Looking for previews and reviews of SXSW 2019? Right this way.

SXSW 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2018 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012

Don't forget to like There Goes the Fear on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

SXSW 2018 Interview: Buck Meek

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd July 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo: Buck Meek, far right, with his band at Luck Reunion during SXSW 2018

If you’re a regular TGTF reader, you might already be familiar with the name of singer/songwriter Buck Meek. We’ve covered Meek before in his role as part of alt-rock band Big Thief, both in live review and previous SXSW coverage. Back in March, during SXSW 2018, Meek came to Austin as a solo artist, to preview his now-released debut LP, which is simply titled ‘Buck Meek.’ I caught a very quick moment with Meek after his set at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion to ask him about the new album.

‘Buck Meek’ technically isn’t Meek’s solo debut, following on his previous EP release ‘Heart Was Beat’ from back in 2015. That EP includes the memorable track ‘Sam Bridges’, which he played in a slightly different form in the Revival Tent at Luck than what I remembered from a live performance in Phoenix with Big Thief several years ago. Discussing his set on the day, Meek agreed. “That [song] had a more country feel. I mean, we’re playing it with a slide guitar player today, who kind of mimics the [pedal] steel, and with a country drum beat and everything.”

Having only seen Meek before in the context of Big Thief’s edgy folk rock, I was curious about the more obvious country influence I heard on display in his solo work. “I think there’s influence there”, Meek says. “I grew up in Wimberly, Texas, south of Austin. I grew up listening to, surrounded by country music. So it’s always been, I think, an influence. And to be honest, this set, I catered more towards that feel.”

But many of the songs on ‘Buck Meek’, the album, defy easy classification as straighforward country songs. Musically, the record’s foundational country tone is obfuscated by elements of what Meek describes as “grunge, and punk rock, and more esoteric stuff.” Early single ‘Cannonball!’ has a distinct twang to it, most prominently in Meek’s vocal lines, but its laid-back rhythm section is unmistakabely jazz-tinged, and its electric guitar riff is pure blues rock. ‘Ruby’ is a charmingly elusive, rhythmically complex track which Meek explained to Uproxx as “the suspension in love, when time folds in on itself, when the first instant of meeting cycles through the idiosyncratic friction and ancient affection of years together, which again cycles into infancy and eager fascination — all contained within a sideways glance.”

Thematically, ‘Buck Meek’ touches on a wide array of subject matter, from platonic male friendship (‘Joe By the Book’) to a plane crash in the French Alps (‘Flight 9525’), and an intriguing cast of characters, including a widow named ‘Sue’ and a devoted canine ‘Best Friend.’ In the end, the heart of the album is revealed in final track ‘Fool Me’, a late night country bar classic, with a plaintive piano melody and Meek’s self-deprecating vocal evoking the mild yet persistent yearning of one last slow dance on an otherwise deserted dance floor.

‘Buck Meek’ was released on the 18th of May on Austin record label Keeled Scales. Buck Meek will spend the remainder of the summer on tour supporting the release of the album, including the following run of dates in the UK in August. In addition to the shows listed below, Meek will support fellow country artist Courtney Marie Andrews at the Norwich Arts Centre on the 21st of August and at Southampton’s Talking Heads on the 22nd of August. You can find a full listing of Meek’s upcoming live dates on his official Facebook. TGTF’s previous coverage of Buck Meek is collected through here.

Monday 20th August 2018 – Brighton Komedia
Thursday 23rd August 2018 – London Islington
Friday 24th August 2018 – Manchester Gullivers
Sunday 26th August 2018 – Dublin Grand Social
Monday 27th August 2018 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tuesday 28th August 2018 – Glasgow Hug and Pint

 

SXSW 2018 Interview: Sam Lewis

 
By on Thursday, 21st June 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Nashville singer/songwriter Sam Lewis seemed very much in his element at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion, which took place just outside Austin during SXSW 2018. The weather was sunny, the atmosphere was mellow, and the music was abundant. I heard Lewis perform at the early-by-SXSW-standards hour of 11 AM, and later in the afternoon I had a chance to chat with him about his new LP, ‘Loversity’, which was released on the 4th of May.

