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Operation Every Band - SXSW 2014
The Goal: To listen to and review every band performing at SXSW 2014.
OEB - SXSW 2014 Project Links:
OEB's 5 SXSW Qs - An Interview Series
Operation Every Band - SXSW 2013
Operation Every Band - SXSW 2012
Following the lives, careers and internet buzz of twelve bands from SXSW through the end of the year (2011).
Austin City Limits Festival 2011
35 Conferette 2011
For David Wax Museum, 2011 was a payoff year. After years of endless touring in traditional and unique venues, the band has graduated to a new level of fans and followers. Their first big break occurred at last year’s Newport Folk Festival, but in the last six months they returned for a main stage appearance at Newport, sold out Washington DC’s 9:30 Club and found themselves being featured on PBS and Time Magazine. It was a big year and David Wax Museum capitalized by touring full out rarely with even a week off. This relentless push has yielded some big results. We captured Youtube views on “The 12” around SXSW to informally track the rise in interest of our bands. Based on yesterday’s data, David Wax Museum gained the highest percent gain on views with 373% in six months, making the case that they had a relatively bigger 2011 than any of “The 12”. David Wax Museum are still a small fish in a big pond, but the word has really begun to spread.
The year started with the release of Everything Is Saved, a marked departure for the band that was previously so tied to their Mexican and American folk roots. Don’t get me wrong; their calling card has everything to do with combining the traditional into a frantic concert setting. The new LP presents a better-rounded picture of who David Wax Museum is with as much focus on the quiet as the bar-stomping fare. It’s this depth that really speaks to David Wax Museum’s future. Songwriting is such a crucial piece to the live performance puzzle and the band has shown a real effort to push the boundaries folk music can so easily create. I know so many reviews and stories focus on the traditional aspect of their sound, but I think what the band does with that base is what really makes it special. I’m hoping they take an even more experimental approach with the next record to further bridge the contemporary and traditional planes of the music they present.
That entirely aside, the band’s vast majority of new fans have come off the strength of their live show. There is nothing like a David Wax Museum concert and that’s something that can be said about so few bands. From the stage, the band is definitely fire. Expanded permanently to a four-piece, David Wax Museum has become a new beast on the live circuit. The real magic happens though when they step away from the mics. Every show, be it a festival gig, headlining concert or even a corporate event, the band will roam through the audience, find nooks on balconies or stand on top of tables in the middle of the bar. The level of intimacy increases dramatically when the audience feels one with the band. It seems like a gimmick on paper, but it truly breaks down the performer-audience barrier into a whole new experience. I first fell for the band at SXSW as I looked up to see Suz fiddling and stomping away on a table I had a beer sitting on moments before. So few bands can create these sort of magical moments, let alone night after night. It turns a show into an experience, which is a true gift in the live music community. I hope this special ability translates into a long and prosperous career for the budding band. My coverage may end this week, but I’ll surely be following David Wax Museum long into the future as they move towards bigger and better things.
10/20/11 – PopTech Conference – Camden, Maine (courtesy of PopTech)
For David Wax Museum, there are no official “tours”, rather the band is pretty much constantly on the road every weekend of the year. October was no different than all months prior, as David Wax Museum played fifteen dates in venues ranging from bars to festivals to a private appearance at a technology conference. The month started out in Pennsylvania before heading south through Virginia and North Carolina. Their tour continued in logical fashion the next weekend including headlining shows in Atlanta and Dayton and a set at Nashville’s Americana Music Conference on October 14th. There weren’t any proper reviews to be found for David Wax Museum’s October run, but Facebook and Twitter updates showed some upticks surrounding the Atlanta and Dayton shows, proving that the band is beginning to build some sort of fan base in every nook and cranny of the country.
The latter half of the month found the band jumping up and down the coast for some interesting gigs. The band began at Maine’s PopTech, a conference focused on idea generation and innovation. Though these types of gigs can be out-of-left-field, a show is a show and videos show David Wax Museum bringing as much heat as they would at a headlining show in Boston. After PopTech, David Wax Museum fit in two sets at North Carolina’s Lake Eden Art Festival, a show at a high school in Alexandria, Virginia assisted by the school’s orchestra and a headlining performance at Baltimore’s Final Friday series held at Station North Arts. We wrap up our coverage of David Wax Museum here, but the road continues on this month including a post-Thanksgiving run through some of their biggest Northeast markets.
