This is not actually the real MusicNerd. This is Chris K.  

I'm putting the DC coverage on hold this week because I've been sent to Texas to cover South by Southwest, the arts festival/party that invades Austin every year. All the other papers and blogs from Seattle sent a reporter or two, so I convinced Josh to send me as well. Don't worry, I'll be back in town covering my exciting beat—bailouts and bonuses and earmarks—real soon. But for now, I'm in Austin.

MSMers and other media types usually purchase the almost-$700 entry badges for the festival, allowing them to get into all the different arts conferences and official shows. Luckily, here at PubliCola, we don't have to share that burden. I'll be wandering around for the next few days looking for the free SXSW shows and parties that pop up around Austin, which—judging from all the beer bottles and impromptu parades on the streets—will be messy affairs. 

The fantastic thing I've noticed about SXSW so far (in addition to this Texas drinking-in-the-streets business) is this: The artists themselves are everywhere, watching other bands with the same wide-eyed wonder as everyone else. Waiting for the bus at 3:30 this morning, some members of a hipster band that had gigged earlier in the evening, were checking out a beatboxer from Portland. Across the street some gangster rappers were dancing drunkenly around a couple of hippies playing a washboard and a banjo.

On Saturday, the Seattle delegation gets its own showcase, featuring Blue Scholars, Natalie Portman's Shaved Head, the Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, and a bunch more. I'll do my best to get in there. Look for more coverage from me this weekend.

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