TWO Glaswegian music lovers have stepped in to save the Scottish showcase at a world-famous international festival after Creative Scotland pulled out.

Photographer Mike Williams was a regular visitor to the pavilion of Scottish music that ran annually at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. But two years ago Creative Scotland stopped organising a stage for Scottish bands, and Mike decided he needed to intervene.

He said: “South by Southwest is the biggest showcasing music festival in the world involving thousands of bands – and it’s a great way to highlight new talent.”

“When the Scottish showcase stopped I felt very passionately about it and I wanted to make sure music from Scotland, and particularly Glasgow, was still represented. I spoke to the festival organisers and last year managed to put on the first Glasgow showcase at South by South West, called the Glasgow Buckaroo Ball.”

The Buckaroo Ball will run later this month at the festival, with a bill of seven up-and-coming Glaswegian bands: Laps, Lylo, Shopping, Catholic Action, Lucia, Breakfast Muff and Tijuana Bibles.

South by Southwest began in 1987 and is now one of the biggest music industry events in the world, with over 400,000 participants in 2017 across its film, media and music events.

Mike believes that the event could be crucial to helping Scottish bands make it in the music industry, as the exposure they gain from the festival is difficult to find elsewhere.

“It’s the dream for every band to play in America, to go out to such a big festival and have a chance to establish their career. They can meet record label executives, potentially get signed by a manager or booking agent, and meet members of the public who would never ordinarily hear their music. Of the bands who played last year, some of them have since toured Europe, released albums and been signed to labels.”

Creative Scotland does still fund bands to perform at the festival through the PRS Foundation, but they are no longer facilitating a dedicated Scottish event.

For 2018, Mike joined forces with Ian Crawford – owner of music label El Rancho – to ensure the new Glasgow showcase will be able to run for years to come.

Ian says the hard work is worth it in order to draw international attention to the talent that Scotland has to offer. “Having a showcase that puts a spotlight on Scotland is really important. People will start to connect Scotland with good music, and we hope that by making it an annual event we can steadily promote the great work that comes out of the country.”

The decision to focus on Glaswegian bands was a simple one for Mike and Ian, after they realised the respected reputation the city had for its musical talents.

“Everywhere you go people know Glasgow for football and music, a lot of people’s favourite bands are from the city. I think people are drawn to Glasgow bands because they have a natural honesty in their music, and Glasgow produces a lot of pop music that is always well received. But there is also a great diversity in Glaswegian music, from electronic to guitars, and there is something to entertain everyone.”