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Jeff Campbell SXSW 2014 Part 4
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #4

Fourth Installment of the Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014

Other entries:
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #1
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #2
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #3
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #5
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #6
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #7
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #8 – Final Episode


Rick Perry - 47th Governor of Texas

Rick Perry – 47th Governor of Texas



Man you guys sound country!  You guys are from where?  You want to stay away from the dirty 6th.  If you come on over to the West side, there’re less ethnics.” ~Rick of Austin (NOT to be confused with Rick Munoz, Jeff Campbell band’s drummer).

–   –   –

We arrived at what was to be home for the next several days in Austin at about 2:30AM.  Jeff had lined up a sweet location just a mile from the majority of our shows along 6th street in downtown Austin.  We were road weary and looking forward to setting up camp in town, while more importantly hitting the sack for some much needed rest before our first day of performances.

One of the great developments of the last couple of years is the emergence of AirBnB- the internet service that connects vacation homes and personal residences to vacationers from all regions of the globe.  In a town like Austin for an event like SXSW, there are not enough hotel rooms to go around.   On top of that, you have bands driving and flying in from around the world to converge upon the city for a week, and not all have a budget for the Hilton.

Since we are on the topic of AirBnB’s, here are a few helpful hints to those looking to rent out their personal residences like many do during the South by Southwest Music, Media, Art & Film Festival:

1)   Empty the stone basin full of extinguished cigarette butts on the dilapidated front porch before your guests arrive;

2)   When you advertise room for five to six, make sure that there is actually room for that many cots, air mattresses or beds.  A single queen bed and one large disintegrating couch does not qualify;

3)   Be sure to dispose of ones garbage and place a new liner in the trash bin,

4)   When leaving one’s own bedding for use, be sure to have professionally cleaned to remove any bodily fluids or residue;

5)   Sweep the floors,

6)   If one must leave their own clothing behind, try stuffing one’s dirty underwear in a place other than the medicine cabinet of the only bathroom;

7)   When promoting a kitchen full of amenities, try to remove the cobwebs from the coffeemaker and clean what few dishes one may have of all dried and crusted food;

8)   If your site states that yours is a pet free environment, then be certain to eradicate the space of any and all cockroaches one may have, even if you have named them and happen to be subletting to the apocalypse proof insects.

When Jeff went out to greet the owner with check in hand and an agenda about the above grievances the next morning, his Philadelphia resolve softened uncharacteristically for a moment because the owner [quote] “looked like a normal guy”.  However, the dude’s excuse about the condition of the lodging was sheepishly lame in that, “I just had another band in there and I didn’t have time to clean.”

There are two things about this that didn’t add up to me- 1) The music portion of the festival was just starting when we arrived, and 2) who did he think we were, Motley Crue!?!  Don’t get me wrong, I think every member of the band conceded that we had stayed in worse conditions under other circumstances.  In fact the prior time I had been to SXSW myself with friends Dave Tweedie, Oona Garthwaite and Alex Doty of OONA, we stayed in a motel room on the outskirts of Austin that I swear still had blood splatter on the walls and the remnants of a chalk outline.  However, if people are going to pay good money for a room, at least let us trash the place, not the other way around.

In an effort to support all of the hard work that Jeff Campbell put in to make this tour work for a full band, we each did our best to let this slide off our shoulders (the owner’s pet cucarachas had not yet made their presence known) and we turned our focus to the day’s activities in partially blissful ignorance.  Although, I could’ve sworn I heard the first few notes of Dueling Banjos as we departed.

Jeff Campbell has been performing SXSW for the past five to six years consecutively and has his system dialed in:

Step one– secure a parking spot at 6th and Congress

Step two– hit the touring musician’s oasis for refreshments (it’s amazing how Starbuck’s Americano’s seem to represent the gourmet standard when on the road)

Step three– check-in at the performance spot and promptly order a locally hand-crafted IPA.

