I recently returned from a getaway in Austin, Texas and to the infamous South by Southwest (or “Southby” as it is know known by fans) music festival. At Southby, over a period of five days and in multiple venues, there are over 25oo performances. The performances are mostly music but also include film debuts and book readings and signings, etc. The vast majority of the artists at Southby are those who have gained some modicum of recognition but many are still a long way from the so-called “starving artist” category, a turn of phrase that to me means that one is so dedicated to their art they will do almost anything to make it. Not to “make it,” but to just do it, a la that old athletic shoe slogan.
At Southby there’s a vast array regarding levels of recognition. The most popular acts perform at venues where the attendance is restricted to those that have paid a premium price for a SXSW badge. Other venues accept badges but also charge a “cover” for admission. Other venues are just plain free. If you were to go to Southby and only attend the premium venues you might see the next artist to appear in a list of “who to watch” but you might also miss an artist speaking from her or his heart… to yours.
So last week we saw some amazing performances. Really, really exceptional, each in their own way:
And then, at 2:30 am one morning, walking back to the hotel, we saw this: an artist speaking with his art, and from his heart, on the street, and “for free”. No venue here! His is the performance I’ll remember the most… Listen for Pachibel, Canon in D:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go and do that. Because the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman