In the spring of 2006 I rolled into Austin, TX for the first time. I was 22 years old. The plan had been to stay the night before in Nashville, wake up early and drive to Dallas, then arrive in Austin mid-day Wednesday, but we were so excited to go to South by Southwest for the first time that we couldn’t imagine sleeping after our Monday night gig in Nashville. We packed the car giddily, kissed my astonished friend Jen goodbye and hit the road around midnight.
My delightful tour partner Clara Lofaro drove the first shift. I rested in the passenger seat and took over driving at about 4 am. While she slept I watched the sun rise in Arkansas and felt, corny as it sounds, incredibly free. By the time we crossed through Texarkana into the Lone Star State, it was fully daylight and I was driving through a landscape that looked completely different than anything I had seen in my travels on the East Coast.
Outside of Dallas we found a mostly empty parking lot near the highway where we reclined our seats and napped for a few hours. When it was too hot and bright to sleep anymore we resumed driving and pulled into Austin mid-Tuesday afternoon with no plan for the day and no hotel room for the night.
We ended up sleeping in a friend’s bunk in the Red Bull RV (it’s a long story), tucked into the Enchanted Forrest near Oltorf and Lamar. The same friend got us week-long, front-of-the-line passes to the Red Bull party that was raging all week, meaning we had unfettered access to free booze, food, dance music and caffeine (between 4 pm and 4 am that is. We were on our own for the rest of the day). It was the most official thing about our SXSW experience by a mile.
Speaking of official, I’m playing an official showcase tonight at SXSW at The Palm Door on Sabine at 9 pm (401 Sabine Street).
This photo of Clara and I was taken on the Sunday night of my first SXSW, just a few miles from where I now live. Amazing how a decade ago can feel like a lifetime ago.