Freestyle: Doing good, feeling good at SXSW

Mar. 17, 2015 | 0 Comments
Ghanian reggae artist Rocky Dawuni is part of a global effort to end poverty.

COURTESY GLOBAL ALLIANCE FOR CLEAN COOKSTOVES

Ghanian reggae artist Rocky Dawuni is part of a global effort to end poverty.

BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / ekieszkowski@staradvertiser.com

I’ve been mixing it up here at the South by Southwest conference and festival, exploring different topics, including film, tech, music and social matters.

freestyle sxsw header 2015

ALOHA, SXSW!

TGIF Editor Elizabeth Kieszkowski will be blogging from Austin, Tex. during the 2015 South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival. Read more SXSW posts at honolulupulse.com/category/blogs/freestyle-blogs.

Monday’s highlight was a series of fast-paced discussions at SXSW’s Social Good hub, sponsored by the United Nations Foundation.

And a highlight of that series was a high-spirited, high-stepping mini-concert by Ghanaian Afro-roots/reggae star Rocky Dawuni, a singer who proudly follows in the footsteps of Bob Marley.

Did you know that using unsafe methods of cooking kills 2 million people worldwide every year? I didn’t, until I attended the #2030NOW session at SXSW, sponsored by the United Nations Foundation.

“As a musician, I know how to use my voice and my heart to connect with people,” Dawuni said. He lends his voice to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which seeks to eliminate stoves that may poison an indoor space with wood smoke, carbon monoxide or other dangerous by-products.

Dawuni, whose upcoming album, “Branches of the Same Tree,” will be released on March 31, will be performing during the SXSW Music Festival — and I hope to hear the lanky, warm-voiced singer again.

It was a special treat to hear him, dancing at the microphone with an acoustic guitar player for accompaniment, in an intimate show for about 50 idealistic onlookers. Look below for a music video of one song he had for us, “Walls Tumblin’ Down.”

With the participation of donors, volunteers and activists, the U.N. has launched initiatives aiming to end extreme poverty worldwide by 2030. Let’s do this, people!

The Southbites food truck block, open to the public, has a cash bar and solar-powered charging station. It's pretty awesome.

COURTESY SXSW

The Southbites food truck block, open to the public, has a cash bar and solar-powered charging station. It’s pretty awesome.

THERE WAS more going on, of course.

I walked across the Congress Street bridge to Threadgills, a haven for music since the 1960s, to watch a few Swedish bands in the Try Swedish showcase.

Swedish hipsters make for a well-behaved crowd, fyi, though many wear black from head to toe, or dress as if they were extras in a film about ’70s hippies.

Finally, I moseyed on back for a second time to the Southbites food truck lot, this time trying the Veracruz All Natural Food Truck and its chicken mole taco. It was awesome.

After four days of sessions and as I near the end of SXSW Interactive, I feel like my brain has been going nonstop. There’s so much sheer energy, so many opportunities to learn new things.

The opportunities for enjoyment at South by Southwest are great — and exhausting. It’s long past midnight in Texas as I finish this post. I’m going to close my eyes for a while.
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Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at ekieszkowski@staradvertiser.com or follow her on Twitter.

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