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Are you as “into” South by Southwest as you used to be? Even just a couple of years ago? I’m still undecided. Crazy, I know. New dad, busted for a DUI a while back, eclipsing middle age –– I’m the prime demo to the big wigs behind the annual Austin music festival and conference. They should be dying to see me sit in traffic on I-35 for 10 hours to to watch a bunch of major-label indie-rockers glam out onstage.

I’m only partially joking. My whiteness, maleness, and middle-aged-ness look tantalizing. Except. In South by honchos’ eyes, Dream HearSay has big, fat record contracts hanging out of the pockets of his sparkly riveted jeans and a black AmEx card tethered to the big, fat bank account of a multimillion-dollar label. Sorry, y’all. All I’ve got is a liver of steel.

This year’s iteration of the shindig (March 15-20) is shaping up to be pretty neat-o, primarily from my F-Dub homer’s perspective. Several top-notch Fort Worth bands are playing sanctioned showcases. This is important. A couple of years ago, I ranted on Facebook about the dearth of quality North Texas bands and artists at a festival littered with mostly mediocre bands and artists from the host city. And then some hipster (from Fort Worth) initiated his thumbs and accused me of being biased. And then I initiated my thumbs: “I’ll knock your dick in the dirt.” (Points for me for the Breakfast Club reference? No? Points against me for being a jerkwad bully? OK.) And then I deleted the post, ashamed, embarrassed, fearful, because I felt that for as freewheeling as my writing job is, there’s still a degree of seriousness that comes with the position, a level of professionalism that I should at least nod toward in social settings, even online.

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Worse, nothing over which I have violently removed my spleen for the past several years has mattered. Other Fort Worth bands have not backed me. (Thanks, guys.) South by has blown me off. Correction: South by has been taunting me. Every year  for the past six, I have bitched about the sanctioned showcases given to Complete, the lovable yet impossibly, undeniably horrible Fort Worth metal quartet notorious only for several cable access clips that went viral a few years back. “Hoogie Boogie Land” has 649,362 views as of this writing. And counting.

My grievance still stands. By attaching Complete to Fort Worth, South by bookers are saying, “Hey, world! Want a little taste of Fort Worth music? Try this onstage abortion!” Now tell me. If you were Son of Stan, The Hendersons, Squanto, Pinkish Black, or some other Tarrant County artist more than worthy of Complete’s annual Austin spot, would you not be offended –– even a little –– to be lumped in with Curtis, Creecher, and Helix? (What happened to Sparky?! “Spark it up, Sparky.”) I don’t know. Some cats may say yes. Some may say no just to be ironic. All I know with absolute certainty is that giving Complete a sanctioned showcase every year is dickish. It’s a dickish move, South by. Grow up.

To the bookers’ credit, I applaud this year’s F-Dub selections. I would say that if you were to ask someone who writes about Fort Worth music for a living (not someone who merely trolls Facebook and Twitter for local music story ideas), the 2016 selections represent some of the best of the best around here. A little Fort Worth flavor will be percolatin’ in several showcasing bands not claiming the F-Dub as their hometown: Dallas’ Oil Boom (starring bassist Steve Steward, a.k.a. Last Call) and the Quebe Sisters (from Burleson) and Denton’s Mind Spiders (see: Music feature above) and Snarky Puppy. Representing the Fort proudly will be The Unlikely Candidates, Luke Wade, Quaker City Night Hawks, War Party, Ronnie Heart, and Keite Young. That’s right. Keite Young, the neo-soul singer-songwriter we wrote about before any other publication nearly a decade ago. He’s back, keeping busy by hosting a hip-hop jam every Tuesday night at the RBC Club in Dallas. Good for him. And good for you, if you realize you have the liver to endure another lost weekend in Austin this March. I’ll let you know where I am. From the curb of 6th Street.

Contact HearSay at hearsay@fwweekly.com.

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