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SXSW Tales: Serendipity

March 14, 2012

It's a truism that the best things in life and art often occur as a result of luck.

Yesterday's galavanting around Austin during the South by Southwest Festival palpably brought this home as the two most memorable things I experienced were completely unexpected.

The first was the live illustration of an otherwise fairly turgid panel discussion on the impact of the Internet on the music business. While the panelists were pontificating on stage about the latest somewhat disingenuous systems for helping musicians to get paid, an artist was quietly creating a visual representation of the discussion on a big white board positioned to the side. I took a snap of it (see above.) Not only did it draw together all the salient points into one easy-to-digest picture, but it made the discussion come to life. The artist works for a company called ImageThink and its team was engaged in creating similar posters for some of the panels at the SXSW Interactive Festival. Pity they're not sticking around to do the same for the discussions at the Music and Film events.

The second serendipitous thing that happened yesterday was when I got lost trying to find my bicycle. I rounded a corner of the convention center and heard an amazing sound -- two guys singing in falsetto together! The voices belonged to Tall Heights, a Boston-based voice, cello and guitar duo who are doing some shows at the festival this year. While high male voices are common enough in indie pop music, I don't think I've ever heard two guys singing up in the stratosphere together. Their voices were strong and sweet and I loved the curlicue harmonies that the musicians made as they busked with their instruments outside the Austin Convention Center. I am going to hear them play a proper set this afternoon at Flipnotics on the Barton Springs Road later this afternoon.

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