Just a few days, ago, we made an exciting announcement that we’ve teamed up with MPress records for a SXSW showcase on Friday, March 18, 2016 from 12:00 – 5:30pm at The Soho Lounge, located at 217 E. 6th Street in Austin, TX. The killer line-up features Seth Glier, Matt Nakoa, Rachael Sage, A Fragile Tomorrow and more!
Since this year marks a major anniversary for MPress– a decade at SXSW– they’ve just released a free music sampler for download, “a tribute to the artists who have helped shape our party over the years and the ones that will appear at the 10th anniversary on March 18th, 2016.” As a bonus, the sampler includes a brand new, unreleased track from Rachael Sage’s May 10th release, Choreographic.
In today’s ever-shifting music landscape, it’s remarkable for anything to happen more than three times in a row, never mind ten – but that’s exactly what is going to happen in Austin this March, as New York City-based indie label MPress Records presents its 10th “MPressFest” SXSW Official Day Party at the Soho Lounge on 6th Street.
The concept of MPressFest grew out of the label’s “New Arrivals” charity compilation series, which launched in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The inaugural volume featured tracks by the likes of Girlyman, Patti Rothberg, and Jill Sobule, with all proceeds going to Habitat For Humanity New Orleans. 4 more volumes have followed so far, raising money and awareness for World Hunger Year, National Eating Disorders Association, National Network For Youth, and most recently Hurricane Sandy Relief organizations. Artists have included MPress artists Rachael Sage, Seth Glier, and Melissa Ferrick, alongside the Spin Doctors’ Chris Barron, Toad The Wet Sprocket’s Glen Phillips, Stephen Kellogg, Michelle Malone, and Paula Cole, not to mention the first appearance of Lucius’ now-ubiquitous “Turn It Around”, on Volume 5 in 2014.
To promote the release of the first few volumes and raise additional funds for the beneficiaries, MPress promoted a “New Arrivals Tour” featuring several artists on the compilations, which was sponsored in part by Hard Rock Café and hit major cities from NYC to Atlanta to Chicago to Los Angeles. To launch Volume 2 in 2007, MPress decided to bring the “New Arrivals” tour to Austin during SXSW, and MPressFest was off and running. That first year Copa on Congress served as the venue, and besides Rachael Sage and Melissa Ferrick, “NAV” artists Jim Bianco, Mieka Pauley, Gregory Douglass, Anne Heaton, Ralston Bowles and NLX performed. The event was successful enough to do again – so in 2008 MPressFest returned, this time as an official SXSW event. To bump things up a notch, MPress brought the party to the center of the action on 6th Street at the Soho Lounge. Soho, with its appropriately NYC-themed décor and split level allowing people to be social downstairs while the music happens upstairs, has been the party’s home ever since.
Over the years several of MPress Records’ partners and supporters have stepped up to sponsor the event, including Powderfinger Promotions, AtoZ Media, Blurt Magazine, Planetary Group, Jakprints, M Music & Musicians Magazine, Musicians Atlas, and The Deli. This has provided free swag and some sweet giveaways for attendees.
Since that first event in 2007, MPressFest has developed and maintained a reputation as “one of the most personable, enjoyable day parties of SXSW” (SXSW Examiner). Unlike many of the other venues on 6th Street the volume is kept under ear-bleeding levels, and the party is also unique in serving nosh catered by Whole Foods – which is heartily welcomed after a solid week of wall-to-wall tacos and BBQ.
The bands, too, tend to be off-the-beaten-SXSW-path. MPress’s label roster falls generally into the smart-pop category, and the lineups each year haven’t strayed too far from that aesthetic. Instrumentation is often more varied than a wall of electric guitars, and chances are good you’ll actually be able to understand the words. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, a completely-unplugged performance will occur, such as the time Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers stood on the bar for their grand finale. The bands presented have been a mix of MPress and NAV artists, as well as friends and peers. Particularly notable performers have included Jump, Little Children’s Jay Clifford, South African chart-toppers The Parlotones, The Rescues’ Kyler England, and indie darling Jesca Hoop, not to mention the duo project by the Continental Drifters’ Susan Cowsill and The Bangles’ Vicki Peterson, The Psycho Sisters. But that’s not to say this party doesn’t rock, too. Recent MPress signing A Fragile Tomorrow always cranks it up to 11 with their sibling power-pop…and nobody who was in the packed, what-fire-code crowd for Semi Precious Weapons in 2012 will soon forget frontman Justin Tranter’s blistering performance.
All this has added up to an event that SXSW-goers mark on their calendar every year. Unscientific anecdotal evidence indicates that MPressFest attendees tend to show up early and stay late, which is unusual for SXSW, where flitting from one venue to the next is the norm. Over the years, feedback in the crowd has included comments like “I love this, I come no matter who is playing because I know it’s going to be good.” Even the sound engineers and staff working for SXSW’s events company request to be assigned to MPressFest, because they genuinely enjoy the music and discover new bands themselves.
This year MPress is pulling out all the stops to celebrate MPressFest #10. Once again the party will be on the Friday (March 18) from noon to 5:30 pm. The entire current MPress roster is scheduled: Rachael Sage (who will be launching her new album “Choreographic”), Seth Glier, A Fragile Tomorrow, and newest signing Belgian rockers K’s Choice, who will kick off their US Tour that day. Also joining the lineup is acclaimed rising singer/songwriter Matt Nakoa, with more special surprise guests in store. As always, no SXSW badge is required for entry – though an RSVP will help ensure entry if Soho hits capacity during the day. There will be delicious snacks from Whole Foods, and drinks served up all day by the friendly Soho Lounge staff. Sponsoring organization Women In Music will be on hand with information and membership opportunities, and there will be more fun giveaways throughout the day as well. For more information, see http://mpressrecords.com and to RSVP, see http://bit.ly/MPFSXSW16 .