After the Akina Adderley performance, I walked quickly over to Club Deville to catch the final SXSW performance of the League of Extraordinary G’z. When I arrived, the group was gathering in a corner of the venue for their group prayer, which they do before each performance. Club Deville was more of a large outdoor enclosure than a night club in the traditional sense, and it was fairly crowded.
I had wanted to see Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys ever since I saw the name on the SXSW schedule. I figured that she had to be kin to either Cannonball or Nat Adderley, and I was right. She is in fact the granddaughter of Nat Adderley, and an Austin resident. But, unfortunately, earlier in the week, I had been thwarted in my effort to see her, because the venue would not allow me inside with my camera, and if I had walked back to my car to put the camera away, she would have been off stage by the time I made it back. Thankfully, she was scheduled to perform again on Saturday night, this time in the bar of the Driskill Hotel on 6th Street, and this particularly venue allowed me to walk right in with my camera.
Akina Adderley is a neo-soul singer, and her Vintage Playboy band is a truly large ensemble with a large brass section. Her selections feature jazzy horn parts, and the overall sound of her group is one that would please jazz fans and soul fans alike.
Hi Rhythm performs Ann Peebles’ hit “I Can’t Stand The Rain” with a female singer at the Stages on Sixth in Austin on the last night of South By Southwest, 3/16/13. Band member Mabon “Teenie” Hodges was the subject of a highly-acclaimed documentary at this year’s SXSW.
Although the Hi Records imprint is forever associated with Willie Mitchell and his legacy of Memphis soul, the label didn’t start out that way at all. Begun by a group of investors that included Pop Tunes owner Joe Cuoghi (the “Hi” name seems to have come from the last two letters of Cuoghi’s name), the label focused on recording the kind of country and rockabilly that had brought success to other Memphis labels such as Sun, Moon and Fernwood. Instrumental hits by the Bill Black Combo kept the label going in this fashion until the first soul and blues recordings appeared in the mid-1960’s. Willie Mitchell became a producer at Hi after the demise of Ruben Cherry’s Home of the Blues label in 1963, and by the early 1970’s he was putting together the band that would become known as Hi Rhythm, built around the three Hodges brothers, Mabon, Charles and Leroy. The band went on to back every great Hi artist, from Al Green, to Syl Johnson, to Otis Clay, to O. V. Wright, to Ann Peebles.
By any rights, this year’s appearance of Hi Rhythm should have been one of the high points of SXSW, so although I was happy to have an easy time getting into the Stages on Sixth to see it, I was disappointed that the crowd was smaller than I had expected. Nevertheless, musically, the appearance of these Memphis legends with another living Memphis legend, soul singer Percy Wiggins was definitely the high point of MY South By Southwest, and the kind of serendipitous experience that makes me proud to be a Memphian. Percy Wiggins’ voice was in fine form, and it perfectly suited the sound and groove of Hi Rhythm, and Teenie Hodges, who was the subject of a documentary film at this year’s SXSW, was also on stage despite being on oxygen. Two fans were kept on him at all times to keep him cool during the performance. Altogether, it was a triumphant night for Memphis, and a tribute to the lasting vision and spirit of the late Willie Mitchell.
While walking back to downtown from East Austin, I ran into Yo Gotti and some of his CMG family members under the I-35 bridge on Sixth Street. They graciously stopped long enough for me to grab a couple of photos.
I decided to eat my final SXSW dinner in a place I had long noticed but never eaten in, the Snack Bar directly beside the Austin Motel. What has always stood out to me about the Snack Bar is its 50’s space age retro elegance, as if the Rat Pack could be expected to walk in at any moment. The look befits the SoCo neighborhood, in which clubs, restaurants and motels often rely on a vintage look and feel. But the purpose of any restaurant is the food, and the grass-fed organic burger I had at the Snack Bar was very good indeed. The beef, bacon and cheese were all locally sourced, as local organics are the rule of thumb at the Snack Bar. Equally delicious were the freshly cut french fries. The Snack Bar is not necessarily quick (I had to wait about 45 minutes to be seated), nor is it inexpensive. But the food and ambiance are one-of-a-kind.
The South Congress area of South Austin seems to be at its most festive and busiest on the final Saturday of South By Southwest. Patios are jam-packed with diners, and outdoor stages are packed with fans, particularly the massive South By San Jose (SXSJ) stage that annually stands beside the San Jose Hotel. Each year, I end up spending at least part of the final Saturday on the South Austin side of the bridge.
The Mob Store is a new hip-hop shop that opened in March in South Austin. The shop features T-shirts and caps, DVD’s, mixtapes and car stereo equipment, with a special emphasis on local artists. Pay them a visit at 4360 S Congress Avenue, #107 in Austin.