Bourbon Girl on 6th

Bourbon Girl on 6th

With a couple of days rest from playing shows and the upright bass stowed away back at the “Deliverance” shack, we were going all electric again and I had my custom NYC Vintage P/J 5-String Sadowsky strapped to my back as we entered ‘Bourbon Girl’ on 6th Street.  It was a 2PM performance and the freaks were already out, although it was relatively mild compared to the craziness that ensues on 6th during SXSW at night.  The guys ordered their brews and feeling a bit of the “when in Rome” syndrome, I placed my request for a Stella Artois.  The “when in Rome” syndrome is kind of like when one visits Las Vegas and takes up smoking, blackjack, rum & cokes, and strip clubs.  Honestly, I’ve never been to a strip club in Vegas, but I can’t deny the former vices.

Although that afternoon’s performance was ostensibly our rehearsal, we attracted a modest crowd and made some new fans.  Allie Koch, Jeff’s manager, was there to grab a few snippets of video in case we required later evidence of our whereabouts at 2PM on a Wednesday afternoon.  The only downside was that the set was over almost as soon as it began- at least that’s what SXSW sets feel like with only 20-30 minutes allotted.  Overall, though, we were well received.  A recent Denver artist transplant raved that his girlfriend had to see us as she would go nuts over our music.    Oh, and one more new fan introduced himself.

Rick of Austin

That's Rick Perry and I don't really want to know what he's doing.

That’s Rick Perry and I don’t really want to know what he’s doing.

Again, not to be confused with Jeff Campbell’s drummer, Rick Munoz, “Rick” of Austin came up to us with one of those loud ‘Rick Perry’ like Texas accents:

‘Rick Perry’: “Man, you guys sound country!  Where’re you’all from?

Rick Munoz: “San Francisco.”

‘Rick Perry’: “What?  No way.  San Francisco!?! Well, you guys sound country to me!  You’re all good!”

Rick Munoz: “Hey, thanks man.  Much appreciated.”

‘Rick Perry’: “Where’re you guys playing next?  What are you guys doing later?”

Jeff Campbell: “Well, this was our only show today, but we’ve got 5 more to go over the next few days.”

‘Rick Perry’:  “Well if you aren’t doing anything tonight, you gotta come over to the west side.  You want to stay away from the dirty 6th.  If you come on over to the west side, there’re less ethnics.”

The rest of us: “um, thanks (?) man.”

Guitar Center Singer-Songwriter Contest

Post gig gluten fest

Post gig gluten fest

When Jeff Campbell won the second annual Guitar Center Singer-Songwriter contest out of 13,000 entries it initiated a flurry of activity that remains to this day.  He recorded a 5-song EP, ‘In Spite of Everything’, with 6-time Grammy Nominee and Producer of the Year winner, John Shanks, bringing in some of the most legendary studio musicians to help realize his vision.  He established artist endorsement relationships with some of the top instrument makers, sound reinforcement, and music accessory companies.  He also had the good fortune of performing two songs on ABC Television’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and even brought all his friends along for the experience.  Jeff filled the Kimmel stage with 10 San Francisco Bay Area musicians, most of which were bandleaders and writers themselves including, Megan Slankard, Lia Rose, Heather Combs, and Brad Brooks, as well as Kyle Caprista, Jeff Symonds, Rick Munoz, Max Delaney and myself.  Jeff clearly distinguished himself from the pack, but he wasn’t the only one with talent who made it to the final evaluations.

One of the runner-ups in the Guitar Center Singer-Songwriter contest when Jeff was selected as the winner was Cyra Morgan; she is now a good friend of Jeff, Megan, and Jeff’s manager, Allie.

With at least one more local brew consumed at Bourbon Girl, Jeff, Rick, Max and I zigged-zagged between the bikini clad hostesses of a 6th Street sports bar tossing a football, the endless hip-hop artists trying to get you to buy their CD-R’s, and bicycle ice-cream vendors to find something to soak up the suds.   Since 6th Street is one of Austin’s primary tourist and party spots, the fare is somewhat limited and the guys settled on a pizza slice street vendor.  After a brief stop to catch the final chord of some friend’s of Jeff’s at an establishment down the next block, we landed across the street at The Nook to support Cyra Morgan’s quiet acoustic strumming.

