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Okie music, Texas flavor

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Skating Polly

The state’s platform for Oklahoma artists is no exception, thanks, in large part, to Austin’s South by Southwest, the largest film, interactive and music conference in the world.

If you didn’t already know, the event is a big deal.

According to a SXSW fact sheet, a whopping 56 countries are represented at this year’s festival, which takes place at hundreds of venues throughout the city March 7-16. Over the course of the two-week event, more than 300,000 people come through Austin just for SXSW.

Nearly 10,000 bands applied to perform, yet only 2,278 made the cut. Dozens of the latter are Oklahoma-tied acts chosen to participate in official and unofficial showcases during the music portion of the festival March 11-15.

Buffalo Lounge takes Oklahoma to Austin 

Each year, an exclusive showcase called The Buffalo Lounge presents dozens of Oklahoma bands, interactive businesses and projects and movie-related events throughout.

“This is important for Oklahoma,” Buffalo Lounge co-creator David Kittredge said, “because we get a national and global audience.”

Kittredge and another event co-founder, Ginger Roddick,
both also work for Idea Collective, a creative think-tank for music,
business and design located in Oklahoma City, Austin and New York City.

Abby
Kurin of the Tulsa Film & Music Office also helped co-found the
concept four years ago and pitched it to South by Southwest organizers.
Each year, the group takes over a venue, and each year, the response and
attendance has grown — from 4,000 in 2010, its inaugural year, to more
than 8,000 last year, including music, interactive and movie portions.

This
year, the Lounge takes over The Avenue on Congress, a bar and club
located at 408 Congress Ave., March 11 and 12 for a total of four
Oklahoma-only showcases — two each day and two each night.

Kurin
and her team also work with SXSW organizers to hand-pick Oklahoma-tied
applicants for non-music showcases. For example, local singer-songwriter
Chelsea Cope — who acted in the Oklahoma-filmed movie Rudderless and whose music appeared on the soundtrack — will perform during the movie portion of Buffalo Lounge presentations.

As
the Lounge’s presence continues to grow, so too does the venue, going
from one level to two, which allows for twice as many visitors, bands
and activities. It’s complete with outdoor signs and window decals and
interior decor; the former bar, for that week, is gone.

There
are a total of 191 official SXSW venues in downtown Austin, but not
every state or city or organization that requests a showcase gets one.

Oklahoma
has earned that right. 

“So many people think, ‘Oh, no big deal;
Kentucky has one,’ or, ‘Tennessee or Mexico has one,’ or ‘Every state
has something this unique at South by Southwest,’” Kurin said. “Most do
not.”

Half (OK, maybe a quarter) of the fun is getting there 

Now
that you’re properly amped up for this year’s events, let’s talk about
other important parts of SXSW — like, say, how to get there.

You
could fly, but where’s the fun in that? This is a road-trippin’ affair.
Load up your iPod (preferably with Oklahoma artists), fill up your tank
and mosey on over to Interstate 35. It’s a straight shot down to
Austin, so unseasoned travelers will need some guidance.

No
hotel booked? Don’t even bother; they’re all full by now. If you have
friends in Austin, surely they have a couch (or a floor) for you to
recharge on. If not, make friends and find a couch (or a floor) to
recharge on. Some patrons sleep in their cars or, worse, at the bus
station, but it’s not recommended.

The
drive is a breezy six hours or so, though you’ll undoubtedly need to
make some stops. Thankfully, choice dining options are aplenty. Smokin’
Joe’s Rib Ranch (5164 Jollyville Rd. in Davis) will whet your barbecue
palette as you prepare to enter cookout country. A few hours later, load
up on kolaches and other goodies at the world-renowned Czech Stop (105
N. College Ave., West, Texas). A word to the wise: this place will
change your life.

Before
you hit the Czech Stop, however, cinephiles will want to stop by the
Days Inn in Hillsboro, Texas (307 S. East I-35), an iconic setting for
much of Wes Anderson’s debut film Bottle Rocket.

As you creep closer to Austin, those without a couch to crash on
can stop at the IKEA in Round Rock (1 Ikea Way — yeah, it has its own
street) and purchase their own. Assembly required.

The best piece of advice we can give you, however, is that you just drive safely.


You made it. Now what? 

Buffalo
Lounge happenings begin Monday with the film and interactive day
parties, which are free and open to the public, but if you have one of
those fancy SXSW badges, you get preferred entry. Just make sure to RSVP
to any event through the Buffalo Lounge website.

Music
stuff starts Tuesday, as the official SXSW day party, Oklahoma
Soundcheck, kicks things off with a bevy of local talent. If indie pop
is your vice, you’ll want to catch Tulsa trio Summit, OKC’s IndianGiver
and the glitzy sheen of Norman’s Prettyboy. For roof-raising hip-hop,
check out Norman collective ADDverse Effects or OKC’s Skating Polly for
hair-raising riot-rock. Singer-songwriters are aplenty as well, with the
talents of Chelsey Cope, Sherree Chamberlain, Mark Gibson, Rachel La
Vonne and Kyle Reid to serenade those in attendance.

And
we’re just getting started. The Oklahoma Showcase — the first official
SXSW exhibit — is from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday, and the lineup features
some of Oklahoma’s brightest musicians. Between the folksy stylings of
John Fullbright, Parker Millsap and crooner John Moreland, rockers Taddy
Porter and Deerpeople and soulful throwbacks Matt Stansberry & the
Romance, the talent on display is sure to impress even the snobbiest
Austin hipster.

Want
more? Wednesday is just as stacked. The Oklahoma Remix day party starts
with a panel discussion from 11 a.m. to noon and then picks right back
up where day one left off. Rock fans will revel in the facemelting
sounds of OKC’s Moongiant or local trio Aluma, while electronica
enthusiasts will want to check out Colin Nance and Travis Traps. For a
little more funk, catch Oklahoma City’s Bowlsey and Oklahoma Gazette cover
boy/rapper Josh Sallee. Singer-songwriters Rachel Brashear, Kaitlin
Butts and Scott AF round out the bill, along with an encore acoustic
performance from the girls of Skating Polly.

Wednesday
night’s last hurrah is the ACM@UCO Showcase, which aims to send the
Lounge out with a bang. The bill features singersongwriters Travis
Linville and Aaron Pierce, Oklahoma luminaries like hip-hopper Jabee and
psych-rockers Colourmusic and indie-pop up-andcomers Horse Thief and
Tallows, who were arguably the most buzzed-about performers at last
year’s event.

After
The Buffalo Lounge events wind down, you are free to do as you wish. By
that point, you should at least be able to rest easy knowing some of the
finest artists this state has to offer were on display for the world to
see. And you’ll need some rest before doing it again next year.

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