Mark Lavengood, Seth Bernard, Lady Ace Boogie, Alexander Lynch, The Accidentals, Billy Strings, Major Murphy and more are embracing SXSW 2018, Austin’s rousing vibe, its tacos and all the musical action.
SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO GALLERY, VIDEOS
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
Crammed in a mini-van, winding through hectic Austin streets, Mark Lavengood, Seth Bernard and Gregory Stovetop are entirely in their element.
With instruments packed tightly in back, the trio and photographer Tyler Franz are headed down the road to play a set at the Cheer Up Charlie’s bar, functioning as the backing band for Small Houses (which also featured songwriter David Ramirez on bass).
What ensued was a smoldering set of atmospheric folk-rock for a dazzled audience.
“It’s been freaking incredible,” said Grand Rapids guitarist, bassist and Dobro-meister Mark Lavengood, while navigating the van from the driver’s seat. “I was able to experience part of the (SXSW) Film (festival), part of the Interactive, and now the Music is coming at us. Michigan House has just absolutely crushed with music and an incredible lineup of panel speakers. Playing music with this team has just been pretty dreamlike.”
After their set at Cheer Up, the Michigan musicians stepped directly off stage, back into the van and down the road to play their own set at Stay Gold for a capacity room. The group traded frontman responsibilities and fledged a rockin’ set as a trio.
“I’m loving every minute of it. I’m here for the music and the tacos, but really I’m just here to see if I can run into (actor) Matthew McConaughey and see if he’d be down to vibe and ride around,” Gregory Stovetop joked. “No, I’ve been loving South by Southwest. It’s my first time here, so I’m just enamored by all the action.”
As the Austin veteran of the group, northern Michigan’s Seth Bernard, founder of the Earthwork Music collective, noted his love of the town and getting to share the experience with his fellow musicians.
MEMORIES THAT THEY’LL ‘CHERISH FOREVER’
“Man, our first day here was filled with amazing panels at Michigan House that were really inspiring. Michigan House does a great job of bringing people together from around the state. We went swimming at Barton springs and played a friend’s barbecue house show,” Bernard said.
“We’ve just been having fun. Every day has been filled with memories that I’ll cherish forever.”
Earlier in the day Tuesday, Detroit artist Alexendar Lynch, formerly of Grand Rapids, gave a soulful performance for a growing crowd at Austin’s Stay Gold nightclub as part of Michigan House’s closing event — a musical showcase featuring 10 acts from the Great Lakes State. (Check out videos, photos below.)
Backed by a DJ and equipped with smooth dance moves the singer-songwriter belted out his pop-worthy tunes charismatically.
“It’s one of those things that you always hear about and when you actually get here (to SXSW), it’s kind of surreal,” Lynch said after his set.
“It’s a big focal point in the industry. It’s one of those steps to meeting those industry people. I’ve enjoyed just getting to meet people and have conversations with other creative people.”
Other highlights from the evening at Stay Gold included exuberant sets from Grand Rapids hip hop artist Lady Ace Boogie, Grand Rapids dream pop outfit Major Murphy and Detroit chillwave artist Vespre, among others.
ROCKING FANS HIGH ABOVE AUSTIN
Meanwhile, downtown on the 18th floor of the Hilton Garden Inn, one of Michigan’s most buzzed-about bands, The Accidentals, performed a captivating alt-folk set for an attentive late evening crowd, one of several official SXSW showcases the band is playing this week.
The Traverse City trio juggled instruments and unleashed a rollicking set while the city skyline stretched out below. The show ended with multi-instrumentalists Savannah Buist and Katie Larson parading through the audience with their instruments while trading solos in an epic duel.
Later in the same room, bluegrass phenom Billy Strings — an Ionia native and former Traverse City resident — played a riveting show for another capacity audience, closing out the night with a furious whirlwind of rousing fretwork.
The set included one particularly lengthy jam by Billy Strings, aka William Apostol, and his cohorts that morphed into rousing renditions of some of the band’s classic live tunes. The band’s banjoist was even wearing a “Greensky Bluegrass” T-shirt in a nod to another Michigan-bred bluegrass powerhouse.
“If Billy doesn’t get signed after this,” Accidentals percussionist Michael Dause quipped in the middle of the jam, “none of us can.”
Of course, much of SXSW is really about just being part of the mammoth event; performances by Michigan acts in Austin later in the week included sets by In the Valley Below, The Outer Vibe, Flint Eastwood and others.
PHOTO GALLERY: SXSW 2018
Photos by Anna Sink
VIDEOS: MICHIGAN ACTS AT SXSW 2018
LADY ACE BOOGIE (@ Stay Gold)
BERNARD, LAVENGOOD & STOVETOP (@ Stay Gold)
IN THE VALLEY BELOW (@ Floodfest)
MAJOR MURPHY (@ Stay Gold)
VESPRE (@ Stay Gold)
THE ACCIDENTALS (@ Hilton Garden Inn)
ALEXANDER LYNCH (@ Stay Gold)
DOGLEG (@ Stay Gold)
Copyright 2018, Spins on Music LLC