The countdown to the music portion of Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival has begun.
I, for one, cannot wait to head down for that warm southern sunshine, delicious Tex-Mex food, and most importantly–tons of live performances. And by tons I mean there are more than 2,000 acts performing at more than a hundred venues across Austin in less than a week’s time.
SXSW is known for being a launchpad for American performers such as John Mayer and the Polyphonic Spree, but each year, the lineup seems to feature more and more international acts.
It may be a music lover’s dream, but it can also be a bit overwhelming.
If you’re heading to Texas tickets in hand or simply looking for some hot new leads, here’s our guide to world music at SXSW:
> International Day Stage
When: Wednesday, March 12-Saturday, March 15 (12-5 p.m.)
Where: Austin Convention Center (500 E. Cesar Chavez Street), Ballroom G on the fourth floor
This is the big daddy of SXSW’s world music offerings, featuring performers from every continent (except Antarctica), including Mothercoat (Japan), Pommez Internacional (Argentina), The Mary Onettes (Sweden), Rebel Cats (Mexico), Gochag Askorav Ensemble (Azerbaijan), Imarhan Timbuktu & Sihasin (Mali & Navajo Indian), and Dune Rats (Australia).
> Sounds from the World Showcase
Where: Russian House (307 E. 5th Street)
When: Wednesday, March 12-Friday, March 14; Performances begin at 8 p.m.
Some of the artists from the International Day Stage overlap with this showcase so if you don’t catch them during the day, here’s another opportunity to see them perform live.
Stop by to see artists such as the Austin-based, Middle-Eastern-influenced Atash, Chilean singer Nano Stern, Mexican jazz group Troker, and all-female mariachi band from Texas, Mariachi Las Alteñas.
> Irish Music Showcase
Where: Maggie Mae’s (512 Trinity Street)
When: Wednesday, March 12, starting at 8 p.m.
Catch Dott, Wonder Villians, The Young Folk, September Girls, Wounds, Kid Karate, and more on Wednesday night. Keep the Celtic spirit going on Friday morning with a “full Irish breakfast” at B.D. Riley’s (204 E. 6th Street).
> Rock Paper Scissors World Music Showcase
When: Saturday, March 15, starting at 8 p.m.
Where: Russian House
This showcase lineup includes Israeli singer-songwriter Dudu Tassa, Netherlands group K i T (Kuenta i Tambú), and Canadian DJ crew A Tribe Called Red.
> WOMEX (short for WOrld Music EXpo) Showcase
When: Thursday, March 13
Where: Flamingo Cantina (515 E. 6th Street)
Artists will include British born Colombian master Quantic, South Korean Jambinai, and French/North African music masters Lo’Jo.
> globalFEST at SXSW
When: Friday, March 14
Where: Speakeasy (412 Congress Avenue)
Check out this free showcase featuring Latin mambo big band Sergio Mendoza y La Orkesta and Tinariwen, desert rockers from Mali who have become a festival favorite.
> SXAméricas Showcases and Parties
When: Tuesday, March 11-Saturday, March 15
Where: Various locations
This series of Latin American music showcases features sounds from Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Ibero-America, and Spain. Check the schedule for full details.
> The Aussie BBQ
When: Saturday, March 15th from 12-6 p.m.
Where: Maggie Mae’s (323 E. 6th Street)
Sample the best Australian talent at the festival, along with a side of spare ribs.
Lisa A. Walker is a book production manager at National Geographic. Follow her story on Twitter @walkersvibes.