The highlight from yesterday (our 2nd day down here at SXSW) had to be meeting Bela Fleck and seeing the world premier of his documentary film, Throw Down Your Heart (co-produced with his brother). Bela is one of our favorite musicians (and people) at Indaba; I’ve been fortunate to have met him a few times, and every time he’s just as warm and genuine as ever (despite obviously having no idea who I am). Yesterday Bela played a great solo set and then went across the street to premier the film at the Alamo Ritz.
Bela, who is one of the greatest banjo players of all time, takes his banjo on a trip across Africa to trace its roots as an African instrument and play with traditional musicians, many of whom have never even seen a banjo before. The film was beautiful and inspiring, and the music was incredible. A highlight for me was the 15 foot marimba that was played by upwards of 5 people at a time over a giant pit in the ground. I am anxiously awaiting the release of the soundtrack for obvious reasons. If you have a chance to see Bela’s extraordinary movie, make sure to go.
To recap the day from a broader perspective, the whole experience of Bela’s film served as a great little microcosm of why I love being here at SXSW so much. We got to interact with an incredible musician face-to-face after hearing him play an incredible set. We got to see a piece of media that no one in the world has seen before while drinking a pitcher of great Texan beer in a movie theater that, yes, serves drinks and food at your seat. And to top it all off, we made a new friend while waiting in line for the movie who also happens to be
creating new opportunities for musicians (check out Magnatune – a very interesting company experimenting with new models for how a record label can function). More to come!