and we look forward to working alongside city leaders to move the local industry forward,” says TMO director Brendon Anthony in the release.
Over the next few months, the city and the San Antonio Arts Commission’s Music Committee will work with TMO and the local music community to develop a strategic plan. In the meantime, local musicians will continue to shine at SXSW — and at music venues across San Antonio.