TV cooking queen Rachael Ray is making her annual presence at South By Southwest bigger and better this year. And public.
Ray's third annual Feedback Festival, slated for March 20, is moving to its largest venue yet -- Stubb's BBQ -- with 18 bands playing four stages; Daytrotter.com will be recording performances on one of them. The show, co-sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. T drink mix maker, will be free and open to the public for the first time, and the bash will be filmed for subsequent airing on Ray's syndicated TV show.
"We wanted to be able to accommodate more people and offer as good a time as possible," Ray tells Billboard.com. "We had so many people last year and so many different types a music going on, but you could hear the bleed from a lot of other bands in other clubs. This year we wanted to go somewhere that had more room and...now we get to make it an even bigger party."
This year's Feedback band roster includes She & Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward), Jakob Dylan & Three Legs featuring Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, Street Sweeper Social Club, Andrew W.K., Dr. Dog, School of Seven Bells, Justin Townes Earle, Bob Schneider, Local Natives, J. Roddy Walston & the Business, Pearly Gate Music, Steve Conte & the Crazy Truth, Freelance Whales, Lawrence Arabia, the Orion Experience, Mishka and Shayna Zaid & the Catch. The Cringe, which features Ray's husband John Cusimano, will also perform.
"I had a great time doing it last year," Schneider says. "She's got a lot of people who are there to have a good time and party, so it's fun. She has really good bands to play, and it's always fun to play on the same bill with bands you like and admire. And they have great food."
Ray, who takes an active role in selecting the bands, has created several original items for the Feedback menu -- Tex-Mex Sliders, Pulled Pork Tortitas, Quesadilla Suiza Stacks, Queso Fundido Taquitos and Albondigas Subs. "I write the original recipes," Ray explains, "and then we bring in an army and they work on mass producing them, making...troughs of them. Thankfully all I have to do is show up and snack."
And this year Ray says she's most curious to see what her crowd looks like at 10:30 a.m., when Feedback gets under way. "I wonder how many people will get up for the early part of it," she notes. "There are some people who are just coming in from the night before, y'know? But I'm excited for it, man. I think it's going to be fantastic."