SXSW Friday: Parker Millsap, Luke Winslow-King, and Hurray for the Riff Raff Wow the Crowds
Friday at South by Southwest was full of memorable acoustic performances delivered by a younger generation of players.
The newcomers stormed their respective stages and gave notice that their time is now. At the Bloodshot Records showcase at Yard Dog gallery on S. Congress, Luke Winslow-King, who was raised in Michigan and has since relocated to New Orleans, banged out an impassioned set on his National resonator, and let it be known that clean cut Caucasians are more than capable of navigating the blues with the best of them.
Across the street the Americana Music Association's outdoor showcase drew several notable performers, including Tim Easton, whose guitar playing, singing, and overall songwriting are a big draw on the folk festival circuit. Still, even Easton seemed to know that the afternoon was really building up to Parker Millsap's turn at the microphone. Referring to him as "the great Parker Millsap" may have sounded overly reverent to some in the large audience that came to the shaded parking lot to hear this year's event, but once Millsap was a few bars into his opening number, it seemed, if anything, like an understatement.
Especially hard to fathom about Millsap is that he's just 19. Then again, you ask yourself, how old was Elvis in 1966? But Presley never could play guitar like this fresh faced Oklahoman. Plainly put, Millsap is a star, and he solidifies that standing with every single live outing.
Back downtown, the crowds swelled on 6th Street to weekend proportions, and anticipation was high at the Pandora/St. Ives/Revlon/Sprint/insert-corporate-brand showcase held at The Gatsby. A large outdoor venue, the Americana Music Association had scored Rodney Crowell and Lucinda Williams as headliners, drawing an audience of a several hundred people. Before the heavyweights went on, however, another New Orleans act, Hurray for the Riff Raff, sneaked on stage and stole the show. Headed up by vocalist and acoustic guitarist Alynda Lee Segarra, HFTRR blended blues, Cajun, folk and rock into a disarmingly beautiful mix.
To be sure, Crowell, who is on the board of directors for the Americana Music Association, did his part, getting the crowd moving with a set that stuck to the roots of Americana, and he sounded great, both his voice and guitar work.
Williams sounded OK, but looked a tad gin-soaked, and resorted to referring to a music stand on every song so that she wouldn't forget the lyrics. Though she assured the crowd that she intended to keep going full speed, you couldn't help but feel she was running on fumes.