An Excerpt From the New Pimp C Bio, Sweet Jones

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SXSW is arguably the Holy Grail for awkward swag that turns out to be gems. Any time you consider walking down Sixth Street, you may find up getting handed a promotional lighter, a CD, a flash drive, a pair of underwear (true story) or even a piece of anti-religious propaganda. It's like standing in Times Square on a giant acid trip.

Somehow a walk on Sixth this year yielded the greatest gift of all, a small glimpse into the upcoming Pimp C biography, Sweet Jones: Pimp C's Trill Life Story, penned by Julia Beverly. The book, which isn't set to appear in physical form until July, will have diehard UGK fans gravitating toward it like a form of gospel.

The early chapters pluck quotes from both Bun and Pimp from the likes of Murder Dog magazine and 90.1 KPFT's Damage Control show. The other quotes, from Pimp's late mother Mama Wes, were conducted by Beverly herself as well as conversations Pimp had with other notable music journalists.

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#MarcoAtSXSW 2015: A (Mostly) Pictorial Diary

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Photos by Marco Torres
DJ Candlestick and OG Ron C were tapped to play during sets at The Fader Fort by Converse.
As I was driving to Austin early last Wednesday morning, I was worried, most immediately because the rain was dropping so torrentially that Highway 71 was almost invisible. But also because, according to several insiders, media sources, and SXSW veterans, this was going to be an off year for the festival.

Off as in not as good, not the same. A reboot. Many people I spoke to told me that they weren't even making the trip to Austin this year.


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Scintillating Field Notes From SXSW 2015

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Photos by Marco Torres
Houston's Doughbeezy returned to the stage for the first time in weeks at the "South by Nice Kicks" showcase.
Always See The Home Team First
If I were to write a guide on how to experience SXSW, somewhere I would write about how to view the acts from your hometown performing in "away game" situations. For me, that meant Doeman wrapping an American-flag bandana around his head during Scope ATX or Maxo Kream bringing plenty of hype and menace to an outdoor set at "Welcome to the South" showcase last Wednesday night.

It's also neat to see Doughbeezy back on the stage after a near-tragic moment almost robbed him of that experience. See to home first, then spread out.

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A Different Side of SXSW: Fighting Cancer

Categories: SXSW

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Photo courtesy of UH Media Office
Dr. Preethi Gunaratne's research could one day lead to customized treatments for dozens of types of cancer.
Music, film, technology -- the three engines that drive SXSW each year all have something in common: each thrives on collaboration. What keeps the week-long festival going and growing is not the individual performances or gadgets on display, but the exchange of ideas. When people who might have otherwise never been in the same room together suddenly are, magic can happen -- no matter if it's a band getting signed, a film getting a distribution deal, or a new app seizing the public's imagination in a matter of hours.

Or, this year, a new approach to fighting one of humanity's deadliest and most confounding diseases. Among the whirl of activity already going on in Austin is the debut of the SXSW Health and MedTech Expo, two days of panels and networking where scientists, surgeons, government officials and more come together to discuss issues and policy that could have a much more profound impact on society than a hit single or an Oscar.


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Latest SXSW Artist Additions Include 16 Artists from Houston

Categories: SXSW

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Photo by Nathan Smith
The Tontons will be back at SXSW this year.
South by Southwest is a tricky animal. Each year, thousands upon thousands of submissions are sent to the Austin festival promoters and a limited number from all across the globe are chosen to represent the "official" showcases. Sure, there are probably 10 times that many bands that play in and around Austin at un-official showcases -- what used to be referred to as South by So What when there were venues and artists who cared about rebelling. But, getting onto that official list, no matter how long it is, can be a big deal for young artists.

In the latest release of artist names from the folks at SXSW, there are a fair number from Houston, 16 in fact who made the cut. That makes a total of 965 artists and bands added to a list that will swell to over 2,000 before the festival opens March 17.

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What It's Like Being Pepper-Sprayed at SXSW

Categories: Pop Life, SXSW

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Our barbed-wire view of Scoot Inn during Tyler, the Creator's SXSW set.
It's hit all the major news outlets now: Odd Future's main attraction Tyler, the Creator was arrested on Saturday while trying to board a flight out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport for the misdemeanor crime of inciting a riot.

