Sacramento bands send greetings from Austin’s SXSW

Local bands share sounds of the 916 at Texas’ annual mega music festival, South by Southwest

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It’s Thursday afternoon, midway through a week of madness at the annual South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. Chris Haislet, lead singer of the Sacramento blues-rock band Island of Black and White, is laying down a signature solo on his Hammond XK-1c, an electric organ with a gritty, sweet sound. Passersby on raucous E. Sixth Street in downtown Austin peek inside the corner bar for a listen. Upon finishing his jam, Haislet encourages those watching to “Grab some free shit or shwag!” from the purple bin filled with the band’s CDs, T-shirts, sunglasses and other goodies.

For many Sacramento-area artists, SXSW represents just that: an opportunity to reach a huge, untapped audience. Check local art community Sol Collective, which earned its first official SXSW showcase and brought a team of more than 20 artists, the proclaimed “Sol Team,” to help announce the launch of its new co-op record label Sol Life. Local artists Native Children, Dre-T, Eric Tagg and World Hood were also in attendance, spreading their art, culture and activism mantra.

The organizers behind local brand TBD, who brought a three-day festival to West Sacramento in October, teamed up with San Francisco promoters Beautiful Buzz to recreate those festival vibes with TBD Austin, a four-day, two-stage minifest crammed into a local Austin beer hall on the west side of downtown.

SXSW also provided an outlet for some Sac artists to reach an already established fan base. Sacramento-area native Jackie Greene rocked out to a packed Continental Club. Sacramento State alumna Butterscotch, a nationally acclaimed singer/beatboxer, pleased the crowd with her silky, soulful voice.

Of course, one of the main reasons people flock to Austin every year is to experience one of the wildest party scenes around. And local reggae-rock group Arden Park Roots knows this too well, as they were on their fourth SXSW trip. The band’s combination of groovy music and energetic personalities proved to be a perfect fit for the crowd and kept the party rolling over the course of three performances. Check out photos of the band—and other Sac artists—in the slideshow to the right.