Sam Lewis internal(photo by Sarah Bennett)

Despite the afternoon sunshine, a strong breeze was blowing as we found seats on a quaint wooden swing set, and Lewis broke the conversational ice by asking about the windscreen on my voice recorder. “Tell me what’s on your recorder right now, because this thing looks kind of like, remember Don King, the boxing promoter? It looks like his hair.” (He wasn’t wrong; if you’re not American or have no idea who Don King is, check out photos of Don King through here.)

I asked Lewis about the Song Swap he’d played that morning with Courtney Marie Andrews, Caleb Caudle, and Kevin Kinney, and he responded with a wry smile. “With 100 percent honesty, I think all four of us were were asked to come play, and then we found out a couple of weeks ago that it was at 11 AM and it was a Song Swap, so we all kind of got a chuckle out of that.”

Lewis played three songs on that set, and I was surprised that none of them were from his new record. His explanation was disarmingly candid: “I didn’t feel like playing any of those.” But he continued, talking about the songs he chose to play instead. “I played ‘Virginia Avenue’, [which is] a song about where I’m from, and ‘In My Dreams’, which is off of my first record, and I also played a song called ‘Little Time’ which is a John Prine-inspired song I wrote with Taylor Bates in Nashville.”

Lewis released his self-titled debut album in 2012 and followed it up with ‘Waiting on You’ in 2015. His new third album, ‘Loversity’, centers around its eponymous title track, which sprang from a moment of spontaneous inspiration. “I was touring a couple of years ago, just outside of Richmond, Virginia, and I passed by this really cool, colorful building.” The sign on the building was partially obscured, and in his road weary state of mind, Lewis couldn’t quite make out what it said. “I saw this building, and all I saw was ‘-ersity’. I knew that there was missing letters or something, [but] I just blurted out ‘Loversity’. A friend of mine was with me at the time, and he looked it up real quick, and he was like, ‘That’s not a word.’ And I said, ‘Well, I really dig that, I don’t know what that means, but I’m going to find out what that means. So, I wound up writing a song called ‘Loversity’.”

‘Loversity’, the album, is an eclectic group of songs, both in terms of musical style and lyrical subject matter.”I don’t know where it’s going to wind up living as far as genre,” Lewis admitted. “Like with many things, there’s an identity crisis [in music], everything’s been cross-pollinated. It’s getting called ‘cosmic country’, it’s getting called ‘country funk’. I’ve heard all sorts of different things. It’s got a little bit of everything, because I’m not a big fan of limitations, but exercising all of your abilities.”

“I’m really proud of [this] project,” Lewis said about ‘Loversity’, which he produced, working with Brandon Bell at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville. “I’m a big fan of this project because of the people involved.” Lewis recorded the album with his former band, who now tour full time with Chris Stapleton and could only join Lewis in the studio. Despite having given a solo acoustic performance earlier in the day, Lewis said, “That’s where I’m going with everything, full band. Like, I experimented with horns on this album. There’s two songs that have horns, and I can see how you can get a little crazy with that, because it’s really fun.”

The individual songs on ‘Loversity’ are more philosophical than actually political, though some of them do touch on political ideas. “They’re getting thrown into a political realm, which I’m fine with, but they’re not political songs,” Lewis said. The common thread among them is a thematic motif of unity and sharing, and Lewis confesses that “they’re personal songs. I needed to hear those songs, too.”

I had a confession to make at that point as well, that I had only listened to the album once before meeting Lewis that day. He was undeterred, encouraging me not only to “try it again,” but to “try it at different times, try it it inebriated, try it non-caffeinated, try it in a car . . .” In the time between the interview and this publication, I’ve taken his advice, and I’ll pass it along to you. ‘Loversity’ is a perfect listen if you’re searching for an uplifting message in trying times, if you need a soundtrack for a long drive, or if you simply want a soulful groove on a hot summer night. Try it.

‘Loversity’ is available now via Sam Lewis’ official Web site. Our thanks to Sarah for coordinating this interview.

 

SXSW 2018: Thursday night at Luck Reunion (part 2) and back to downtown Austin – 15th March 2018

 
By on Tuesday, 24th April 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

If you haven’t read part 1 of my Luck Reunion recap, you can find it back here.

After a busy afternoon of fine music, the sun started to set over Willie Nelson‘s Luck Ranch, and I made my way to the World Headquarters stage, where a full docket of fine music was scheduled for the evening. The crowd had already begun to gather in anticipation of the later acts, and they were enthusiastic in their support of Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real. Lukas Nelson, for those not in the know, is Willie Nelson’s son, but he and his surf-tinged country rock band have a dedicated following in their own right. His fans were especially delighted when he was joined on stage by a pair of special guests, Margo Price and Kurt Vile.

