POSTED ON JANUARY 26, 2011:
South by Southwest Bound
Introducing Urban Tulsa Weekly's guest correspondent to the biggest festival in the land
Rock Reporter. Clifford Cravello isnít the average indie rock fan. In fact, as a 46-year-old father of two, you can be assured that his recounting of SXSW will include more than just day parties, and free beer , plus his son (on the left) might learn a thing or two from his rockiní pops..
After weeks of talking about it, multiple advertisements and a few helpful reminders, the deadline for this year's annual SXSW essay contest has come and gone. Although we didn't get as many entries this year as we have in the past, it still took some time and deliberation to read through all the entries, consider each candidate and pick a winner.
This year's correspondent breaks from the mold of hip 20-somethings with a saturated love and knowledge of music, but has earned his spot with a solid argument, the ability to tell a good story and the promise of a fresh perspective.
Clifford Cravello may not be the average indie rock fan. In fact, as a 46-year-old father of two, you can be assured that this year's recounting of the festival will include more than just the day parties, free beer and barbeque and the latest it band. A quick perusal of his iPod reveals much: a broad taste in music that encompasses not just classic rock, but alternative, pop and even electronica with bands like Rage Against the Machine, The Killers, The Shins and Royksopp popping up on his "most recently played" playlist and a interesting mix of artists like Anberlin, Rush, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neon Trees and the Motion City Soundtrack currently dominating his listening rotation.
When asked why he entered this year's contest, Cravello said that "I went with a friend about seven years ago and saw equal parts film and music and in retrospect, I feel like I shouldn't have done as much film as I did. I think I shortchanged myself on the music side last time -- I'm sure I did -- and this time I want to do it right."
"A friend of mine, Mark, and I started talking about it a year ago and put it on our calendars," he said. "Then, six months ago we talked about it again: do we still want to go?"
"Mark lives in Oxford, but he does festivals all the time -- he sets his calendar by them -- and he's always wanted to come here for SXSW. He's out catching live music all the time, so he's kind of been my catalyst for re-immersing myself in music," Cravello said. "That and my son is getting more and more interested in music now, so I'm starting to get back into it more."
Well, Cliff -- here's your golden opportunity. As you stated in your essay, you've got the time off and a travel partner already. The passion and music knowledge are obviously there and even though you admit to only a limited exposure to our local scene, you still have enough taste and awareness of Tulsa bands to name check both a new act and a veteran in your nominations for SXSW. Pack your bags and don't forget the notepad and pens, because UTW readers are counting on you to provide a vivid recollection of SXSW from a perspective that can tie everything together -- and hopefully, this time you won't shortchange yourself.
And now, the winning essay entry:
What do you mean "Who's The Clash?" How can you NOT know... And then I realized that my son is 15 and The Clash broke up 10 years before he was born. OK, OK, you're off the hook, kid. But, sit down. You have to listen to this.
Early on, music hooked me. First Alice Cooper. I was 10. Soon, all my money was in vinyl; Slade, 10cc, Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rush, Bowie, Clash, Cars, Cure and myriad others. All types: metal, oldies, glam, acid, prog, punk, new wave, grunge, even jazz, classical and funk -- you name it, I bought it. It was Starship Records and King Biscuit Flower Hour every weekend. My older brother was my compass. Of course, live music was part of it. Everything Tulsa offered -- arena, travelers, and locals. Records were formative, but live music feeds the gut. It was important -- but not as important as the next thing ... kids.
Yeah I know that's not "metal." But, I absolutely prioritized my family. So, between marriage, work, night school, live music, and babies, something had to give. I traded J.J. Cale for P.T. Barnum, Talking Heads for Talking Elmo and The Alarm for, well, an alarm. And that's how it's been for 15 years.
But now that teen is curious, has iTunes and is asking questions like "Who is The Clash?" Well, it's about time! Daddy's here for you, son. I'm sharing my music and navigating him through rocky waters (pun intended). He's touching and tasting "my" songs, but not always grabbing them and swallowing. He has his own taste, which is cool. But, when he does grab and swallow one of "my" songs... Oh, sweet affirmation! Now his iPod is sprinkled with prior generations and genres. He "gets" music lineage. Of course, turnabout is fair play and my iPod's now tainted with his music as well. Invigorating! But the "gut feed" is still missing.
I haven't been immersed in live music for a while. Oh, a gig now and then. And I've taken my son to some concerts. But, not really immersed like it used to be -- like I need. And everything is lining up. I have time off, a buddy picked out, camera and notebook ready, and the crucial kitchen pass. I even have a hotel booked. So, Urban Tulsa Weekly, please send me to SXSW!
Send me to swim those rocky waters again.
Send me to hear OK Sweetheart and Erin's honey-thick voice before they hit big and leave Tulsa.
Send Tony Romanello (and the Black Jackets), too! Because he (or they) is the artist I'd send, if only for sentimental reasons: solid local veteran, never been, deserves it, and I really like his music. Not a shiny, new, "up-and-comer," I know, but my heart's doing the picking here.
Send me and you win too! UTW will get a correspondent young enough to rock all night yet old enough to write complete thoughts in full-length, English words (ikr! luckyyyy omg!).
Most importantly, send me so I'll know the answer when my daughter asks, "Who is Fujiya and Miyagi?"
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