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Surprise! Kristofferson, Colter, Friends of Dean Martinez kick off SXS

Four Seasons Lobby, Austin, March 15, 2006

Reviewed by Adi Anand

SXSW 2006 kicked off in fine fashion at the crack of dawn in a very hush-hush radio show even though the music from the likes of Kris Kristofferson and Jessi Colter would speak volumes to the many early birds present.

KGSR 107.1 FM, arguably the most enduring station in town had access to the best, and Friends of Dean Martinez kicking off the show had to imply more good things were to come. Part country part space age, Bill Elm's often revolving act of troubadours awakened the crowd with an intoxicating medley of instrumentals. Creating images of tumbleweeds rolling on deserted highways and sounds of barren moors, FODM mixes folk sounds with just a twang of rock 'n' roll. Often composing soundtracks, the band conjured up country soundscapes that anyone would set their daily grind to.

But the masses were here for Stephen Bruton, Kristofferson and Colter, who all took the stage to a loud ovation from the lucky ones inside this hotel ballroom, Lyle Lovett seated and included.

A beautiful rendition of "Me and Bobbie McGee" started off the brief set as the cameras flashed and the videographers climbed. And brief it was as only two more numbers followed. Colter hit the keys on the nearby piano with help from Bruton on guitar to turn in "Why You Been Gone So Long."

KGSR stalwart Kevin Connor probed Kristofferson before the next song, the title track from "This Old Road," asking the veteran to comment on the "reflection" aspect of the new record. Kristofferson reply was short, "When you get as old as I am, that's what you do" to loud chuckles from the enthralled and fortunate audience. Some of them had come a long way for this.

The main act wrapped up by 9:45am, still the crowd left enchanted as each had witness a true to form start to four days of music and mayhem that bore no end in sight.

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