2016: A Year In Pictures

The more accurate title of this post would be 2016: The Year I Waited Nine Months to Post My SXSW Pictures, since that is where 99% of these shots are from. The remaining 1% are from New Year’s Eve 2015, taken too late to be included in last year’s round-up.

So, yeah, anyway, here they are, better super late than not at all, I guess?

Here’s the one from NYE:

IMG_9730 The Molly Ringwalds, Biloxi, MS, NYE 2015

SXSW was, by turns, glorious and exhausting. There is so much music, and so little time, and so many people. I was pleased to be there – to have been invited to be there, given the honor of a place on a panel, because honestly, otherwise, I would not have gone – but I did not really feel like I was among my people until the third day, when I walked into a grimy punk bar far from the main (festival) drag. At that point I was also so tired and people’d out I was about ready to just lie down on the (disgusting) floor and let the sea of noise wash over me.

Here are the pictures I took:

Day 1

HarMar Superstar, who did one song before stomping off in the huff.

CHVRCHES, dj-ing.

Charlie Belle, at their first (official) SXSW.


David C. Clements, the man I drove two days to see. “Blowing the roof off” is a cliche, but he really did – his set was electric and incredible; the crowd was buzzing with interest afterwards.

Day 2

Interrobang (?!), busking with a full horn section, including a tuba.

Danie Ocean and the Soul Tide.


Deap Valley; I wasn’t feeling them at first, but they won me over.

Matthew Vasquez

Alberta Cross, who rocked so hard the lighting rig fell down. Thankfully nobody was injured.

Wintersleep, whose album I had been listening to somewhat obsessively on the drive over.

The Dirty Nil, who melted our faces and were rewarded with a pit. I have never been so pleased to have get out of the circle belling out and the center starting to spin.

Day 3

It was St. Patrick’s Day, and as they say in Ireland, “a fine soft day.” Translation: it was sort of chilly and damp outside for a while. Since my SXSW “plan” was basically “uhhhhh, I’m just going to show up and follow my ears to the good stuff?” I spent part of the day ducking in and out of mostly empty bars, and then a chunk of time slipping between showcases.

The Schisms were the first to lure me in out of the rain.

Then I followed the sound of the pipes to Capitol City Highlanders

Rodgie and the Waters were next, and a totally refreshing change of pace.

Everybody Sing: I liked the guitars.

Unknown, but he sure did have some pipes.

Conchúr White, from Silences, at the Northern Ireland showcase.

Girls Names, bringing some gothy grity and edge to the NI showcase

Back across the street to Voodoo Doughnut for Rusango Family, who brought propulsive rap from the west of Ireland.

Back to the NI showcase for round two of David C. Clements, and it was just as electrifying the second time.

Ciaran Lavery, who powered through a minor wardrobe malfunction and silenced a chattering room with just his voice and his guitar. He also managed to sum up the heartbreak of the Irish diaspora in one two minute song at the end, sung without the help of his guitar. It was sad, and sobering, and incredibly painfully lovely, all at once.

Jealous of the Birds (Naomi Hamilton). Her own songs were pretty but didn’t especially grab me; then she wielded a cover of Heart Shaped Box like a weapon.

Loretta Lynn, as sparkly and as fierce as ever.

Liebling, the first band I saw after I had decamped to my natural habitat, aka a grimy punk bar far off the (festival) path.

Basketball Shorts, singing songs about faithless pizzarias in a pit of darkness.

Voirvoir, or: here is where I hit the wall, and went home.

Final thoughts: I’m glad I could get to SXSW at least once. Looking back through these pictures, I feel all warm and fuzzy about the whole thing, and also bemused. I mean, where else can you hopscotch between the cream of the Northern Irish folk-rock crop, propulsive rap from the West of Ireland, Loretta Lynn and art-punk-rock all in one day? It was exhausting on many levels and often aggravating but mostly it was a great time.

Plus I got to tell a room full of musicians that the secret to getting blog attention is “follow the damn directions” which, y’all, that really is half the battle. Other suggestions: don’t be tedious, or a pest; do some research; but mostly: just be who you are. Play what’s in your heart. Let loose that which brings you joy and don’t worry who you “sound like.”

And I was awakened every morning by someone playing Reveille on an actual bugle outside my hotel window.

You can’t do better than that, for real.

I won’t be at SXSW 2017. I may never go again. I’m hanging on to music blogging by the skin of my teeth. I’d say “blog more” will be my NYE resolution but wow would that ever be a waste of time. I guess all I can really say is that for now I’m still here, and still listening.

Lagniappe: This isn’t a musical picture and it’s not even one I took this year, but it’s my favorite picture from the crop I just uploaded: Dark Corridor to a Stormy Sea, Panama City Beach, December 2015.


The Longest Day in History, David C Clements


After a several years of fits and starts and bits and pieces, David C. Clements has at long last released his first official full length record. It’s called The Longest Day In History and it’s mostly new material – I say mostly because some of the previous fits and stars (Oh Child and Hurricane) are included.

