SXSW: 10 Country Music Ideas

Crooks, Brennen Leigh, Hudson Moore Offer Local Music

If you’re arriving in Austin, Texas, this week for South by Southwest (SXSW), you ought to seek out some country music. It’s an ideal way to get a feel for the local culture and it sure goes down easy with a cold beer or two. With the music conference taking place Tuesday-Sunday (March 13-18), here are 10 showcasing artists from the Lone Star State who merit a listen.

A new Austin band called Crooks is causing the locals to take notice. Already they’ve been praised by local radio station KUT and The Austin American Statesman. They go on at the White Horse at midnight Thursday. Rugged and lonesome, this style of country music makes you want to keep your tab open.

The Carper Family are quite intriguing, although its members aren’t actually related. These three gals mix old country, old-time, bluegrass and swing tunes into their original catalog. Their harmonious blend recalls a simpler time, yet one of their numbers is titled “Who R U Textin 2nite.” Get dialed into their sound on Saturday at 11 p.m. at Stephen F’s.

Brennen Leigh is a young woman who sounds like an old soul. A fantastic singer of traditional country music, she’s lately been inspired by bluegrass music. She’s part of an all-country lineup at the White Horse on Friday night. If you can stay up until 1 a.m., you’ll enjoy Mike and the Moonpies , who take pride in getting country dancers on the floor.

Bluegrass fans can pick a few new favorites this year, too. Whiskey Shivers pursue an Appalachian path with their old-time music at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room on Friday at 1 a.m. But if you’re more of an early-evening listener, seek out Wire & Wood , an enthusiastic trio (or quartet if the banjo player shows up) at the White Horse at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Two respected veterans of the Texas singer-songwriter scene are showcasing on Wednesday night. Ray Wylie Hubbard , a spiritual guru to the current crop of Texas talent, plays at midnight at the White Horse. Right after that, Billy Joe Shaver takes the stage. One of Waylon Jennings’ favorite songwriters, nine out of the 10 songs on the original 1973 release of Jennings’ Honky Tonk Heroes album were written or co-written by Shaver. Of course, Shaver’s modern masterpiece is probably “Live Forever.” It’s sentimental, sure, but it can really put a smile on your face. If you’re arriving later in the week, fear not. This pair will also play Saxon Pub on Friday starting at 10 p.m.

For a more contemporary take on country music, try the rugged original tunes by Scooter Brown on Thursday at 11 p.m. at Skinny’s Lounge. Another promising artist is Hudson Moore , a young songwriter who’s just getting started in his career. If you like Taylor Swift, I think you’ll like Hudson Moore, too. He plays Friday at 8 p.m. at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room and Saturday at 10 p.m. at Saxon Pub.