Whether your eyes sparkle or roll at the thought of another South by Southwest Music Conference, the 27th annual music industry powwow and hipster spring break is happening again next week in Austin, Texas — which means there’s a lot of music news this week in the Twin Cities related to the festival.
• St. Paul-based music nonprofit Rock the Cause is stepping out at SXSW 2014 in a big way to get support behind its latest tribute album, “Farewell Transmission: The Music of Jason Molina.” The 27-track will raise money for MusiCares and Molina’s estate to honor the Ohio indie tunesmith of Magnolia Electric Co. and Songs: Ohia notoriety, who died in 2011 after a long battle with alcoholism.
Last week, RTC debuted My Morning Jacket’s version of the album’s title track, which also features Murder by Death, Cory Branan, Sarah Jaffe, Centromatic’s Will Johnson and a Minnesota cast that includes Communist Daughter, Farewell Milwaukee, Gabriel Douglas and Fathom Lane. Next Friday, RTC will host a SXSW day party at the Liberty Bar with many of those participants. A local bash is also set April 19 at First Ave. More details and pre-order info at IRocktheCause.org.
• Haley Bonar dropped the details of her long-in-the-works new album via Spin.com last week ahead of next week’s SXSW appearances. Titled “Last War,” the record will land May 20 via Graveface Records, the Georgia label that also put out Dosh’s last one. The first single, “No Sensitive Man,” displays the more electrified and frayed side that she and her band have been showing live. They’re playing the hallowed SXSW showcase venue Presbyterian Church on Thursday plus several day parties.
• Proof that SXSW isn’t just for the tight-jeans hipster sect, retro-soul throwbacks Sonny Knight & the Lakers and retro-country stalwarts the Cactus Blossoms are also headed to Austin next week, and they are throwing a sendoff party together Friday at the Turf Club (9 p.m., $10). Secret Stash Records has set a May 6 release date for Knight’s album “I’m Still Here,” with a May 3 party at First Avenue.
• First Ave is hosting its Minnesotan-heavy day party during SXSW at Holy Mountain nightclub next Friday, with 14 bands including Lizzo, the Cloak Ox, Astronautalis, John Mark Nelson and — guess who? — Knight & the Lakers. Details at First-Avenue.com.
The lowdown on Atmosphere’s new album was announced Monday, just before the Soundset lineup was revealed with them at the top. Titled “Southsiders,” the group’s eighth record will arrive May 6 via Rhymesayers and features Slug and Ant working as a duo again (no band) and returning to their roots musically and lyrically. …
Some news to counter last week’s report that First Ave and Live Nation won’t be hosting festivals this year: Minnesota jam-band kings the Big Wu will hold their 14th annual Family Reunion with special guests Robert Randolph & the Family Band in Morristown, Minn., Aug. 8-10, with tickets already on sale via BigWuFamilyReunion.com. …
Conspicuously absent from SXSW now that its members are old enough to get into the 21+ parties, Howler will play an all-ages in-store at the Electric Fetus on March 19, a week before Rough Trade drops the band’s sophomore album, “World of Joy,” and the day before its Triple Rock release party. … A site that hasn’t seen live music since before Howler’s members were born, St. Paul’s Palace Theater is among the projects highlighted in a new online effort by Minnesota Senate staff. State legislators will vote this session on a bonding bill that includes funds to convert the shuttered venue into a 3,000-person performance hall. You can show your support at Build.mn. …
Sad news from the hip-hop community: North Side rapper Dodi Phy, a club regular since the late-’00s who guested on tracks by Villa Rosa and M.anifest, died last week following a long battle with depression. The real-life Mohamed Toray, who left behind two sons, will be remembered with a funeral Saturday at 11 a.m. at Masjid An-Nur, 1729 N. Lyndale Av., Mpls., and a musical tribute March 30 at the Nomad Pub.
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Look for daily updates and photo galleries from the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, starting Wednesday at startribune.com/sxsw.