The Deer at SXSW
Though they have played the festival with many other acts in many different ways, this will be the group's first official SXSW showcase.
Described as transcendental Texas folk and stargaze surf-western, The Deer create psychotropic soundscapes and tranquil, vivid dream-pop. From Austin, they are borne of a densely creative atmosphere, and stand out with their versatile and accessible sound. Members include frontwoman Grace Rowland Park (The Blue Hit), upright bassist Jesse Dalton (MilkDrive, Green Mountain Grass), guitarist Michael McLeod (Good Field, Linklater film composer), drummer Alan Eckert (Dimitri’s Ascent, A Live One), and their newest member, string player Noah Jeffries (MilkDrive, South Austin Jug Band). Frequent collaborator Roger Sellers (Bayonne) also adds some of his touch to their songwriting and production.
What began as the solo recording project of singer/songwriter Grace Rowland Park, the group formed its core membership in 2012 under the band name Grace Park & The Deer, and released "An Argument for Observation." The songs have a dark, folky feel; eerily lilting melodies with unexpected subjects like stalking, mysterious neighbors, and violent clashes. Through the recording process they found a spark lit by natural chemistry, on and off the stage, and they began performing and touring together with alternating guests - some of whom ended up becoming permanent members. Grace’s screen-printed cover art would later rank among Austin Music Industry Awards’ Top 5 Best Album Art for 2014.
In 2013 they suffered the devastating loss of dear friend and band member Stephanie Bledsoe to an accident on her farm. The group rallied under the name The Deer, and collaborated on songs dedicated to her memory for their second release, "On the Essence of the Indomitable Spirit" (2015). Dark with a tinge of hope, it features special guests Dennis Ludiker (Asleep at the Wheel), Roger Sellers (Bayonne), Trevor Smith (Wood & Wire), Karl Kummerle, and Noah Jeffries (MilkDrive). With a maturing sound, The Deer were runners-up for the Austin Music Awards’ Best Performing Folk Band that year, and began touring more frequently.
Their 2016 album “Tempest & Rapture” marries their brand of moody Southern Gothic with symphonic psychedelia. It’s split into two stylistic realms: the first side is rooted in muddy folk and surf-country, and the other side wanders far out in a dream-pop and psych-rock wilderness - all with their distinctly curious and incantational poetic content printed within. It’s their largest album, boasting 17 tracks on gorgeous 180-gm bottle-green vinyl; a double LP to house its gigantic sound. It saw the return of guest collaborator Roger Sellers, and guest string players Dennis Ludiker and Noah Jeffries (who would soon become a full-on Deer). The jacket design by Grace Rowland Park features her cut-paper artwork, and ranked among Austin Music Industry Awards’ Top 5 Best Album Art category last year. The Deer were also runners-up a second time for the Austin Music Awards’ Best Performing Folk Band.
The group were recent recipients of a major grant from Austin music patron organization Black Fret, and are currently nominated for an Austin Music Award for Best Folk Band. They have played their hometown Austin’s Moody Theater and the Legendary Stubb’s, as well as The Boulder Theater, The Fox Theatre (Boulder), and The Rex Theater (Pittsburgh). They’ve played Kerrville Folk Festival, Old Settler’s, Utopiafest, WinterWonderGrass, Oregon Country Fair, Campout for the Cause, Americanafest, SXSW, Northwest String Summit, and more. They have co-billed with Elephant Revival, Big Thief, Bayonne, Fruition, Wild Child, and Calliope Musicals. The Deer are currently recording a new album, while simultaneously touring across the universe; check their tour dates for a town near you.
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