OEB Video Diary:
Chuchumbe – 10/9/11 – The Evening Muse – Charlotte, NC
Turn This Love Around – 10/16/11 – Canal Street Tavern – Dayton, OH
Unfruitful – 10/21/11 – PopTech – Camden, Maine
New Song? – 10/23/11 – Lake Eden Arts Festival – Black Mountain, NC
Wait For Me (w/ school orchestra) – 10/27/11 – Episcopal High School - Alexandria, VA
We’re in our last week of “12” coverage before moving onto SXSW 2012, so we got a slew of reports coming your way. Here’s the latest from David Wax Museum:
Though this piece is short, it does share some interesting notes on the band’s future multimedia plans. Scott Yates covered David Wax Museum up and down the East Coast filming “on-stage, behind-the-stage and radio gigs in audio, photo and video”. He’s creating a “multi media presentation” of the band, though there are no further details on the when and what of this future release. Keep an ear out for this one.
For the second year in a row, David Wax Museum has pulled off nominations for Boston Music Awards. The ceremony will be held later this month at the Liberty Hotel and will feature the band in the top categories “Artist of the Year” and “Song of the Year”. Voting is open until 11/9/11 here.
David Wax Museum made a return appearance for the 150th edition of Harvey’s Kitchen video series last month. This haunting performance of “That’s Not True” is presented with raw lighting and intimate camera work. This is a nice display of David Wax Museum’s emotional side especially given all of the recent attention on barnburners “Yes, Maria, Yes” and “Born with a Broken Heart”.
It seems for an emerging band, media coverage seems to come in waves. In early October, David Wax Museum experienced one of these ebbs as five different outlets posted video sessions over the course of two weeks. These aren’t just studio sessions either, the performance stages range from the halls of a museum (locational pun aside) to an old fort to the back of an Airstream trailer. Check out David Wax Museum in all sorts of locales with some highlights below:
"Yes, Maria, Yes" – Pollstar/Shore Fire Media – From the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion – Bristol, TN
"Yes, Maria, Yes" – On-Airstreaming – From SXSW 2011
"Unfruitful" & "Chuchumbe" – Sleepover Shows – From the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts
9/10/11 – Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival (courtesy of Katie Currid)
For David Wax Museum, September was pretty much like any other month in 2011. The band booked eighteen dates and hit the road playing as many gigs as their schedule would allow. Their path was mainly concentrated on the East Coast and Midwest region revisiting some cities from earlier this year as well as hitting up some new markets. Interestingly, the month both started and finished in Michigan. After headlining a show at Ann Arbor’s The Ark to welcome students back to the college town, the band headed south for a well-received set at Columbia, Missouri’s Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival. David Wax, who was raised in Columbia, led his band off the stage a couple songs in after the PA experienced some difficulties for an intimate set that Vox Magazine called both “intriguing and memorable”.
The following week, David Wax Museum headed back to the East Coast for five sets in four days including some of the most high profile gigs of their career. On September 14th, the band hit the stage at Washington DC’s 9:30 Club in front of an ecstatic sold-out crowd. Supported by Pearl and the Beard and The Second String Band, David Wax Museum solidified their place amongst the top tier of the young Americana scene with this hallmark show. How did the band pull out a sell-out in one of the bigger clubs in the city? According to Mezzic, “the group has played more than 20 shows in the District” including a slew of house shows over the past few years. The band’s signature move of playing in the middle of the crowd was taken to the next level with band members performing unamplified from the stage, balconies and even amongst a crouched crowd in the middle of the venue. The show had an air of celebration and importance, so much so that The Huffington Post’s Josh Rosenblum afterwards declared that he expects the band will eventually move up to playing stadiums in due time, though I’m sure even David and Suz would agree that Rosenblummay be getting just a little ahead of himself, but who knows!
