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The Cult Headline Austin City Limits Live During SXSW

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The Cult headlined the Austin City Limits Live set at the Moody Theater late Friday night playing for a packed SXSW crowd looking to end their music-filled day with a bang, and Billy Duffy and crew did not disappoint.

While lightning raged outdoors, cancelling many SXSW showcases, the groundbreaking band entertained the indoor masses at the premier venue with songs from their recent release Hidden City, including “Dark Energy,” “Hinterland” and “Birds of Paradise.” They also mixed it up with classics “She Sells Sanctuary,” “Sweet Soul Sister,” “Lil’ Devil” and “Wildflower.”

In addition to The Cult’s epic performance, the crowd was treated to several supporting acts, including the Joe Scarborough Band, the New Regime featuring Ilan Rubin (drummer NIN, Paramore), Fantastic Negrito, and Blue October.

The Cult’s U.S. tour continues through April. Check out their tour dates here.

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Israel Nash Hosts Triumphant ‘Live From the Hills with Love’ During SXSW

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“A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet,” Israel Nash told those who had gathered out at his Plum Creed Sound studios in Dripping Springs, Texas, on Thursday for “Live From the Hills With Love,” an afternoon of good old southern hospitality, outstanding performances and free beer.

About 45 minutes away from the madness of South by Southwest musical festival in what’s called Texas Hill Country, sits Nash’s labor of love.  And for those who scored a ticket to the intimate hang and ventured down an old gravel road to the studios on the side of a hill to watch sets by Nash, Bee Caves, Kirby Brown, T. Hardy Morris, Eric Pulido (Midlake), Matthew Logan Vasquez and the Wild Reeds, they were definitely treated as newfound friends by a very welcoming host.

Originally from the Ozarks in Missouri, Nash and his wife transplanted to the Austin area from New York in 2011, after falling in love with the scene during the annual SXSW fest.

Critically-acclaimed 2013 breakthrough album Rain Plans was inspired by country life on his new 15-acre ranch, and Nash and his top-notch band  (comprised by Joey McCllelan on guitar, Eric Swanson on pedal steel, Aaron McCllelan on bass and John Fleischman on drums) made sure to perform a few of its tracks during their Thursday night headlining set. Rootsy sing-along number “Rexanimarum” earned instant cheers from the crowd with its downright country lyrics:  “Oh, my baby, settle in. Take your worries and put fire to them. Pour me out just like sour wine. Got the money if you got the time.”

Nash shared stories throughout the set, revealing the stress and team effort that went into converting an old barn into a studio to record 2015’s Silver Season, a masterful blend of psychedelia and country that was produced by Grammy-award winner Ted Young (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth).

As Nash recalled, just as everyone had arrived to get to work on the album in May 2015, Austin was pummeled with historic flooding, and instead of laying down tracks, the guys were sandbagging and building a trench around the studio.

And although rain drizzled for most of Thursday morning, there was nothing but blue skies and a glorious sunset as Nash and company immersed themselves and the audience in Silver Season cosmic-sounding cut “Strangers,” the beautiful harmony-soaked “LA Lately” and the Neil Young-ish like ode “Parlour Song,” which Nash was inspired to write after the Sandy Hook shooting.

Nash’s on-stage swagger is undeniable, yet he also showcased a special humility and true appreciation for his family, bandmates and the fellow artists who came out to play sets throughout the afternoon.

The intimate event felt every bit like a communal and triumphant celebration for Plum Creek Sound, and indeed, if you arrived a stranger, you felt like you left as a friend.

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We missed catching Kirby Brown’s live set, but we sure enjoyed the Texas-born, New York based artist’s front porch pickin’ and strummin’ on our Gretsch Roots Honey Dipper Resonator.

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Eric Pulido of Midlake has been working on a debut album with newly formed supergroup Banquet, featuring fellow Midlake bandmates McKenzie Smith, Joey McClellan and Jesse Chandler, as well as Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle and Travis’ Fran Healy.

Joined by McClellan (on a striking Silver Jet) and Chandler on keys/flute, Pulido gave a sneak peek of one of their new songs, recorded a few hours away in Denton, Texas, and well, let’s just say, we can’t wait until the album drops.

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Matthew Logan Vasquez of Delta Spirit, who is a fellow Texas Hill Country, played what he introduced as a “long song about doing drugs, finding religion, moving back to Austin, and meeting his wife in Fresno.” He wasn’t kidding about the long – the song sprawled  a good 15-20 minutes.

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T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate) kept it simple, just a man and his guitar as he played songs off his 2015 album Drownin On a Mountaintop, which was described by Pitchfork aswild, prickly, and unsentimental. The twang remains, but this time grunge and punk are the driving impulses.”

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Our SXSW Hang with Under the Radar

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We were thrilled to partner with Under the Radar for their SXSW day parties in Austin, Texas, which kicked off on Wednesday at Flamingo Cantina with a noontime set by HAELOS.

