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Oklahoma artists feel the benefits of playing SXSW Buffalo Lounge

George Lang Modified: March 22, 2013 at 6:17 pm •  Published: March 13, 2013

Singer-songwriter Brave found herself living up to her stage name on Wednesday when she performed her first South By Southwest set in Austin. At 16, Brave, a.k.a Sierra Brown, was the youngest musician performing at this year’s Buffalo Lounge, and to take advantage of the opportunity, she put together a backing band in record time.

“We formed the band, like, a week and a half ago,” said Brave, a student at Classen School of Advanced Studies. “It was kind of a last minute thing and I just had my EP release party this Saturday. I was on a vacation and I randomly heard that Derek Brown (of the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma and the Flaming Lips) had asked us to play South By. So I threw a band together and here we are.”

For artists such as Brave, who distributed free copies of her six-song EP, “Your Girl,” at the event, the benefits are self-evident. The Buffalo Lounge, a three-day showcase for Oklahoma musicians, filmmakers and interactive businesses, is the largest event held by any U.S. state at the annual music conference. While a large number of attendees are from Oklahoma, RSVPs from non-Oklahomans have spiked this year, according to David Kittredge of The Idea Collective, one of the principal organizers of the event.

“The first couple of years, it was a fight to get everybody outside of Oklahoma, and it’s not good for us if we’re not exposing Oklahomans to the outside world,” Kittredge said. “But we’re seeing a lot more of that this year — the majority of the RSVPs were from outside Oklahoma.”

Over 7,000 SXSW attendees responded to the online invitation to the Buffalo Lounge, an increase of approximately 3,000 over 2012 numbers, Kittredge said. This means that more journalists, record label representatives, publicists and other industry professionals will have a chance to hear artists such as Brave and Jabee, the Oklahoma City rapper who performed during the Buffalo Lounge’s Tuesday night showcase.

“It was all love, man,” Jabee said about the response to his showcase. “Not just from the people from Oklahoma who were there, but also people off the street and people who know who I am from outside of Oklahoma City. For somebody like me, to be able to come to a festival like this with all kind of rappers and all kind of bands, it’s just a blessing.”

Like Brave, there are real stakes involved for Jabee. On March 23, he will release “Stephanie,” a single with prominent alternative rapper El-P. On the eve of releasing “Stephanie,” Jabee said the level of exposure he gets at the Buffalo Lounge and two other showcases he will play this week cannot be bought.

“I’ve been networking, passing out information and spreading the word,” Jabee said. “Just being with more people, playing for more people.”

Brave, who has been writing and recording since she was 13, said she was pleased with how the Buffalo Lounge crowd responded and has high hopes that it will lead to more people hearing her songs.

“I have no idea where it’s going to take me,” she said. “But all I want is to enjoy music and have other people enjoy what I do onstage. I really just want to be able to play more shows.”
– George Lang

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