That one time at SXSW with Scott H. Biram

by Nick Pittman

Catch the Dirty Old One Man Band at the Blue Moon — while you still can.

Photo by Nate Burrell

I could tell you about Scott H. Biram and why you should go see him this Thursday, Jan. 26 at the Blue Moon. I could tell you about the albums he has put out on Bloodshot Records, a premier alt. country label in Chicago. I could tell you about how he is nominated for an Ameripolitan music award – which honors true country musicians. I could tell you about how Rolling Stone debuted his new single off his upcoming The Bad Testament. I could tell you about the awards and rave reviews he has racked up for his one man band take on hellbound, country blues chaos. I could tell you that — a testament to his awesomeness — I framed a press quote sheet of his that featured a blurb written by me right under one of equal praise from No Depression, the leader in alt. country music coverage.

But I won’t.

Chances are you know most of that if you have a taste for his music or the similar sounds in rotation at the Blue Moon.

Instead, I will tell you a story that — chances are — you don’t know about Scott H. Biram.

Years ago, in what seemed like another lifetime, I was a full-time music beat writer attending South by South West in Austin, the music capital from which Biram operates. Biram, Lafayette’s Drew Landry and I went to see CeDell Davis, a great, old blues player, backed by Mike Mills and Peter Buck of R.E.M in a former speakeasy in Austin’s music district.

Biram, emerging at the time as a somewhat well-known name in town, earning write-ups in The Austin Chronicle and getting recognized on the street — but not the name that he is now — was like a kid meeting his hero. His face lit up when he talked about the set we were about to see. He even managed to make his way to the stage to talk to Davis.

Scott H. Biram
Thursday, Jan. 26
Blue Moon Saloon

As he approached the foot of the low stage, he was intercepted by one of the two members of R.E.M. not named Michael Stipe. He asked about a song and not-Michael-Stipe got snippy, saying Davis didn’t play that tune anymore. Biram came back looking like he just watched his dog drown. Ever one to defend a friend, Drew got a twinkle in his eye and approached the stage. Biram and I watched, unsure what we were seeing, as a smile crept across Drew’s face that revealed teeth even his dentist hadn’t seen. When he came back, he boasted, “I farted on R.E.M.”

That night, we all took turns farting on R.E.M. The rest of SXSW, we could not stop celebrating his monumental and not-so-delicious act of revenge.

Since then, we have all gone out separate ways and grown up into better things; Drew’s music and film endeavors keep him busy, and I am 10 years into a career that has been better to me than journalism (not to mention seven years into the unbeatable career of being daddy). But Biram has had the most success since then, touring almost nonstop, playing “The Tonight Show” with Shooter Jennings and all that other stuff I chose not to tell you.

Still, this is how I choose to remember Biram: a young and hungry musician wise enough to know he owed those who came before him but wild and salty enough to foghorn those who stood in his way. Full of piss and vinegar. Unbreakable in his mettle, a performer who was smashed in a head-on crash with an 18 wheeler and kept going, performing with an IV in his arm and his butt in a wheel chair.

I choose to remember him this way because I know one day he will be too big to play “Wreck my Car,” “Truck Driver” and “Lost Case of Being Found,” and a couple young, obnoxious and noxious musicians and their tag along music journalist friend will take it personal and tell tales of how they farted on Scott H. Biram. It is inevitable. But, that’s not my Scott H. Biram. That’s not my Dirty Old One Man Band.

Until then, play me that song about the spray paint on the bridge that said “I love Satin.”

Nick Pittman is a freelance entertainment and feature writer. To contact him, email [email protected]