LN and MP

Price made only a brief cameo after her surprise performance in the Luck Chapel earlier in the day, but Vile’s appearance segued into his own solo set, which received a surprisingly muted response from the Nelson family diehards in the crowd. Vile played songs from his own 2015 LP ‘b’lieve i’m goin down’ with assistance from the Promise of the Real, as well as a particularly moving solo cover of Bob Dylan‘s ‘Roll on John’.

Kurt Vile

There was a rather long interlude after Vile’s set, and dusk fittingly turned to dark before Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats took the stage. Rateliff has become quite the showman with the success of his two most recent albums, the 2015 breakthrough self-titled LP and brand new release ‘Tearing at the Seams’, and he didn’t disappoint the eager fans at Luck. He and his band tore through tracks from both albums, joined near the end by members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (who also played earlier in the day) for a blistering finale leading into the evening’s main event.

NR internal

That highly anticipated main event was, of course, a performance by the man himself, Willie Nelson. Nelson was joined on stage by a cast of family and friends, including son Lukas, for a set chock full of well-worn but well-loved tunes, including ‘Whiskey River’, ‘Beer for My Horses’ (which always made me laugh when I was a little girl) and ‘Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys’.

WN internal

Fans in the audience were clearly primed to hear all the Willie Nelson classics they knew and loved, and Nelson didn’t disappoint. The strains of his final singalong were ringing in my ears as I made my way through the crowd to head back downtown, and I couldn’t resist a final look at the gathering as I departed. Lest we forget, among all the great old tunes of Willie Nelson’s storied past, the 84-year-old songwriter has a brand new album coming out on the 27th of April, called ‘Last Man Standing.’ Have a listen to its title track through here.

Luck Reunion finale
Photo courtesy of James Joiner capturing the atmosphere of fellowship perfectly

Though internet access at the Luck Ranch had been spotty throughout the day, I was able to call an Uber to get back into Austin to catch two more shows downtown before calling it a night. I was thankful for my SXXpress pass when I arrived at the already crowded Mohawk to see British ex-pat Bishop Briggs, who has taken the alt-rock scene by storm since I last saw her in Phoenix in 2016. Her debut album ‘Church of Scars’, featuring hit tracks ‘White Flag’ and ‘River’, has just been released as this article goes to press.

Bishop Briggs inernal

My final stop on this truly incredible day was at the Palm Door on Sixth, where diehard English troubadour Frank Turner was on stage for a solo set. Turner is a regular fixture at SXSW, and his fans turned up in droves for this showcase hoping to hear their favourite tunes. Turner obliged them to a degree, but quickly shifted focus to songs from his forthcoming album ‘Be More Kind’, including the recently released and pointedly political single ‘Make America Great Again’. Check out its charming promo video, filmed in Austin during SXSW, right through here.

Frank Turner internal

Seeing Turner’s relentless energy and enthusiasm for his new songs was a particular highlight of SXSW for me, even after the amazing songwriting I’d been privy to all day long at the Luck Reunion. Thursday at SXSW 2018 was a remarkable day indeed, and one I won’t soon forget. Many hearty thanks to the Luck Reunion organisers, as well as to all the artists featured here.

 

SXSW 2018: Thursday at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion (Part 1) – 15th March 2018

 
By on Friday, 20th April 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

On the Thursday of SXSW, I had the unique opportunity to attend the celebrated Luck Reunion, hosted at the Luck, Texas ranch of legendary country songwriter Willie Nelson. The Luck Reunion’s stated mission is “to cultivate the new while showing honor to influence”, among “musicians, artisans, and chefs, who like the outlaws and outliers before them, follow their dreams without compromise.” The event is staged at Nelson’s home and working ranch, which is about a 45-minute drive from downtown Austin, and which presents a very different atmosphere from the hectic SXSW schedule of conferences and showcases.

Lilly Hiatt internal

Once arrived at the Luck Ranch, I didn’t have much time to get acquainted with the surroundings before the full day of music was set to begin. I took a quick peek into the tiny Luck Chapel to catch a couple of songs from Nashville songwriter Lilly Hiatt, whose quirky combination of folky Americana and grungy rock sounds can be heard on her recent third album ‘Trinity Lane’.