Heavily influenced by late ‘80s and early-90s post –new wave dance music, the London electro-pop trio is one of those “must watch” bands during the annual music festival. Signed to renowned indie label Matador Records, HAELOS dazzled the crowd with their expansive and glorious sound.

Another highlight proved to be Hinds, a quartet of awesome gals from Madrid Spain, who headed into SXSW with a ton of buzz and momentum. The lo-fi garage rock band is definitely out for exposure this week as they kicked off the first of 17, yep, count ‘em, 17 shows at SXSW with an early afternoon set. The band grooved to Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing (I Believe in Miracles)” and gave out a Texas Lone Star salute to the audience before launching in to their set.

To the jerk in the crowd who intentionally popped our orange Gretsch mini beach balls, we just want you to know that several of us nearly passed out trying to blow those things up! #karma #partypooper

Despite the “ball buster,” terrific sets by Hockey Dad, Fear of Men, Sunflower Bean, YUCK and Caveman finished out the day on a huge high.

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We love when we talk to musicians and they get all gooey and geeky over guitars (like we do) or just wax poetic about songwriting and their craft.  There was certainly that sense of shared communal love of music going on at Under the Radar’s official SXSW showcase on Wednesday night at the Central Presbyterian Church.

From TEEN to Car Seat Headrest to Still Corners, the audience sat quietly in the pews, treating the performances with a devout sense of reverence.

But what do you when performing a SXSW show at a church if you are the one up on the altar? Preach from the pulpit of course.  Dressed in jeans and a matching denim jacket with a Neil Young and Crazy Horse “Rust Never Sleeps” T-Shirt peeking out, Eleanor Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces took the altar and showcased several songs from her 2016 highly praised solo album New View.

Backed by touring back Icewater, Friedberger eventually made her way up to the raised pedestal, where she dipped back to her 2011 solo debut Last Summer and closed out her set with its carefree cut “My Mistakes.”

“It’s always sort of shocking – I’m so proud and impressed when people come to see us,” Friedberger had said earlier in the set.

As she strutted off the stage while her band finished out the song’s final notes, it was evident that she had impressed and converted several new fans with her “new view” and ongoing musical maturation.

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We also walked away seriously awed by Julien Baker, a singer-songwriter from Memphis, Tenn., who has the ethereal voice of an angel. Although diminutive in figure and armed only with an electric guitar, Baker took and commanded the stage with her raw and confessional songs off solo debut album Sprained Ankle.

The album includes tracks like “Good News” and “Rejoice,” seemingly fitting titles on the surface for a house of worship. However, Baker explicitly explores depression, substance abuse, and even contemplates her faith with references both to god and the devil.

Caught up initially by Baker’s airy and beautiful delivery, it’s both jarring and even more impressionable when her darker lyrics actually sink in.

“Come visit me, come visit me,” she sang during “Blacktop.” “In the back of an ambulance, a saline communion that I held like a séance on the blacktop. The devil in my arm says feed me to the wolves tonight.”

Taking those words literally, if there were any critics in the audience, we’re betting she effectively silenced them.  Stay tuned for more from Baker as her star seems destined to rise.

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Although our Gretsch team primarily split our time on Thursday between hosting artists at the Brooklyn Vegan SXSW day party and out in the hill country at Israel Nash’s Plum Creek Sound studios, getting back over to Under the Radar to catch Petite Noir was an absolute must!

Petite Noir, aka Yannick Ilunga, is a South African singer-songwriter from Cape Town, South Africa. His debut album, La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful, is difficult to classify with elements of rap, dance music and rock. Some would say alt-R&B, but we’ll just roll with what Ilunga coined “noirwave,” and it definitely had the mid-day crowd on Thursday grooving.

THANKS TO THE SO VERY AWESOME CREW AT UNDER THE RADAR FOR HAVING US!

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Brian Fallon Performs New Single on Colbert

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Brian Fallon celebrated the release of his solo debut album, Painkillers, with a stop by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he performed the instantly likable track, “A Wonderful Life.

During his time with the Gaslight Anthem, Fallon recently drew comparisons to fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen, and this number certainly feels very Springsteen-ish. It, and the rest of the album, also boast the wizardry of famed producer Butch Walker.

Watch Fallon live below, backed by several musicians including Gaslight Anthem guitarist Alex Rosamilia, the Horrible Crowes’ Ian Perkins (on a Gretsch 12-string), Jared Hart of The Scandals and Frank Marra.

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Keb’ Mo’ Shares Soundcheck Video

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Take a look at a behind-the-scenes clip of Keb’ Mo’ with his Gretsch Electromatic during soundcheck for his #HotPinkBlues Tour.

Sounds pretty sick, eh?

Find out where you can catch him on tour!

Sound check. #HotPinkBlues Tour.

Posted by Keb' Mo' on Sunday, March 6, 2016

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