Here is what I came to appreciate about Cyra during our several days in Austin- as an artist, she seems to write about extremely personal and intense themes in her song lyrics (something that I can appreciate being a big fan of minor chords and melancholy melodies in my own writing).  As a person, she is relatively small in stature and deceptively demure, but ferociously courageous and creative and has an uncanny knack of commanding attention from all those around her in a quietly unimposing manner.  Along with her goofy sense of humor, she is comfortable with moving conversation beyond superficial discourse and easily into similar depths as her creative output- idle chit-chat drives me nuts, so it was entertainingly substantive when I had the opportunity to speak with her.  Basically, it was fun to hang in the Jeff Campbell entourage with the whole gang, and she was a welcome addition.

Cyra Morgan – If We Stay

Megan Slankard and her awesome band at Gueros

Megan Slankard and her awesome band at Gueros

We all headed over to Gueros Taco Bar, an outdoor stage with taco tent and tequila bar under an impressively gnarly oak tree, to catch Megan Slankard with her extremely skillful band in performance.   Along with bringing Kyle with her on tour, Megan was able to intersect with additional band members of hers, James DePrato, lead guitar, and Jeff Symonds, electric bass, for several shows in Austin.  There is some serious talent in her group!

She provided a similarly stellar show as that of just about any Megan Slankard performance.  We all convened afterwards down the street on South Congress to try and gain entry into the iconic live music venue, The Continental Club.  Unfortunately, it was roped off for a private event and we had to settle for Doc’s a little further down.  Doc’s was basically a sports bar, but it did have an appropriately ironic hipster marquee stating, “Come People Watch While We Judge You.”

Pinche gringo cara de mierda

Pinche gringo cara de mierda

Doc's on South Congress

Doc’s on South Congress

One thing to understand about SXSW week in Austin is that just about any establishment on 6th Street or anywhere else in the surrounding neighborhoods turns into a live music venue.  You may pass by a hat shop to hear a Steam Punk Folk Fiddle band, or a Gay Bar turned metal hangout, or a parking lot converted into an indie rock stage along with trade and barter bazaar.  That is the beauty of the festival, as the city becomes one big all-inclusive nightclub.


Amateur Night

There are several rules on the road to maintain one’s stamina and focus.  First- what goes on the road, stays on the road.  Or, wait, no, that was not it.  If that were the case, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.   Oh yeah, always bring a sleeping bag and air mattress with you.  Be sure to bring your own coffee.  Until you are in a major metropolitan area, you never know what quality of beans are available.  And, finally, do not go out on a rager the night before a series of important shows.

That last rule is a typical rookie mistake and regardless of the seasoned nature of Jeff’s band, he, Max and Rick decided to go on with James, Jeff S. and Kyle to tie one on.  I somehow demonstrated restraint and begged off. I chauffeured Allie and Cyra back to their rented townhouse and then turned back towards the Jeff Campbell SXSW Country Shack to try and get some rest.

Shed Time

Shed Time

After I unloaded all the instruments from the Element and settled into the quiet of the house, California time still had its hold on me so I took the rare opportunity to shed while I had the place to myself.   I unpacked the Hungarian and practiced my scales, Double Bass duo pieces and Bebop heads.  A couple of hours had passed and the rest of the band was still out on the town, so I then settled into the dangerous excitement of getting some History of Western Music reading under my belt and absorbed the life and compositions of Beethoven.  I know what you are thinking, “wow!  He really lives on the edge!”

I would usually have my iPhone on silent as I am preparing to hit the sack, but for 3:00 in the morning the device was uncharacteristically active as its incessant vibration kept alerting me to some sort of news trending on Facebook.  I turned the screen to read

Car Crashes Into SXSW Crowd; 2 Dead, 23 injured.

Next up:


Alive in the Superunknown




Other entries:
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #1
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #2
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #3
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #5
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #6
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #7
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #8 – Final Episode


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