Kansas City musician Nathan Corsi is in Austin, Texas, for the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival. He's not performing as one of the 2,000 official acts booked at the annual event that began in 1987 — he's part of what's called the MidCoast Takeover.
"Imagine walking out on the street, say on Grand Boulevard," Corsi says, describing SXSW via a Skype call, "and seeing a sea of 20,000 people and buskers all over the street and the sound is just colliding from the different groups that are playing and the different venues that are surrounding you."
He says that everybody is filled with joy because of the music that runs for a week (March 11-17). He also says all of those thousands of music fans hope to discover something new.
That's where Rhonda Lyne comes in. She’s the executive director of the Midwest Music Foundation and is instrumental in showcasing Kansas City artists during the larger festival.
It's been 10 years of representing Kansas City in Austin, and usually at the Shangri-La bar (this year's takeover runs March 13 through 16).
"We just want to show the rest of the world that the music being made in KC is some of the best out there," Lyne says. "A lot of times the musicians get overlooked or aren't known out of our area, so we just want to show everybody what we have in Kansas City."
Unlike the rest of the festival, MidCoast Takeover shows at the Shangri-La are free. There are two stages: the larger is outside, while inside is a smaller acoustic stage to showcase songwriters.
"You don't need an official South By Southwest pass to come in, which is part of the allure," Corsi says. He's played several venues during the larger festival over the last six years, but the stage at the Shangri-La is his favorite.
"It's a combination of having amazing talent and an amazing presentation and then also they get some great sponsors coming in, such as Boulevard beer," he said.
On the first day of the MidCoast Takeover, which features about 60 bands, performers from Nebraska took the stage, and then Kansas City's Kadesh Flow was the first local to perform. Austin will see other performances from Freight Train Rabbit Killer, NuBlvckCity, Me Like Bees from Joplin, Missouri, and Kemet the Phantom.
The Midwest Music Foundation tries to schedule a diverse lineup for those who aren't familiar with the Kansas City music community. And Corsi, who’s lived in KC 10 years, says he didn't initially know what to expect either.
"I found this vibrant arts and music scene in Kansas City that honestly, compared to every other major city that I've been to, is very formidable and has a lot to offer that you might not expect if you're not from the Midwest or you haven’t been to Kansas City before," he says. "I happily embrace Kansas City as my new home."