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Scenic route: Before Braille's journey to SXSW

Before Braille heads to the South By Southwest Music Conference and sends telephonic postcards along the way.

 by Joy Hepp
 published on Thursday, March 13, 2003

Before Braille [left] Hans Ringger on guitar, Reggie Patel on guitar, David Jensen on vocals and guitar, Kelly Reed on percussion, and Brandon Smith on bass guitar head to the South by Southwest conference in New Mexico the play among some of the greats./issues/ent/391908
Before Braille [left] Hans Ringger on guitar, Reggie Patel on guitar, David Jensen on vocals and guitar, Kelly Reed on percussion, and Brandon Smith on bass guitar head to the South by Southwest conference in New Mexico the play among some of the greats.


For a band on an independent record label, a road trip to the South By Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, is like going on a patronage to Mecca. If you want to appease the gods of rock'n'roll, you have to make the trip at least once in your musical lifetime.

SXSW is the place where indie darlings like London's Interpol, Los Angeles' Five For Fighting, and Tucson's Calexico have gone to become the "next big thing" on the independent and college radio scene.

This year, locals Before Braille will be among the nation's finest, best-kept secrets playing at the annual conference, which is attended by record executives, radio bigwigs, and any other salivating music fans that make the trek. Before Braille has incorporated the three days in Austin into its current 14-state tour and through the use of modern day technology [cell phones are the greatest journalistic tool ever invented], SPM was able to help document the band's journey.

Saturday, March 1: Mesa

"We're trying to keep the smell to a minimum." - Kelly Reed, drummer

When the phone rings, Reed is preparing for the band's show in Tucson that night which kicks off the tour. The cupboard in the band's 2002 15-passenger van is full of snacks like beef jerky and muffins. So far, he says, the band has been able to maintain the new-car smell in the van.

Monday, March 3: Lubbock, Texas

"They were like Erasure, but angrier." - Dave Jensen, lead vocalist

Jensen relates the show the band played the night before in Albuquerque, N.M. Like many bands trying to play their way across the country, Before Braille ends up performing with a packed lineup of bands that play vastly different types of music. Jensen describes one of the bands from the night before as a "trench coat mafia-style" hard-rock group.

Tuesday, March 4: Midland, Texas

"Lubbock was the crappiest, but also the awesomest town." - Reggie Patel, guitar

Patel isn't sure what to think of Midland yet, but he misses Mesa and says that "people don't realize how awesome it is."

The van is holding up nicely, but according to Patel, "It smells kind of rough because we've spent a lot of time rotting in there." But, Patel and his band mates air it out every chance they get, followed by the spark of a raspberry-scented candle to spice things up.

Wednesday, March 5: El Paso, Texas

"Bistec doesn't sound too healthy to me." - Brandon Smith, bass guitar

Smith is searching for grub while Patel and Hans Ringger, the band's other guitarist, are in the hotel room watching a special on how rock'n'roll changed America. Smith is determined to find something tasty because the night before someone got the idea to order a fiesta pizza, which he says was like an unwanted party in his stomach.

Last night the guys ran into a friend of a friend who is a janitor at a local college. He let the guys sneak into a rec room at the college and they had a tournament of pool, foosball, and ping-pong. The general consensus is that Jensen was the winner.

Friday: Provo, Utah

"I've got about five Red Bulls in my body right now." - Reed

Turns out SPM didn't miss out on too much Thursday. Before Braille left El Paso at 3 a.m. to drive 13 hours to Provo, where they have a relatively large following. Reed's girlfriend drove up from Arizona and they are eating Weiner Schnitzel when the phone rings. Reed is upset that there is no snow on the ground, but says he is looking forward to the band's sold-out show later that night.

Tuesday: Fort Collins, Colo.

"I like playing big events but I like to play small events too."- Ringger

Ringger and the rest of the guys are chillin' in Fort Collins, watching a cargo train roll through the middle of town. Despite the fact that the marquee for the Salt Lake City show on Saturday read "Before Brain," everything else is going smooth.

They will play a large show that night at the Aggie Theater, Wednesday in some dude's basement in Amarillo, and today...

Before Braille will reach the Promised Land.

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