I JUST NEED SOMEONE TO TELL ME HOW TALL I AM
Review: Medleyville - SXSW 2004
By George Henn
Saturday, March 20
What's the more improbable experience at a music festival: witnessing a performance by actress Minnie Driver, or finding yourself standing next to Screech from the TV show Saved By The Bell? (OK, I can't be sure it was actually the former gawky child actor, and I was not inclined to ask the guy, "Are you Dustin Diamond?" If you're off the mark, it's not the most flattering question.) Appearing at the Trampoline Records/Blender/Billboard party at the Ritz, Driver proved she could indeed carry a tune, and her soulful, husky voice showed promise, even if she didn't look entirely comfortable on stage; she basically stood in place for all five songs, but then again, it was only her second gig. On first listen, the material -- typical light adult-contemporary fare -- didn't knock me out, but her "homage" to Bruce Springsteen, a piano-driven rendition of "Hungry Heart," was a winner.
The real highlight of this party was the flawless set by the London-via-Los Angeles band Minibar. The smooth, warm vocals of Simon Petty, who looks remarkably like a young Robyn Hitchcock, glistened while the acoustic and slide guitars and gave the infectious roots pop a slight country feel. A bit later, Trampoline's three label heads -- singers Pete Yorn and Marc Dauer, and Wallflowers keyboardist Rami Jaffe -- suggested how record company execs could better earn their keep as record sales sag -- they were all onstage at once (with Yorn on drums) for the set by the Dauer-led Jukebox Junkies. Yorn followed by leading many of the day's performers through a half-hour set to wrap things up. Yorn included a couple of his better known songs, including "Life on a Chain," but most encouraging was a new country-rock offering called "Good Advice," which was catchier than anything on his, well, forgettable 2003 release, Day I Forgot.