My colleague Deborah Sengupta Stith and I each picked five local acts playing SXSW to highlight in an Austin360 video. Check out my picks above (and below, with a few extras beyond the video). Go here for Deborah’s picks.
Mastersons: The husband-wife duo of guitarist Chris Masterson and violinist Eleanor Whitmore spend much of their time on the road as members of Steve Earle’s backing band. But they’ve now released two albums of their own material and have become one of Austin’s best Americana acts. (11 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, at Holy Mountain)
East Cameron Folkcore: One of Austin’s most socio-political bands is known for its powerful live shows that incorporate a wide range of instrumentation. They’re using SXSW as a springboard for a big record release coming in April. (1 a.m. Saturday, March 21, at Lamberts; frontman Jesse Moore also plays a solo acoustic show at 10 p.m. Saturday, March 21, at TenOak)
Quiet Company: One of Austin’s most prominent indie-rock bands for nearly a decade now, they’ve just released their fifth album, “Transgressor.” The high energy level of their recent live shows suggests they’re ready to break through to a bigger audience. (Midnight Thursday, March 19, at Red Eyed Fly)
Zoltars: This four-piece band really gets the roots of where rock ’n’ roll came from, playing admirably straightforward garage rock that has pop and psychedelic overtones. Their self-titled new album that came out in February is a great collection of songs that are almost all under three minutes long. (8 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, at 720 Club Patio)
Mother Falcon: Probably Austin’s largest pop-music ensemble, their cast sometimes swells to more than 20 members including strings, horns, percussion and more. They’re hosting the all-day Mother Falcon’s All the Friends Ball on Monday, March 16, at Empire, and they’re also playing two official SXSW showcases. (10:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, at St. David’s Bethell Hall and 1 a.m. Saturday, March 21, at the Hideout.)
Also: Singer-songwriter Sahara Smith’s new project, Girl Pilot, features the inventive atmospherics of Okkervil River guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo (10 p.m. Friday, March 20, at Lamberts). … Aaron Sinclair’s new indie-rock outfit A. Sinclair shines on its Dangerbird Records debut “Pretty Girls” (1 a.m. Thursday, March 19, Red 7). … The classic era of late-’90s alt-country comes alive in the songs and sound of Harvest Thieves, whose full-length debut disc is due this spring (11 p.m. Saturday, March 21, at Lucky Lounge). … Avant garde ensemble Graham Reynolds & Golden Arm Trio have a couple of SXSW showcases, but especially intriguing is their debut of “Marfa Triptych Part I: The Country & Western Big Band Suite,” the first of a three-part work commissioned by Ballroom Marfa (midnight Saturday, March 21, at the Hideout).
…And one consensus pick: Deborah and I tend to cover different ends of the musical spectrum, but here’s one local band that made both of our short lists: The Digital Wild. Deborah says the band “brings a cool blend of indie rock and trip hop soul”; I’d add that I’ve been impressed by both their songwriting and the intriguing stage presence between the band’s two leads. (10 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, at Red 7; midnight Friday, March 20, Lambert’s,)