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AustinAfricaReview Edition Two
If Spring is coming to Austin, It means Bluebonnets and South by Southwest
This year will be the 30th year anniversary of SXSW. It has grown so large that many assume that everyone knows its story and its dimensions when in likelihood this is not the case. Musicians know about it because they come from all over the world to be a part of it, to have some of its glow reflected upon them and play at this world-renowned event. However, for some, it is hard to understand what it is and how it works. A little of its history will help and will also be used to introduce those musicians from Africa and the Caribbean that have come such a long way. Besides those musicians, there are the many musicians that have taken up an African style that also belong to the Africa of SXSW. I hope Africans that like African music will find this article useful to in learning how to access SXSW and even if they do not they will get a better of the special place where they live.
What some do not know is that while it is the largest music festival of its kind, worldwide it also is a film festival, a technology exposition, an educational forum, and a trade fair. There is so much of everything that one cannot see the forest for the trees.
Briefest of a Brief History of SXSW (Thank You Wikipedia)
SXSW Music Mutates
SXSW began in 1987 as an extension of an NYC music festival into Austin. The plans did not materialize, so the organizers decided to instead co-organize a local music festival, with the help of people from the Austin Chronicle an alternative weekly paper. It was expected to be Regional with 150 acts, but ultimately 700 came and from there it grew annually. In 1993, SXSW Music moved into the Austin Convention Center, where it is still held. In 1994, SXSW added a component for film and other media; named the “SXSW Film and Multimedia Conference” Johnny Cash was the keynote speaker. In 1995, the SXSW Film and Multimedia Conference were split into two separate events, “SXSW Film” and “SXSW Multimedia”. The musical showcasing acts kept growing until by 2015 it had more than 2,000 acts more than a quarter from abroad.
SXSW Film began to take off in the 2,000s. Some of the highlights follow: at the 2002 SXSW Film Festival, the film Manito won the jury award for narrative feature, while the documentary Spellbound won the jury award for documentary feature.The 2005 SXSW Film is considered by some to be the origin of the mumblecore film genre.In 2007, Two of the top film premieres that year were Elvis and Anabella and Skills Like This. At the 2010 Film Festival, Magnolia Pictures bought the film rights to the science-fiction film Monsters on the night it screened, in what was the first-ever “overnight acquisition” at SXSW. Journalist Meredith Melnick of Time magazine called this purchase a turning point for SXSW, leading to a greater interest among film studio executives in attending the festival in person. In 2012, SXSW Film saw the premiere of two major Hollywood films: The Cabin in the Wood and 21 Jump Street. Two films obtained distribution deals: Girls Against Boys and The Tall Man. The 2015 SXSW Film festival screened 145 feature films, an all-time high for the festival. The big-budget films Furious 7 (which was a last-minute addition to the lineup), Get Hard Spy, a rough cut of Trainwreck, Moonwalkers, and The Final Girls. had their world premieres, as did the documentaries Danny Says, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine and Brand: A Second Coming. Ex Machina had its North American premiere. 6 Years, Manson,Family Vacation and Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine all got distribution deals at the festival.
[In 1999, SXSW Multimedia was renamed “SXSW Interactive, which focused on all things Interactive Festival brings together the world’s most creative web developers, designers, bloggers, wireless innovators, content producers, programmers, widget inventors and new media entrepreneurs. Five days of captivating keynote presentations and provocative panel sessions provide hands-on training as well as big-picture analysis of the future of this industry. The 2006 SXSW Interactive featured a keynote panel of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. In that year, “Screenburn at SXSW”, a component for video games, was added to SXSW Interactive. The social media platform Twitter notably gained a good deal of early traction and buzz at the 2007 SXSW. The 2008 SXSW Interactive got media attention due to a keynote interview of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The Interactive In 2014 focused on privacy featuring a keynote speech by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, via streaming video, about privacy rights. The festival also featured a talk from another famous leaker, Julian Assange, also speaking remotely. Besides privacy issues, another major focus of the Interactive festival was wearable technology, including devices for augmented reality, activity tracking, identity authentication, charging cell phones and others.
