(Lyor Cohen photo sxsw.com)
We did our homework and had our hit list for the key conference sessions this year. Not everyone is here in Austin to see live music day and night. Some of our favorite moments and experiences are getting to know more about these amazing artists, what inspires them, and all the obstacles they have overcome to get here.
Keynotes: Lyor Cohen (Global Head of Music at YouTube and Google) has worked with epic bands including the Killers, fun., Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, The Black Keys, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and many more. More InfoThis music keynote focused on trends in music industry business and inspiring collaboration. Although music fans might have hoped for a more artist keynote, this one was still highly popular.
Keith Urban A fun late addition, it was awesome to listen and watch this session as Urban was interviewed by acclaimed music Scott Goldman (The Grammy Museum). Urban discussed the experiential differences of playing and touring while being sober versus the old days. He was incredibly open, real, authentic as he discussed issues in his life, his great marriage (and how he was terrible at relationships in the past) and how his music has evolved. One of the coolest sessions. More Info
Katie Couric with muslim rapper Mona Haydar discussing her new podcast for Nat Geo “The Muslim Next Door”. They discussed the proposed travel bans, the current administration, music and living through hate and uneducated times. They taped live for the podcast during the session. It was very interesting and helpful in educating attendees on current issues of race, fear, and coming together. More Info More info about the podcast at couricpodcast
Common-Common was everywhere at this year’s SXSW including several sessions and many live performances. The Grammy-winning rapper was on more than one panel session at SXSW. One he did with Karriem Riggins about their supergroup August Greene, their creative process, and their new partnership with Amazon Music. Discussion included influences behind the music, and the various ways artists are working with streaming and new technologies to amplify new releases. More Info
The other was the CHI Showtime featured session that’s a crossover of music and film at about the drama he created and executive produced. It launched January 2018. As a native of Chicago, Common chats with colleague Lena Waithe (creator) about the struggles of the inner city -the south side and how the area still struggles from racism, poverty and major violence today. More Info See more on the show at The CHI
Elvis Presley This session was amazing as the panel included Priscilla Presley, what a joy to hear her talk about her husband and to hear from her first hand. In addition, the videos to see and hear Elvis and Tom Petty and others was deeply meaningful and nostalgic-albeit sad too. The new film is “Elvis Presley: the Searcher”.
This documentary is a must see for all fans. Priscilla who acts in the film and was executive producer said it was incredibly important to do it proper justice and be accurate in depicting the late musician. The legendary panel discussed the three-hour, two-film presentation about Elvis Presley premiering at SXSW and will begin on HBO on April 14, 2018. We can’t wait to see the entire film! More Info
Kim Deal Kim is the bassist for alt rock band The Pixies and the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for The Breeders-groundbreaking music in the 80’s & 90’s. She’s open and candid with moderator (and friend) Steve Albini about her modest upbringing in a Midwest trailer park was priceless, living in NYC, drugs, and more. She was humble and casual and almost self-deprecating on her massive success in the industry. More Info
Bronx to Billions To understand the massive surge in hip-hop music and it’s top ranking in music consumed today, one must learn the history. The discussion included new vs. old- JayZ vs. trailblazers like Run D.M.C. (who appeared at SXSW last year), Grand Wizard Theodore, Kurtis Blow-and the current billion dollar business and how different it was for the originals living in the ghettos of NYC writing lyrics about their difficult lives and making no money. An epic session with original rappers from NYC who also shared how they stay relevant and successful today, although Kurtis Blow was a last minute cancel, it was still super cool. More Info
Niles Rogers was such a hit last year that they brought him back for an enlightening Q&A session. As a legendary producer and musician (working with the likes of Diana Ross and tons more) Rogers shared insights on music production and how to have the same longevity as in his career. More Info
New Jack Swing with legend Teddy Riley was incredible hearing about the resurgence of this music style, partly due to Bruno Mars’ and bringing back funk and some Jackson-esque style to today’s music world. They talked about the renaissance in hip-hop and staying relevant. This sound was created by fusing R&B, hip-hop, and gospel. Riley produced mega hits for Michael Jackson, New Edition, Keith Sweat and more. Listening to stories of the legendary Jackson brought us back to that time, that era, and wishing he was still around. Riley dressed dapper and stylish and was totally animated in his story-telling which made it fun. This was part of the Music Culture & Stories track at the music festival. More Info
Linda Perry Perry has been a uniquely successful independent musician, a difficult task today. Linda has been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and has been a huge influence on today’s female artists like Pink, Adele, and more. She discussed her company and record label We Are Here and how she helps young artists reach their goals by providing artists with a unique production facility home and a set of tools to help build their future. More Info Read more about hear We Are Hear
Local fave Shakey Graves Alejandro Rose-Garcia talked about what goes into a successful music career and how to put together the right team around you. Graves also performed throughout SXSW and is a staple here in Austin. More Info
Todd Rundgren We were bummed to miss this one. Rundgren has been around for decades and was an integral part of the music scene since the 60’s. Rundgren has made a lasting impact on both the form and content of popular music. More Info
Greg Allman More Info We couldn’t make this one as we were double booked but this was such a nice tribute to the late Allman Brother. What a loss in the music world.