This came as little surprise to those of us who were there at the Scoot Inn on Thursday when the riot itself occurred. While the mayhem was controlled to a certain extent, thankfully, the situation could have escalated very quickly if not for the efforts of all involved (including Tyler himself) to quell the insanity.

Of course, it didn't stop your humble writer from getting pepper-sprayed twice as part of the outside audience.


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Safety and SXSW: Was the Mohawk Tragedy a Tipping Point?

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Photos by Marco Torres
A memorial to Thursday morning's crash victims outside The Mohawk on Red River Street
The last morning of SXSW 2011 was not a pleasant one. Not because of any kind of personal debauchery the previous evening; that had come a few days before. Reprimands had been handed down, wrists had been slapped, and tails were hanging between a few legs, these two included. The specific infractions have long since been forgotten, but what I remember now is sitting at Starbucks downstairs at the downtown Austin Hilton Sunday morning, watching one of the SXSW directors telling a local TV station that the festival might have to take it down a few notches. So I'm not the only one, I thought.

That cup of coffee was the one single moment when SXSW finally stopped being fun for me.


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UPDATED: Overnight SXSW Crash Leaves 2 Dead, 23 Injured

Categories: SXSW

A statement from the Mohawk about two hours after the fatal crash outside.

UPDATE (Thursday, 1 p.m.): According to more current information, the fatalities in this morning's crash were one of the moped passengers, a woman from central Texas, and a 35-year-old male from the Netherlands who was hit while riding his bicycle near the scene.

SXSW turned tragic overnight when a suspected drunk driver hit a crowd outside a club on Red River street shortly after midnight, killing two and injuring 23, five of them critically.

According to KEYE TV, police were attempting to pull over a silver Toyota at E. 9th Street and the I-35 frontage road when it took off the wrong way down a one-way street heading toward downtown, turned north on Red River and ran past a barricade and plowed into a moped, killing two passengers one passenger, as well as a taxi and another vehicle outside the Mohawk around 12:30 a.m. (See update above -- Ed.) The driver fled from the scene and was arrested after being subdued by a taser, CNN reported.

"People [were] down every ten feet," one bystander said. "Everywhere you look, somebody's been hit."

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Texas Guitar God Johnny Winter Is Forever True to the Blues

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Michael Weintraub/Sony
The quintessential Texas bluesman: Johnny Winter
A December 1968 edition of Rolling Stone featured Texas musicians who were at the time making inroads into the magazine's home city of San Francisco. Featuring a cover photo of cowboy-hatted Doug Sahm (balancing toddler son Shawn on his knee), it mentioned players and singers both known (Janis Joplin, Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs) and others familiar only to hardcore fans.

But it was a mention of a shit-hot blues player, Johnny Winter, that seemed to generate the most buzz. Soon, the Beaumont native found himself in demand. The article described "A cross-eyed albino with long, fleecy hair, who plays some of the gutsiest, fluid blues you ever heard."

A guest appearance with Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper at the Fillmore East gave a major audience their first real look at this mythical figure. Columbia Records execs were in the audience, and it led to a then-unheard of advance for an unknown act -- a reported $600,000 -- resulting in Winter's 1969 self-titled debut.


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One Last SXSW 2013 Flashback: Justin Timberlake

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Photos by Emerald McLaughlin
SXSW is rapidly fading in the rearview mirror, but this was too good to pass up. Emerald McLaughlin, daughter of Houston Press Publisher Stuart Folb, happened to be down front at Justin Timberlake's not-so-secret appearance last Sunday night at Austin's Coppertank Events Center, which was merely a humble brewpub when we lived there.

Timberlake, whose slick single "Suit & Tie" is currently No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, appeared at an event spornsored by MySpace, the proto-social-network Timberlake is currently trying to resurrect as part-owner. His SXSW appearance, as well as last-week's five-night stand on NBC's Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, served to stir up even more advance buzz for his first album in seven years, The 20/20 Experience, which was released this past Tuesday.

Rolling Stone projects Experience will sell in the 800K range its first week out of the gate, which would make it the biggest-selling debut since Taylor Swift's Red last fall, and still far, far beyond an average debut these days.

As for McLaughlin, who was front and center the whole time, "She loved it," says Folb.

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