Honolulu indie-rockers the Ragamuffs have been accepted as one of just three musical acts from Hawaii to be showcased at the South by Southwest Music Festival this year, with a midnight March 18 gig at Austin, Texas hotspot BD Riley’s.
Now the band needs to plan out its trip, and part of that is raising the money needed to travel to the festival.
The group has worked up a budget, and estimates it will cost about $9,000 to attend, including airfare and lodging, car rentals, transporting equipment and other expenses. They’ve launched a fundraiser to help at gofundme.com and will be playing a “SXSW Fundraiser” show at HB Social Club on Friday to help them along the way.
THE BAND just got the word that they would be accepted last month.
It was no sure thing — most musical acts that apply to South by Southwest — also known as SXSW — don’t get in. But on the strength of the band’s melodic, whimsical style, Ragamuffs caught the attention of SXSW programmers.
Each year, SXSW presents music, interactive and film festivals, presenting a wide-ranging mix of speakers’ sessions, performances, screenings and showcases that bring musicians, fans and industry professionals together with filmmakers, tech creatives, gamers, comedians and other artists.
The SXSW Music Festival is a forum for exposing new talent and live performances, originating in 1987. This year’s festival takes place March 16 through March 22.
Artists accepted to the festival include new, developing, and established performers from more than 60 countries. This year’s fest includes more than 2,000 artists, all looking to boost their careers by reaching new audiences and levels of attention.
“SXSW is definitely a good place for us to network with professionals in the music industry,” said Joseph Carag, who shares guitar and vocal duty in Ragamuffs with co-founder Hailey Fines. Drummer Locke Nishihara and bassist Landan Tolentino round out the band.
From here, the band hopes that SXSW can open more opportunities to play gigs and festivals across the U.S. and boost their fanbase and streaming counts on outlets such as Spotify, where they currently have more than 67,000 monthly listeners.
RAGAMUFFS FORMED in 2016 as a folk duo with Carag and Fines; they originally called themselves Sir Ragamuffin and The Lady.
The two, a couple, say they grew up playing music in church, where they first played together. They found they had the same taste in music — with a core love for the Beatles — and started creating their own original music.
“We just clicked,” Carag and Fines said in a statement, proclaiming their love for “creating music from scratch.”
In the beginning, they said, they would write music before gigs then “wing it” on stage the same night to add originals to their sets.
In 2017 they added bass and drums to the band to grow their sound and add more rock and experimental influences, and became Ragamuffs.
The name comes from one of Hailey’s favorite soul songs, “Ragamuffin,” and is also a play on their original name. “To be a ‘Ragamuff’, you are kind-hearted, genuine, and passionate about good music. You are spontaneous and go with the flow, but you do your own thing,” the band says.
“It’s about inspiring people and making people happy.”
Ragamuffs describe their sound as a mix of folk, rock and lo-fi. They credit multiple musical influences, from The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Australian soul band Hiatus Kaiyote, cited by Carag, to folk-inflected vocal acts including Sara Bareilles, noted by Fines.
You might hear the mark of staunchly independent rockers such as the U.K.’s Arctic Monkeys or Canadian indie trendsetter Mac DeMarco, for whom the Ragamuffs recently opened at The Republik, as well.
In 2019, Ragamuffs went on their first West Coast tour, including a Sofar Sounds showcase in Los Angeles.
Following their return, they released their first album, “Achy Luminescence.” The term, the band says in its press kit, “is about the necessary struggles we face, trudging through gloomy days, in order to find the light.”
After the release of “Achy Luminescence,” Ragamuffs song “Sunset Chaser” moved onto several different Spotify playlists, boosting their listeners.
Hawaii listeners may have also heard Ragamuffs on the radio; Carag and Hines rewrote The Wedding Shop’s jingle for a contest, and the winning work aired on a number of Hawaii stations.
ALSO ATTENDING South by Southwest from Hawaii this year:
>> Jesse Colin Young: Young, a singer, songwriter and guitarist who now makes his home in Kealekekua, Hawaii island, has been an influence on American music for more than 50 years, recording the song “Get Together,” a hit for his band The Youngbloods in 1967 and 1969. He has released 23 albums as a solo artist and with The Youngbloods, fusing folk, rock, jazz and blues for his signature style of Americana.
>> Taimane: Ukulele virtuoso Taimane, also a SXSW artist in 2019, returns to the festival as a featured artist in NPR’s SXSW showcase, combining rock and pop, world music and a strong strain of flamenco music. Taimane’s premiere performance as an NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert” artist will be streamed at NPR.org on March 6 and as SXSW kicks off, on NPR’s Youtube channel on March 13.
RAGAMUFFS SXSW FUNDRAISER
With Bound, Goon Lei Goon and The Chronies
>> Where: HB Social Club, 1680 Kapiolani Blvd.
>> When: 8 p.m. Friday
>> Cost: $10
>> Info: 936-1343, ragamuffs.com, hbsocialclub.com
SXSW MUSIC FESTIVAL AND CONFERENCE
>> Where: Austin, Texas
>> When: March 16-22
>> Cost: $495-$1395
>> Info: sxsw.com
>> Note: Performance-only music wristbands, $169, are available for those purchasing authorized hotel stays via wristbands.sxsw.com