Music is everywhere at SXSW. I mean everywhere. Bars, parks, parking lots, parking garages, corners, courtyards, patios, porches, lobbies, roofs and even boats. Music is also all the time… morning, noon and night as they say.

There are plenty of websites and Twitter feeds providing show locations, set times and recommendations. And they are quite helpful. But there is also a wandering, go with the flow approach that must also be used. Where to go first, how long to stay at a given venue… to stick with the plan or deviate.

[masterslider id=”9″] For day 1, we used a proven technique: known outdoor venue, with good food trucks to coincide with a set time by a band with a fun name. Our day started with Soccer Mommy at Cheer-up Charlie’s. Lucky us… this is a great band, with great songs, who is on the rise and who we’d see the next day as well. We also caught an energetic set under high noon sun by Spain’s all-female indie group Hinds. Pictures of both bands above . We then ventured to Cedar Street… a courtyard venue we first discovered a few years back when it hosted an international music showcase featuring Swedish bands and free Swedish meatball tacos! This year the courtyard was hosting Floodfest and we were able to take a break from the sun and catch sets by Speedy Ortiz and Kurt Vile.

We ended the evening aboard Jamie Kent‘s riverboat cruise. This annual event sets band after band adrift on the Colorado River. We especially enjoyed Sarah Shook & the Disarmers.

For day 2, we again employed a proven method, maybe even a commandment – start thy day with Guero’s tacos. This place has it all… great tacos, outdoor seating under big trees, margaritas, cold beer, and a roster of bands that hits back to back all day. Filled with tacos, we walked over to the South By San Jose festival. In addition to another Soccer Mommy set, we saw Austin’s own Los Coast and Liz Cooper & The Stampede.

I mentioned that SXSW sometimes includes some wandering. Well, we trusted our instincts and wandered a mile to a new venue called Lucy’s Fried Chicken. It was hot that afternoon, and Lucy’s was worth the walk. What a fun place. Outdoor tables, fun-loving people, cold brews and eclectic bands like local heros Grand Champeen and Barfield.

SXSW is a great opportunity to discover new music like Soccer Mommy. For me, it can also let me reconnect. I met Dani Mari in Philly years ago, and we’ve performed together a few times. I admire how she is always engaged in new projects. We caught up with her at House Wine playing on their laid-back front porch stage (see picture #5 below).

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