Syndicated TV host and author Rachael Ray is planning another big day for the general public during this year’s South by Southwest Music Conference & Festival in Austin, Texas — with help from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts, Delta Spirit and more.
Ray will host her eighth annual free and open-to-the-public Feedback event, one of SXSW’s yearly highlights, from 10-4 CT on March 21 at Stubb’s BBQ. Its three stages will also host performances by Raekwon, JEFF the Brotherhood, the Districts, Surfer Blood, Reptar, Cody Simpson, Banditos and annual performers Bob Schneider and the Cringe, which is fronted by Ray’s husband John Cusimano. Ray will be feeding the masses special Austin-inspired dishes, including Blue Moon beer-brined smoked BBQ chicken hard-shell tacos with the works; grilled corn off the cobb with chipotle cream; SXHD…in a blanket (South by Hot Dogs); and spicy beef sliders with barbecued onions on a King’s Hawaiian bun.
Blondie, Foxboro Hot Tubs & CeeLo Green Rock Rachael Ray’s SXSW Feedback Party
The Blue Moon Brewing Company will preview its new White IPA, which releases nationally on April 1, while Dark Horse Wines and coffee maker Gevalia will provide beverages.
“It really is like my Christmas in a weird way, like opening a present, whenever we do one of these shows,” Ray tells Billboard. “We’ve been there several years in a row now; it’s the first time I feel that we have kind of an age to our event, that we’re really part of South By and something people look forward to having there. I’m married to a musician and I love food — obviously I make my living through food — so to have an event that ties that together, where I can serve food and host a really big party I would otherwise probably not even have access to without StubHub is pretty remarkable.”
Besides established acts such as the New York Dolls and Jimmy Cliff, Ray’s Feedback has also hosted early career performances by a variety of once up-and-coming groups, including Imagine Dragons, Fitz & the Tantrums and Of Monsters and Men. The Edward Sharpe crew played Feedback as a relative unknown in 2009, so Ray says she feels gratified bringing the group back to headline this year. “NPR asked me a couple years later, ‘Do you think you helped out Edward Sharpe when they broke?'” Ray says. “I have no idea. I know we loved them and invited them to play and it’s cool they were part of our experience, and this year with Edward Sharpe coming back I feel really happy and proud that we’re still there and they’ve become such a big force in music and are making a return visit.
“That’s part of what’s different now too. I was petrified — not just the first year but the first couple of years that we did this — that no one would come out or that we would not be taken seriously or artists wouldn’t want to come visit with us and hang out. Now we do get asks from artists and people saying, ‘We’d love to stop by. Can we play?’ They’re really looking at us as one of their stops and destinations.”
Last year’s Feedback, which featured performances by CeeLo Green, Blondie and the Green Day side project Foxboro Hot Tubs, brought 3,400 fans through Stubb’s and was at capacity throughout the six-hour party. Entry, as usual, is first-come, first-served. Information and updates can be found at Feedback.RachaelRay.com.
In addition to the Saturday event, Ray will set up an invitation-only Feedback House on East Cesar Chavez Street near downtown Austin from March 19-21, hosting 20 bands — including Old Crow Medicine Show‘s Gill Landry, Letts, Parlour Tricks, Alberta Cross and Walking Shapes — as well as free food and drink.