SXSW 2009: Memphis Musicians With March Madness

You might not be aware of this if you are one of the 9 million wussy indie dudes here in Austin for South By Southwest, but in addition to having a rather amazing music scene (which is documented in director Craig Brewer’s upcoming Web series, $5 Cover), Memphis is also home to a pretty terrific college basketball team, too: the University of Memphis Tigers.

The Tigers finished the regular season 33-3, won their fourth-straight Conference USA title, and earned a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Oh, and on Saturday night, they beat the University of Maryland to advance to the Sweet 16. This is a big deal, trust me.

So naturally, when MTV News came out to cover a Memphis Music Showcase at the Dirty Dog Bar (featuring $5 Cover artists like Lucero, Al Kapone and Two Way Radio), I had to ask some of the best musicians in M-Town about the fortunes of their hometown team. Were they overcome with the fever-like symptoms of March Madness like I was? And did they like the Tigers to win it all?

Of course. Well, at least the ones who had any idea what I was talking about, anyway …

Check out more after the jump.

Yes, it’s true, I got plenty of blank stares when I asked about the Tigers — seems, as far as sports fans go, most Memphis bands are pretty good musicians — except for the guys in Lucero, that is. Seems that their brand of gruff, decidedly blue-collar punk (think the Hold Steady or the Gaslight Anthem, only sung by a dude with sandpaper in his larynx) also lends itself to serious basketball fandom.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Frontman Ben Nichols (he’s the one with the tats and the growl) seemed to have never even seen a basketball. But luckily, bassist John C. Stubblefield was there to pick up the slack.


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It’s always the bass players.

MTV News will be all over the South by Southwest festival this week, with blogs, articles and video on all the gigs, the artists and the scene!