After the show was over, Al Kapone got me backstage where I was able to hang out with a lot of the performers, and I even briefly got to meet Snoop Dogg. Ultimately, all the people from the film headed off to dinner at some place on South Congress, so I headed out walking, trying to decide where I wanted to eat.
After an early morning breakfast at the Magnolia Cafe, I parked my car downtown and set out walking across the bridge to Austin’s Butler Park, where there was an afternoon-long concert being held of Memphis music, scheduled to coincide with the film Take Me To The River, which was screened several times at South By Southwest this year. Despite the threat of rain, there was a decent crowd at the outdoor stage, and although rain started several times during the afternoon, it never continued long enough to run people off, and the day ended with the sun coming out. After an hour of so of DJ mixing from a really cool DJ, the show opened with a performance from the Hi Rhythm Section, and then a number of musicians featured in the film appeared, including Bobby Rush, Frayser Boy, Al Kapone, William Bell, Booker T. Jones, Charlie Musselwhite, Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson, Otis Clay, Iffy, Miscelllaneous Bosslife and Syl Johnson. Perhaps the high point of the day was when Snoop Doggy Dogg appeared without warning to join William Bell in a version of the classic “I Forgot To Be Your Lover.” It was actually a great day for Memphis and for Austin as well.
People in Louisiana believe in something called “lagniappe”, a tradition of giving the customer a little something extra, or a bonus to thank you for your patronage. Those of us at the bounce showcase on the Average Rooftop at South By Southwest got a bit of lagniappe on Friday night in the form of an unexpected appearance by the Queen of Bounce herself, Katey Redd. Katey Red began her career on the groundbreaking Take Fo Records label, the same label which launched the career of bounce pioneer DJ Jubilee. She is best known for her debut album Melpomene Block Party (the Melpomene is another former housing project in New Orleans that was demolished after Katrina), and has more recently been featured in several episodes of the television series Treme.
It was 10th Ward Buck that was the headliner of the showcase at the Avenue on Congress rooftop, and he was the first performer of the night that I had actually heard of. In recent years, he has been something of an activist for his hometown of New Orleans and the bounce music movement, writing a book called The Definition of Bounce and running unsuccessfully for a seat on New Orleans’ City Council. He also ran a hot wing restaurant in Uptown New Orleans for a period of time, but New Orleans is a competitive restaurant market, and the difficulties of running a restaurant can interfere with a music career as well. Buck’s performance was charismatic, and featured the usual contingent of female dancers on stage.
Magnolia Rhome’s performance was followed by an act named Big Chu and the Crew, which I had also never heard of. But they were decent bounce artists as well, and the dancing crew that was on stage with them stole the show.
When I got to the Avenue on Congress rooftop, Magnolia Rhome was on stage. I really wasn’t familiar with him, but that is not surprising, because in New Orleans, bounce artists are like brass bands- there’s a lot more of them than you think there are, and new ones are coming out all the time. And the name “Magnolia” has got to be one of the most common names for New Orleans rappers- the huge Magnolia projects were torn down almost 8 years ago, but the past never dies in New Orleans, where legacies of Uptown and Downtown and old wards persist, and where people still claim the projects years after they were demolished, because the projects were not so much a place in geography, but rather a place in the human spirit that lives forever in those who lived there. At any rate, Magnolia Rhome wasn’t bad at all, although there’s little variety in the bounce genre, not that its fans want there to be. If you’re a bounce fan, you want the Triggaman beat or the Brown beat, and you want the MC to exhort the crowd just enough so that the females will twerk. Yes, twerking is the ultimate goal of all good bounce music. And Magnolia Rhome got them twerking, both on stage and in the crowd. That’s really what it’s all about.
Given South By Southwest’s post-Katrina love affair with bounce rap, particularly the “sissy bounce” subgenre, it’s not completely unexpected to run into bounce artists from New Orleans during the festival. Still, somehow, 10th Ward Buck was the last person I expected to run into at the South Bites food court near Rainey Street.
Following Two-9’s performance, Atlanta rap artist K-Camp was the next artist up on the COMPLEX stage. Actually, I had been hearing his new single “Cut That Bitch Off” ever since I had been in Austin, but didn’t know it was him. Although he has been rapping for several years, it appears that he is just not starting to get some recognition.
After a quick lunch at Downtown Burgers, I walked over to the COMPLEX Magazine complex, where my homeboy Travis McFetridge was, but when I got inside, it was so crowded that I didn’t see him. Atlanta rap group Two-9 (whom I had heard about at A3C but didn’t see) was on stage performing when I got there. There was literally almost no room to move anywhere in the complex.
I see lots of rap groups during South By Southwest, but it’s always a little more personal and special when I see the League of Extraordinary G’z. Not just because they’re Austin’s best rap group, but because I’ve been knowing them and keeping up with them ever since journalist Matt Sonzala spoke highly of them to me three or four years ago. I’ve seen them perform at South By Southwest for several years, at Conway, Arkansas and A3C in Atlanta. I’ve enjoyed their mixtapes, whether given to me or downloaded. I’ve proudly worn the T-shirts they gave me with the familiar map of Texas made out of guns (what a superb logo). I’ve felt the deep sense of loss and tragedy as they have lost not one but two members to death in the last couple of years, both from rare medical conditions. In short, the LOEG’z are not merely a rap group, but my friends and family, and I always try to catch at least one of their shows when I’m at SXSW.