With a fundraising show this week in Ferndale to help cover their expenses, more than two dozen Mitten State acts are gearing up to play the much-ballyhooed SXSW.
MARCH 8 UPDATE: Midwest House also will be showcasing music in Austin for SXSW, including performances by Michigan acts Desmond Jones, KWAJ, SIAS, The Allah, Sam Be Yourself, Pink Sky, Zilched, Summer Like the Season, Brie Stoner, JonPaul Wallace, Michigander, Stereo Jane and Sabby. Get the full schedule and more info at midwesthouse.org.
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Fronting an eight-piece band whose members have never attended South By Southwest, Grand Rapids-area singer and guitarist Nathan Walton just can’t wait to play one of the world’s biggest music events and one that boasts an “absolutely insane” lineup of stars.
Suffice to say, Nathan Walton & The Remedy are “going all out” for this once-in-a-lifetime road trip to Austin, Texas.
“It’s taken copious amounts of planning, from travel and lodging to performance changes for the venues,” Walton said of preparing for the mammoth SXSW that officially begins later this week, with the music portion kicking off Monday (March 13). The Remedy will play six sets at three different venues over seven days.
“We held a fundraiser to help get us over the money hump, and we were thrilled with the outcome covering our van rental cost. … Get in the van and hit the road! We’ll be gearing our shows for the venues and audience without compromising our sound.”
Walton and company aren’t alone.
More than two dozen Michigan bands and solo artists will represent the Great Lakes State at SXSW, playing several showcases in the heart of “the live music capital of the world.” SXSW boasts sets by 2,000-plus acts with attendance of more than 150,000 people, including many industry executives.
Mitten State performers who are part of a sponsored Michigan contingent include well-known acts The Gasoline Gypsies, Gunnar & The Grizzly Boys, The Bootstrap Boys, Patty PerShayla & The Mayhaps, Hannah Rose Graves, Mark Lavengood and many others.
And speaking of fundraising, the contingent of performers representing a collective of Michigan music organizations and music venues – which has partnered with music industry app SHOWX.com to stage the showcases on Austin’s Sixth Street – will hold a pre-SXSW benefit Thursday (March 9) at The Loving Touch in Ferndale, Mich., to raise money for the trip.
The fundraiser and mixer will feature performances by artists from the across the state, including Marque3tte, Caleb Malooley, McKayla Prew, Hannah Rose Graves, Ryan Jay, Ashley Pyle and Lilly Macphee. Doors open at 6 p.m. with performances beginning around 7:30 or 8 p.m. Admission is a $15 donation at the door.
Fans can also donate online via GoFundMe.com as part of fundraising for “Michigan Artists Traveling to SXSW 2023.”
Proceeds from the fundraising efforts will be split between the artists and bands to offset their travel and lodging costs for SXSW.
The SXSW showcases – being held at San Jac and Dizzy Rooster venues in Austin – are being sponsored and funded by Broken Blanket Media, Onsight75 Productions, All the Way Free and Kalamazoo’s Sounds of the Zoo. The showcases vary in theme, from “Country, Hop & Roll” to “Songwriter Beats” to “Y’ Alternative.”
“The showcases will feature over 28 Michigan Americana, songwriter and electronic acts,” said Jennifer Hudson-Prenkert, founder of Sounds of the Zoo.
Added organizer Yorg Kerasiotis: “It’s a tremendous opportunity to show off the power of Michigan talent to the entire world.”
Indeed, Gunnar Nyblad, frontman for West Michigan country/rock band Gunnar & The Grizzly Boys, said the band has always dreamed of “getting to Texas. It’s been a goal of mine for Gunnar & The Grizzly Boys to be at SXSW since we started.”
“It’s the most important festival we’ll play,” he added, noting the group will play both Dizzy Rooster and San Jac Saloon next week, releasing a new song, “No Rest,” to coincide with SXSW.
“Actually being at the festival will leave impressions like I’ve read about and watched for so many years.”
Like Nyblad and Walton, Grand Rapids singer and songwriter Hannah Rose Graves — who’ll perform some of her newest original songs at Thursday’s fundraiser — also is heading to Austin’s SXSW for the first time.
“I am thrilled beyond description to get to not only attend SXSW, but to get to perform alongside my peers and friends from the Michigan music scene,” she said. “Prepping for Austin includes rehearsing and building power sets. Getting the business aspect in order. Brushing up the website and business cards and all that. We’ve been prepping our whole lives, really.”
Graves and her band will play four sets in all at San Jac Saloon and Dizzy Rooster next week, adding that the trip “is extremely important for networking and establishing contacts” for the future as well as soaking in music from across the globe as “an enriching learning experience.”
Of course, some SXSW performers from Michigan who aren’t part of this particular contingent will also play the festival next week, including The Accidentals, Michigander, Myron Elkins, Kina Love, evrYwhr, November Rose and more. The Accidentals and Michigander have been regular attendees and performers at SXSW.