The short version: it’s lovely, and if you’re into folk and singer-songwriters you need to jump over to his bandcamp and snag it right now.

The long(er) version is: these songs make me homesick for the pit, for people jammed in to a small space but still clapping and singing and stomp-swaying, caught up in the rush of music and lights, to happy to do anything but dance. And for the same crowd, quiet and hushed during the slower songs, letting familiar chords expand and swell and break their hearts all over again, the way they like best.

Here are the two songs he has up as teasers:

I’m Still Alive, and it’s for the come-down, when you’ve survived the hell and the high water and have got your happy ending: you’re starting over.

This is My Dear Mother which I think I posted before but whatever y’all are getting it again, because I like it:

Other highlights which you are just going to have buy the record to hear: Hurricane, which in this incarnation is seven minutes long and magnificent; Oh Child, which I have posted before and still love, and once almost made me cry on the train on the way to work; and No Shadow, which is about love and survival and holding on to love in order to survive.

He’s from Northern Ireland and as I far as I know, has never played in America, and he’s appearing at SXSW this year. This is your chance, folks. Don’t miss it. Come stand next to me in the front row, I promise it will be a good time.

My Dear Mother, David C. Clements


There are certain metaphors I abuse. Most of them are nautical. One is lepidopterological: I tend to think of musicians in the studio as caterpillars in a chrysalis, or, more accurately, in a cocoon. And fans as the tenders of these cocoons, sitting outside, waiting for a sparkly wing to emerge.

David C. Clements has been in a cocoon for a very long time, and yesterday, a delicate wing popped out: My Dear Mother, his first EP in two years.

Four songs, two new (My Dear Mother, When We Go), one alternate version of an earlier tune (On The Border), one interpretation of a Neil Young tune (Philadelphia), all collectively a teaser for a record coming early next year.

The whole thing is awesome – the new/old version of On the Border is slower, but more expansive; there’s some muscle to it, now – but here are the two new ones:

My Dear Mother, the title track, and an excellent introduction to his style, i.e. catchy shuffle-sway beat, sing-along chorus, lyrics that will tear at you. (Front rows of Norther Ireland: if you aren’t dancing to this, I’m giving you some serious squinch-face.)

When We Go, which shows off his range and flexible voice. Apparently this one is a fan favorite, and well, I can see why, because I also love it when he cuts loose and goes for it:

Gary Lightbody and The Assembly, This Is All That I Ask of You

Long ago in a galaxy not THAT far away – i.e. 1999-2000 – I worked in tech PR1 and pitched people as speakers for TED talks2. That was when TED talks were only given in one place! Now they are everywhere!

This is an excerpt from a TED talk given by Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol at Stormont Parliament in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The subject of his presentation was the way the music scene in the region has flourished during the last fifteen years of peace.3

To illustrate his point he gathered up several musicians – David C. Clements, SOAK, Silhouette and the Wonder Villains – to write and perform a song.

If you like it you can buy it, and all of the proceeds will go to the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust.


This is all that I ask of you: Gary Lightbody and the Assembly at TEDxStormont


1 This was when the internet still kind of had training wheels and we were trying to convince print journalists to write about websites.
2 TED was “invitation only” then; my job was to demonstrate why clients ought to be invited.
3 The power of his observations are in their simplicity. For example: “There are so many gigs now. When I first started going to gigs in Northern Ireland, there weren’t that many. Especially from international acts. But now every international act comes to Belfast. And they come here as an essential part of their European tour.”

Fanmix: Warren Ellis, Gun Machine

Fan mixes: collections of music created as both soundtrack and illustration for other works, usually works of fiction, intended as both appreciation of and enticement to read the work of fiction.

This one is for Gun Machine by Warren Ellis, who is author of, among other things, Transmetropolitan and Crooked Little Vein, and is NOT the dude who plays music with Nick Cave.

Gun Machine is a murder mystery set in New York. But not the New York you usually see on cop shows; the Financial District, which is older and darker. Down there you’re off the grid. The streets are narrow and twisty and reality can be very thin. Depending on how the wind is blowing off the water, it does feel like you could walk around a corner today and stumble into the 17th century, 1926 could be tomorrow and 2018 was last week.

“Off the grid” would actually sum up the book as a whole. It is also bloody, startling, deeply lonely, occasionally bitingly funny, like watching my own city from the wrong end of a telescope, a complex puzzle, and very, very good. If you pick it up, be sure to both read and listen carefully; Ellis uses music and sounds much like Nathaniel Hawthorne used light, that is, as both text and subtext.

The mix below is my attempt at capturing the spirit of the work. The songs chosen are intended to trace the outline of the narrative in broad strokes. All of them, save for two, are available for sale and/or free download from the artist.

The exceptions are Panic! at the Disco’s cover of Karma Police, which is a fan bootleg of a live performance, chosen for the quality of the static, and Kasey Anderson and the Honkies’ Abbaddon Blues, because it is from Let the Bloody Moon Rise, a record which saw only limited release before Anderson went on indefinite-but-hopefully-not-permanent hiatus and which is now (almost) out of circulation.

