When a handful of adventurous Austinites combined forces to dream up the South by Southwest Music & Media Conference in the mid-to-late 1980s, there was no guarantee it would survive past the first couple of years, much less blossom into the premier event of its kind in the world. Launched in March of 1987, SXSW quickly caught on as a sort of "spring break for the music industry" where deals were done amid waves of warm weather, Texas cuisine, and an endless parade of musicians from across the globe.
SXSW Scrapbook takes a long look back at many years of highlights as South by Southwest celebrates its twenty-fifth edition in 2011. Those who were there share stories about how it all got started; memorable performances by major artists including Johnny Cash, the Black Eyed Peas, Iggy Pop, the Dixie Chicks, and the Flaming Lips; countless up-and-coming acts that got a leg up in their careers by playing SXSW; Sunday softball tournaments with Doug Sahm as championship-game announcer; goodie-bags decorated by renowned illustrators from Mike Judge to Daniel Johnston; and the convention's eventual expansion beyond music to include a film festival and an interactive media component. The book includes numerous photos, plus essays from SXSW staffers and participants including Dave Marsh, David Fricke, Jim DeRogatis, John Morthland, Ed Ward, Michael Corcoran, Jaan Uhelszki, and Thom Duffy.
Peter Blackstock served as archivist for SXSW from 1989 to 1997. He cofounded the roots music magazine No Depression in 1995 and served as its copublisher and coeditor until its closure in 2008.
Jason Cohen's first SXSW was in 1990. He has written regularly for The Austin Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman, Texas Monthly, Rolling Stone, and SPIN, and is the author of the books Zamboni Rodeo and Generation Ecch!
Andy Smith has been editor of SXSWORLD magazine since its inception in 2006. Prior to that, he was associate editor of Pop Culture Press magazine and once taught high school journalism. He has lived in Austin off and on since 1991, not coincidentally the same year he first attended SXSW.