when she's gone.
The first SXSW in many many years without Pat Tompkins at the helm. Organizing, mapping, and planning. Pat made an art out of going to see the best and biggest local bands and stars. Getting into events I could only dream of as a music lover in this great city that was her home for decades. Pat, herself, had many fans in the music community as well, her family and all of friends new this. During SXSW it was best to get in and drift along behind her or get the hell out of the way. My daughter, Angelina, had the pleasure of joining her on occasion. I was lucky enough to run into Pat, once, during her many adventures during this amazing week of music in Austin, Texas.
Although this isn't about Pat, this particular event seemed to be her crown jewel and she so dearly loved to go to it, have a blast, and tell everyone all about it...until the next year. When the opportunity arose for me to finally experience this event, courtesy of Sean Claes from INSiteAustin (http://insiteaustin.blogspot.com/), I dove at it headlong. With only a small twinge of sadness, but a massive smile in my heart and on my face, I finally was able to experience Rachael Ray's Feedback. It may have been dreary, wet, and muddy, but it was fitting...like I said, Ain't no sunshine when she's gone.
So here's how the event was set up. Rachael Ray's Feedback (http://www.rachaelray.com/tag/feedback2015) is held at Stubbs BBQ right there on the corner of Red River and 8th. There is the inside stage, the permanent large outside amphitheater stage, and opposite of that was a large outside stage. The food service was on one side of the Amphitheater yard, in between both outside stages. With doors at 10 A.M. and music starting almost immediately inside, the challenge was on.
Music from Australian performer Cody Simpson (http://www.codysimpson.com/) started the morning off right at the inside stage. His style was decidedly more pop/country than anything else, but labeling good music other than saying it was 'good music' is crazy. He was good to watch on stage. No electric personality and flashy show, but he was just the perfect start for the day. ESPECIALLY with a cold Blue Moon beer in hand.
After shooting some photos of Cody Simpson, it was the mad dash to get outside for the introduction of the main stage kick off. The return of the one and only Bob Schneider (http://www.bobschneider.com/home) Rachael Ray loves Bob and so does Austin. With the introduction by Rachael herself, Bob Schneider took that stage. The thoughts of the wet weather and muddy ground simply vanished with the music from Bob. Just great rock and roll. Fun, smart, and slightly irreverent with his sometimes naughty lyrics or subject matter, Bob Schneider once again proved day or night he can pack the house, turn your head, and make your body groove. I am thrilled that Rachael Ray has the courage and willful knowledge to have Bob kick this event off every year!
So while I went to shoot photos of the band Reptar (https://www.facebook.com/reptarmusic) on the back, outside stage, Sean managed to stand in line and grab two plates of the wonderful food from the bad ass menu RR had created. A chicken slider, a chicken taco, a hot dog wrap, and some corn in a cup. I am so downplaying the amazing plate of food RR, herself, should be insulted at my lack of descriptive gratitude. Look up the food and the recipes on the RR Feedback website I linked above. Hey...I am not a food critic, I am a music performance blogger, but that food, my friends, was THE BOMB!!!
After shooting Reptar on the back stage... which drew some of the crowd towards them, it appeared most were waiting by the main stage. Here RR introduced husband, John and his band The Cringe (http://thecringe.com/). And perform they did. IT was pure radio rock n roll gold. Exactly what you hear on rock radio now was what they offered up. They did it well, they did it in an entertaining fashion, and they did it with all the ballsy pride you would need to stand in front of the thousand or so in attendance, and make the crowd smile. It was really good rock-n-roll!
We dashed inside for another band which was along that Hony Tonk/Rock sound. Banditos (https://www.facebook.com/BANDITOSBAND) were belting out their songs to the joy of the crowd that was dry and inside, it was a stellar perfomance. Seeming to enjoy being there on that stage in front of the crowd, Banditos performed and bounced back and forth with the vocals and the multiple folks on stage, all seeming to really enjoy what they were doing. There was no way you could be in the crowd for this performance and NOT have the desire to sing along. What? You don't know the songs? It doesn't matter, have another beer, raise your glass up, and cheers to a good time band.
After a short break we took for ourselves, we caught the last two performances before our time was up.
The surprise performance for me was seeing Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts (http://www.scottweiland.com/). Oh man it was awesome! Even after seeing the line up for the day, it didn't click that I would have the opportunity to see and hear him perform. In fact, it was probably two or three songs in when I snapped and realized I was in the presence of, and enjoying a performance from Scott Weiland. Man that shit was awesome for me! Any and all of his addictions and issues aside, nothing bad for me to say about this performance. It just simply KICKED ASS.
Raekwon (http://www.raekwonchronicles.com/) took the stage. Just thrilling to see a live performance where the crowd is so deftly into it. Pushing up to the stage, singing/rapping along. It was like the crowd got turned up to level HYPE in an instant. Here again, was a smashing performance that set the crowd in motion and had every one completely forgetting the weather.