Southwest Scene

Sarah Sharp
Sarah Sharp

Here in Austin, a lot of musical excitement happens surrounding the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference each March. At the end of this year’s conference, Berklee hosted its fourth annual party in connection with SXSW. The March 20 bash featured performances by rising bands and solo artists, including Berklee students and alumni Kid:Nap:Kin, Melissa Ferrick, Annie Lynch and the Beekeepers, Volunteers, the Hollow Sound, Aaron Sinclair, SuperVolcano, the Motion Sick, and Ma’ayan Castel. Giveaways at the reception included SanDisk Sansa MP3 players, a online course, and copies of the new compilation CD Dorm Sessions 6 on the Berklee student label Heavy Rotation Records. The event provided an opportunity to hear lots of good music and to network.

Austin alumni have been busy in recent months with a variety of musical projects. Kevin Cochran, ’96 began his 10th season as an audio engineer for the Austin City Limits show on PBS. Cochran has worked with R.E.M., the Foo Fighters, John Mayer, Nick Lowe, Calexico, and others. Last year, Cochran scored original music for a Juneteenth documentary.

Bukka Allen ’91 has recently completed recording projects with Charlie Robison, Robert Earl Keen, and the Flatlanders. Bukka is the co-owner of the busy production house Screen Door Music, where he writes and records music for film and television in addition to producing various artists, including an album with Canadian actress Jill Hennessy. Allen’s solo album Confidante showcases his talent as a writer, performer, and producer. When he isn’t in the studio, Allen tours with the BoDeans, alongside fellow alumnus and bassist Eric Holden ’99 of Los Angeles.

Mark Abernathy ’99 is recording a gospel-Americana collection of 19th-century pioneer hymns. The project brings together noted Austin alums Warren Hood ’04 on fiddle, Sarah Sharp ’97, Bukka Allen, and engineer André Moran. Allen is featured on accordion, Hammond B3 and harmonium. Local legend Lloyd Maines (steel guitarist and Grammy-winning producer of the Dixie Chicks’ Home CD) also makes an appearance. The album is slated for a summer release.

Percussionist Mike Meadows ’98 and his band Porter Davis are completing an album with producer Gurf Morlix. Meadows also performs with Colin Gilmore and Juno Award winner Ray Bonneville. Additionally, Meadows and creative partner Eric Holland have developed the Black Swan, a custom-built, multifunction percussion instrument. For more information, visit www.

Another familiar face around Austin is Berklee Guitar Department Professor Bruce Saunders. He balances his time between Austin, Boston, and New York City and, in recent months, Spain, touring with the Bruce Saunders Trio. He also performs locally with Elias Haslanger, 3 Jazz Collective, and Tameca Jones.

Dave Madden is recording two albums: Open-Eyed and Broken Wide. Madden describes Open-Eyed as fully produced, professionally recorded, clean, and edgy. In contrast, he says Broken Wide will be raw, gritty, imperfect, and human-sounding.

That’s the news from the South.

—Sarah Sharp ’97,

Berklee Austin Chapter Coordinator