by Jordan Minnick
When your first gig outside of a 50-mile radius is the South by Southwest
music festival in Austin, I guess you could say that’s a big deal. Because, well, SXSW is a big deal.
The guys of Satchel Grande
are just taking it as it comes. The nine musicians that make up this funk rock band haven’t strayed out of their usual Monday night practices to prepare for their festival set.
“We’re very familiar with the material,” Satchel head Chris Klemmensen says, “so it’s just a matter of maintaining our standard practice schedule and tightening the screws on things.”
There are also other Satchel standards, like tie-attire and aviator shades — all authenticated with the 70s ‘stache and institutionalized at the big-band performances. They're supplemented with trumpet, sax and many embodiments of percussion — guitars, bass, keys, of course, also included.
For Klemmensen — the lead vocalist, keyboardist, songwriter and all-around maestro — the band and any sort of festival-magnitude opportunity have been a long time coming.
“We played Ribfest once, I don’t know where that compares,” jokes keyboard/percussion/vocalist Andy Kammerer of a gig in Council Bluffs.
Before Satchel Grande formed in 2006, Klemmensen put together the album Plus One
to convince his friends to turn his vision into a live band and the white-boy funk
that it is today.
Other than accommodating the trip itself, the hardest part has been cutting down their normal two-hour groove set to 40 minutes, Klemmensen says.
After three weeks, 12 drafts of setlists and countless worried text messages at weird hours to bandmates, he’s got it figured out.
The situation is very comparable to putting together a follow-up to last year’s Dial ‘M’ For Moustache LP.
“Cutting down 25 songs to 10 is also a pain in the ass,” Klemmensen says.
But the guys are less consumed by their next release, and more with the 14-hour drive in a 15-passenger van. They plan to leave 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 15 and drive straight through to make their 8 p.m. show in Austin the following day. So maybe there won't be so many drinks for the guys the night before at their Waiting Room send-off show.
picked Satchel Grande for an all-proceeds-inclusive show Monday, March 14 at 8 p.m.
The guys will be playing their SXSW set, followed by prize give-aways and more songs. For just $5 at the door, you can help the band make it to Austin, so they can really show ‘em how Nebraskans get down.
Klemmensen and Kammerer have more to say about the SXSW gig, including what’s being packed and who they’ve got on speed dial if they get stranded in Austin. Also, the guys play the SXSW trivia game: 'Is it a Band or Venue'?
How does a band prepare for SXSW?
Andy Kammerer: Have you ever heard of P90X?
Chris Klemmensen: We all have 9-5’s, a lot of us have children. It takes a lot of help from the people around you. I’m getting a lot of help from my parents and my wife’s parents and stuff. Everybody’s really pitching in on it. I’m not in a position where it’s something I could do without the help of the people around me. So I’m pretty thankful for that. So that’s what goes into for me. That and six hours of packing things probably. I have a lot of ties, I need to pick one.
Andy: Bring ‘em all.
Aside from the band-equipment necessities and clothes, you can only bring three things. What are those three things?
Chris: Texas. So I probably need to take that into consideration.
Andy: They already have scorpions down there, so that takes up one of mine.
Chris: I’d probably bring bear spray. I would like to have bear spray. So that’s one thing for me.
Andy: I’m not bringing a pistol, because everyone has one down there. I feel safe enough, cause everyone else is packin’. Maybe a moped.
Chris: Moped and bear spray.
Andy: Well yeah, cause it’s hard to park down there.
Chris: Maybe a big bag of money. Is that fair game?
Chris: If I could pick one piece of money, it’s whatever the largest bill manufactured would be.
Andy: ... in a big bag.
Chris: If the gear and the wives are there, then those other three things.
What’s likely to trigger frustrations on the car ride there?
Chris: I think one of the dudes in our band puts away 64 ounces of Dr Pepper in a single sitting. So if just get a catheter for him ... We’ve never really been in a van together. Somebody’s going to stink. It could be anybody.
Do you guys have any non-SXSW plans for Austin?
Chris: Stubb’s Bar-B-Q
. They make barbecue sauce that is available for purchase in town here. Been consuming that product for about 10 years of grilling experience, and it’s never done me wrong. So the Stubb’s restaurant is in Austin. Some people go to breweries and stuff and they get real excited about the beer — I’m pretty much feeling that way about barbecue on this trip.
Who do you guys have on speed dial if anything goes wrong?
Chris: Joe Sugarman
in Las Vegas, Nev. He’s the chairman and CEO of the BluBlockers
corporation. He gave us a hundred free pairs of BluBlockers to market the band. He said anything we need, call Joe Sugarman. (BluBlockers sunglasses are the official sponsor of Satchel Grande. “They block all the blue out of the light in the world.”)
Any bands you’re hot to see down there?
Andy: Cee-low is playing down there. The same night we’re playing, Har Mar Superstar is playing at the same venue with us. Excited to see him.
Chris: Smith Westerns, if we can get in.
Andy: I think Kanye is playing down there too. We’re going to go see him.
Chris. There’s a lot of people playing. Like R.E.M. plays and they never even tell anybody. All this stuff happens. It’s crazy. So whatever happens, we’re gonna go with it. Whatever we see, it’s gonna be the best time of our lives so far. Except for our child’s birth and marriages and stuff like that.
Recovery plans for after the festival?
Chris: I don’t think there’s going to be any sort of transition. When we come back on Saturday, you just snap right back into your previous life.
The guys play 'SXSW: Is it a Band or Venue.'
Jordan Minnick is Hear Nebraska's editorial intern. She has definitely been to the Waiting Room more than any other venue. One of her favorite Waiting Room sets to date was White Denim last fall. If you're going to SXSW, she suggests you make it to see this Austin band. She'll be interning this summer at The A.V. Club Austin. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.