Since 2015, we have asked independent artists to share their favorite memories from their time at SXSW. In just a couple of years, this project has become one of our most popular features thanks to the growing interests of bands and singers from around the world. Forty-five artists participated in this year’s edition, including William Matheny.
William Matheny is a songwriter from West Virginia who spent years as the keyboard player for Athens, Ohio’s Southeast Engine. He released his debut album, Strange Constellations, last year. Sounds of Jackson Browne’s road-ready California rock and strains of Jason Isbell’s confessional lyric writing.
1) The Broken Spoke: We accidentally saw Garth Brooks do a surprise show. We had no idea that he was even at SXSW, and we just happened to be hanging out at the Broken Spoke. A man in a rhinestone suit introduced him and people lost their minds. He even stopped playing a couple of times so people could collect themselves. It was amazing! As he was running out the back door, we were able to get a picture with him. He referred to our drummer Rod as “big man,” which he hates, but coming from GB, he was willing to let it slide. I think my favorite part of the whole thing is that Garth Brooks was wearing a Garth Brooks hat. Not very many people can pull off wearing their own merch.
2) Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion: This event happens every year on Willie Nelson’s ranch outside of Austin, which also happens to be where Honeysuckle Rose was filmed. It was as close to heaven on earth as I can imagine. Beautiful countryside, great music. We didn’t get to spend as much time as we wanted (we had to split and play another show… our lives are clearly very difficult), but we got to see our friend Kelsey Waldon play a mesmerizing set at the chapel and even at 83, Willie sounded great. Ian and Rod even got to shake his hand.
3) Keeled Scales and Chicken Ranch: They’re two of my very favorite labels and we were really thrilled to play their day parties. In the process, we had a chance to have our minds blown by Greg Vanderpool with Will Johnson, Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, Five Eight and Laure Briard.
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