Just one night later, the band headed to Charlottesville for an opening spot for their the Avett Brothers, an excellent pairing of two bands that have already showed much musical respect for each other over the past year. David Wax Museum followed up the Avetts gig with a late night after party at the Jefferson, a surprising feat considering the quick turnaround for their early afternoon slot at New York City’s iteration of the DMB Caravan the following day. Dave Matthews Band’s roving fair was rescheduled for earlier this summer due to Hurricane Irene, but David Wax Museum wasn’t about to let this opportunity to play in front of a significant NYC audience slip away. The rest of the month was light on coverage, but they still got in front of a bunch of ears with a mix of headlining and festival gigs throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio. David Wax Museum continues their never-ending tour this month – we’ll share our last tour report in a couple weeks as we wrap up coverage on “The 12”.
OEB Video Diary:
Let Me Rest - 9/14/11 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
Chuchumbe (backstage performance) – 9/14/11 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
Yes, Maria, Yes – 9/15/11 – WNRN Studios – Charlottesville, VA
Wait For Me – 9/15/11 – The Jefferson – Charlottesville, VA
8/10/11 – Prescott Park Arts Festival – Portsmouth, NH (courtesy of mrwed)
As we noted in our last news update, David Wax Museum has been riding a wave of positive news coverage mostly stemming from their return performance at the Newport Folk Festival at the end of July. To leverage off the buzz, the band booked 13 coast-to-coast shows, including festivals, supporting slots and headlining gigs, throughout August. After a ten-day break post-Newport, David Wax Museum headed a couple of States north for an appearance at the Prescott Park Arts Festival in Portsmouth, NH. The Portsmouth Patch highlighted the band’s “great performance” in their festival coverage by sharing a couple of video clips online. From Portsmouth, the band headed west to meet up with their frequent touring partner Josh Ritter for a couple of triple-billed shows in San Diego and Los Angeles also featuring the Old 97’s. David Wax Museum certainly has more of a presence in the Northeast than the rest of the country, but they have really concentrated on reaching other parts of the US since the beginning of the year. By joining up with more recognized acts like Josh Ritter and Old 97’s, they don’t have to rely completely on their own promotion and word-of-mouth to gain fans on the Left Coast. On the way to California, the band also stopped by Colorado primarily to film a music video with director Joy French, but they also fit in one of their renowned house shows in Highlands Ranch for their Rocky Mountain friends and fans.
The later half of the month found David Wax Museum back on the East Coast for a mix of festival and headlining gigs. Starting at 50th edition of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, some heavy storms hampered David Wax Museum’s anticipated set, but the Philadelphia Weekly still noted the gig was still “worth getting soaked for”. From Philly, the band continued north through Ridgefield Park in Connecticut on their way to their home base of Boston. David Wax Museum’s sold-out headlining showcase at the Museum of Fine Arts was a nice return from spending so much time on the road in a unique setting that was sure to have brought on more than a few cheesy “Museum in the Museum” jokes amongst the hometown crowd. The last leg of the August tour continued in Pittsburgh with a radio session for WYEP along with a headlining appearance at Schenley Plaza before heading back up north across the border for yet another Canadian festival gig. Their mid-afternoon set at the Ottawa Folk Festival was mostly highlighted by their activity off the stage. The Ottawa Citizen recalled:
“Earlier in the day on — or rather, off — the RavenLaw stage, the Boston-based David Wax Museum got up-close and personal. As their set neared its end, the quartet wandered, Pied Piper-like, through the crowd, playing and gathering the audience into a rag-tag line behind it. The group, which plays an exuberant blend of traditional Mexican and American folk, then serenaded a couple on a blanket. With the small, cheerful crowd gathered in a tight circle around the band, four audience members later hoisted violinist Suz Slezak aloft in a lawn chair while she and her violin led everyone in the spiritual, Let Me Rest.”
