Latin alt-music gathering hits Austin note
Organizer, musicians, official represent city at Big Apple conference
NEW YORK — The Latin Alternative Music Conference takes place in New York City, but its connection to the Texas capital is undeniable. Not only do half the bands wax poetic about Austin audiences and talk longingly of margaritas on South Congress, but the city was well-represented among conference-goers last week, both onstage and behind the scenes. Among those handing out CDs in the crowd Friday was a representative of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, which has produced a compilation album of Austin Latin alternative acts, ranging from Maneja Beto and Charanga Cakewalk to Amplified Heat and Vallejo. And one of Austin’s own, Ocote Soul Sounds, garnered a coveted spot on Saturday’s closing showcase at Central Park.
Austin’s Rich Garza, who organizes the ever-growing Pachanga Festival, was also on hand, scoping out new talent. “It’s good for Austin, us getting out here and representing,” Garza said. “The fact that an Austin band is playing is super exciting.” Garza noted that Ocote Soul Sounds is one of just a handful of U.S.-based bands to crack the lineup; the rest hail from
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For Garza, who also is on staff with the conference, the gathering is an excellent way to take in lots of new music from distant lands at one time. “To be able to see everything happening in one place, for lack of a better word, is convenient for a guy like me,” he said. “For Pachanga, it’s served a role in meeting artists and reconnecting with those who’ve played the festival before.”
So who landed on Garza’s radar during the conference this year? Oaklandbased Los Rakas, a Panamanian group blending hip-hop, reggae and dancehall, impressed at their Thursday night show. “(They) were absolutely amazing,” Garza said. “They were like the Roots or something.” Garza also was excited about Chico Mann, who fuses Afro Cuban and funk and came highly recommended by Ocote Soul Sounds’ Adrian Quesada. And he thoroughly enjoyed Mexico’s glam rock wildmen Moderatto, which closed Thursday night’s set at the Bowery Ballroom.
Fowler on fire. Local country hell-raiser Kevin Fowler has entered the Billboard country songs charts at No. 37 with “Pound Sign (#?*!),” a song about how you can’t say how you really feel on country radio after you wake up from a bender.
The tune is Fowler’s highest-charting yet, and the way it’s moving up, it could hit the top 10 before too long. The new album will be out in the fall on the Disney Music Group’s Lyric Street Records, which no longer has an office in Nashville but remains a Disney imprint.
The timing of the single bodes well for Fowler Fest, July 24 at Nutty Brown Cafe, featuring such support acts as Aaron Watson, Kyle Park and Curtis Grimes. Tickets ($24.50 to $95.50) are already on sale through Frontgate Tickets.
Stolen tour? Apparently sometime after Phosphorescent kicked off a U.S. tour — scheduled to stop July 22 at the ND at 501 Studios in Austin — their tour van was stolen in Brooklyn. Their label, the Austin-based Dead Oceans, has the details on what happened Thursday night and how fans can donate to replace gear (the van was insured) — and keep the tour going (check the blog at deadoceans.com).
Dead Oceans co-owner and label manager Phil Waldorf said Friday that the tour is not canceled, but a few dates will have to be canceled or postponed while the band figures out what to do next.
“The Toronto show is canceled and the Buffalo date maybe, but we are trying to avoid it,” Waldorf said. “The Austin show is 100 percent still on.”
New Sword. “Warp Riders,” the third full-length album from Austin alternative metal quartet the Sword — playing the Austin City Limits Music Festival in October — is set to be released Aug. 24, and to drum up interest in the “space opera meets post-apocalyptic Western” concept album, the band has released the first single from the record, “Tres Brujas.”
Translating to “Three Witches,” the track boasts a more mass market-friendly hard rock style than the Sword’s previous work, evoking the straightforward guitar-driven charm of Queens of the Stone Age. But though the sound might be a bit of a departure, the lyrics are still vintage Sword; front man JD Cronise is, after all, singing about confronting witches while under the influence of drugs. Hear the single in our blog @austin360.com/ musicsource.
Xavi Moderatto, left, and Roy Aviles Ochoa of Mexico’s Moderatto rocked the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York.