South By Midwest: Milwaukee bands gear up for SXSW 2011
While there are plenty of terrific local shows to keep Milwaukee buzzing this week, you may notice that a few of our best and brightest bands are MIA. That’s because they’re currently representing our humble hometown—and enjoying 80-degree weather—at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. The country’s premiere “music, film, and interactive conference” celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and is playing host to more than 2,000 bands, thousands of bearded and bespectacled music critics, and an untold number of hangers-on.
Milwaukee’s footprint at the annual event has always been large. For two years running, more than a dozen local acts have made the pilgrimage to the fest. Kings Go Forth, Juiceboxxx, Juniper Tar, and Collections Of Colonies Of Bees are only a few of the bands that made the Texas trek in 2009 and 2010. This year, the number of Milwaukee acts seems to have declined, though the overall quality remains high.
Among the best local groups currently in Austin is Maritime, which plays an official SXSW show March 18 at Mellow Johnny’s. The group’s upcoming album, Human Hearts, is set to drop April 5, with a can’t-miss release party April 9 at Turner Hall.
Also playing a showcase is Milwaukee’s Ramma Lamma. The bubble-gum glam rockers will join John Wesley Coleman III, The People’s Temple, The Onions, Mickey, and others for the Certified PR Records Showcase March 17 at Trailer Space Records. Ramma Lamma’s next scheduled Milwaukee show is April 20 at the Cactus Club.
Heidi Spencer And The Rare Birds make a return trip to Austin this year, where they will play the Central Presbyterian Church March 18. Spencer is certainly one of Milwaukee’s unique voices, and her “Alibi” is certainly one of the best local tracks of last year.
Another band making a return visit is Group Of The Altos. The super-sized instrumental combo is taking part in an ambitious “SXWI” day party March 17, where it joins more than a dozen Wisconsin bands, promoters, journalists, and other creative types.
Finally, Sub Pop’s Jaill is currently on tour, and will eventually make its way to South By Southwest. OnMilwaukee.com columist Bob Purvis is embedded with the band members, and has been chronicling their various misadventures as they draw ever nearer to that Texan bubble of sanity known as Austin.