I left Portland, Oregon to travel to the Portland of Texas. I arrived in Austin Tuesday evening via Houston, where we picked up a slew of skinny black jean wearing men and women. I tried to figure out who was in what band, but when the young guy sitting next to me looked like a member of The Left Banke, I knew it could not be so.
This is my third time at SXSW but my first time as an ambassador for National Public Radio. I am taking my new role quite seriously. I was given some strict guidelines by the NPR powers that be: No stripper heels (apparently they interfere with broadcasting, similar to how we have to turn off all electronic devices during a plane's take off and landing), no torn jeans unless they reveal a Carl Kassell tattoo, no midriff baring shirts (is there any other kind?), no facial tattoos that aren't literary based, and I can only drink micro-brews. In fact, I am not allowed to mention that I work for NPR if I've had more than two drinks. If I've had more than five drinks, I have to say I'm here with the BBC. Last but not least, no one is allowed to make direct eye contact with Bob Boilen. When I met him for the first time tonight, I tried to conjure those sighted actors playing blind characters on bad TV shows; I looked all around but never right at him.
Never the less, it should make for an interesting week and I am very happy to be here.
Though I didn't take in any pre-SXSW shows, I did walk around with my cohorts this evening, pondering how in addition to the 1700 bands playing the festival, there is always room for a bar band (of which we passed by many, crammed into window sills that doubled as stages). And why shouldn't the bar bands still play? After we all leave at the end of the week, someone has to keep the music going.
FYI. Most of my Monitor Mix posts will be on the main NPR blog during this week.
From L to R. Bob Boilen, Carrie Brownstein, Stephen Thompson, Robin Hilton