Unfortunately, the band was supposed to spend the day between Pittsburgh and Ottawa in New York City, but Hurricane Irene completely shut down the city that weekend, cancelling the Dave Matthews Band Caravan (a multi-day festival featuring DMB among a hand-picked crop of supporting bands), which surely would have been a great gig for the band’s exposure in the NYC area. David Wax Museum closed out their August run in some smaller markets, heading through Ithaca (The Ithaca Journal noted that the band “shook Delilah’s with their unique brand of Mexo-Americana rock”) and Buffalo for headlining sets before closing out with a free show at Bethlehem, PA’s annual Muiskfest. After a weeklong break in the beginning of September, David Wax Museum will pick back where they left off with shows through the Midwest and Southeast throughout the month. We’ll pick up next with David Wax Museum with their shows in Ann Arbor and Columbia, MO played just this weekend.
OEB Video Diary:
Born with a Broken Heart – 8/13/11 – Beth and Todd’s House – Highlands Ranch, CO
Unfruitful – 8/21/11 – Philadelphia Folk Festival, PA
Chuchumbe – 8/23/11 – Ridgefield Park – Ridgefield, CT
7/31/11 – Newport Folk Festival (courtesy of Rhode Island Monthly)
There is just something about David Wax Museum and the Newport Folk Festival. Not only did the band receive some immediate raves from fans and journalists in attendance, the overall amount of media coverage throughout August dramatically increased drawn from all parts of the country. This seems to be an important time for the band in terms of national exposure aided by the fact that their August tour dates stretched from Boston to Los Angeles. Here are the top pieces for the month:
Shortly after author and Huffington Post contributor Rob Kirkpatrick heard David Wax Museum’s live NPR broadcast, he hit the online beat and posted this lengthy story proclaiming the band “a great act on the verge of blowing up…that is destined for mainstream audiences and bigger venues from here on out.” Kirkpatrick digs into the band’s traditional influences before sharing a nicely detailed timeline of how their songwriting has evolved album-by-album. From the couple of shows he’s caught this month; Kirkpatrick has really fallen for the band and delivered probably the most well written story on the band to date.
In almost a mirror image of the Huffington Post story, No Depression’s Garland Harwood focused his piece on the band’s rise to relative stardom through the last few years. Again using Newport as a guidepost, Harwood credits online champions, solid management, creative PR work and sheer determination to land the band in the national folk spotlight in recent months.
In a preview piece for the band’s appearance at New Hampshire’s Prescott Park Arts Festival, the Seacoast Online delivered a feature piece on David Wax Museum equally covering the band’s music and the buzz surrounding the band throughout New England. Normally we don’t feature preview pieces outright, but Christopher Hislop has really put together a nice story filled with interesting quotes from the musical duo. Slezak shared this note about not losing sight of the most important aspect of playing music: “The sense of how much this thing is growing is truly inspiring and exciting, but we always want to be able to just hang with our friends and not let the music be more of a job than it is fun.”
The LA Times is certainly one of the larger outfits to cover David Wax Museum. Receiving a feature story in their Arts section (both in print and online) is a true accomplishment especially given that it comes from the opposite side of the country as their home base. Reed Johnson focuses on the band’s unique instrumentation and musical influences as well as how the band has adapted that sound for the new indie Americana audience, “making the exotic feel utterly organic”.
While David Wax Museum has been featured in a variety of wide-ranging publications this month, the folk scene continues to push the band the forefront as proven by the cover story on this month’s print edition of Sing Out! Magazine. With a mission “to preserve and support the cultural diversity and heritage of all traditional and contemporary folk musics”, Sing Out! couples their stories with sheet music catering directly to musicians. In addition to Ron Olesko’s feature story, the August issue includes the full sheet music (again, in print only) for “Yes Maria Yes”.
A few weekends ago, I was filled with excitement seeing two of the bands we’re following as part of “The 12”, The Civil Wars and David Wax Museum, sharing the same stage as they backed up the legendary Pete Seeger on a duo of folk sing-a-longs on NPR’s Newport Folk Festival live stream. It wasn’t until a couple days later that I realized there was another collaboration between “our” bands earlier in July when members of The Head and the Heart joined David Wax Museum at the Calgary Folk Music Festival for a rousing extended performance of “Unfruitful”. The full song was captured on YouTube in addition to several other performances across the grounds by both bands. We’ve compiled all of these videos in the playlist below, but be sure to check out some truly unique performances including a reading of David Wax Museum’s “Let Me Rest” with one of Wax’s musical heroes Bonnie Prince Billy and a very raw performance of “Winter Song” with a half-naked The Head and the Heart.
