AUSTIN — It’s a Tuesday night deep in the heart of Texas, and Rare Essence bandleader Andre “Whiteboy” Johnson is all smiles.
“We’re just amped about this thing,” Johnson says backstage before one of his band’s most far-flung gigs. “We’ve done some other festival-type things, but nothing like this.”
This is South by Southwest, the annual music, film and technology mega-conference in Austin — a massive gathering where entrepreneurs, tastemakers and assorted creative types come to schmooze, self-promote and get their brains rearranged by new music. Rare Essence is eager to help out with the brain-rearrangement part. The legendary Washington troupe is about to become the first go-go band to ever perform at SXSW.
The group is here to formally evangelize for its home town, too. Tuesday night’s musical showcase is presented by the D.C. Economic Partnership, a nonprofit group working on behalf of the city in hopes of persuading tech entrepreneurs to set up shop in Washington. After first establishing a formal presence at SXSW back in 2013, the city devoted roughly $350,000to to this year’s efforts, which included a “We DC” lounge that hosted five days of panel discussions and parties.
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