Though it's probably less spoken about among aficionados and practitioners of improvised music than in rock circles, the week of March 15-21 in Austin can only mean one thing: South By Southwest (SXSW). It's a chance for people in the underground and not-so-underground rock circles to meet and play together in venues citywide, make almost no money, be stressed out, and surrounded by lots of itinerant and probably inebriated folks. In a way, it is rather fun - especially when one catches the out-of-the-way acts, small day parties, or in-stores featuring the undersung and just plain interesting. SXSW also includes a film festival and an interactive component.
This year, I'm skipping it and heading to see friends and family in the Kansas City area. But at least we in the left-field music realm got pre-SXSW juice from Free Fall (Ken Vandermark, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Havard Wiik) and composer Ellen Fullman.
It would be nice and interesting if other genres of music were represented in a more steadfast way during SXSW. Perhaps a multi-label showcase or sponsored event with jazz, free jazz, and experimental groups. There is a festival of noise and zaniness called Yeast By Sweet Beast that precedes SXSW, but if you're looking for jazzier vibrations, that's less a part of YXSB. I created a facebook group in the hopes that in 2011, some inroads could be made via the jazz and improvised music communities. If you live in Austin and have an interest in this sort of music, or if you are an improviser/composer and would like to perform in some sort of future SXSW aggregation, please join the group.
This may also serve as a reminder as to why a whole host of self-imposed deadlines remain half filled.