David Wax Museum:
1. Unfruitful (w/ The Head and the Heart and James Felice)
2. Yes Maria Yes (w/ The Head and the Heart and others)
3. Let Me Rest (w/ Bonnie “Prince” Billy)
The Head and the Heart:
4. Winter Song (WTTW Session)
5. Cats & Dogs -> Coeur D’Alene
7. Josiah Johnson Interview
And a couple more good ones from Vimeo for good measure (“Lost in My Mind” and “Winter Song”):
7/17/11 – Vancouver Folk Festival (w/ Josh Ritter) – Vancouver, Canada (courtesy of Straight.com)
David Wax Museum picked up right where they left off at the end of June, loading their calendar in July with tour dates across the country. The month featured headlining and supporting sets at bars, fields and houses throughout the northern US and Canada, but was truly anchored by appearances at three Canadian folk festivals in Winnipeg, Vancouver and Calgary. The band received particularly strong reviews at these gigs, heightened by the fact that they booked several sets at some of these festivals. In Vancouver alone, they band played two proper full band sets, guested with Josh Ritter and his band for a couple of songs and even played a workshop with Ritter and Joy Kills Sorrow. Local Canadian press also garnered some praise on the band’s energetic stage presence. The Winnipeg Press noted that David Wax “has a voice like a well-worn leather jacket and charisma to spare” and Uptown Magazine (also based out of Winnipeg) highlighted the David Wax Museum’s “earnest and honest demeanor”. For the band’s first performances in Canada, they can look back at their folk festival visits as hallmark successes given all of the high praise.
With folk festivals taking up most of their weekends in July, David Wax Museum filled in the weekday slots with shows in small and large markets somewhat en route between Winnipeg, Vancouver and Calgary. Highlights included two non-consecutive shows in North Dakota at Fargo’s Aquarium and Grand Forks’ Museum of Art, a set at Seattle’s The Triple Door opening for Commander Cody and a gig at San Francisco’s Amnesia Bar that had local writer Chloe Veltman “in thrall” as the band “whipped the tightly-packed audience into a state of excitement with rousing songs on guitar and violin”. The band closed out July with a trio of shows in their home territory of the Northeast US, including two free shows in major metropolises Washington DC and New York City. Their well-attended Wednesday night set at NYC’s Madison Square Park “won over the crowd with a mix of traditional Mexican folk, American roots, and indie rock” according to Madison Square’s blog. All of these shows built up to a major event in the band’s career: their return to Newport Folk Festival for a main stage performance. We’ve already covered the band’s appearance at Newport in full, so we’ll pick up next with David Wax Museum with their August tour which includes a few more festival appearances as well as headlining shows across both coasts. More than any other time in our coverage this year, David Wax Museum seems to be bubbling up stronger than ever in terms of national coverage, so be on the lookout for plenty of news highlights as well over the next couple of months.
OEB Video Diary:
Carpenter Bird – 7/12/11 – Museum of Art Concerts in the Garden – Grand Forks, ND
Unfruitful (w/ Josh Ritter) – 7/17/11 – Vancouver Folk Festival, Canada
Night Was a Car – 7/27/11 – Madison Square Park – New York, NY
As of this morning, two of the top three sessions on Daytrotter are held down by artists we’re following as part of “The 12”. The Civil Wars and James Vincent McMorrow’s sets were both added to the site in the last two weeks and have been popular downloads ever since. The takes are intimate and raw from both acts, a trend among bands that record in Sean Moeller’s Rock Island, Illinois barn/studio. The sets feature some nice unreleased tracks as well, capturing The Civil Wars’ “Disarm” cover and “Oh Henry” as well as McMorrow B-Sides “Red Dust” and “We Are Ghosts”. Daytrotter has recorded hundreds of sessions over the last five years, now posting at least one new session everyday. The site’s focus on new and unique musical content to the online listening landscape has set the benchmark for any new music blog or service. Not only that, but they also provide a great forum for independent artists to display their songs to a wider international audience. To prove their reach, Daytrotter has recorded sessions with an astonishing nine of the artists in “The 12”, from hip hop artist Dessa to the fuzz-rockers Yuck to the orchestral folk of Lost in the Trees. We’ve compiled all of “The 12” Daytrotter sessions below (see more by click on the “Read More” button), which are freely downloadable directly from Daytrotter’s website.
