SXSW

[This story originally ran on Feb. 22, 2013, but still applies today.]

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the Valentine's Day cards that got returned with no forwarding address is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how music fans could and should approach SXSW, the gigantic music festival held every March in Austin, Texas.

Chris Eudaily / TPR

Tokyo-based Kao=S (pronounced 'kaus' - like house) mixes modern acoustic rock guitar riffs with the tsugaru syamisen - a traditional Japanese string  instrument - accompanied by the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and Japanese sword performance.

The band is made up of Kaori (vocal/sword performance), Shuji (guitar/vocal), Jack (tsugaru syamisen and Daisuke (shakuhachi).

"Me and Jack played together in a different [group] and I met Shuji [when] I went to Shuji's live show and I talked to him [and said], 'Let's play together,'" Kaori said.

Chris Eudaily / TPR

For his latest album, "In Focus?," Shugo Tokumaru maintained complete control over the creative process and played all the instruments on the recorded disk. In order to perform live, however, he needed some help, and had his band to back him up.

While the band delivered the songs with energy, complete with the subtle textural nuances that give Shugo's songs a little something special, he was visibly focused on the other two musicians during their performance the afternoon of March 14.

Courtesy Photo

Diana Nyad is an athlete obsessed, but what's so unusual about that? Athletes are supposed to be obsessed. But to say Diana Nyad is a woman obsessed, now that's what makes her story so compelling, even worthy of a movie. And that movie was recently given several special screenings at SXSW.

Chris Eudaily / TPR

Marianne Dissard is an artist in every sense of the word.

She is a filmmaker, a poet, a singer, and not a single word or movement is wasted. When she plays live, all these elements combine on stage to deliver a story of depression, exhaustion, frustration, intrigue and joy.

The Tucson Music Factory showcase on March 12 at SXSW was the debut of her live collaboration with Budo, a Seattle-based producer and multi-instrumentalist who is known more for his work in Hip Hop circles than World Music.

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