Like so much else about Leon Bridges, his stage patter is a work in progress. Every few shows he gets up the confidence to say something new to the crowd, to introduce a song with something beyond a simple recitation of its title. At a recent gig at Austin’s South by Southwest music festival, the 25-year-old soul singer from Fort Worth tested out a new introduction to his song “Brown Skin Girl.” “Where are my brown-skin girls?” he asked the audience.
From the moment in 1986 when the idea to hold a music conference in Austin was first broached, Roland Swenson has been a part of SXSW—initially to convince people that it wasn’t a crazy idea, and then to make it happen. In the years since, he has overseen a trajectory of growth that has included the launches of SXSW Interactive, SXSW Film, SXSW Edu, SXSW Eco, and the V2V entrepreneurial conference.