Worth the Drive: SXSW, and Off-SXSW

The interactive and film sections of South By Southwest  have already concluded for this year, but there is plenty going on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as the music portion of the festival winds to a close -- if you have a badge.  If not, there is still plenty of fun to be had ... so, keep reading.

The 25-year-old festival showcasing music, film and technology that seems to draw record crowds year after year into downtown Austin.  It's easy to see why.  With bands of nearly every genre playing for six nights on more than 80 stages around town, there's bound to be someone that plays something you'll like listening to.

There are far too many to even begin to list them all here, but this weekend's artists range from Texans such as Joe Ely (Alt. Country out of Lubbock) and Guy Forsyth (Blues out of Austin) to newcomers like Sahara Smith (singer-songwriter out of Wimberly) -- all of whom play Saturday night.  There are national and international acts, too, of course. They're also too numerous to list. See who is playing Saturday here.

Normally, people spending several days at the festival would buy a badge covering all days, but at this point, with only a couple of days left, you'd be better off paying admission at the venue (if allowed), though buying a badge may be your only option -- and they are very, very expensive.  If you get access, get there early, these halls all fill up about a half-hour or so before the set is scheduled to begin. So I can't stress enough that you need to be early.

Off-SXSW Events

If you don't have the cash to lay out for access to official SXSW venues, you could always soak up the atmosphere downtown, where most of the SXSW venues are, while checking out who is playing at non-SXSW clubs. Those venues will typically charge a cover charge, but the cost of entry is far, far cheaper than anything SXSW offers. There are literally hundreds of bands playing dozens of other venues both Friday and Saturday.  See a complete list for Friday here, and for Saturday here

And, just because they aren't playing a SXSW venue, don't believe the bands aren't any good. On Friday, Blue October, a nationally recognized act out of Houston, headlines a gig at the Auditorium Shores Amphitheater in a non-SXSW event.

On Saturday, the Austin Music Awards get under way at Austin Music Hall ... tickets are $20 at the door ($15 in advance) and include performances by many of the nominees (including Sahara Smith, mentioned above).

Austin Artists & Artisan's Festival

If the sun is up and you've had your fill of live music, check out Austin's Artists & Artisan's Festival at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. 

Take in the Texas wildflowers while seeing the handiwork of more than 20 artists and artisans who work in photography, painting, metalwork, pottery, jewelry and more. This event is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m Sunday.  Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $3 for kids.  Kids under 5 are free.

When in Austin, if you're looking for a place to eat ... feel free to send me a tweet @frankheinziv and I'll be happy to pass along some recommendations.

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