Bill Murray, Street Poet
SXSW – In Front of the Driskill Hotel, March 17, 2018
Article and Photography by Stacey Lovett
Heavy Taiko drumming resounded from the steps of the Driskill Hotel downtown Austin and many passersby attributed it to another hippie drum circle grassroots promotion during SXSW but others gathered around, keen to the reality of who really was there performing.
Social media tipped fans off about an hour prior via Twitter of the celebrity’s regular SX public appearance and #billmurray trended once again for SX 2018. The rumors of his presence this year was extremely likely – especially that night with the premier of Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs among other associations he has during the festival. Anderson himself watched with the crowd as Murray, backed by cellist Jan Vogler, performed a public poetry reading of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Dog” to Johan Sebastian Bach. The drumming and subject of the prose was an homage to Japanese-set Isle, humanizing the simplistic loyalty of the canine perspective.
Murray, a lover of classical music and language, is teaming up with Vogler at the Long Center for a full-length performance during his time in town just like this one. In addition to his own celebration of the arts, the arts also returned the favor as the documentary, The Bill Murray: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man, screened during the festival as well. As director Tommy Avallone explores Bill’s adventures with every day people and the urban legend surrounding him, a few lucky festivalgoers got to add another experience sighting to the book this year, and who knows, maybe a few more we won’t know about outside the hashtag.