Birds of a Feather, Disarm (Smashing Pumpkins), C’est La Mort, Oh Henry
This Old Dark Machine, Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree, Red Dust, We Are Ghosts
July was a busy touring month for David Wax Museum covering both coasts and a few Canadian folk festivals leading up to a highly anticipated return performance at Newport. Beyond normal tour coverage, a few outlets shared some interesting stories on the rising artists:
Improper Bostonian’s yearly “Boston’s Best” list covers everything from fashion to restaurants to music. This year, David Wax Museum received the honor of being named “Best Local Band” accompanied by a small piece on the band’s Boston-based history. This type of accolade shows their immense local support; their upcoming appearance at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts next week is a few tickets away from selling out.
In speaking with Suz Slezak back in June, Operation Every Band learned that the band was putting together a DVD of their CD release show recoded in Boston back in February. Paste Magazine, an early supporter of the band, shared a clip of “Unfruitful” from the show with more than a few guests joining the duo onstage. Currently, there is no release date set for the DVD, but recent Facebook updates indicate producers from the Kitchen Sessions are putting the finishing touches on the project now.
David Wax Museum stopped by the offices of Fretboard Journal, a guitar-based music magazine based out of Seattle, for a quick performance. Check out “Yes Maria Yes” in this intimate environment.
David Wax Museum @ Newport Folk Festival (courtesy of AP)
As the sun set on Newport Sunday night, David Wax Museum and The Civil Wars joined a stageful of musicians to support Pete Seeger in a festival-wide sing-a-long of “Turn, Turn, Turn”. Though I had to report from afar, it was a great weekend through and through that was expertly captured by NPR Music. All the “12” bands received rave reviews judging from immediate Twitter and Facebook updates. There is just something about the Newport Folk Festival that brings out the best of every band that participates. We’ve included the links to the bands’ full sets below, but here are some special highlights from this weekend:
- David Wax Museum could be seen roving the festival grounds throughout the weekend, fitting in an interview with the NPR crew and a Paste performance in the ruins of the old fort. The Civil Wars also recorded a Paste session with a cover of Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars”.
- David Wax Museum received an additional honor, returning for a rare encore performance of “The Great Unawakening”. Given their early set time, the crowd forcibly cheering for one more song was one of the strongest honors bestowed a band at this year’s festival. Guests of the band included a horn section, a tap dancer (Julia del Palacio) and Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Rhiannon Giddens on “Look What You’ve Done to Me”.
- The Head and the Heart performed to a packed crowd, a great feat considering their dueling set times with Elvis Costello and Middle Brother. They also included a rare festival version of “Seat Beside Me” in the middle of their energetic set.
- The Civil Wars rushed over to the Fort Stage after their well-received set to join Emmylou Harris for a version of “Evangeline”. Recalling memories from The Last Waltz, this historically-tinged performance is sure to rise as a top life highlight for the duo.
David Wax Museum - Full Set
Persimmon Tree, Beatrice, The Least I Can Do, Night Was a Car, Chuchumbre, Look What You’ve Done to Me (w/ Rhiannon Giddens), When You Are Still, Yes Maria Yes, Unfruitful, Born with a Broken Heart, Colas E: The Great Unawakening
The Head and the Heart - Full Set
Cats & Dogs -> Couer D’Alene, “New Jam”, Honey Come Home, Ghosts, Seat Beside Me, Heaven Go Easy On Me, Lost in My Mind, Winter Song, Sounds Like Hallelujah, Down in the Valley, Rivers and Roads
The Civil Wars
Tip of My Tongue, Forget Me Not, From This Valley, 20 Year, I’ve Got This Friend, Barton Hollow, Falling, I Want You Back, Birds of a Feather, Disarm, My Father’s Father, Poison and Wine, Billie Jean, Dance Me to the End of Love