Archtops and Les Pauls deep in the heart of Texas
Epiphone once again rocked the annual SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, hosting concerts, and picking parties around the city. The two-week extravaganza also included film premiers and electronics events throughout the greater Austin area. This year, SXSW celebrated its 30th anniversary and can now boast of not only bringing national attention to legends like the White Stripes, Gary Clark Jr., and the Waco Brothers but also hosting one-of-kind intimate concerts by Tom Waits, Paul McCartney, Prince, Johnny Cash, and Bruce Springsteen. What started out as a string of loose, informal sets in bars, art galleries, and parking lots has now become a multi-million dollar must-do event where the famous and the soon-to-be famous come from around the world to meet their fans and try to catch the eyes and ears of the industry.
As always, Epiphone was --well-- everywhere! With hundreds of bands, off-the-grid parties, and surprise artist cameos to follow, we're still catching up with our longtime friends as well as bands from Japan, Brazil, Poland, Russia, and Africa who played stages big and small (or on the ground) with Epiphones. After all, when you're the #1 maker of affordable Les Pauls and archtops, chances are that just about every band that played a note at SXSW had something from the House of Stathopoulo on stage. And if your favorite artist wasn't performing or checking out a band, they were taking in the sights and standing in line for BBQ brisket.
Epiphone kicked off the festivities for the music portion by announcing it has signed on to be the first anchor sponsor of MyMusicRx, the flagship program of the Children's Cancer Association.
MyMusicRx provides bedside and online music medicine programs delivered free of charge to hospitalized kids of all ages and diagnoses. The program offers a state-of-the-art music cart and trained music specialists who play music for kids and their families. Epiphone helped sponsor the 5th annual You Who Are About to Rock, the family-friendly showcase hosted on the main stage of the Fader Fort where kids got a chance to decorate Epiphone Les Pauls. The designs were fantastic and it wouldn't surprise us to see some of these guitars on stage someday.
Next up, Epiphone took the Gibson Brands bus to Willie Nelson's Luck Reunion Festival held annually at the Luck "ranch", the former movie set for Red Headed Stranger which Nelson bought to use as an annual get-together for friends and family. Arts, crafts, food trucks, and even the Third Man Records rolling record dream machine offered attendees everything they needed to stay on their feet for 10 solid hours of music over several stages. The Luck Festival is reminiscent of the scrappy, loose, family-oriented events that made the early days of SXSW so exciting.
Epiphone set up our Masterbilt Century Airstream trailer right in the center of the action. Inside the trailer, fans could check out the "video photo booth" and sing a tune on a Masterbilt archtop and instantly post to their Instagram account. Outside, Epiphone set up couches and chairs so passers-by could check out the De Luxe, Zenith, and Olympic archtops. As you might have guessed, from the moment the guitars were put on stands and tuned up, the Century archtops didn't have a moment's rest. All day and into sundown we saw visitors from around the world including artists Lillie Mae of Third Man Records, legend Ray Wylie Hubbard, the Bee Caves, and Brent Cobb.
Some of our biggest fans were anonymous pickers and grinners who discovered the Epiphone Airstream trailer by chance, drawn to the beautiful Century archtops. One by one they sat down on the couch and picked for passers by. On the big stage, Margo Price rocked with her band while Lillie Mae was presented with her very own Masterbilt Century Zenith just before previewing her new album to a small group of fans next door inside the Luck "church." It wouldn't surprise us if Luck Reunion becomes the must-see event for SXSW in the coming years. So, will Epiphone be there next year? You bet we will. Check out the photos and visit Epiphone's YouTube channel for all of our SXSW videos. Plus, visit the Masterbilt Century Archtop website for more photos, reviews, and performances with Black Pistol Fire, Lucinda Williams, Billy Bragg, Chris Scruggs, and many more.
(Photos: Ryan Vestil)