SXSW Education: Innovation in Education
The SXSWedu® Conference & Festival fosters innovation in learning by hosting a diverse and energetic community of stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds in education. The 2016 four-day event affords registrants open access to engaging sessions, interactive workshops, hands-on learning experiences, film screenings, early stage startups and a host of networking opportunities. By providing a platform for collaboration, SXSWedu works to promote creativity and social change.
At the 2013 SXSWedu, Bill Gates talked about how Technological innovations are making fast inroads into American classrooms — a trend that holds enormous promise for United States education. The fourth annual SXSW Education Conference (#swswedu) in 2015 drew more buzz than ever before as educators and edupreneurs butted heads on a range of hot-button issues surrounding teachers’ involvement in the growing education revolution.
How Big is SXSW?
To give an idea of its size, the participants for each of the four parts for 2015 are given below:
Participants: 30,308 from 78 foreign countries
Music Media attending (approximate) 2,993
Film Conference Attendees: 20,552 from 71 foreign countries
Films screened: 256 out of 7,361 Submissions
File Attendance: 76,665
Film Media: 2,251
Film World Premiers: 102
Festival Sessions: 1,250
Festival Speakers: 2,700
Participants: 33,825 from 85 foreign countries
The SXSW guide
Information about all aspects of SXSW can be found at http://www.sxsw.com/. If it seems overwhelming, it is because it is just that. If one is just looking for music. The Austin Chronicle has a useful SXSW Music Guide beginning on page 11 of the February 26 edition. I expect it will have even more detail as the event approaches. The SXSW Films and Edu guides are easier to follow but the Interactive having more than 2,000 speakers will need some time so now is the time to start fixing your schedule. According to the Austin Chronicle the SXSWedu has a free event on March 8 at the Austin Conference Center from 9 am-5 pm. The general dates to remember are SXSW Music March 15-20, SXSW Film March 11-19, SXSW Interactive March 11-15.
The Big Day for Africa and The Caribbean is Saturday the 19th at the Palm Door on 508 E 6th Street. Like last year, this will be a double showcase with productions of Sounds from Africa and Sounds from the Caribbean. Rolling Stone said of the 2015 Double Showcase that “it was one of the 50 best things we saw a the SXSW 2015”. The Sounds from Africa Showcase comes from MMA (Music Moves Africa) presented by W+R Projects.
Fuse ODG will headline as supported by the following ‘artistes’ as provided in the Austin Chronicle:
D J Akuaa MD USA
The Compozers UK
Tekno Ebony State Nigeria
K.O Soweto South Africa
DJ Cuppy Lagos Nigeria
Stonebwoy Accra Ghana
Iyanya Calabar Ghana
DJ Tunez NYC
Davido Lagos Nigeria
DJ Neptizzle UK
Fuse ODG UK
DJ Edu UK
D J Edu is well known from the BBC Radio 1xtra Destination Africa
Sounds from the Caribbean will be headlined by Assassin ‘ Agent Sasco’ also at the Palm Doors on 6th. He will be supported by:
Stylo G UK
Tanya Stephens Jamaica
Omari Banks Anguilla
Earlier Acts during the music week March 15-20 are:
On the 16th Alice Phoebe Lou South Africa at Stephen F’s Bar
On the 17th at Flamingo Cantina Elida Almeida from Praia Cape Verde
And also, on the 17th is Noura Mint Seymali Nouakchott Mauretania playing at the Hotel Vegas Patio
Two other African events are important:
On March the 18th at the Austin Conference Center
Interview with Grammy Winner Faheem Rashad Najm, better known by his stage name T-Pain, is an American hip-hop and R&B singer, songwriter, and record producer. Room 18 ABC at 3:30 PM
Also on the 18th at the Austin Conference Center How Five Cities Propelled Modern African Music: Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, Luanda and Pretoria at Room 11AD
The SXSW section of the AustinAfricaReview will be updated as we approach the festivals and will also provide information on the SWSW Film, Interactive, and Education
Resource Material on Indigenous African Music. A Contemporary Study of Musical Arts Informed by African Indigenous Knowledge Systems
