Life Is Beautiful Goes South

The Las Vegas festival exports local talent

West by Southwest: Vegas acts Ekoh, Rusty Maples and Sabriel will perform in Austin. (Illustration by Cierra Pedro)

West by Southwest: Vegas acts Ekoh, Rusty Maples and Sabriel will perform in Austin. (Illustration by Cierra Pedro)

When Life Is Beautiful launched last year, organizers made sure to include hometown acts. It hosted local music showcases leading up to the event and offered a dedicated festival stage (aptly titled “Homegrown”). Local groups such as Rusty Maples and A Crowd of Small Adventures could say they shared a bill with Beck and Kings of Leon.

It turns out that pushing Vegas bands isn’t an only in October, or only in Las Vegas, affair for the company.

On March 13, Life Is Beautiful and Caesars Entertainment will host an unofficial showcase at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, where many bands catch their break. The showcase will give Austin a sampler of what Las Vegas has to offer, from Ekoh’s heartfelt raps to the All-Togethers’ hillbilly jazz.

“Vegas is the Entertainment Capital of the World, but a lot of the really great talent may get overlooked,” says Craig Nyman, head of music for Life Is Beautiful. “This is an opportunity to put some bands in a situation that they may not have otherwise.”

The showcase will be the first SXSW performance for many of the artists on the bill, including soulful singer Sabriel Hobart, who at 19 has never traveled beyond the West Coast. “I just really appreciate Life Is Beautiful’s help,” says Hobart, who performed on the Homegrown Stage.

Others are building on those opportunities. Bluesy folk band Dusty Sunshine, also SXSW first-timers, quickly lined up an additional show on March 14, with a possible March 15 show in the works. The All-Togethers, led by Virginia ex-pat Ken Osborne, also hustled to set up other shows during the week.

“It’s huge for us to be able to go,” Osborne says. “I think it could be really big [for Las Vegas]. I think it can turn into a spotlight as a future spot for bigger acts or even the smaller touring acts that don’t think there could be a home for them here.”

That’s a hope that Life Is Beautiful shares.

“As a city, we should be proud of all of our artists who strive to get bigger and better,” Nyman says. “Just as much attention as there is on Imagine Dragons now and the Killers for the last decade, my hope is that we have that same attention for everyone else.”