We've been telling you for weeks all about our annual SXSW essay contest and the deadline is approaching quickly: you've only got until the end of the business day this Friday, Jan. 14 to submit your entries. The question that remains is if you haven't submitted your essay yet, why not?
The details are simple: in 500 words or less, tell us why you're the best candidate to represent Urban Tulsa Weekly as our guest reporter at SXSW and tell us which local band you would send to represent Tulsa and why. That's simple enough, isn't it?
I can ramble on all day with statistics about SXSW and try to explain why you should want to go. What it all truly boils down to, however, is a personal experience with the music. If you don't know what SXSW is by now (the festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year), you probably shouldn't be there anyway. If you're really a music lover and understand what happens in Austin every March, it's an event you're drooling about already and can't stand to miss.
What I can do, however, is try to explain what a SXSW experience means to me as a veteran of the festival. If music is your religion, SXSW is your Promised Land and Mecca. If music is your drug of choice, Austin is Amsterdam. And if it's the ultimate fix for your sonic sweet tooth, the festival is your golden ticket for a personalized tour of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.
The four day festival and conference is, quite simply, overwhelming. Amidst the onslaught of sights and sounds, however, you're guaranteed to walk away with a treasure chest of memories.
Over the past six years, I've had the opportunity to sit in on interviews with keynote speakers and rock legends like Pete Townsend, Neil Young and Robert Plant. I've seen Emmylou Harris stop mid-interview with Jonathan Demme to play the songs they've been discussing, laughed as Wayne Coyne shared experiences from his youth and sonic experiments by The Flaming Lips, and chuckled to myself as Chrissy Hynde (PETA activist and leader of The Pretenders) refused to sit on a suede couch and stood through her interview until a folding chair finally made its way on stage.
I've seen legends like Van Morrison leave audiences spellbound; found a few new bands that knocked me out, only to disappear into obscurity; and stumbled into gigs by artists that continue to be amongst my favorite (John Butler Trio and Will Hoge, to name just two). I've seen rock legends and newcomers play side by side and been privy to not-so-secret "secret shows" by bands like The Flaming Lips, My Chemical Romance (just before The Black Parade was released) and The Beastie Boys. I've even seen Tom Morello play in a Presbyterian Church with nothing but his guitar, harmonica and "three chords and the truth."
In a simple walk down 7th street, I've seen Dimebag and Vinnie hanging out with fans and wondered who that poor strung out looking girl was, only to see her on stage that night and realize that Amy Winehouse is as much of a wreck as the tabloids say, although her voice could melt iron.
Finally, one of my favorite memories was closing out my weekend seeing Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre absolutely melt down in front of a club packed with fans because his guitar wouldn't stay in tune, only 24 hours after screening the movie "Dig" which chronicled his artistic implosion and the relationship between his band and The Dandy Warhols.
I share this in order to ask a simple question: What are you waiting for? You've got a world of musical memories at your fingertips. All you have to do is start typing and get your essay submitted by 5pm this Friday, Jan. 14.
After all, isn't 500 words a bargain to get you and buddy into the biggest music conference and festival in the world, especially when other will be paying $1,500 for the same pair of badges when they arrive? I thought so. Now get to writing and I'll see you in Austin this March 16-20.
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