There were only a few goals for our trip to Austin this year. Sling 15,000 creams and see Think About Life. Actually.. I wanted to give away a bunch of the 7,000 copies we printed of Off the Wookie, catch Carsick Cars, and eat a ridiculous amount of home cookin’. Let’s see, I ate extremely well, threw a 10-minute dance party with Think About Life and we gave away somewhere in the neighborhood of 12k free creams. Not too shabby for a trip to Texas.
Before I begin typing a bunch of stuff about the trip, if you haven’t seen the Road Trippin’ video that Wayne put together, you it’s way more entertaining than the written word and you should check it out below or at www.babelgum.com/icecreamman
ok… back to brass tacks and the annual journey to Austin. South by Southwest is the biggest event we do all year… by far. Our previous record was in 2008 when we slang 11,000 free creams. for the trip this year we planned better than we ever had before. Even though Newt got smashed a few weeks prior, Jeremiah saved the day with loaning us his Bessita and I drew the short straw to drive Bessie on the 1,400 mile journey. Last time I was in Austin I left a push cart at the Zinn’s in Dripping Springs (yes… that Zinn house where people party down and leave with shaved heads). We had the necessary artillery, we just needed the ammo to make it all happen. Nokia stepped up to be our main sponsor for Austin and GoodPops and Ben & Jerry’s pitched in with the treats. Knowmore also helped out for the interactive portion, which keeps getting bigger and bigger and actually passed the music conference for paid attendees (but no where near for parties and partying).
Evolution Graphics was one of our first stops in Austin. Cory had driven Bessita out in near-record time and after a short night of sleep we headed into town to drop her off to get some Wookie and Slingin’ the Cream, Livin’ the Dream vinyl stickers put on her. We tried to check in early to the house we’ve rented for the past five years but it wasn’t going to work. Instead a bunch of the crew posted up at Doug’s house and we were able get Bessie ready to rock.
SXSWi, the interactive portion of the conference, is really where the money is at. Think about it, who wants to invest in music right now? Tech? Yup, not too hard to figure out. And… everyone loves free ice cream. We made the most of tech and covered the streets with our trucks. We used our Nokia phones to setup a system where we could post live photos to www.icecreamman.com and also show people where we were located. Nokia also gave us 25 Nuron smartphones to give away and we added that to some super rare Dead Weather vinyl singles we had and some Ben & Jerry’s free pint coupons to host give aways. Once we realized how successful that was going we nudged the Nokia folks to send us a couple of their 3G Booklet computers for more elaborate contests.
One thing I’ve learned about SXSW is that it’s better to be parked in a good spot and slinging then to be stuck in traffic while trying to find the next best thing. In the past we’ve driven around all day and night trying to make sure we hit every possible party. Now we balance things out so that each vehicle has a small handful of potential stops and once there, we post up until we run out of takers. There were a few times we parked in front of the convention center at Brush Square Park. It’s great when there are a lot of people around but when it’s 11 in the morning, it can be a bit slow. This was the biggest crew we had ever brought to Austin and we did our best to swap out positions so that the same people weren’t stuck working the push cart everyday. All in all it worked out and everyone got to rock some tunes and then we’d all meet up for Hoover’s, Threadgill’s or Hill’s Cafe for an extended dinner.
By the time music started on Wednesday we were in full gear with tons of GoodPops and a new load of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. We couldn’t have asked for a better and more high-end selection of treats. The Half Baked bars went the fastest but on the hot days people were really into all the fruit bars from GoodPop, including the Mango Chile, Pineapple Basil and Watermelon Agave. I ate everything we had on board and was happy and proud to rock it all.
I’d like to tell everyone about the great music I saw, since that’s what most people go to SXSW for but I can’t say I actually saw or heard that much. Let’s see…. what bands did I actually hear? Plants and Animals, VV Brown, Macy Gray, Born Ruffians, The XX, Think About Life, The Very Best, some Thurston Moore, and a few more. Keep in mind that almost all of these were heard while working so I couldn’t even tell you how many people were on stage or what they looked like (exactly how does The XX make their music work onstage?). I really dug the new tunes from both Plants and Animals and Born Ruffians and the highlight of the whole fest was Think About Life kicking off our 10-minute dance party with “Having My Baby.” Oh… and we left the Perez Hilton party early and missed out on Hole and Snoop Dogg to chill on the top of a couch at a house party diggin Futurebirds, and wishing we had some beers.
So there’s a lot that happened in Austin but, like I said earlier, if you just watch the 8 minute video we made, it’ll give a much better interpretation of the fun we had than reading this. Actually… I just played it again while trying to write this but had to stop and smile while thinking of how much fun that was.
After everything was said and done and we slang over 12,000 treats, we headed out to the Zinn’s for what was supposed to be a chill Sunday night with Salt Lick BBQ and some Lone Star. I guess after working for days the crew was more interested in partying it up and the night ended with lots and lots of booze, dozens of sparklers, and Gooch getting his head shaved.
I hung out around town for a few more days and Dot, Aaron, Daniel and I headed to the Dell Children’s Medical Center to give away a bunch of cream. Later that night I had one of the biggest and best meals in recent memory at Salt Lick and got an early start so that Bessie and I could make it out of Texas. The first half of the drive was pleasant but then the wind kicked up and I started getting frustrated. Around that time I pulled off the highway to open up a vent by my feet to let some air in. As I returned to the highway I noticed a hitch hiker on the on ramp. This was the middle of NOWHERE and in a split second I decided the mostly-clean guy deserved a ride. Luck have it that Jack and I bonded quite well and over the next 800 or so miles we shared many stories and even camped in the desert together near the Arizona-California border one night. Ahhh.. I love being on the road
Thanks to Nokia for making the trip possible. Thanks to GoodPop and Ben & Jerry’s for the treats. Thanks to the Gahans, Evolution Graphics, Jakprints, Doug, Austin, SXSW, Wayne and Natalie, all the Wookie advertisers, and especially all the crew who made the cream slinging possible. Can’t wait til next year!