Vicki Brown, Will Elliott, Marianne Dissard, Andrew Collberg, Salvador Duran, and Naim Amor

TucsonScene.Com Austin Showcases, March 15-17

You really should've been there. You missed some fine performances, and you could've assured our Tucson musicians a worthy crowd of fans. Instead, they played their hearts out for handfuls of mostly preoccupied music junkies, wandering in and out through too much of a good thing--more than 1,000 bands in four days.

Pure rock 'n' roll, it was, packing up their gear and heading, uninvited, into the heart of "The Live Music Capital of the World," a place where, on any given day, you can't swing a cat without hitting two singer-songwriters and a guitar picker. The official South by Southwest showcases even featured at least two French chanteuses (one Russian sang in French).

Nevertheless, our Tucson crew, led by honcho (and Weekly contributor) James Hudson, landed four primo, unofficial venues that seemed thrilled to have them. They made influential friends at the popular Pink Hair Salon and Gallery on South Congress Street, just steps from happening parties at Yard Dog gallery and the famous Continental Club. The Continental's delightfully beach-bar-like upstairs gallery hosted them on Saturday afternoon. Several folks stopped by to get a beer, enjoy the spectacular view of the Austin skyline and rest their feet from standing in the long lines everywhere else.

In between, the crew played an in-store at Cheapo Discs and DVDs, a frequent host of side gigs for official showcase bands, and another set at Flipnotics Coffespace Café's FXNC (Free by No Charge) showcases. That event featured more than 60 acts from around the world to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Vicki Brown's solo violin-and-electronics project was mesmerizing as always. Will Elliott and Andrew Collberg turned in consistently energetic sets; Collberg played to the largest crowd at Continental gallery. Naim Amor was the only SXSW veteran in the bunch; it was a late-'90s showcase with his Amor Belhom Duo that first won me over to his seductive, avant-lounge sound. Marianne Dissard charmed listeners with her winsome, femme-fatale style, but predictably, it was Salvador Duran who stopped people in their tracks. It was fun to see the record browsers at Cheapo inch closer and closer throughout his set, several setting aside their record hunting altogether to appreciate Tucson's favorite force of nature, at once as changing and immovable as the Santa Catalina Mountains.

You would have been so proud.

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