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News:
Eminem, Jack White are part of wild Friday night at SXSW
 

By GARY GRAFF
For Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

AUSTIN, Texas -- Thanks to a couple of Detroit-bred music icons – Jack White and Eminem – the Motor City’s mark was strongly felt on Friday, March 16, at the South By Southwest Music + Media Conference.

Both artists came to town in the guise not only of performer but also record company executives, White presiding over his Nashville-based Third Man Records showcase and Eminem with his Shady Records’ Shady 2.0 bash, part of which – 50 Cent’s performance of his landmark “Get Rich or Die Tryin’ “ album in its entirety – was broadcast on Fuse TV and gave the label “boss” an opportunity to make an unannounced but fully expected guest appearance.

And it was no mere cameo. Eminem first reprised his feature spot on “Get Rich’s…” “Patiently Waiting,” then returned full-time for 50 Cent’s encores, joining in on “Til I Collapse, “Love Me” and the show-closing “Crack a Bottle,” creating delirium throughout the Austin Music Hall.

White’s appearance – just his fourth full show as a solo artist after tenures with the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and Dead Weather – caused a similar excitement, including a line that stretched a full block past the Stage on Sixth club’s entrance, where Third Man’s yellow Rolling Record Store was parked. Bill Murray and Stooges drummer Scott “Rock Action” Asheton were among the VIP guests. Fortunately the club’s large windows were left open throughout the showcase, and White even referenced the fans listening outside as he powered through a ferocious two-part concert that reviewed his music career from the White Stripes up to his forthcoming new album, “Blunderbuss.”

As on “Saturday Night Live” and Third Man’s recent third anniversary show in Nashville, White played first with an all-female backing band and then, after as short intermission, returned with an all-male group. The former was a bit – but just a bit – more stately and reserved, while the latter was wildly unhinged, featuring some of White’s most daring guitar work. And each used rootsy instrumentation – fiddles, mandolin, upright bass, etc. – to add unique textures to a decidedly electric rock-blues assault.

White certainly gave “Blunderbuss” a push with enthusiastically received performances of new material such as “Sixteen Saltines,” “Weep Themselves to Sleep” and “Hypocritical Kiss,” as well as “You Know What I Know,” his contribution to the all-star “Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams” project. But it was the older fare that brought pandemonium to the packed club. He touched on the Raconteurs (“Top Yourself,” “Steady As She Goes”) and Dead Weather (“I Cut Like a Buffalo”), but White really scored by turning out an exposition of the White Stripes’ greatest hits, including the show-starting “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” “Hotel Yorba,” “Icky Thump,” “My Doorbell” and “Hello Operator” and pounding renditions of “The Hardest Button to Button,” “Ball and a Biscuit.” “Seven Nation Army,” meanwhile. had fans both inside the club and outside listening on Sixth Street chanting along to the song’s anthemic riff.

White closed things with Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene,” gentle lullabye to calm an ecstatic group of fans before they hit the streets.

There was another bit of Detroit-spirited musical mayhem nearby, however. MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, who brought his Jail Guitar Doors prisoner rehabilitation project to SXSW for a second year, played his own showcase at the Swan Dive, then joined Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello during his Occupy SXSW performance for the MC5’s “Kick Out the Jams” and Morello’s “The Road I Must Travel.” The two, along with Pittsburgh punk rockers Anti-Flag, then brought the show out onto Red River St., where Morello had set up speakers and a video screen so a couple hundred fans and activists not credentialed for SXSW could check out the show. (Interestingly, thanks to lasers and smoke coming from the top of the building next door, the outside crowd enjoyed more opulent production than those inside.)

Despite a strong police presence the demonstration went peacefully as Morello, Kramer and company led the throng though an amplified version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” followed by an unplugged rendition of Morello’s “World Wide Rebel Song,” which he taught the crowd via a communal call-and-response exercise. Surrounded by the sensory numbing corporate sponsorship presence that’s also part of SXSW, Morello’s gesture was a poignant reminder of greater concerns.

Also on Saturday, ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons held a party at Lambert’s restaurant to celebrate the rollout of his new BFG barbeque and piquant sauces. The bearded rocker – who will also make a guest appearance at syndicated TV host Rachael Ray’s Feedback day party on Saturday, March 17 – arrived for his bash in a vintage Chevrolet Appache pickup truck, signing autographs and posing for photos with fans.

“Billy F. Gibbons and hot sauce go together pretty good,” he said during a brief interview. “I boast about it, yeah.” Gibbons mingled throughout the party and joined the band – Mike Flanigan’s B-3 trio featuring Jimmie Vaughan on guitar – for a version of Floyd Dixon’s “Wine, Wine, Wine.” He also said ZZ Top’s “long awaited new album is still long-awaiting” but is also nearly finished, while one of the new songs, “25 Lighters,” will be used in a marketing campaign for Jeremiah Weed whiskey. The trio plans to start a tour in early summer.



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