Tuesday, March 3, 2009

SXSW Spotlight: Hamell On Trial

Ed Hamell and I have a long SXSW history. Oh, I'm sure he doesn't remember me, but he was one of the first people I met when I went to my first festival. I was waiting for my friend Eric to arrive, back in the day when you could wait right at the gate, and Ed walked up to me: "This the flight from Saint Louis? I'm supposed to meet my friend." I told him it was, we made a couple of minutes of small talk, waiting. He told me that he was back in town after moving to New York, a musician, and I should come by and check him out.

"Yeah," he says, "I got a lot of friends coming by. It'll be wild. You should really come by." I said I would, and then got lost in the maze of music, never even thinking about it again. Soon after, I heard his song "Big As Life" on KDHX. As Anton told me the name of the artist, I realized that I might have missed something better than I had thought.

Next time I saw Ed, it was at (I believe) a record store called Cheapo. It was just a few years ago, probably three. Once again I was in Austin, it was SXSW. This time my friends and I were going to see him perform, even though they weren't sure who he was, they figured I really wanted to see this guy, why not. I felt that I had some unfinished business with Hamell on Trial.

He came out and there was a little kid by his feet. Maybe 4-5 years old. Ed started playing, and then he stopped. It seemed that the kid unnerved him, given that adult language is a regular part of the songs and act. He asked a couple of times if the parents knew that he used some interesting language. They smiled, said it was ok, and then finally he said "Well, OK, fuck it then." And went on to transfix me with his ferocious strumming and machine-gun patter. We went and saw him again that weekend, and his set was largely the same. Didn't matter, though, the first set was a welcome slap upside the head.

He's back again. Maybe we'll run into each other. Here's the schedule:

STL, take note. Here's here first:
Wednesday, March 18
Deluxe, St. Louis, MO

Friday, March 20 8:00 p.m.
Soho Lounge (217 E 6th St)

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