‘The dry wood in a people’s environment cooks the food they need for nourishment. To understand others enriches one’s own’. an Igbo maxim
Below is detailed a five-volume resource for someone interested in learning about traditional African music and perhaps incorporating some of its ideas into one’s own composition or playing. Entitled A Contemporary Study of Musical Arts informed by African Indigenous Knowledge Systems it was written by Meki Nzewi an African drummer of considerable skill. It will require some deeper knowledge of music and its composition. It does not focus on any particular ethnicity or its music but covers similarities across the continent in comparison with Western music. Each of the five volumes is between 200-300 pages and in-depth. A brief summary by the author is given below:
“The five volumes of a contemporary study of musical arts derive from 36 years of research and analytical studies in African musical arts – indigenous to contemporary. Sixteen years of practical research and advancement activities were undertaken in the Ama Dialog Foundation, Nigeria from 1983 to 1999. Subsequent research undertakings were undertaken in southern Africa as a staff member of the Music Department, University of Pretoria, from 2000, with funding from both the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa, and the Centre for Indigenous African Instrumental Music and Dance Practices (CIIMDA), funded by the Norwegian Foreign Office, have informed the series. The series further derive from my intensive creative and performance involvement in both indigenous and modern ensembles (modern African classical as well as popular), the teaching of African music, also the creation (dialogue and composition) and production of musical arts theatre in tertiary institutions, as well as considerable practical education workshop activities (theory and practice of African drum ensemble music) in Africa and Europe.
The series is in five volumes designed for the study of the musical arts in the Music Departments of colleges and universities in Africa and are depicted as follows:
Volume 1: The Root and Foundation
Volume 2: The Stem and Growth
Volume 3: Foliage-Consolidation
Volume 4: Luminations, Reflections, and Exploration (with the caveat that indigenous musical art is definitely not an indulgence of sonic euphoria)
Volume 5: Theory and Practice of the Modern African Drum
The first three volumes are broken into modules down as follows: The eight module titles for Volumes 1, 2 and 3 discuss the same knowledge concepts progressively as follows: Music structure and form, Factors of music appreciation, Music Instruments, Music and Society, and Musical Arts Theatre.
The content is roughly the same for the three volumes on the rationale that productions in institutions of higher learning should involve all members of a Department of Music, working together as a production team, or in production teams, irrespective of year of study.
Volume 3 has two additional modules: African musical arts and historical study.
Volume 4 of the series is a collection of essays in indigenous music, dance, and drama that could enrich perception on issues in musical arts scholarship for students and researchers engaged in disciplinary specialization. It includes specialist discussions on dance and authentic African drama.
Volume 5 is on modern African classical drumming as an instrument of specialization for contemporary concert performances. It contains repertory for solo drumming, drum, and voice/saxophone/trumpet duos, and inter-cultural drum ensemble works. Some specific knowledge items recur.
These were downloaded free by using the following URL (but with a reference to each volume, Vol 1, 2, 3, etc.) http://www.africanminds.co.za/wpcontent/uploads/2012/05/Contemporary%20Study%20of%20Musical%20Arts%20-%20Vol%204.pdf.
These pdf may be an older version of the study but seem an incredible resource. They can be bought in book form from Amazon or other suppliers. After reading the pdfs, you may find you want a beautiful cover reflecting the richness of material inside.
The critiques of the best Nollywood films will be incorporated shortly but I felt it necessary to publish the SXSW material ASAP. Sorry but they will be out soon.