Hawkwind’s Nik Turner & Nicky Garratt
26/3/2013 - Part V
Monday lunchtime we set off to retrieve the equipment we stashed at Cleopatra overnight then set off east toward Texas. After putting the LA traffic behind us we made decent time and stopped in Wilcox overnight. The next day we decided to play some music in the desert so continued east into New Mexico and jammed until the sun began to dip below the mountains.
SXSW is quite a circus. Hundreds of bands from around the world congregate in Austin to showcase their talents while the business cohorts mingle setting up deals between themselves or at the least put faces to contacts. Parking is a nightmare, and I quickly become conscious of my age. 95% of the bands are geared towards kids.
We are lodged in a nice hotel north of the city. We battle the traffic and get a handle on proceedings. Nik spends the first couple of days getting noticed by busking with the camera crew in tow.
We are playing a kind of redneck bar complete with mechanical bull, arm wrestling station and punch bag machine. One local opening band My Education sparked my interest a little. At least they attempted to manifest a different sound with violin, cello, vibraphone and keyboards alongside the more traditional rock instruments. We took the stage at around half past 12. The stage sound was dire and my fold back was saturated with Moog. Still the show went down quite well. There were some hardcore Hawkwind fans who gave it their approval.
Saturday: We have an in store appearance today at End Of An Ear. Jürgen, local to Austin, speaks very highly of the store. We played a number of semi acoustic songs, but nothing from the new album. Far from the treasure trove of goodies I was expecting to buy after the performance, I didn't really find anything I needed. Still, everyone was very nice and it was a pleasant day.
The rest of the day was ostensibly free and I looked forward to just listening to music. I stayed most of the night at the Holy Mountain where a succession of Krautrock/spacerock bands performed. Unfortunately I just missed Föllakzoid from Chile but caught the following few acts. Spindrift's space western mix was compelling, but the highlight for me was Camera from Berlin. They sounded like Neu! with an added keyboard. We all gathered later on to watch the Zombies. They were outstanding, the sound was not.
Sunday: Nik has to visit Michael Moorcock, as always accompanied by the film crew. I originally was going to go to discuss Barrington J. Bayley who was a good friend of Michael’s and who’s stories I've recorded for my audio book company (turnbackdearmortals.com). Logistics were not flexible enough so I indulged myself at the Austin Table Tennis Club for a few hours until he returned.
There's not much to say about the marathon drive back to San Francisco. It consisted of two days through the desert, a number of predictably mundane food stops, and cocooned entertainment. At least in this band the music is not such an issue, Nik is quite interested in a variety of music and it seems like he's played with 2 out of 3 prog and rock bands that are selected, which is a source for entertainment in itself. Better still is that he's a fan of Jazz, classical and opera. For once I'm not the only one asking to listen to Coltrane, Bach or Wagner.
Below: Selection of Nicky's photos for this diary entry. Click images to enlarge
Back in my San Francisco office the dripping faucet of work has left a small flood of chores in my inbox. The final draft of the cookbook, unfinished Guitar Player magazine articles, recording to organise, the next Nik Turner shows to schedule, plus other projects like Brainticket, Something Big and Hedersleben all need attention.
Still, it’s better to be busy and dare I say even happy?