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Welcome to the Rock Desk, where Seattle Times rock critic Patrick MacDonald fills you in on the latest news, upcoming concerts, news releases and insider info on the rock 'n' roll beat. Music critic Tom Scanlon also contributes local music and club news.

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March 16, 2007 1:50 PM

An O. Henry Oasis

Posted by Patrick MacDonald

Editor's note: Due to technical difficulties, some of Patrick MacDonald's reports from SXSW in Austin, Texas, yesterday were not posted on The Rock Desk. Here they are, better late than never.

Get yer career needs here!
A visit to the SXSW trade show in the Austin Convention Center is a good way to catch up on trends in music-business marketing, and pocket some free promotional swag, like pens, buttons, T-shirts, CDs, posters, bumper stickers, sweatbands, and lots and lots of miniature candy bars.
Many of the booths are hawking services to bands, everything from instruments and equipment to management and promotion services, web sites and even transportation.
Some of the biggest display spaces are taken up by governments touting their music businesses and sponsoring SXSW appearances by their bands. England, Scotland, Wales, Norway and Canada all have large booths and helpful staffs. Australia, New Zealand, Louisiana, Memphis, Houston and Albuquerque also are represented.
At the Spin magazine booth, copies of the April issue, with coverboys Isaac Brock and Johnny Marr of Modest Mouse, and a story about their volatile relationship, were being snatched up by nearly everybody who went by.
The busy convention center is packed with people all day, and so are the areas surrounding it, including the bustling SXSW headquarters hotel, the Austin Hilton, right across the street where you see bands like Bloc Party being interviewed by TV crews -- and nearby lots where tents have been set up, with bars and live music day and night.
But just steps away from all the nonstop action and noise is a quiet oasis, also across the street from the Hilton.
It's the small home of O. Henry, the great short-story writer and master of the surprise ending, with a little park surrounding it.
It's quiet because almost nobody visits. A guide said that the few who have stopped by during SXSW were mostly from Russia and England. The charming little house includes some of the original furniture from when O. Henry and his family lived there in the 1890s. Most interesting are copies of the newspaper he worked for here in Austin, called The Rolling Stone.

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