South by Southwest creative director and former Austin Chronicle music editor Brent Grulke died of a heart attack Monday.
The Chronicle‘s Raoul Hernandez called Grukle, “an integral part of the Chronicle family both in his editorial tenure here and through his leadership at the paper’s sister business, SXSW.”
What Grulke and his partners did with SXSW over 25 years cannot be dismissed as a glad-handing popularity contest. They set the bar for festivals, and people are still trying to catch up to their model. I’ve been guilty of bitching about SXSW fatigue myself, but when it’s over and everyone’s gone home, I always have a pang of the blues. If you are a music fan, you feel it too, despite the mayhem that ensues during that week. And Grulke was a fan.
He not only helped give SXSW its reputation for presenting an eclectic roster of quality artists, but Brent and his friends and colleagues in Austin also helped grow the conference from a small gathering of music-industry insiders into the massive, Mardi Gras-like gathering it is today. Brent was a huge supporter of regional and independent artists, and in his position as creative director of SXSW, he has directly helped to nurture numerous stars of all genres over the past quarter-century, particularly the more critically acclaimed artists often buzzed about in music publications. Brentâ€™s excellent taste and deep knowledge of all kinds of music was formidable.