Smoke Signals

I first stumbled upon South by lullabies late one night in the Spring when I was working on some freelance work. I was most likely procrastinating on Twitter and a tweet by NPR caught my eye, an acoustic performance in a hotel room. I wasn’t aware of Phoebe Bridgers yet and she wasn’t the household name she is now. I love NPR, love the podcasts, love tiny desk so I knew this was probably something.

I started watching and was immediately blown away by the vocals, the visuals, the lyrics, everything.

I think I watched the video on repeat for the rest of the night or at least listened while I worked. After that night I was an instant Phoebe Bridgers fan.


The next Spring rolled around and with it the next SXSW festival. The same thing happened again, I was working late on some freelance work (a bad habit I’ve all but kicked now) and I caught another NPR Music tweet with a South by Lullaby. I excitedly opened the link and this time it was A-WA with a song called Ya Shaifin Al Malih, a Yemeni folk song about a love that hurts. This one stopped me in my tracks again. I listened over and over in my little home office room, which was strangely warm for a Spring evening. I felt like I was there, in Austin, in that hotel room with the band.

Something special about these performances

I had a very similar emotional response to both of these performances. I connected with the artists and with the setting. I could almost feel the humid Texan air. There is a late-night, quiet and calm vibe to both performances, like the end of a house party as things are winding down. The South by Lullabies seem to have an intimacy that your average acoustic performance doesn’t.

Other South by lullabies

I’ll be honest, for me, a lot of the rest of the lullabies are hit and miss but each year there is at least one with the same vibe.

Where did they go?

I’m not sure where it has gone but it didn’t make an appearance at the last SXSW. I hope it comes back and that they manage to capture some of the same magic as previous years.