Erykah Badu, Wu-Tang Clan, Thievery Corp To Play SXSW D.C. Showcase: Exclusive
DC go-go legends Rare Essence and the Backyard Band are also on the bill.
DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown (aka Eyrkah Badu), Wu-Tang Clan and Thievery Corporation, as well as iconic DC go-go bands Rare Essence and the Backyard Band, are among nearly two dozen musicians who will represent Washington, D.C. at this year's SXSW Festival.
The initiative will include performances at the WeDC House, an event/performance space running March 11-13 at Cafe Blue across from the Austin Convention Center and an Official SXSW Music Showcase on March 14 at Austin City Limits Live's Moody Theatre. The line-up for the latter will include three-time Grammy winner Badu, DC natives Thievery Corp and the full-line up of multi-platinum hip-hop icons Wu-Tang Clan who are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their classic 1997's album Wu-Tang Forever. The events are part of a larger partnership between the Washington DC Economic Partnership, Events DC and Mayor Muriel Bowser's office.
"D.C.s was once seen as a sleepy music town," Gregory O’Dell, the president and CEO of Events DC, tells Billboard, "but I credit a lot of the independent promoters like Seth Hurwitz at 9:30 Club and the Black Cat and other venues. So now we finally have the ability to showcase all this amazing talent with artists on a national and global scale."
Additionally, three up-and-coming DC artists, BOOMscat (video below) NUEX and Den-Mate, were selected from among 300 bands to play SXSW in a competition promoted by Events DC and Brightest Young Things, a DC-based media company. The bands were reviewed and scored by local music panel that included Matt Cohen (Washington City Paper) Rafael Smith (All Things Go) Erik Moses (Events DC), Stephanie Williams (DC Music Download), Jose Lopez-Sanchez & Steven Place (BYT), Diana Ezerins (Kennedy Center - Millenium stage) before the public voted for the three final acts.
Joining the headliners at Austin City Limits also are other DC acts, including: MAGIC GIANT, Ari Lennox (Dreamville), Rare Essence and Backyard Band with Reesa Renee and Ras Nebyu and DJ Mathias.
“With our roots based in Washington, DC, we couldn’t be more energized to represent the District, the capital of inclusive innovation at SXSW,” stated Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation. “From the world’s first sounds of Go-Go to its historical influence in jazz – DC sounds echo around the globe – playing a vital role in the building blocks of popular music. And just like that – our sound is about including styles from around the world to create innovative and inclusive music.”
The WeDC House, which is now in its third year at SXSW, will operate under the slogan of “Capital of Inclusive Innovation" and feature 23 WeDC Ambassadors showcasing the city's creative economy, tech sector and innovation communities including culinary arts and sports among other verticals. The location will also feature live-stream discussions with the Newseum, official SXSW panels as well as prominent women in DC tech and an eSports tournament.
"Washington, DC’s values are embodied in our diverse neighborhoods and our ability to support underrepresented entrepreneurs, and it is these same qualities that make us the capital of inclusive innovation,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser in a statement. “At SXSW, we will once again showcase why Washington, DC is the best city to invest in and why our population is the highest it’s been in 40 years, with almost 1,000 people moving to DC each month.”
While some may note that headliners Badu and the Wu-Tang are not from D.C., neither are strangers to the District of Columbia having performed there many times. Badu recently played DC's 2016 Summer Spirit Festival, is a proud supporter of the city's Broccoli City Festival and worked closely with former First Lady Michelle Obama on Black Girls Rock! Wu-Tang have inspired many D.C. artists including DC-native Gallant and rapper Tabi Bonney; Method Man played Howard University's homecoming; and the group played last June at the Rally for Reason.