SXSWorld February 2016


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4 S X S W o r l d | F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6 | S X S W. C O M In March 1987, Louisiana's Dash Rip Rock was among the first bands to come to South by Southwest virtu- ally unknown, then leave on a jetstream of buzz. But unlike such other early SXSW sensations as Chicka- saw Mudd Puppies ('89), Uncle Tupelo ('91), Letters To Cleo ('94), Fugees ('96) and Whiskeytown ('97), "punkabilly" purveyors Dash have never broken up. In fact, they're the only act that has been booked for ev- ery SXSW. That'll be 30 consecutive years in March. "We came to Austin that first year thinking it was just a reg- ular gig, opening for the Tailgators at the Continental Club," says singer/guitarist Bill Davis, the lone original member still in the band, which started in '85 with Fred LeBlanc on drums and Hoaky Hickel on bass. "We weren't told it was an industry event." But they found out after their hell-raising set, which cli- maxed with choreographed leaps on a high-octane cover of "I Saw the Light" by Hank Williams. Here was a band that put Billy Zoom's frantic guitar with John Bonham's big bottom drums, while remaining entirely of the South. "We met a shitload of people that first year, which really helped 3 0 Y E A R S O F S X S W DASH RIP ROCK 1 9 9 5 1 9 9 6 1 9 9 8 1 9 9 7 The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne at the "Parking Lot Experiment" K A R E N S C H I E LY Interactive keynote: Todd Rundgren G E O R G E R B R A I N A R D Music keynote: Nick Lowe Tony Bennett spoke and performed M A R T H A G R E N O N Guided By Voices at Liberty Lunch M A R T H A G R E N O N CHARTER SXSW BUZZ BAND HAS NEVER MISSED A MARCH IN AUSTIN Sean Lennon w/ Cibo Matto M A R T H A G R E N O N Written by Michael Corcoran out on the road," says Davis. "Our bookings really took off." Before SXSW, he said, the only way for a bar band to build a following outside their hometown was constant touring, gaining handfuls of fans at each subsequent visit. After the band's set at the conference in '88, also at the Continental Club, they booked a three-month tour of Scandinavia. A couple college DJs in the audi- ence, meanwhile, started playlisting "Pack Your Bags" and "DMZ" from the band's self-titled debut LP on Atlanta's 688 Records. "SXSW put us on the map, and our goal each year has always been to move up one rung," says Davis, joined these days by Kyle Mel- ancon on drums and Patrick Johnson on bass. "There's never been a question of 'Should we play SXSW this year?,' " says Davis. There were some lean years for Dash in the middle of their run, but the last few have seen a return of the crowds, as the recent Louisiana Hall of Fame inductees have become a legacy band. Their best year was either the third, when they were signed to influential indie label Mammoth, or '97, when they were riding a big college radio hit with jam band goof "Let's Go Smoke Some Pot" and shared a showcase with the red hot Fastball, which had lines around the block. From the beginning, SXSW was Christmas in March for roots rockers who loved their beer, and the trouble boys from New Orleans set the standard for SXSW debauchery. "One year we had a showcase at an outdoor beer garden, and the only dressing room they had for us was the walk-in cooler," recalls Davis. "They told us not to drink any of the beer. Yeah, right. That was a fox in the henhouse thing." After the show, the club's manager discovered that Dash, M A R T H A G R E N O N Music keynote: Bob Mould Allen Toussaint M A R T H A G R E N O N 4 S X S W o r l d | F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6 | S X S W. C O M

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