Being a newbie I reached out to the Couch By Couchwest via their twitter account for a scheduled of performances. Being a blogger I’m naturally lazy and like to get my information neatly packaged. No dice. I got this response “..this is a festival based on laziness! Do you really think we’d put together a schedule!?”and “Official CXCW Schedule: March 11-18th, videos sun-up to sun-up. Couch, kitchen, bed, bathroom, alternate as needed.” My laziness had been trumped.
So I did what any self-respecting blogger would do. I Googled Couch By Couchwest. I was presented with the main sources for performances, YouTube and Vimeo video uploads that are then gathered by the main site CouchByCouchwest.com, a step up from their original tumblr page, as a single place for enjoying the music. Past performances by Neko Case (below) and other excellent, and some okay, performances. But there was no denying how compelling the idea of open source cultural event like this was.
The submission criteria makes to mentions of genre, style or guidelines of any type aside from uploading and tagging on the submitted video. This is as democratic as the local open mic except that it’s happening world-wide. Judging my the videos the only crieria is that there is often, but not always a couch in teh videos submitted.
Audience participation comes in the form of posting pics of your pets (sharing the couch with you no doubt) and tacos (apparently the official Couch By Couchwest fare) as well as the often hilarious Twitter feed which is topically aligned by the hashtag #CXCW or #CXCW2012.
Operations take place in secret from some undisclosed location Baton Rouge, Louisiana from the pseudonym, Baron Childs. Childs is reported as saying “There are some really talented people who just don’t’ get the chance to get heard because either they can’t afford to go to South by South West or they families that prevent them from going. This is a way to give those people a voice, too.” and that the purpose of Couch by Couch West is not about exposure or making money, but rather the focus should be on the music. “We’re not making any money off this, it actually costs us money.”
The defies all the conventional ideas about marketing and music publicity and results in an open-source cultural event. So far this week has Couch By Couchwest has given us excellent performance by Austin Lucas, Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil , Imperial Rooster an many others.
In the end Couch By Couchwest is about the joy of music and the serendipitous nature of the web. The use of technology to support the traditional folk and roots legacy of intimate , personal space performances is a great hybrid cultural experience that I can really get behind.