Berklee's SXSW Party: Boston and Beyond

Berklee College of Music presents its SXSW Party: Boston and Beyond on Thursday, March 13, noon – 6:00 p.m., in Austin, TX. Berklee’s ninth annual SXSW Party is presented by The Red Room @ Cafe 939, Alumni Affairs, and Heavy Rotation Records (HRR), with media sponsor Vanyaland and features up-and-coming Berklee and HRR alumni and students performing rock, pop, electronic, Americana and folk.


February 19, 2014

Berklee College of Music, the only college to host an official party at the SXSW Music and Media Conference, presents its SXSW Party: Boston and Beyond on Thursday, March 13, noon – 6:00 p.m., at Brush Square Park (West Tent), located at 409 East 5th St. (Neches and 5th), Austin, TX. Berklee’s ninth annual SXSW Party is presented by The Red Room @ Cafe 939, Alumni Affairs, and Heavy Rotation Records (HRR), with media sponsor Vanyaland.

Vanyaland will be live streaming the event at and at Vanya Radio, as will the Berklee Internet Radio Network (BIRN) on Thursday, March 13, from 1:00 to 7:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time on its birnCORE channel.

Check out the artists on the Boston and Beyond Bandcamp Sampler and YouTube Playlist.

The party features up-and-coming Berklee and HRR alumni and students performing rock, pop, electronic, Americana and folk. Artists include Ashley Alexander, Friendly People, Cask Mouse, OldJack, Los Rumberos (HRR), Charles Johnson (HRR), Air Traffic Controller, Elizabeth & the Catapult, The Field Effect, Evolfo Doofeht, and The Rare Occasions. Alumna singer-songwriter Rebecca Loebe is emceeing the event.

Berklee’s SXSW Party: Boston and Beyond is all ages and open to SXSW badge holders. The public can email to attend free of charge.

Free copies of student-run HRR’s latest release, Dorm Sessions 9, featuring Los Rumberos and Charles Johnson (as Redwood Deville), will be given away. Listen at

This year, Berklee and Sonicbids teamed up to offer one band the opportunity to play at both Berklee’s SXSW Party and the Sonicbids Party (March 14 at Maggie Mae’s). Brooklyn’s Friendly People won over the committee and were selected for the slot. Sonicbids is the leading platform for bands to get gigs, connecting more than 450,000 bands with 30,000 promoters from over 100 different countries. 

Artists in order of appearance:

Ashley Alexander proved she could hold her own on a big stage as an opener for Willie Nelson, Luke Bryan, and Chuck Wicks in support of her debut, Heaven On Earth. These spots led to a performance of the National Anthem at a NASCAR Nationwide Series Race. Whether playing in a coffeehouse or an arena, Alexander’s mix of country and blues makes each show personal and entertaining. Alumna Alexander is co-writing, recording and producing her second album with Kyle Hoffmann (John Fogerty, Carole King) and alumnus Miles Bergsma (Safe Haven, Katy Perry).

In 2013, Friendly People performed at festivals including SXSW, CBGB Fest, and CMJ Music Marathon. Since the release of their debut album, Shake, they have shared the stage with notable acts such as Mother Mother, San Fermin, JJAMZ, and You Won't, and have created a steadily growing fan base in the Northeast area. With five minds and five million ideas, Friendly People – alumni Pat McCusker, Colin Lee, Davis Rowan, Jeff Butcher, and Mitch Stewart – is folk-infused indie rock, hand-crafted to make you feel at home.

Cask Mouse brings forth new stories of American life with the respect for the craftsmanship that made this country what it is today. With a sweeping love of all music, they meander the genres of country, folk, rock, R&B, gospel and soul. Like the sense of history that crackles through the needle on a dusty turntable, Cask Mouse is inspired by the traditions of those before them while innovating to push the creative threshold, exemplifying what it means to live in the NOW. Its members – including alumna Bonnie Parks - draw from their diverse musical and geographical experiences to express emotion and tell untold truths.

OldJack is a group of circumstance formed by lead singer/songwriter Dan “GoodWood” Nicklin while recording other bands. The group also features alumni Ryan Peters and Jason Meeker. With two guitars, bass, drums, organ/keys, three female background singers, and a front man from yesterday, OldJack belts out their original soul/rock material with lots of harmonies, big vocals, and guitar solos galore. After 2011's Gone Before You Know EP, OldJack blazed through the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble and came out as runners-up. The band is now working on its first full-length album.

Los Rumberos (HRR) – Mexican guitarists Lito de la Isla and Angel Cespedes, and percussionist Paul Sefchovich – have created a powerful sound combining Latin cultures with other influences like the blues, flamenco, rock, dance, funk and reggae. They met as composition students at Berklee. Their mesmerizing energetic Latin flavor has allowed them to conquer stages in Mexico, the U.S., Latvia, Russia, and Spain, and share stages with musicians like Juanes, Julieta Venegas and Ziggy Marley. Their unique style of music has gained a wide range of enthusiastic followers.

Charles Johnson (HRR) is a folk/rock artist from California. Leading a versatile four-piece band that is able to throw down rowdy bar songs alongside pure and simple ballads, Berklee alumnus Johnson pours his otherwise discretionary heart into songs and harmonies. His picked and driving guitar carries an innocent, but well-traveled voice, familiar but compelling. Drawing inspiration from artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Kings of Leon, and Pearl Jam, Johnson is a distinct, honest voice that truly lives what he sings about. 

