If you are truly taking SXSW at its best, you should be seeing at least a few bands that you’ve never (or just barely) heard of.
Austin makes this easy, as you can stumble from performance to performance in a matter of a few dozen steps. So if you find yourself in the vicinity of a guy named Sweet Baboo, do yourself a favor and stop and listen for a moment – you’re bound to be pleasantly surprised.
Stephen Black, aka Sweet Baboo, is part of the latest wave of Welsh artists to make a splash internationally, undoubtedly inspired by the Welsh bands of the 90s, such as Super Furry Animals and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci (and maybe even Meic Stevens or even Badfinger of a few generations prior).
There must be something in the River Wye that augments the whimsy in the pop that comes from the region, as Sweet Baboo plays charming, low-key, mostly acoustic, self-deprecating songs about mermaids, butterflies and Morse code.
Artists like Jonathan Richman and Daniel Johnston (who gets name-dropped in the first song of Sweet Baboo’s latest album, Ships) are clear influences, as is fellow countrywoman Cate Le Bon (who might be referenced Ship’s last song, “Cate’s Song“).
So let serendipity be your guide at SXSW, at least for part of your time. But keep Sweet Baboo on your radar as well. You might just find a new earworm to infect your musical mind!
ERIC J. LAWRENCE