We built the jamstik not only to be an amazing guitar learning tool, but also a high quality musical device capable of so much due to the portability and versatility. We took it down to SXSW this year not only to show it off at the Music Gear Expo, trade shows, and meetings, but to bring it into real venues, onto the streets, and get real people playing it. This is the story of our time in Austin, TX this March.
The take off tour had an amazing trip down to Austin Texas, playing in Minneapolis, Rochester, Iowa City, St. Louis and more. It was fantastic to see the jamstik played live on stage, and to get a chance to have so many new players try it out at the booth's we had setup at each venue.
While the journey down was amazing, the real highlights happened when we got to the SXSW city itself. Tuesday, the first full day at the festival was warm, sunny, and full of happy festival goers celebrating St. Patricks day with a musical twist. The show at the Thirsty Nickel was right on the main drag of 6th street, and it was no problem to fill up the venue with intrigued music fans after doing a few Jamstik demos outside on the sidewalk, which left people asking, “what is that crazy new instrument!”
After the show, we set off on our first backpack street Jams, and warmed up to the idea of street performance surrounded by all types of interesting people, and scenes that changed over and over a few times every block.
The day held some pretty cool, spontaneous moments, from being filmed by the local news team as 30 spectators formed a circle around the Jampack, to joining in a Jam with a street corner waterjug drum act, who provided an amazing backbeat to play on top of.
A long walk back to the van had us exhausted but exhilarated from the experience, as we found ourselves in the concrete dominated business district of downtown, heading towards the capital. The acoustics were just too good not to bring out the jamstik and backpacks for one more saxophone jam. A little, “careless whisper” reverberating through the streets made for a great cap to the day.
The next day, we decided to park a bit closer, and though we lamented having to drive up to the top of a 7 story parking ramp, we got the second to last spot and were happy to be only 2 blocks away from the action on 6th street.
The day yielded more group jams, including a 5 piece South American crew whose guitarist picked up the jamstik and played an amazing Samba inspired lick with his drummers and Sax player that lit up the streets.
More reactions, people trying it out, and making an impression on the streets kept the day full. A highlight was approaching people waiting in line for a K-Pop concert and joining in as they performed an amazing rendition of their own song and our own Mike G joined along. They were pretty amazed that he could follow along their Korean chord sheet, but hey music is universal isn’t it!?
After a quick break, we were back out on the streets, finding a great spot to shoot a little electronic inspired performance outside of a nicely lit pop-up booth.
As the night wrapped up we headed back to the parking garage and though it was a long way up, as soon as we got to the top we realized what a blessing in disguise it was. We had one of the best views of the festival we could have hoped for, and we knew we had to shoot one more jam. The lack of an exterior wall was a bit daunting, but made for beautiful clear views of 6th street, just two blocks away and 7 stories down. As we made ready for the Jam we noticed another group was taking advantage of the view and invited them over to check out our guitar and the backpacks we had built. They were a crew of producers and rappers from New Jersey and they were blown away by what we were up to.
After some conversation and telling our story, it turned into a collaborative freestyle Jam / Rap on top of the city, and what a great way to cap off the day, and the experience with the jamstik and mobile speaker backpacks in Austin.