1.BT, Go(d)t

2. Panic! at the Disco, Karma Police (Radiohead cover)

(If you want a visual.)
3. Foster the People, Pumped Up Kicks
Foster The People - Pumped up Kicks

4. Breakfast in Fur, Whisper
Breakfast in Fur - Whisper (Official)

5. David C. Clements, Oh Child

6. Blondie, Heart of Glass
Blondie - Heart Of Glass

7. Jane’s Addiction, Chip Away
Jane's Addiction - Chip Away

8. Firewater, A Little Revolution
FIREWATER: A Little Revolution

9. Milan Jay, In the Shadows of Footsteps


11.Xiu Xiu, Hi

12. Kasey Anderson and the Honkies, Abbaddon Blues

13. Cage the Elephant, Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked
Cage The Elephant - Ain't No Rest For The Wicked

14. Blackwater Jukebox, Carousel

15. Willow Sea, Night Light

shelf-reading at bandcamp: county antrim

Shelf-reading has two purposes: one, to make sure everything is in its right place; and two, to discover works you would not necessarily have though to look for, left to your own researching devices.

I decided to take purpose #2 and apply it to Bandcamp’s tagging system, generally, and the Irish music section, specifically. I then decided to use the counties of Ireland (North and South), arranged alphabetically, as a framing device for the experiment.

I begin today with County Antrim, which contains Belfast, which has large, thriving scene, so this time my selections do skew dramatically towards one geographic location.

I’ve also noticed that, as one would expect, artists from further out in the countryside have drifted Belfast-ward, which muddies the waters a bit. With one exception (David C. Clements) I’ve tried to confine myself strictly to artists who have tagged their work “County Antrim.”

Without further waffle, here is what I found that I liked, drawing both from Belfast as well as the county at large:

I last wrote about Mr. Clements back in January. Since then he has added five songs, one of which I haven’t yet extracted from Bandcamp’s clutches (a cover of Devil Town) and the other four which, together with the first two that I wrote about, I listen to on endless repeat for thirty minute stretches at least once a day.

Update Nov. 2013: He’s removed some tunes and moved others, and The Longest Day in History is now a four song ep. Here is my favorite tune:

Next up: Paulie J Fox, who describes his genre as “country experimental surf.” To me it sounds a bit Twin Peaks-y, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Less experimental and more indie-folk is Ram’s Pocket Radio, aka Peter McCauley, who is from Lisburn, just outside of Belfast.

This is his contribution to a compilation called, of all things, Small Town America (Public Service Broadcast 10), which features a totally European cast of characters, all of whom look worthy of further investigation:

This one is from Trajectories, a three EP box set of only his work:

Jumping up the coast a little bit, there’s static white sound, from Ballymoney. They’re heavier and darker, and to my ear draw from the shoegaze tradition but incorporate some of the spirit of Metal Machine Music, in the sense that you can hear them noodling and experimenting and exploring some intriguing musical thoughts.

Also they get an A++ for page design, by virtue of featuring a picture of a cat who has clearly been interrupted in the act of investigating someones pedals.

And then, finally, last but absolutely not least, there is Roysta (also here), aka Lee James. The Facebook blurb for one interview described him as a “Belfast’s mutated version of John Waters, Charles Bukowski, GG Allin and Ice-T.”

The formal name for the result is “dirtcore”; obviously I had to find out what that might sound like. Below are two tracks from Hurrmaster (translated from the broad Belfast accent: Whoremaster). As you would expect, his language is salty and his imagery can be, uh, startling, but he’s got some good beats:

If you’d like to hear more, he’s helpfully uploaded his entire back catalogue (!) to bandcamp.

Or you can explore the County Antrim tag on your own time!

Love You Through The Storms: David C. Clements, The Longest Day in History

The Longest Day in History [free Bandcamp download!], an EP from David C. Clements (formerly Captain Cameron) and contains only two songs. But they are stunning beautiful songs.

The first song is called Hurricane, and it is full of lyrical gems. It’s also a six and a half minute showcase for Clements’ magnificently supple and expressive voice.



The second song, Not Sleeping, is tiny bit more uptempo than Hurricane but no less compelling. Here is a video of him singing it at at Love Lounge, recorded by Pigmint:


David C. Clements – Not Sleeping – Live at Love Lounge from Pigmint on Vimeo.


And then there’s also his cover of Lana Del Ray’s Video Games, originally recorded live on the BBC Radio Ulster program Across The Line. I have a lot of deeply complicated feelings about that song, but his rendition has sunk its claws into my brain-meats and I cannot stop listening to it.



Finally, here’s a video Bandwith Sessions made last November at the Halloween Hoedown at the Ulster Hall, where Clements performed as his former incarnation Captain Cameron. The song is called In December.


David C Clements / Live @The Ulster Hall, Belfast