The annual South by
Southwest music conference concludes today in Austin, Texas, but its effects
are just beginning. Journalists and music-industry scouts crowd the clubs in
the Texas capital -- one-stop shopping for the Next Big Thing. Sun-Times
rock critic Jim DeRogatis reports on his discoveries in Monday's Showcase,
and here are a few artists who went into SXSW as unknowns and emerged as
No one knew the Hasidic reggae singer before he played SXSW last year, just
weeks before the release of his CD "Live at Stubb's," which was recorded at
the Austin barbecue pit.
The cherubic blond boys from Oklahoma weren't old enough to play any of the
SXSW venues in 1995, so they showed up at the conference softball game and
sang for anyone who would listen. Manager Christopher Sabec seized them and
took them to Mercury Records.
The baby-faced Mayer introduced his breezy guitar-pop at SXSW in 2000.
Immediately afterward, he was courted by several record labels.
In 1994, a stint at SXSW sparked a major-label bidding war for the
Chicago-based band. Geffen won, and months later "Seether" landed in MTV's
The line was long to see the buzz band of the 2004 SXSW, and the herd
mentality helped these bouncy Scots spring from an indie label to a major --
and on to mainstream success.