Song Swap internal

Next, I headed outside to the Revival Stage, which was hosting a “song swap”, including a pair of songwriters I was keen to hear, Arizona native singer Courtney Marie Andrews and soulful Nashville songwriter Sam Lewis, who were joined onstage by fellow songwriters Caleb Caudle and Kevin Kinney (of Drivin’ N Cryin’). I’m not sure if the song swap was intended to be more interactive among the performers, but in practice, the four artists simply took turns singing their own songs, rather than actually swapping. That said, I was especially excited to hear songs from Andrews’ excellent recent album ‘May Your Kindness Remain’, and Lewis’ upcoming LP ‘Loversity’. All four singers made a strong impression of the quality of songwriting on display at Luck.

Buck Meek internal

Immediately following on the same stage, Buck Meek (also known to TGTF readers as part of Big Thief) played a set of his solo tunes, including one, ‘Sam Bridges’, that I vaguely recognized from a Big Thief show back in 2015. I was able to catch Meek after his set for a quick chat about that song as well as the new ones on his forthcoming self-titled solo LP. Stay tuned to TGTF for that interview, which will post in the coming days.

Sam Lewis internal

After chatting with Meek, I had an appointment for another interview, this one with the aforementioned Sam Lewis. Outside the Luck Chapel, he and I took seats on an old wooden swingset, which was both novel and remarkably sturdy. (Thanks to Sarah for the photo above.) Lewis was outgoing and easy to talk to, and we chatted extensively about his upcoming LP ‘Loversity’, which is due out on the 4th of May. Be sure to check back with us for the forthcoming full interview, where he expands on the album’s unusual title as a theme for the songs it contains.

David Ramirez internal

My next stop was at the Back to the Source Stage for Austin native songwriter David Ramirez. I’d spied Ramirez and his bandmates earlier, walking around the Luck Ranch and enjoying the beautiful day ahead of their set. The informal atmosphere seemed very much to Ramirez’ liking, and he played a gorgeous show for the occasion, finding a pitch-perfect blend of old songs and new ones alike. He and his band were in top form here, showcasing themselves collectively under the newly minted moniker David Ramirez and the Hard Luck.

Jade Bird internal

I had noticed in passing that the Luck Chapel had a constant queue outside it throughout the afternoon. With a capacity of only 50 people, the intimate stage was in high demand all day long, but never more so than for British singer/songwriter Jade Bird. Disappointed that I wasn’t able to get inside to see her performance, I went around to the side of the building and spectated through an open window. The collection of punters standing outside with me were as delighted with Bird’s performance as the lucky ones who’d gotten in, and she quickly gained a reputation as “one to watch” for the remainder of SXSW. I was fortunate to hear Jade Bird sing again the following morning; keep an eye on TGTF for my Friday recap.

Hop Along internal

From there, it was a quick few steps back to the Revival Stage, where I saw a pair of rather unusual acts, Hop Along and Ezra Furman. Hop Along were unfamiliar to me, but I took an instant liking to lead singer Frances Quinlan’s voice. Their new album ‘Bark Your Head Off, Dog’ is an odd but appealing collection of songs painted with a broad sonic palette, out now via Saddle Creek. I was slightly more familiar with Ezra Furman, and the Luck Reunion seemed at first glance an odd choice of venue for his brand of angsty rock. However, if the event’s focus was indeed on “outlaws” of songwriting, Furman was in the right place, despite the oddity of seeing him perform in typically-female attire against the backdrop of a functional stable and horse pen. His recent fourth solo album ‘Transangelic Exodus’ is a brilliant and bizarre display of lyrical storytelling, out now on Bella Union.

Ezra Furman

By this point, I needed a break before hitting the World Headquarters Stage for evening sets by Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, Kurt Vile, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, and of course, Willie Nelson and Family. Drinks at the Luck Reunion were complimentary and freely flowing at various locations throughout the day, but I took this time out to avail myself of the food choices provided by a selection of local vendors. There was no shortage of delicious options, and if you appreciate a deftly-designed culinary experience alongside your carefully-curated music, then the Luck Reunion would certainly be your cup of tea. Stay tuned to TGTF for my Thursday evening recap, which will include more from the Luck Reunion as well as two late night shows back in downtown Austin.

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us

Privacy Policy