“Moments I’ll Remember Best from SXSW”

Ori Dagan SXSW Photo Credit Andrew.jpg

Submitted by Ori Dagan
Photo Credits Andrew Bennett

Toronto-based jazz singer-songwriter Ori Dagan made his SXSW debut last weekend, accompanied by Nathan Hiltz on guitar and Brandi Disterheft on bass. The only Canadian jazz artist selected this year, Dagan played a set of standards and originals to a standing-room-only crowd at popular Austin jazz haunt, The Elephant Room. Dagan received support for his March 17 midnight showcase from FACTOR and the SOCAN Foundation.

Sometimes you have to fly miles to meet people who work in your backyard! Such was the case for me with some of the great Canadians SXSW booked this year. My favourite of the ones I saw and heard was Lisa LeBlanc who is a singer-songwriter who rocks out on guitar and banjo as well. Originally from Moncton, New Brunswick, the Acadian artist is now based in Montreal. I loved her catchy songs, energetic performance style and strong connection to the audience. Another Canadian who brought the house down at Canada House was soul singer TiKa. Her confident performance matched larger-than-life pipes that brought the house down repeatedly. It was great to hear the excellent singer-songwriter AHI in action again – he ended his set with a memorable cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
There’s such a diversity of artists on display at SXSW – while hanging at the Artist Village I was introduced to several “dream pop” groups including Winnipeg’s Living Hour and Brooklyn-based Harrison Lipton. Hip-hop was strongly represented at the festival – my favourite such show was by Talib Kweli who got the audience singing and brought some fantastic guests to sit in on his show at Container Bar.

It was also a real treat to run into Austin’s own “Traveling Pianist” Adam Lozoya who was frequently seen and heard on 6th Street, charming passers-by with jazz-inspired renditions of pop tunes in a way reminiscent of Scott Bradlee. I just love a brilliant busker! Follow Adam on Instagram at @thetravelingpianist

Ori Dagan, Nathan Hiltz and Brandi Disterheft at SXSWOri Dagan, Nathan Hiltz and Brandi Disterheft at SXSW

Meat lovers rejoice at Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, from their popular brisket to a delectable jalapeno mac n’ cheese, you won’t leave this friendly establishment hungry. After checking this place out on the first day, I brought the band later on in the trip and we were so happy we forgot to take a photo. Great place for Meat-Up!

In an effort to break a world record, Wisconsin Cheese presented an unprecedented 70-foot-long cheese board, leaving SXSW badge holders speechless if a bit gassy. When you can sample several dozen delicious cheeses, how can you not taste them all? My favourites were the dill Havarti, jalapeno cheddar and buttermilk blue. The palate cleansers were brilliant too, including candied pistachios and dried mangos. Cheesy does it!

For years now March 14, or 3.14, has been known as “pi day” and as such, it has trended as “Pie Day” to the delight of pastry fans across the globe. At the Austin Convention Center it was great to learn that the City of Kyle (population 40,000) is known as the “Pie Capital of Texas” with complimentary little masterpieces in apple, cherry and pecan flavours. To pie for!
For the sweet tooth in us all, it’s great to have places like Maggie Louise Confections. Their delectable chocolates are individually hand-painted – and the best part is they ship to anywhere in North America! You’re welcome.

Austin might be one of the friendliest places I’ve ever visited! Priding itself on the support of independent businesses, it’s hard to find a McDonald’s; there is a great appreciation here for small shops and their operators, reciprocated with smiles and warm greetings.

The friendliest and coolest little record shop I found – specializing in blues vinyl – is called Big Henry’s. There I picked up a killer title by Lavern Baker, “Real Gone Gal!” the title track a cover of Nellie Lutcher! #VinylAddict

One of the unique elements of SXSW is being a meeting place for music, film and interactive. I was glad to sample the latter two worlds if only for a few hours. One definite highlight was Showtime’s meet and greet with two stars of the show Shameless, which I was lucky to score tickets to on St. Patrick’s Day. This event was a lot of fun particularly thanks to the bubbly friendliness of Shanola Hampton who bartended in and out of character at the Clive Bar.

Ori Dagan just came back from SXSW this week, one of just 12 Jazz artists out of SXSW’s total lineup of 600 musical acts, and the only Canadian Jazz artist on the bill. And as you likely know, his Nathaniel: A Tribute to Nat King Cole is jazz ’s first-ever visual jazz album. The release debuted at #1 on the iTunes Canada Jazz Chart and is doing really well on the Jazz Week charts in the US with over 83 spins this week - and rising up the charts pretty fast.

Editor's Note: 

Ori Dagan has also racked up an impressive series of International awards and accolades, as well as hefty growth as a beloved fan favourite genre-wide. Hitting more than 100k collective views on YouTube within days of release, Nathaniel’s visual album also took home Global Music Awards’ Silver Medal Winner for Best Album, Nevada International Film Festival’s Winner of Platinum Reel Award for “Sting of the Cactus”, Open World Toronto Film Festival’s Winner of Best Music Video for “Sting of the Cactus”, Australian Port Shorts Film Festival’s Official Selection for “Sweetheart”, India’s Arthouse Asia Official Selection for “Bibimbap”, and many more.

For more visit www.oridagan.com