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Arts and Entertainment

Slash with Blackberry Smoke @ Hi Lo Club, 3/15

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When I die I want to go to Austin.

I had no business being at the Hi Lo Club Thursday evening when Slash walked on stage to join the southern rock Georgia quartet Blackberry Smoke, but sometimes you're precisely in the right place at the right time.

Last year I was working with Buzznet who co-sponsored a few parties with Red Bull as part of their legendary Red Bull House. This year the Red Bull House's website hadn't been updated but a friend said that it was a few blocks off the main drag. My friend Sara K. Smith works here in Austin near the Hi Lo Club so we met nearby and when she said she had no plans after work, we decided to roam around 6th Street, but before we did that we figured we'd try to see if, indeed the Red Bull House was at the Hi Lo.

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When we saw a familiar face at the door we hugged, reminisced, and I asked who was sponsoring the house this year. The young lady said Activision was promoting Guitar Hero 2. Who doesn't love Guitar Hero, I asked. And we all laughed and she said that it would be ok if I looked around the place with Sara.

After an hour of eating their food and drinking complimentary Red Bulls and vodka someone accused us of being their to see Slash. We asked, "Slash is going to be here?" And they said, "yes, in 15 minutes".

And sure enough the little tiny stage at the front of the club was set up for the Georgia rockers and their BFF, the top hatted one with the curly hair.

This is what SXSW is all about.

After a half hour the music started and it was like Lynrd Skynyrd minus the super long guitar solos, but just as soulful, just as honest, and just as rockin. Even before the former Guns guitarist joined them, Blackberry Smoke had become my new favorite band.

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But when Slash walked on stage to play a trio of cover songs, all bets were off and all 100 of us in attendance instantly became the luckiest people in the live music capital of the world - free booze, free food, and free rock n roll music of the highest standard.

"Honky Tonk Women", "Feel Like Makin' Love", and "Highway To Hell" might just seem like three tunes from rock's rich tapestry of classic cuts, but when your plan 90 minutes ago was to just see what the town was going to offer you, Lord knows having Slash and these four longhaired southerners dish out the rock was over and above any dream.

We floated out of the club and hugged the woman who allowed us in, and hollered into the night sky still not believing what had just gone down. And to be honest, I was almost considering coming straight back home to LA because how could anything at SXSW top that. But then we saw Sondre Lerche at Antone's, Bloc Party at Stubb's, and Amy Winehouse at Eternal, and I was glad I hadn't called it a night.

However, none of them could compete with what we had just seen. There really is something about truly gritty, real bluesy rock classics played by true rockers that cannot be touched by pretty boys or freaks.

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Our apologies for not taking longer video. If I had known that the camera's audio was withstanding the super loud, tiny club, I wouldn't have given up on it so easily, so consider what follows below as a taste of what went on.

Update: Far better review of the show and the club here at Metal Sux

"Honky Tonk Women", "Feel Like Makin Love"


"Highway To Hell"

photos by Sonny I. LaVista

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