Watch Charles Johnson perform "The Otherside" live at Berklee here:

Boston-based indie-electronic six-piece band, Air Traffic Controller, has just issued an album, NORDO, that has been compared to Arcade Fire and Of Monsters and Men. Lead singer Dave Munro was an actual air traffic controller in the Navy for six years. ATC features Munro on guitar; Berklee student Casey Sullivan on lead vocals, bass, and mandolin; Steve Scott on keyboards and guitar; Richie Munro on drums; and Kiara Ana Perico on viola. After the band's duet "You Know Me" shot to No. 1 on Hype Machine, it quickly started earning coverage on NPR, Filter, The Boston Globe, and Pop Matters. It seems that all who come into contact with ATC’s music fall in love with the autobiographical lyricism, refreshing perspective, indie-pop-rock sensibility. 

Elizabeth & the Catapult, fronted by alumna Elizabeth Ziman, has released two albums on Verve Records. Their first LP, Taller Children, was bolstered by commercials for Google, Amazon and Sky TV. Their second album featured Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings on the title track. The album drew interest from Anne Hathaway, who used “Thank You For Nothing” as inspiration for her hair-cutting scene in Les Miserables. Hathaway then cast Elizabeth as a street musician in an upcoming film. Elizabeth has toured with Sara Bareilles, Lenka, and Kishi Bashi. Elizabeth & the Catapult’s new album, Like it Never Happened, has received notice in USA Today, ABC News, and Paste.

The Field Effect packs a collective punch, spiked with introspective lyrics, infectious melodies, and ferocious rhythms. An antidote to aloof, lo-fi indie music, the Field Effect reclaims the genre with its passion, musical ability, and aims to make music for “the many” and not just “the few.” The Field Effect has received rave reviews for its energetic live show and debut release. Fresh off their Song of the Year win at the Boston Music Awards for "Ogunquit, ME," The Field Effect are back in the studio recording the follow-up to 2012's Cartography.

Evolfo Doofeht plays a unique style of music that bares influence from American funk, Eastern European gypsy jazz, and garage rock. This combination and the fact that they hail from all corners of the U.S. led them to coin the term Gypsy-funk. Evolfo features Berklee alumni Kai Sorensen (trumpet/vocals), Julian Moore (drums), Rafferty Swink (keyboards), Ronnie Lanzilotta (bass), and Matthew Gibbs (guitar/vocals). The group was named International Artist of the Year at the 2012 Boston Music Awards. Currently, Evolfo Doofeht is working on an album with producer Craig Welsch (Avett Brothers, State Radio).

Singer Brian McLaughlin and drummer Luke Imbusch formed The Rare Occasions with bassist Jeremy Cohen and guitarist Peter Stone while attending Berklee and Tufts. In their time together, they have self-produced an EP, won the Tufts Battle of the Bands, opened for Guster and Lupe Fiasco, received airplay on commercial and college radio, released two music videos, competed in WBRU’s annual Rock Hunt, and performed across New England. The group connects with listeners and musicians alike through their infectious sound, intertwining their eclectic musical tastes into one singular voice.


Vanyaland is a Boston-based online music magazine. Since its launch in May 2013, it has become the fastest-growing and most-read music website in New England (source:, combining breaking news with artist profiles and snapshots that provide the reader with both music and video embeds and links in addition to its daily original content. A winner of a Boston Music Award after just seven months of operation, Vanyaland is an interactive source for music news, live shows, new releases, downloads, and nightlife around Boston and beyond, with an active stable of writers and photographers. In February 2014, Vanyaland launched VanyaRadio, a live 24/7 streaming radio station that features the best in new music from around the world. The radio content is anchored by "This Is 617," an hour-long local music show airing thrice daily and hosted by Vanyaland co-founder Michael Marotta. Its weekend playlist raises a glass to global nightlife with specialty shows from renowned DJs like Fergie, Kissy Sell Out, and Felix Da Housecat.

Heavy Rotation Records (HRR) gives music business/management majors at Berklee hands-on experience running a record company. The students oversee all label functions, including A&R, marketing, sales, touring, web development, media, and accounting. HRR's releases since 1995 include Shekinah: 13 Artists, distributed by Epic; Apollo Sunshine's second album, co-released with spinART; Dorm Sessions 1–9; and Under the Influence. Many up-and-coming artists have appeared on HRR compilations, including Annie Clark (St. Vincent); members of Passion Pit (as the Peasantry); HAERTS (as Nini & Ben); Christopher Barnes (Gem Club); Madi Diaz; Elizabeth & the Catapult; and Big D and the Kids Table. The label also serves as a springboard for careers in the industry. Alumni have gone on to work at Interscope, Capitol, DreamWorks, BMG, Universal, Live Nation, AEG Live, and YouTube/Google, among other companies.

The Red Room at Cafe 939 is a state-of-the-art, all-ages venue and coffeehouse dedicated to showcasing, developing, and supporting musical and performance endeavors that fit in a 200-capacity club. Berklee music business students work alongside industry professionals to make this venue a real world experience. Top quality sound, superb engineering and a savvy staff focused on the fan/artist experience make it the perfect environment for artists and fans to connect. The venue is open to the public and attracts musicians and fans from all walks of life. Past shows include Ingrid Michaelson, Pomplamoose, Karmin, Lenka, Elephant Revival, The Click Five, Greg Laswell, Kina Grannis, Harper Simon, The Civil Wars, Rachael Yamagata, Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys, Jason Castro, Brooke Fraser, Boyce Avenue, The Rescues, Owl City, and many others.


Margot Edwards is a manager in the Office of Media Relations. Media inquiries: