SXSW: Robert Plant Lights Up Austin Music Awards with Late Late Show

Robert Plant performs at the 2016 Austin Music Awards
Photo by Gary Miller. 

Robert Plant performs at the 2016 Austin Music Awards

Even a characteristically late-running show couldn’t dampen the impact of a bona fide rock ‘n’ roll legend at the Austin Music Awards on Wednesday night (into Thursday morning) at South By Southwest.

Robert Plant hit the stage at about 12:30 a.m. to pay tribute to the late Austin DJ Paul Ray, who Plant -- referred to himself as “not a native son but…a surrogate nephew” of the city -- listened to when he resided for a brief time in Austin several years ago. The leather-jacketed Plant called Ray’s program “my anchor, quite often, at least sonically” during his time there and said he was performing “to say thanks to (Ray’s) contribution to me.”

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He then fronted a house band led by Charlie Sexton and featuring Jimmie Vaughan through renditions of the Coasters’ “Youngblood,” the Jive 4 B-side “When I Was Single” -- a song Plant said he “always wanted to perform” -- and Clyde McPhatter’s “Let the Boogie Woogie Roll.” Plant also stayed on stage while the band rolled through the Alvin Cash instrumental “Twine Time” that was Ray’s radio theme.

Photo by Gary Graff
Jimmie Vaughan and Robert Plant at the Austin Music Awards

Plant, who was SXSW keynote speaker in 2005, returns to Austin for shows Sunday and Monday at ACL Live at Moody Theatre, the latter of which will be filmed for an episode of “Austin City Limits.”

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The 34th Annual Austin Music Awards also featured a tribute to the blues club Antone’s along with performances by Carrie Rodriguez, Doygle Bramhall III, Clifton Chenier, Lou Ann Barton and the Flatlanders. Austin singer-songwriter Bob Schneider took home five plaques during the ceremony, for Musician of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year.