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SXSW More "Vacation" Than Work For Blanche

Of the Oakland Press

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Detroit's Blanche has come to the South By Southwest Music + Media Conference for many years, but in the recent past they've been a major label concern thanks to a deal with V2 Records. But the label has recently announced a reconfiguration into a catalog only company, leaving its roster -- including Blanche and the White Stripes -- without a home.

And while, technically, Blanche is still under contract to V2, the noir country quintet came to this year's SXSW potentially among the legions looking for a deal.

"We could be, I guess," said frontman Dan Miller, "but we haven't met with anyone."

Blanche had a busy SXSW nevertheless. Even with pedal steel player Dave Feeny suffering from severe eye burns after an accident back in Detroit, the group played a full slate of showcases and private parties -- including a turn at the Spin magazine party Friday (March 16th) where it played in a side room between the main stage bands. Their performance there even earned a thumbs-up from notoriously hard-to-please Austin American-Statesman critic Michael Corcoran, who wrote that "a lot of folks...were happy to hear a band that was more intriguing than some on the main stage."

Several in the crowd paid particular attention to the group's Little Jack Lawrence, a Greenhornes member who also plays bass in the Raconteurs, led by the White Stripes' Jack White, a longtime F.O.B. (Friend of Blanche).

Miller said he and his Blanchemates -- including his wife, Tracee -- view SXSW as "a vacation for us -- warm weather, a chance to see some friends and their bands, get out of town for awhile. We really like it." It wasn't a perfectly smooth trip, however; besides Feeny's injury, the group also had to come down on three separate flights and drive part of the way from Dallas, and arrived to learn that equipment was not provided for some of their shows. Fellow Detroiters the Hard Lessons lent a drum kit and some amplifiers.

"But we persevered," Feeny said. "We made it to play for the people!"

Blanche's next album, "Little Amber Bottles," is due out in mid-May overseas. Miller said the group is hoping for a quick resolution to the V2 situation in order to bring it out on home shores.

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