By Dan, Art Director-Product
March madness means something else for me. It means counting the stir crazy days waiting for my spring break. An annual excursion to South By Southwest that is the only cure for my cabin fever. In case you haven’t heard of it, SXSW is a music, film, and interactive mega-festival in Austin Texas.
All winter I dream of sunshine, tacos, and old friends. This year my fiancé Page (a Lands’ End artist) and I brought our band, Dream Boat, to the festival. Out first showcase was at the opening of the Helm Boots flagship store where we got a tour and personal fitting from our friend and boot guru, Joshua Bingaman. The place looked great and we got to see his new Made in America line. Plus, I was able to walk off into the sunset in a new pair of photo-shoot boots! After Page played two solo sets, we relaxed and mingle with lots of Austin creative folks while sipping on some Handsome Coffee.
We also met up with some dear friends who were at SXSW promoting their new independent movies. James Ponsoldt was showing his film, “The Spectacular Now,” which was a hit at Sundance and Craig Zobel was promoting his latest production – a new David Gordon Green film starring Paul Rudd called “Prince Avalanche.”
Later on, Mike Tully gave us a private sneak peak of “Ping Pong Summer,” an incredible eighties coming of age story, starring Susan Sarandon, Amy Sedaris, and Robert Longstreet. Robert watched the film with us and we got to share laughs and musical ideas over some local Austin beer.
We were also lucky enough to have acclaimed graphic designer, Chris Bilheimer, give us a personalized tour of some locations featuring local artists and artisans. We started at his exhibit inside the GSD&M ad agency. It was exciting to see Chris’ twenty years of graphic mastery on display.
Afterwards, we visited the Bearded Lady printshop. They were hard at work finishing posters for half of the events at SXSW. Resident artist Abi Daniel showed us her amazing watercolors and illustrations. Hopefully she’ll soon be painting some Lands’ End Kids’ tees for us!
Later that day we stopped by to see Allen, the owner of Revival Cycles, where we got to see some of his newest motorcycle masterpieces being assembled. His place is a museum full of classic motorcycles and cars and is an incredible resource for gearheads and artists alike. Page was lucky enough to get a wild ride with Allen in his perfectly restored 1964 Jaguar E Type. She returned very smiley and wind blown.
Another stop on out visual voyage was the Helms Design Studio where we were given a tour of their latest projects. Helms has decorated tons of Austin’s hot spots and eateries, as well as branded a few local beers. Needless to say, we felt it was our duty to sample some of their handiwork. It was delicious and the labels were well designed.
We saw “Experimental Aircraft,” a longtime Austin favorite featuring a couple of our friends from the band “All in the Golden Afternoon.”
We also saw an amazing Argentinian music showcase hosted by our friends at Team Clermont, as well as their other showcase featuring a 35-drummer parade. After these shows the rest of the day was spent hopping from venue to venue listening to more bands perform and eating tacos from trucks along the way.
Before heading out of town, our band had one last show to play at Progress Coffee, Austin’s most respected coffeehouse located by the Fader Fort – the epicenter of SXSW. Page was also able to perform before we were swept away on a mad dash to the airport, but not before a quick stop at Switched On (my favorite synthesizer store in the world) where I drooled over some new synths before being yanked back to reality – and a long journey home.
Exhausted and happy, we returned to Madison with enough great memories to get us through to the spring thaw.