South by SouthWest just keeps growing. One would be hard pressed to find a more important stance for a social festivity meeting the needs of a nation, a world and message saying music is the common language of the heart and soul. So stated it’s nice to note this ongoing gathering in 20/20 by observing the now annual success of The Carrera Cafe at this year’s SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas. The festival this year was highlighted by a timely tribute to the recently deceased Alex Chilton of Box Tops fame and Big Star infamy.

1. Singer Macy Gray 2. Singer Estelle 3. Actress and singer Taryn Manning and friend
4. DJ Steve Aoki 5. Singer Dan Black and his band 6. DJ Mia Moretti

Big Star’s Jody Stephens and Andy Hummel, aided by Jon Auer, and Ken Stringfellow organized an all-star tribute to Chilton. Show highlights included performances of classic Big Star songs by Evan Dando and a particualrly rousing performance of September Gurls by Susan Cowsill and the Watson Twins with Hummel on guitar.

Carrera hosted its ongoing Escape serving as the ultimate oasis for musical artists, VIPS and media at the newly renovated Cedar Door. Estelle, Macy Gray, “Entourage” actor Adrien Grenier AKA Honey DuContra with his band the Honey Brothers, celebrity DJ Steve Aoki, and various up-and-coming musical artists all stopped by to share some insight on why Austin might easily be the vibe center of the music universe.

Featuring an array of services ranging from massages and hairstyling to a live tattoo parlor, the 2,000-square-foot outdoor retreat served as a centralized hub where press had the opportunity to meet and interview artists and celebrities, and where all festival VIPs could unwind. The venue also featured live music by notable DJs and various music artists who stopped by to perform exclusive acoustic sets.

Launched in 2009, The Carrera Escape began in New York as an answer to a much-needed urban retreat. It continues to refine the idea of a “stay-cation” and has evolved into a special getaway for celebrities and tastemakers.  In addition to this stint in Austin, the Escape will visit five major cities this summer: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami.    

—James J. Spina