The last show of what proved to be a very long wet week, I loaded up my truck once more to make the trek out to Austin's back yard. This time it was to get an opportunity to photograph the man who put the "outlaw" in outlaw country, David Alan Coe. Coe is often cited as an influence by legions of musicians that straddle that fine line between country and rock, many of whom, including Hank III, going so far to refer to him in songs and in the liner notes. Heck, even Johnny Cash mentions him in the song "Backstage Pass".
Opening the show was the aforementioned Hank III but the show started earlier than anticipated and he had just wrapped his set when Emily from Direct Events met me up at the box office. That was really unfortunate as I love Hank III's music, both his country set and his hard core set, and I was hoping to get a chance to catch it this year. I caught his own headline show at La Zona Rosa back in 2006 and it was one of my favorites. I had hoped he would be back for SXSW, but there is always next year.
After badging me up, I did a few test shots for Emily from a variety of locations around the venue while The Old 97's launched into their set. I didn't get much of a chance to pay attention to them as Emily and I wandered about the venue, in and out of the crowd, testing the view and moving on. After about 40 minutes of this the Old 97's wound down, and we started up towards the stage.
David Alan Coe at The Glenn at The Backyard - more photos... photo by jeff barringer - staff photographer
I was going to be limited in my shots tonight, with no full photo pit. and a 3 song limit, then an escort to the door. I was going to need to snipe from the sides, but at least I didn't have to try to do it from the crowd. Luckily there was only one other photographer that was shooting so at least we wouldn't be steping all over each other. As Coe and his band hit the stage, trademark confederate flag marked guitar in hand, thousands of beer bottles were lifted in salute almost in unison, and the band could hardly be heard above the raucous catcalls from the audience.
I snapped pictures as fast as I could, but from the angle it was tough as David would move from the front to the back of the stage, beside the drum kit and out of reach of my lense. After the second song from the pit, I decided to try to work my way over to the other side of the stage, hoping to make it before the third song was over. After locating my escort, I began to weed my way back and through the crowd, pausing to see if I could take a shot. Almost without fail the stage was obscurred by the raised arms of the crowd, and by the time I was halfway across, I could hear them ending. Without even a chance for a final shot from the audience, my time was over. I looked at Emily, shrugged, and we headed for the gate.
Thanks to David Alan Coe, and Emily and the whole Direct Events staff for inviting me out to shoot.